Carrie Ann’s Reading Log (Week of April 4th)

Are we doing enough for those who are serving our country and defending the rights of all Americans?  This is the question resonating in my thoughts as I read the article that Aracelie will present to us this week.  Having had family members that have served in the United States Armed Forces, I believe that we need to do all that we can to support the transition that our soldiers make back into civilian life after being in combat.

It was interesting to read that there has been research on veterans’ adjustment post WWII and Vietnam, but not on the most recent wars in our history (including the 1990’s Gulf War Conflict).  The researches also bring to light the condition that most soldiers have unfortunately been identified with, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This disorder can affect all aspects of a veterans’ life and especially the assimilation into the college setting.  As I read through this article, the quotes about the emotional desensitization and change of personality you must overtake to get you through the combat situations really did make me shutter inside.  Also, this article went into the idea of maladaptive coping mechanisms that some of the subjects took part in and how some did not know about the VA services that could be available to them in order to make the adjustment easier into college life.

It was interesting to me that this article brought into light the “Whole Person” transition of these veterans into civilian life, not just merely the college experience, because we must remember that there is life outside of the academic setting.  I look forward to discussing this article and topic more in class this week and to hear what my colleagues believe about this topic as well.

Teddy’s CTCH604 Reading Log 04.04.2010

Teddy’s CTCH604 Reading Log 04.04.2010

For class session 04.06.2010

Our assigned article for this week explores the experiences of soldiers in Iraqi and Afghanistan combat. With so many people involved in such conflicts it is hard to believe that so little research exists on the topic of transitioning soldiers from the battle field to the college life. Many questions began to surface in my thoughts as I read this week’s assigned article. In a country where we supposedly pride ourselves and our military might, why is there so little mental health assistance to veterans. Why are soldiers made to do back to back combat tours of duty? How many veterans commit suicide due to their combat experiences? How many marriages are destroyed due to PTSD? What can colleges do to prepare and make easy the transition of military personnel? How should colleges and universities go about educating their learning communities about transitioning veterans? These and so many other inquiries are overwhelming my thoughts as this prelude opens a new chapter of discovery.

The first thing I wanted to do was to put myself in the shoes of those soldiers and feel what they feel. More than likely, they have experience some or many horrific events that keeps them awake at night. The witnessing of dead bodies belonging to a friend, an enemy or persons you do not know can take its toll on one’s psyche causing flash backs. With these things being possible, colleges and universities need to make sure that veterans have the best of mental health services. This would help to lighten the stress levels that cause more of a burden to lives of veterans in the process of transitioning back to society. Veterans are use to a highly structured life of military standards. Now, they are shifting to a civilian life of less structure and they are faced with making many decisions that are normally made by their commanding officers. School psychologists and psychiatrists should be re-trained to the sensitivities of soldiers who were wounded, attacked, ambushed, faced gunfire and other unpleasant realities of military life.

Second, colleges and universities can make the transition from military life to college a sweeter one by providing crucial services. This segment of the student population needs services assisting students with GI bill applications, college tuition, health insurance, housing, nursery services, employment and other benefits. Veterans should receive some form of tuition reduction that allows military personnel to keep as much of their money in their pocket. The students should be allowed free parking services to reduce the stresses of getting to class. Colleges need to promote more veteran oriented organizations and events on campus. They should never feel that they are alone and without support in the country they served. Each of us has the responsibility to support our men and women of our military. It is morally, the right thing to do!

Jason’s March 30th Reading log

For this week we were responsible for reading one chapter from both Mckinney and Cross.  We also read the article that I chose to present on, which was titled “overcoming doom and gloom”.

Chapter eight in the McKinney book related very well to the article that I chose.  I chose the article because I felt that it was very discipline specific, however it does not fully qualify as SoTL.  The Mckinney chapter was striving to answer the questions: How does SToL differ between disciplines (and institutions) in its methodology and status?

There are discipline specific characteristics to SoTL, for both practical reasons and for historical reasons.  While I think SoTL should be easily integrated into sociology, after all teachers of sociology are trained in social scientific research methods, classroom research by sociologists can run into similar barriers as other disciplines (low status, lack of reward, etc.).  Besides those cross discipline barriers, I could see sociology running into unique discipline specific barriers.  For example, historically sociology has struggled to legitimize itself as a science (on par with say psychology).  I could see many sociologist being reluctant to join an emerging form of scholarship that is running into the same stigma.

Aracelie_Readings_23 Mar

This week’s articles  address scholarship specifically within community college environments.  Prager’s article “Scholarship Matters” tells how community college faculty members, though dominant in the educating of first- and second-year students, have little presence outside their own classrooms.  Meanwhile, Sperling’s article “How Community Colleges Understand the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” describes an exception to that argument at Middlesex Community College, where SoTL is prominent.

Prager’s article compares and contrasts various scenarios regarding teachers of first- and second-year students (e.g., faculty at schools associated with four-year universities versus strictly two-year schools).  It seems Pennsylvania University (PSU) and City Universities of New York (CUNY) have integrated the scholarship of teaching and learning into their ways of life.  Expectations that SoTL is valued and actually used in a quantifiable manner have led to a culture that embraces SoTL.  Meanwhile, most other schools consider themselves “teaching schools”.

The rest of my commentary was lost to malfunctioning USB drive.  I will have to return to the articles to remember the points I made and add them here at a later time.

Aracelie_Reading Log_30 Mar

There are so many options available for implementing SoTL.  It still boggles me that it is not more widespread.  I understand the many challenges that we read about in our articles and talk about in our class sessions, but I still have a difficult time comprehending how it is taking so long to catch on in our education systems.  The fact that there are so many definitions of SoTL seems like it would be even easier to implement one or two of the items McKinney mentions in her eighth chapter.  Holding campus conversations, promoting SoTL with new faculty, giving away SoTL literature – all seem like they would be the smaller steps necessary to institute a full practice of SoTL.  I suggest we send Tiger Teams armed with copies of McKinney’s book to give to select faculty members (i.e. those who have impact within a school) who will commit to selecting one item to try on his campus within a period of three years.  I know.  There is much more involved than what I am glazing over here.  It is just so frustrating to know it does not have to be quite so hard; and this is coming from someone on the outside looking in.  I can only imagine what it is like to actually be in the field trying to encourage these changes.

But have no fear because once again my hope is restored by Classroom Research.   We are now on Chapter 2 trying to save future Leslies from drowning, or at least feeling like they are drowning, in their future economics classes.  The chapter goes through a more layman’s explanation of metacognition and cognition as applied to students’ learning than did How People Learn. Reading about these concepts a third time (Marchese’s article being the first), I used DeGroot’s chess example as my frame of reference. (That study actually then showed up as an example later in the chapter.)  Reading through the three steps (review the literature, classroom assessment, and classroom research) for three possible hypotheses highlighted in the instructor’s conversation with Leslie brings the concepts to life in my mind.  I feel like anyone who was suddenly put in front of a classroom to teach could obtain a copy of this book and immediately have tools available to begin using in the classroom, such as the Focused Autobiographical Sketches and Building Bridges.  As a visual learner, I would appreciate tasks such as those being interspersed into lectures or seminars were I a student.  Fear of being chastised in class for participating would dissipate if they were to be regular activities in the classroom, as the authors suggest.  Another plus of this text is how in discussing traditional research, they specifically say it is not easy to advise new classroom teachers whether to trust their instincts regarding their field or to listen to research results that may or may not address the true question.  It is comforting to know even though you may understand what and how your students are learning, the test results may not always agree with your assessments of the situation.

I suppose my point is that even though this book covers education theories, they are told in such a way that a new teacher can apply them directly to his classroom practice and immediately begin to expand and search for signs of improvement.

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