On teaching style

Professors who want to establish classroom connections with their students receive lots of advice. And some experts have over the years advised the use of “self-disclosure,” telling students stories about themselves, using self-deprecating humor as a way to make students feel comfortable and to view the instructor as an ally. InsideHigher Ed discusses the finer points of this:

“Ignore that advice. That’s the recommendation of a study being published today in Communication Education, a journal of the National Communication Association. imgresThe study was based on surveys of 438 undergraduates at a Southeastern university. The students — from across disciplines — were asked about the class they had attended just before taking the survey. And for that class, they were asked both about their instructors and about whether they engaged in certain “uncivil” behaviors, such as packing up books before class was over or texting during lectures. The researchers then compared attitudes the students had about professors and the students behaviors.

“The study notes that professors’ styles only go so far in predicting whether students will be posting status updates on Facebook or actually paying attention, but they do matter.

“Although it is clear that a range of factors outside of instructors’ control contribute to uncivil behavior in the classroom — such as societal shifts toward student entitlement and students’ being raised in homes where manners are not adequately taught — results of this study indicate that there are at least some things instructors can do to minimize uncivil behavior,” the study says. “This model, taking into account only instructor-related factors, explained 20 percent of the variance in self-reported uncivil behaviors among our participants — not a huge proportion, but enough to make a noticeable difference to a frustrated teacher.”

“Based on the surveys, the paper argues that students are least likely to engage in uncivil behavior when they view the instructor as having high levels of “credibility,” meaning that through actions and nonverbal cues, the instructor conveys command of the material and the class, a sense of knowing what should be going on in class, and so forth. When students have that confidence level, they are more likely to pay attention. Continue reading “On teaching style”

Self-help books seem to work for depression

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) today announced research findings showing the usefulness of self-help books for the treatment of mental health conditions like depression.

“Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care,” reports the BBC.

“The effect was seen in addition to the benefits of other treatments such as antidepressants, Scottish researchers report in the journal Plos One. Such an approach may help the NHS tackle demand for therapy, they said.

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“More than 200 patients who had been diagnosed with depression by their GP took part in the study, half of whom were also on antidepressant drugs. Some were provided with a self-help guide dealing with different aspects of depression, such as being assertive or overcoming sleep problems.Patients also had three sessions with an adviser who helped them get the most out of the books and plan what changes to make. After four months those who had been prescribed the self-help books had significantly lower levels of depression than those who received usual GP care. Continue reading “Self-help books seem to work for depression”

A message from your future

We’re not sure how many people worry about this, but think for a minute about the future you.

That’s right, you, in maybe 10 years.

Apparently most people are incapable of doing this is any realistic sense. They can look back on their lives and see all of the various changes and

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bumps in the road. But looking forward, people only see an eternal now. They see themselves unchanged.

 

Why does this matter? We at Worlding think it may say something about attitudes toward difference and newness. People who don’t expect to change could very well resist ideas they don’t understand. And let’s not even think about people who live in the past. Certainly the last year’s political confrontation have shown us the close-mindedness of Teapartiers and others who cling to memory at the expense of all else. So, as the New York Times reports:

“When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions. Continue reading “A message from your future”