lunes, mayo 23, 2005

Class 4-- 

The class according to Doernyei, (Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press 2001):

Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions
1 Demonstrate and talk about your own enthusiasm for the course material and how it affects you personally.
2 Take the students learning very seriously.
3 Develop a personal relationship with your students.
4 Develop a collaborative relationship with the students' parents.
5 Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom.
6 Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
7 Formulate the norms explicitly, and have them discussed and accepted by the learners.
8 Have the group norms consistently observed.

It is easy to point to my enthusiasm with the course material and the meaning it has for me. And beyond the material per se, the issue of developing critical thought is crucial: basing communication on self-reflection and on I statements. Those are basic requirements for proper feedback and communication to take place. I took for granted that respect was a norm in any academic setting and that as a norm (unstated/unspoken rules in a group) respect would not need to be a rule. Emphasis on reflection and I statements is my way to model critical thinking and create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom. There seems to be a group cohesiveness being achieved, but unfortunately by argumentative and aggressive tone. The issue of the enforcement of norms was disproportionately required today. I hope it has to do with the control issues expected in this stage of group functioning!

Generating Initial Motivation
9 Promote the learners' language related valuse by presenting peer role models.
10 Raise the learners' intrinsic interest in the L2 learning process
11 Promote 'integrative values by encouraging a positive and open-minded disposition towards the L2 and its speakers
12 Promote the students' awareness of the instrumental values associated with the knowledge of an L2
13 Increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and learning in general.
14 Increase the students' goal-orientedness by formulating explicit class goals accepted by them.
15 Make the curriculum and the teaching materials relevant to the students.
16 Help to create realistic learner beliefs.

The class is generating peer models and allowing for its relevance to be created by the participant's choice of words in presentations and examples. This constructivist approach works for some learning styles but not for others. More concrete guidelines and more direct instruction might be needed by those frustrated with the uncertainty of their taking charge of their own learning. The relevance of the content of the class might require a longer time than that allowed in the design of this 6 week intensive course. Furthermore it would be interesting to witness how the learning itself becomes an intrinsic motivator. Here the crucial requirement is the learner’s ownership of the learning process. It seems that the anger expressed will not allow some for the acceptance of the goals. During each of the presentations personal values are being projected in the student’s own voices. How to increase the expectancy of success (item 13) is an on-going concern…. Perhaps the following motto has to be repeated: Keep aiming for excellence!!! We are constantly checking on the realism of beliefs… although there seems to be a lot of miscommunication... .

Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
17 Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events.
18 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by increasing the attractiveness of the task.
19 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants.
20 Present and administer tasks in a motivating way.
21 Use goal-setting methods in your classroom.
22 Use contracting methods with your students to formalise their goal commitment.
23 Provide learners with regular experience of success.
24 Build your learners confidence by providing regular encouragement.
25 Help diminish language anxiety by removing or reducing the anxiety-provoking elements in the learning environment.
26 Build your learners confidence in their learning abilities by teaching them various learner strategies.
27 Allow learners to maintain a positive social image while engaged in the learning tasks.
28 Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
29 Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy.
30 Increase the student' self-motivating capacity.

There is quite a mix of activity in the class and we are using the time in important work and in significant discussion. This is a great class, amazing presentations, and they keep getting better and better! About social image (item #27) I acknowledged one of the presenters being specially dressed for the occasion (nice touch!), and how in the work environment proper attire is expected and required. I am focusing more on goals and will be doing that more since we are at the last stage of the course… and its time to review achievements. There is a constant clarification of the requirements, and while the contract seemed clear and simple enough, it is not for those pressed by the allowance for on-going revision and betterment. Each day students get feedback on their presentations by means of rubrics that peers fill, with the purpose of it serving as encouragement and their witnessing success. Much needs to be done with item 25, diminishing anxiety provoking elements in the learning environment….

Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation
31 Promote effort attributions in your students.
32 Provide students with positive information feedback.
33 Increase learner satisfaction.(celebrate achievements, display work)
34 Offer rewards in a motivational manner.
35 Use grades in a motivating manner, reducing as much as possible their demotivating impact.

For the first time this week we applauded after each presentation. The rubrics are serving for feedback both for them and for me since each member turns in a participation sheet with notes on their performance for the day and mention of any special message as in the AHA! moments, when something clicks. The use of rewards was meant to emerge out of the peer discussion on how to better the outlines and the papers. So in essence, there was a lot of time allowed for peer discussion in small groups and presentations in the larger group. I've offered points for comments in the blog originally and seing that comments are being made is rewarding. However they are anonymous... hard to assign extra points that way.

I got into doodling on the board. “Nothing like a strong inked marker and thoughts to write”- I thought to myself. A few minutes before the exact starting time, the tables and chairs where moved around with the help of early entrants… great I though, how to start…..????

List of things to do (a.k.a ; agenda)
Mid-term review outlines. Outcome “ideal” outline
Presentations… who, what, why? What for? So what?
Papers… rubric/feedback
Concepts/ examples

And then I looked back at the group, the clock on the dot and I started. Great to be here… what would you say…. And went around asking individuals for a one word descriptors of how they where doing. I remember a few words… “ low energy, expectant, sleepy, hungry” … checking in….

Then I moved into a review and sharing of how I have been relating aspects of the course to my experience

How having been away for two weeks could have given us rest. No, didn’t get a sense of rest from others…no wonder, with everyone working really hard not only for study, but also for families and the community... and described my own experience working hard in the time off reviewing proposals for educational programs. Emphasized the mentoring and tutoring roles seen as conducive to better high school graduation and access to college. Commented how education is seen as instrumental to a better life. Humm, no time to be getting into the human capital model … where gains for personal characteristic do work differently for different people.

I focused on outcomes… as being not only crucial for proposals, but also as a means for directing efforts…. Then took that buzzword “outcomes” to highlight the agenda for the day. Read the agenda and asked if anyone had anything to add to the list, … no one? then doved into the first item.

Let’s do our usual review of our previous class, but instead of just focusing on the last class, lets look at all previous weeks. Those who have presented and written and distributed an outline, lead a team up with someone who had not presented and discuss how to enhance their outline (if it needs enhancement). Heard some rumbling… and as I checked one by one…. was difficult to witness their having the outlines in front of them…. (oh my, I thought to myself…… how would this work in a work environment???? I realized I may need to signal in advance when I expect notes and copies of handouts to be organized and available for this type of exercise... ) Kept going around….. making sure that everyone had someone to work with…. And clarified how we are going to discuss the outline and gather what the main concept(s) where for the presentation…. And also asked them to assign the best example for the module. I acknowledge the difficulty in finding examples from others and even now as I write I am still wondering how to best show and tell about the examples gathered by everyone. Someone mentioned their portfolio being so large they could not bring it to class. Oh?... you are supposed to bring them to class… and kept asking students to get the outlines out.

"Half an hour for that…. And please make sure that the outcome is reached: An ideal outline, the identification of the main concept and an example to show it." Asked students for the outlines, some didn’t have them… (Humm, aren’t you supposed to have kept a copy? This is something I hadn't anticipated when I set up the activity.) One student pointed out that she didn't have her outline because she had handed her outline to me, suggesting , “In all fairness, I was told” she had re-written the outline, given it to me and not kept a copy for herself. I looked for my copy and brought it to the group. (Now I worry about having it returned to me, I need to have it back to give her the credit for the grade. It makes me uneasy not to have all my data to hand, the complete message.) And I kept moving to other workgroups…. How is it going here? Ok, …good!!!!

I mentioned that in work environments team work is often under pressure, and that performance is closely looked at by superiors. (omg…. Why am I nudging everyone to work so much today ????)… five minutes left!!!! Let’s see results!!! Made sure everyone was engaged in the task, and since students generally speak to me during the break went quickly to the bathroom. When I came back noticed silence… and the fact that the bell had rung.

Good, ok… let’s see… who is first?
I asked for groups to report… what recommendations do you have about the best outline. Suddenly it seemed like chaos…I took a deep breath…. What is this block with outlines…..??? The first group started with their reports. Yes… instead of narratives to write main concepts, in logical order and with headings…. Yes.. ok! And what are the main concept…..?

Module 10- clinical Intuition: hindsight
Module 12- cultural behavior
Module 14- persuasion, group influence
Module 16, conforming, compliance, persuasion and group influence
Module 18 social responsibility….

Humm, I pointed out that module 14 had concepts repeated in module 16???? They saw the logic…. I felt like pulling teeth…. What is the resistance….. I was building a generic outline on the board and as someone was reading their outline… I said… that sounds like a list… and proceeded to make a list… 1,2,3,4 and looked at the group….. the student she was crying! …what? !!! I thought….humm… wondered…. And another student started to argue with me about outlines…. And I thought… how can this be? I thought… I don’t know what is going on and can’t believe that my saying that I heard a list is a source for this tension. The student left the room in tears, and another proceeded in her challenge about my being wrong in how to write outlines… someone else complained about my style (being belittling) while explaining outlines. (why is this happening…. I could not understand that a review of outlines needed to be so difficult….I said…. “Let’s get back to this later, let’s start with presentations since we are dealing with the concepts of frustration and aggression today…”

We managed to get a general idea of an outline as follows:
Identification: Name, subject, title, etc.
I- Definition of terms
A state concept
i details
ii other details
B state concept
II Summary
III References

If you have an item (one), you need a second one (two…. ) And of course a letter or a number can follow…. No need to argue about such details…. Be consistent in whatever you do !!! Since there is a universal understanding of how to write outlines and reports, recommended them to use what they knew making sure they were consistent. We took an hour on this and I wanted to use just half an hour. I am finding it hard to shift away from the need to cover and discuss today's new material.

"Let’s set up the equipment for the presentation and take 5 minutes for fresh air."

During the break I spoke to the student who was in tears. What happened? I asked…. I tried to reassure her, and filled her in on the time she was outside the room. That we came up with an outline. I shared how I’ve cared so much for my work that I've cryed in front of my boss. There is a lot to learn from the incident, and felt sorry about her pain. I told her to ask her subgroup to give her an update about the outline discussion. I am not clear about what is going on…. And I trusted that I would find out.

Presentations went well…. Four of them, one after the other. I was please to get help in finding scorers for the rubrics and even setting up the timer… one of the presenters was using the timer to pace herself, nice! Interesting how each presenter has her own style, and how smooth they become as they “evolve”. And the evolving part is what I am trying to emphasize…. But later found out that by expecting enhancement, students are feeling stressed. As in, I am never happy with what they do…. Humm, perhaps they are not getting enough feedback? (Although the rubrics are feedback…) Or it is the uncertainty in the process? There is not enough time for me to do all I want to do…. Like giving them their current score for the class, or their outline back with my notes…. Feedback! And after telling them about the mirror exercise—5 minutes daily saying good things about yourself to yourself. I proceeded to tell one positive thing to each person in the group.

There was interesting discussion, as always. We spoke about how we have to become critical thinkers and that arguing and criticisms was not critical thinking. Also we acknowledged that difficulty in listening and following direction was related to being overwhelmed, and that by disconnecting and snapping in alarm, created a negative atmosphere ….. omg…. It is very frustrating to repeat myself and having to concern my self with disciplining the group. I expect respect, responsiveness and initiative…. It was not the first time I had given the same directions…. “give me the homework printed… not electronically, and I do expect you to have the handouts and examples, we will be working with them here in class.

One of the topics was aggression. Discussion turned into not tolerating aggression, the disarmament argument…. We all need to get rid of arms! How do we do that…. Would aggression be accepted as a defense? The discussion was labeled as utopia and I kept it up… as in we need to act, otherwise we become… (what was the word I wanted….) ahh, otherwise we collude, we support what in fact we dislike. I didn’t have a prescription for social change, but I was certain that aggression is not acceptable! And certainly not in the classroom!

Close to the end of class asked for observations… and there was an acknowledgement of the strain of my leading a difficult group. I was recommended to keep the focus on the task, and not to get into the personal dynamics. … that is always a good advice…. Of course, thank you.

The class ended and most left quickly.

For some people communication is always a win/loose interaction. How can apprehension become trust?

Hopefully looking at the mirror for five minutes each day saying positive things to yourself would help. And I made a contract with one student to do that this week, she volunteered to keep a journal. Wow, great I thought… feeling good about that arrangement! Wonderful to end the day on that note… and I wished her well.

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viernes, mayo 13, 2005


I’ve been thinking about a comment brought up by a student at the end of class last time. That cramming increases anxiety and panic, which does not lead to learning. I was alarmed! Here we are cramming in this course… NO WONDER!

(Yes, I notice my message is incomplete…. My wonder is perennial)

Sometimes it feels that my whole life is a cramming…

And I realize that learning, timing and tempo go together. And that it could mean that we have to be attuned to the tempo, to get the timing right…. And learn!

Humm, where is that research about cramming?

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martes, mayo 10, 2005

Everybody has their story… drama, wonders, uniqueness. 

Walked into the basement and was greeted by a young adult dressed with a beautiful pink coat and bonnet. She asks me if I am a mother. Not, I answered… and when I asked her, she replied she was. I congratulated her. Tomorrow is mother’s day and she certainly was walking tall. Was glad to share in the celebration… and glad (– relieved) of the simplicity in my life by not having dependents. (only the cats to feed this week). Another student talked about a personal loss at infancy. Could I relate to the sense of loss!

I entered the classroom and there were people from the previous class… I needed to move desks and chairs and when a student requested my making copies of her outline, I gladly returned to the basement to get them done while the group finished using the room. Ok, this request worked as instructed, plenty of time before the start. Once back in the room I noticed an absent student was there early… so we caught up with details of how she was catching up due to her absence. ... reviewing what she missed and how she was going to catch up. I noticed that she had left a message in the “virtual classroom site” asking for someone to inform her about what happened in class. There is definite consequence to student’s absences in a class with a whole semester schedule of 6 five hour sessions. She had the multiple choice test, (not machine generated, but ok- “make sure the next batch is”), she had handouts for her presentation (not the outline as I explained…. Sigh) ok, what about the 8 outlines from the last class, I wondered how she would get them from students in the group.

Organizing all of the rubrics (one for oral presentations and one for participation), the multiple choice tests, the papers (due today), the handouts from each presenter took a filing system. Color coding seems to work! Found some huge sheets that served as folders for the students to turn in their outline and supportive documents used in their presentations. Then started the class with the acknowledgement that since this was the 3rd class, I had more rigorous expectations from presenters. Yes, yes there is the learning curve and the “evolution” from that learning” (different from the initiation of first presenters from the first turn) and now their familiarity with the general structure of the class and with my style. I reviewed what an outline generally was (a logical sequence of ideas going from the general to the specific and then back to the general—and drew the repetitive funneled sand clock) and directed them to get help from the librarian… one student tried it and got some specific help, but not categorical as in writing resources/reference tools. This is a Social Psychology class (I thought to myself, how detailed should I be about outlines? )

Ok, let’s have a rely race…. You are A, you B, A, B, and so on… 5 minutes were set on the timer. Two groups one “A” and one “B”, and go to the board and list the concepts from last week. Books were opened and a line was formed… notice some class members were sitting… they’ve been to the board and where discussing group presentations. Others were back on the line and adding to the list. Time’s up! Group A had, so many and Group B visibly more.

Group A
Powers of positive thinking
clinical intuition
self efficacy
foot in the door
locus of control
self esteem
cognitive dissonance
Hindsight Bias
Illusionary Correlations
belief and behavior
over confidence phenomenon
self confirming diagnosis
learned helplessness
self perception theory
low ball technique

Group B
positive thinking
fundamental attribution error
availability heuristic
hindsight bias
self efficacy
attitudes can influence behavior
differing perspectives
learned helplessness
locus of control
clinical intuition
emotional reactions
overconfidence phenomenon
confirmation bias
behavior can effect attitudes
cognitive dissonance
low balling
illusory correlation
causal explanations

We discussed the impact of the exercise and how the set up was lenient and conducive to listing of concepts and not to evaluation of the concepts (as in, asking them not to repeat concepts already appearing in either group nor by setting more divergent groups…. (achieved by “half of the room” assigned to each group). Instead I chose to assign members from the same table to either group.

A discussion ensued about whether attitudes influence behavior or the other way around, if behavior influences attitudes. Some discussion was related to attitudes and emotions as in the case of “optimism”. Is an attitude an emotion? and how the emotion piece is not really related to the behavior/attitude loop.

Am I making sense? --I thought… humm, yes we are talking about cognition and about setting up relations among concepts and testing how these concepts hold by proving the opposite relations…. What was that concept? Probing the opposite as a way to validate or discount a relation... when systematically we test a theory by proving if the opposite holds, and then the relationship is supported.) I shared with the group my amazement with the author of the text and about how succinct his writing is. Some students agreed with how at times the module ends right in the middle of the consideration of a topic. That realization is an important one because I am underlining the needs for summary statements which are limited in the textbook. I also want proper citation and references to be included in the outline and in the paper and the later is lacking at the end of each module in the book. Why is it that the references are gathered instead at the end of the book?.... (Author's License, of course).

Ok, presentations…. The first presenter informed me that she had to leave because she had a crisis at home. I guess you gotta go I said! There are values for each activity and missing class shows up statistically…

Presentations, who is next on line… and I set the timer for 10 minutes… Outlines are not paragraphs….. I noticed. Nevertheless, they had power point presentations ready and would talk in front of the room. I noted that timing and a good outline are the crucial elements for a good presentation. Also crucial is the speaker’s ability to engage the audience with interesting topics. Yes, culture and diversity was brought up in an interesting fashion. When it was time for discussion, I took up to the board to present my concept of culture, ethnicity, language and migration. The door opened, -- and into the classroom walked the program director to observe the class. I had told the group that this was going to happen and the two Doctors shock hands in the front of the room. I asked her to join in the front of the room, but she requested a less imposing location by the side of the room, so I moved a chair to the spot she chose, and I gave her a copy of the oral presentation rubric used for that activity.

I turned back to the board and proceeded with the explanation and the discussion which was forcefully argued by a vocal student. Others where making sense of the discussion nodding in agreement. I tabled the argumentation to a later time and explained to the visitor that I did not want to exhaust the topic. She stated that the topic was interesting. I then introduced the next presenter—who just looked at me when I asked for the copies of the outline. Since I had told her that I would make them in the break (which we didn’t have because of not having the first presentation) I took the original copy and ran downstairs to make them. Luckily I had the code number for the machine and didn’t take too long. (Still, if the student had requested copies ahead of time… I would not have had to leave the room. The director left quietly after the student’s presentation, and I waved goodbye., wishing she had stayed for the discussion, and participated in some fashion.

At that point I set the structure for the next activity. I asked each student to choose one of the best examples they brought for the week and place it on the table by the wall. I told them to find a “dyad” to go out to campus and make observations and even try out some of the theories of social dynamics (being loud and/or get physically close to others). And I asked them to be back in half an hour. At which point they where to go to the examples and write comments of what they thought the comments represented.

And after the field activity and the wondering around the table we proceeded with the next presentation. By then students had made it very clear that the timer was REALLY a stressor (I wonder if its use will prevail?) I decided to move closer to the back of the room. One student was finding misspellings and correcting figures in the slides and I noticed how my scoring reflected those mistakes with a lower mark. When I stated how her remarks influenced me in being critical, specially since her timing was way off, she asked that I change the score to reflect my tolerance as I did with others. I mentioned that the outline had a lot of problems and I pointed to those. I gave her the choice to re-write the outline and submit it on the last class. I presented the FIRO model and showed the inclusion, control and affection theory for individual and group dynamics.

The last presentation was removed from it being an outline and the score in the rubrics most critical of how mechanical a presentation could appear when a speaker reads without engaging the group! We had also been in class for close to five hours! So, at that point we had a large discussion about the examples and about any incongruity in the remarks. Some of the comments where read and the caricatures shown. And while there was divergence in the concepts assigned to the examples, they made sense. I asked them to work on the participation rubrics through out class and at this point to show it to somebody else who would add their comments and show agreement (or not) with their self-assessment.

At half an hour before the end of the class a student states that we should be let out early because of it being Mother’s day tomorrow. I acknowledged that a positive meaning could be attributed to such an act, and possibly more meaning the earlier they where adjourned. Instead I directed a discussion towards the social construction of motherhood. Is it just biological? And of course the theory of evolution brought up earlier served fairly well in the discussion about the taboo of incest, as in genetic evolution being protected by the availability of abortions. How is the possible evolution of the taboo of incest related to the social construction of motherhood, we wondered! Are we predicting the future accurately?

We worked solid and did not talk about the observations done in pairs. Must start with the observations next time. Time’s up! Acknowledged the hard work and called it a day! Wished mothers well and applauded those graduating next week.

Let’s see what Doernyei, (Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press 2001) says:

Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions
1 Demonstrate and talk about your own enthusiasm for the course material and how it affects you personally.
2 Take the students learning very seriously.
3 Develop a personal relationship with your students.
4 Develop a collaborative relationship with the students' parents.
5 Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom.
6 Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
7 Formulate the norms explicitly, and have them discussed and accepted by the learners.
8 Have the group norms consistently observed.

Here the development of group cohesiveness is taking place as a function of group development. Some norms of support are being settled in the classroom atmosphere, but norms are challenged every time a new procedure is added (as in the countersignature on the participation score, the new procedure for the examples and the observations where smoothly followed. Norms are emerging and their observation is followed regarding procedures and requirements.

Generating Initial Motivation
9 Promote the learners' language related valuse by presenting peer role models.
10 Raise the learners' intrinsic interest in the L2 learning process
11 Promote 'integrative values by encouraging a positive and open-minded disposition towards the L2 and its speakers
12 Promote the students' awareness of the instrumental values associated with the knowledge of an L2
13 Increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and learning in general.
14 Increase the students' goal-orientedness by formulating explicit class goals accepted by them.
15 Make the curriculum and the teaching materials relevant to the students.
16 Help to create realistic learner beliefs.

This is interesting. There was interest in the culture discussion and some students were taking notes and advancing arguments and counterarguments. However the extent to which the class was promoting the students interest, goal orientedness, was relevant to the students and created realistic beliefs is hard to ascertain. Discussion and statements in the participation rubrics could be requested as evidence.

Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
17 Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events.
18 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by increasing the attractiveness of the task.
19 Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants.
20 Present and administer tasks in a motivating way.
21 Use goal-setting methods in your classroom.
22 Use contracting methods with your students to formalise their goal commitment.
23 Provide learners with regular experience of success.
24 Build your learners confidence by providing regular encouragement.
25 Help diminish language anxiety by removing or reducing the anxiety-provoking elements in the learning environment.
26 Build your learners confidence in their learning abilities by teaching them various learner strategies.
27 Allow learners to maintain a positive social image while engaged in the learning tasks.
28 Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
29 Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy.
30 Increase the student' self-motivating capacity.

The goal setting methods seem obtuse and more needs to be done, although reference to excellence was made often. Encouragement is given by my urging them to re-write their outline and submit it in the portfolio for grading. There was plenty of new strategies incorporated in the class to maintain interest and reduce monotony. How this would help students achieve self-motivation is questionable… other than the rubric scores serving that function.

Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation
31 Promote effort attributions in your students.
32 Provide students with positive information feedback.
33 Increase learner satisfaction.(celebrate achievements, display work)
34 Offer rewards in a motivational manner.
35 Use grades in a motivating manner, reducing as much as possible their demotivating impact.

The rubrics do some of the feedback functions, and as grades, possibly serve to motivate. It needs to be established how could rewards serve as motivation. The multiple choice tests could possibly serve as some of that reward.

Ok, I better load this text into the blog and call it a week. I have soooo much to tally…. Multiple choice tests, presentation outlines and rubrics, participation rubrics, 8 papers and make their rubrics for the next class… not to mention the review of the text. Hmm, how could I skip the note taking step?

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sábado, mayo 07, 2005

Half way there! 

Third class (of a total of 6). How can we process so much theory in such a short time? I hope that these concepts will ring true in everyone's experience in the future. For me, I need to learn by repetition so I always make notes of what I read and then write them to digest them. So I don't know yet how to skip this step. The one where I copy word for word from the source. So here it goes, from Myers, 2004, Exploring Social Psychology, McGraw Hill:Boston, 3rd Edition.

Module 11
Clinical Therapy: The Powers of Social Cognition
One of psychology’s most intriguing research frontiers concerns the cognitive processes that accompany psychological disorders. What are the memories, attributions, and expectations of depressed, lonely, shy, or illness prone people?

Social Cognition And Depression.
As we know from experience, depressed people are negative thinkers. … the negative thinking becomes self-defeating….

Distortion or Realism?
Are all depressed people unrealistically negative?

Underlying the thinking of depressed people are their attributions of responsibility.

…depressed people have been more likely than nondepressed people to exhibit a negative explanatory style… They are more likely to tribute failure and setbacks to causes that are stable (“It’s going to last forever”), global (“It’s going to affect everything I do””), and internal (“It’s all my fault”). The result of this pessimistic, overgeneralized, self-blaming thinking, …. Is a depressing sense of hopelessness.

Is Negative Thinking A Cause Or A Result Of Depression?
Do depressed moods cause negative thinking, or does negative thinking cause depression?

Depressed Moods Cause Negative Thinking
Without a doubt, our moods definitely color our thinking.

A depressed mood also affects behavior. The person who is withdrawn, glum, and complaining does not elicit joy and warmth in others. …found that depressed people were realistic in thinking that others didn’t appreciate their behavior. Their pessimism and bad moods trigger social rejection… Depressed behavior can also trigger reciprocal depression in others. College students who have depressed roommates tend to become a little depressed themselves… They may also seek out those whose unfavorable views of them verify, and further magnify, their low self-images..

Negative Thinking Causes Depressed Moods.
Why are some people so affected by minor stresses? Evidence suggests that a negative explanatory style contributes to depressive reactions.

“A recipe for severe depression is preexisting pessimism encountering failure,”

Depression is therefore both a cause and a consequence of negative cognitions.

Seligman believes that the decline of religion and family, plus the growth of individualism, breeds hopelessness and self-blame when things don’t go well.

In nonwestern cultures, where close-knit relationships and cooperation are the norm, major depression is less common and less tied to guilt and self-blame over perceived personal failure. In Japan, for example, depressed people instead tend to report feeling shame over letting down their family or co-workers (Draguns, 1990).

Social Cognition And Loneliness
Like depressed people, chronically lonely people seem caught in a vicious cycle of self-defeating social cognitions and social behaviors. They have some of the negative explanatory style of the depressed; they perceive their interactions as making a poor impression, blame themselves for their poor social relationships, and see most things as beyond their control.

Believing in their social unworthiness and feeling pessimistic about others inhibits lonely people from acting to reduce their loneliness… (patterns of behavior)

Social Cognition And Anxiety
Self-presentation theory assumes that we are eager to present ourselves in ways that make a good impression. The implications for social anxiety are straightforward: We feel anxious when we are motivated to impress others but doubt our ability to do so.

The natural tendency in all such situations is to be cautiously self protective: to talk less; to avoid topics that reveal one’s ignorance; to be guarded about oneself; to be unassertive, agreeable, and smiling.

Symptoms as diverse as anxiety and alcohol abuse can also serve a self-handicapping function. … The symptom is an unconscious, strategic ploy to explain away negative outcomes.

Social-Psychological Approaches To Treatment
So far, we have considered patterns of social thinking that are linked with problems in living, ranging from serious depression to extreme shyness to physical illness.

Inducing Internal Change Through External Behavior
Our actions affect our attitudes. The roles we play, the things we say and do, and the decisions we make influence who we are.

Consistent with this attitudes-follow-behavior principle, several psychotherapy techniques prescribe action.

Experiments confirm that what we say about ourselves can affect how we feel. …
So the most therapeutic commitments are both uncoerced and effortful.

Breaking Vicious Cycles
Social Skills Training
By observing and then practicing new behaviors in safe situations, the person can develop the confidence to behave more effectively in other situations.

“Nothing succeeds like success,” … “as long as there are no external factors present that the client can use as an excuse for that success!”

Explanatory Style Therapy
The vicious cycles that maintain depression, loneliness, and shyness can be broken by social skills training, by positive experiences that alter self-perceptions, and by changing negative thought patterns.

Then came the treatment phase: Layden instructed the students to keep a diary of daily successes and failures, noting how they contributed to their own successes and noting external reasons for their failures.

So what?
We must be aware of how cognitive explanations of our experience support our beliefs and how in turn, negative outcomes further fuel the self-fulfilling cycle of pessimism.

There are issues of oppression that become internalized and fuel externally by systems of inequality. Action directed and social issues serve to reduce external factors and consequently help break patterns of inaction typical of these syndromes. Placing ourselves and others in situations leading to success is another means to break this vicious cycle. Small measures become huge gains in this regard.

Social Influence

Social Psychologist study not only how we think about one another-- … but also how we influence and relate to one another…. (T)he powers of social influence. .. the cultural sources of gender attitudes, the forces of social conformity, the routes to persuasion, and the consequences of being with others and participating in groups.

Module 12
Human Nature and Cultural Diversity

Evolution And Behavior
In many important ways, we are more alike than different. … we share not only a common biology but also common behavior tendencies.

The universal behaviors that define human nature arise from our biological similarity.

To explain the traits of our species, and all species, the British naturalist Charles Darwin (1859) proposed an evolutionary process. As organisms vary, nature selects those best equipped to survive and reproduce in particular environments. Genes that produced traits that increased the odds of leaving descendants became more abundant. … This process of natural selection, long an organizing principle of biology, recently has become an important principle for psychology as well.

Evolutionary psychology studies how natural selection predisposes not just physical traits suited to particular contexts-- … --but psychological traits and social behaviors that enhance the preservation and spread of one’s genes.

The evolutionary perspective highlights our universal human nature.

…all humans rank others by authority and status. And all have ideas about economic justice … Evolutionary psychologist highlight these universal characteristics that have evolved through natural selection. Cultures, however, provide the specific rules for working out these elements of social life.

Culture and Behavior
Whether we define social justice as equality (all receive the same) or as equity (those who produce more receive more) depends on whether Marxism or capitalism shapes our ideology.

Evolutionary psychology incorporates environmental influences. … The cultural perspective, while acknowledging that all behavior requires our evolved genes, highlights human adaptability.

Cultural Diversity
In Japan, where there are 126 million people, of whom 125 million are Japanese, internal cultural differences are minimal compared with those found in Los Angeles, where the public schools have coped with 82 different languages (Iyer, 1993).

In a word divided by conflicts, genuine peace requires both respect for differences and understanding of our deep similarities.

Foreigners visiting Japan often struggle to master the rules of the social game—when to take their shoes off, how to pour the tea, when to give and open gifts, how to act towards someone higher or lower in the social hierarchy.

There is no better way to learn the norms of our culture than to visit another culture and see that its members do things that way, whereas we do them this way.

Just as a play moves smoothly when the actors know their lines, however, so social behavior occurs smoothly when people know what to expect. Norms grease the social machinery.

Cultures also vary in their norms for expressiveness and personal space. (ex.; issues of differences among cultures like formality, efficiency, punctuality)

Personal space is a sort of portable bubble or buffer zone that we like to maintain between ourselves and others.

Cultural Similarity
Thanks to human adaptability, cultures differ.

Although norms vary by culture, humans do hold some norms in common. Best known is the taboo against incest. … Although the taboo apparently is violated more often than psychologists once believed, the norm is still universal. .. Given the biological penalties for inbreeding.

This first aspect of Brown’s universal norm—that forms of address communicate not only social distance but also social status—correlates with a second aspect: Advances in intimacy are usually suggested by their higher-status person.

Although some norms are universal, the force of culture appears in varying norms, and also in the roles that people play. Cultures everywhere influence people by assigning them to play certain roles. … Playing a role often leads people to internalize their behavior. Acting becomes believing. …(re: gender roles), roles vary within and across cultures.

Evolutionary psychology The study of the evolution of behavior using principles of natural selection.

Culture The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

So what?

Acknowledgement of biological evolution and its impact on behavior allows for psychologists as change agents to take a significant role towards adaptation. The extent to which behavior is framed within a culture also allows for the instrumental role of psychologists as change agents to direct social forms and personal manifestations. In the concept of evolutionary psychology this focus is maintained.

Module 14
How Nice People Get Corrupted

It’s not easy being a minority of one.

Asch’s Studies Of Conformity (about which line is longer)

Asch’s results are startling because they involved no obvious pressure to conform—there were no rewards for “team play,” no punishments for individuality.

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments
..testing what happens when the demands of authority clash with the demands of conscience has became social psychology’s most famous and controversial experiments. (It has become part of “our intellectual legacy”)

(Although Milgram’s methods did not exert pain, the claim remains that the stress was evident) Milgram did to his participants what they did to their victim: He stressed them against their will.

What Breeds Obedience?
Four factors that determined obedience were the victim’s emotional distance, the authority’s closeness and legitimacy, whether or not the authority was institutionalized, and the liberating effects of a disobedient fellow subject.

Emotional Distance of the Victim
Milgram’s subjects acted with least compassion when the “learners” could not be seen. … Full compliance dropped to 30 percent when teachers were required to force the learner’s hand into contact with a shock plate.

On the positive side, people act most compassionately toward those who are personalized. (so a hitchhiker or beggar would get results from eye contact)

Closeness and Legitimacy of the Authority
Other studies confirm that when the one making the request is physically close, compliance increases.

This rebellion (during the experimenter’s absence) against illegitimate authority contrasted sharply with the defferential politeness usually shown the experimenter.

(Asch and Milgram experiments) showed how compliance can take precedence over moral sense. (T)hey illustrated and affirmed some familiar social psychological principles: The link between behavior and attitudes, the power of the situation, and the strength of the fundamental attribution error.

Behavior and Attitudes
…that attitudes fail to determine behavior when external influences override inner convictions. … Torn between the pleas of the victim and the orders of the experimenter, between the desire to avoid doing harm and the desire to be a good subject, a surprising number of people chose to obey.

(In Greece, and in Nazi Germany) the military selected candidates based on their respect for and submission to authority. … Compliance bred acceptance.

Too often, criticism produces contempt, which licenses cruelty, which, when justified, leads to brutality, then killing, then systematic killing. Evolving attitudes both follow and justify actions. Staub’s disturbing conclusion: “Human beings have the capacity to come to experience killing other people as nothing extraordinary”…

The first acts of compliance or resistance bred attitudes that influenced behavior, which strengthened attitudes. Initial helping heightened commitment, leading to more helping.

The Power of the Situation
…(that culture is a powerful shaper of lives) and that immediate situational forces are just as powerful—reveal the strength of the social context.

In trying to break with social constraints, we suddenly realize how strong they are.

When fragmented, evil becomes easier.

The drift toward evil usually comes in small increments, without any conscious intent to do evil. Procrastination involves a similar unintended drift, toward self-harm…

The Fundamental Attribution Error.
Bad people do bad things; good people do good things.

Cruelty, we presume, is inflicted by the cruel at heart.

Gunter Bierbrauer (1979) tried to eliminate this underestimation of social forces (the fundamental attribution error).

So what?

There are social pressures towards conformity and the extent to which there is compliance to these pressures vary according to external/situational factors. The action and perpetuation of undesirable behavior has been shown as related to social characteristic of the situation related to distance from the individual and the situation.

Module 16
Indoctrination and Inoculation

Attitudes Follow Behavior
The greater the personal commitment, the more the need to justify it.

Persuasive Elements
….We can also analyze cult persuasion using the factors… Who (the communicator) said what (the message) to whom (the audience)?

The Communicator
Successful cults have a charismatic leader—someone who attracts and directs the members. As in experiments on persuasion, a credible communicator is someone the audience perceives as expert and trustworthy…

Trust is another aspect of credibility.

The Message
The vivid, emotional messages and the warmth and acceptance with which the group showers lonely and depressed people can be strikingly appealing.

The Audience
… most (recruits) are educated, middle-class people who, taken by the ideals, overlook the contradictions in those who profess selflessness and practice greed, who pretend concern and behave indifferently…

Potential converts are often at turning points in their lives…. Times of social and economic upheaval are especially conducive to someone who can make apparent simple sense out of the confusion…

Group Effects
External ties weaken until the group collapses inward socially, each person engaging only with other group members. Cut off from families and former friends, they lose access to counter-arguments. The group now offers identity and defines reality.

… Between education and indoctrination, enlightenment and propaganda, conversion and coercion, therapy and mind control, there is but a blurry line.

Condemning persuasion because of deceit is like condemning eating because of gluttony.

… for the persuader, an ineffective appeal can be worse than none.

To be critical thinkers… build your resistance to persuasion without becoming closed to valid messages… Be an active listener and critical thinker. Force yourself to counterargue.

Cult (also called new religious movement) A group typically characterized by (1) distinctive rituals and beliefs related to its devotion to a god or a person (2) isolation from the surrounding “evil” culture, and (3) a charismatic leader. (A sect, by contrast, is s spinoff from a major religion.)

So what?
The distinction between a culture and a cult is worth considering. The all encompassing environmental context of a culture seems to be a differentiating factor lacking in a cult. The grounding and rooting function of a culture is not as evident in the sense of unit offered by a cult. Here again, the need to belong and to be an individual could adds into the behavioral formula.

Module 17
The Mere Presence of Others

Are we affected by the mere presence of another person? “Mee presence” means people are not competing, do not reward or punish, and, in fact, do nothing except be present as a passive audience or as co-authors. Would the mere presence of others affect a person’s jogging, eating, typing, or exam performance?

The social-facilitation effect…

…the presence of others hinders performance

Arousal enhances whatever response tendency is dominant. Increased arousal enhances performance on easy tasks for which the most likely –“dominant”—response is the correct one.

If social arousal facilitates dominant responses, it should boost performance on easy tasks and hurt performance on difficult tasks.

So, crowding enhances arousal, which facilitates dominant responses.

The enhancement of dominant responses is strongest when people think they are being evaluated.

A good theory is a scientific shorthand: It simplifies and summarizes a variety of observations. … A good theory also offers clear predictions that (1) help confirm or modify the theory, (2) guide new exploration, and (3) suggest practical applications. Social-facilitation theory has definitely generated the first two types of prediction: (1) The basics of the theory (that the presence of others is arousing and that this social arousal enhances dominant responses) have been confirmed, and (2) the theory has brought new life to a long-dormant field of research.

…(I)t also suggests (3) some practical applications… (open areas divided by low partitions in working areas) … Might the resulting awareness of others’ presence help boost the performance of well-learned tasks, but disrupt creative thinking on complex tasks?

So what?
Issues of presence could have significant influence of on-line education since the impact of arousal and crowding could be minimal. This could possibly mean that it could be a facilitative venue for achieving complex tasks.

Module 18
Many Hands Make Diminished Responsibility

Social loafing
The tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their efforts toward a common goal than when they are individually accountable.

Free-ride, they benefited from the group but gave little in return.

When being observed increases evaluation concerns, social facilitation occurs; when being lost in a crowd decreases evaluation concerns, social loafing occurs.

When rewards are divided equally, regardless of how much one contributes to the group, any individual gets more reward per unit of effort by free-riding on the group.

So what?
There is a gain in creating a structure of reflection and evaluation in which rewards are based on equity instead of equality.

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martes, mayo 03, 2005

Houston, there is a challenger here! 

Reviewing the second class. What a day!

Entered the classroom to arrange tables and chairs into a more collaborative work environment. Students started to filter in… oh good, I said “help with the tables”. And one of the students helped move the heavy tables. As others entered there was surprise about the change of the circle turning into smaller ones around the group and immediately questioned and or commented about the new arrangement. I spoke to one student who demanded me not to ask any more questions (!!!), and when she asked me, I answered and acknowledged that I wanted the same response. There was an undercurrent… something was going on….

Another student entered the room, and was greeted by words of support from another. I wondered … was there some trouble? Started class with the acknowledgement that today, we had a lot of work to do. Our dismissal last time early (25 minutes) was because of my ignorance about our class time ending at 6:15pm and not 6 pm. I started by asking for a summary about the first class and writing on the board those ideas. Immediately some students started to evaluate the class as being too many questions--- ahh I thought, that is what is a going on! Two more continued saying that is not what happens in the college and that they are used to lecturing. Another piped in that my style is Socratic! Humm, should I get into a definition of that? “No, we are not evaluating the class now.” I asked for a summary of last class--- and it seems that people are not studying… reviewing notes... otherwise I would be hearing about: and I carried on into topics that we discussed on the previous class.

We filled the board twice, even more with concepts. They where piping up with ideas, looking at their notes and with satisfaction noticing all we had covered. I presented and we discussed the concepts of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches in the Social Science and noticed that the distinction is subtle. I introduced the group presentation rubrics and questions came up about the requirements for the course. I announced that the participation rubric (a different one from the presentation rubric distributed previously) would be used everyday for a self score on their participation, and that score would be used instead of a presentation on the paper. They liked the option. I told them that I would distribute that second rubric later, after we got used to the presentation one in front of our eyes. (timing, how can I arrive at perfect timing?) For presentations we had ten criteria to rate and a process entailing peer-rating, self reflection (because they each had to rate themselves also, and my rating). An average score would be assigned under the presentation mark for group and individual presentations). There was more discussion about what the presentations would be and of course THE PAPER! What exactly do you want for the paper? I said that the presenting of the paper was optional and that the 4 presentations would be on the module, a group activity, the examples and participation. We had a lot to do now. We started with the first group…. Whose turn is it? I asked while I started to look for the list of presentations … papers everywhere!

Got the egg timer out, and assigned ten minutes for presentation… ten for discussion. OK, prepared! Where is the outline?, enough for everyone? A brave soul I thought, it is hard to be the first one. She went through the outline in 5 minutes! At that point, when she noticed that she had time, she gathered the examples she had collected for the module and showed them in a relaxed manner and quite interestingly! Clever! There was quite a bit of discussion… nice, I thought! Next…

Oh? Not here? She’s been threatening to not present…. Anxious about presenting… (we’ve been taking deep breath together…. And she does not believe that everyone has anxiety about presenting…) Ok, who follows? And the next person started organizing (what would I have done without the egg timer!). Outlines … I have not talked about outlines… at this point the presenter was loading her outline from the computer and I asked where the printed copies where.. (no printed copies for everyone, humm! Clearer guidelines needed)… make sure to print your outlines and make enough copies for everyone! AND PUT YOUR NAME ON EVERYTHING YOU GIVE ME…. Ok, she is using the computer… wonderful, a contribution to the techie indoctrination!!!! Look at the screen when you talk, that way you face the audience… otherwise you face the wall and we would loose you. It looked like an outline, great… can I remember what she is saying? Oh yes, a more thorough description of Zimbardo’s experiment on roles and prisons there seems to be too many words… Ok, timing is good… I started asking for summaries, for statements of consequence…. So What???? Interesting discussion, a student compared her experience being in jail with the exhibit of prisons by Zimbardo, which basically meant that the prison was a heaven for her and it offered her structure for her rehabilitation. The discussion turned into ethical issues, and how through the years social experiments have had to approximate the conditions being studied.

It is soo interesting to be in a guiding position wanting to challenge and facilitate. The woman who was anxiously dealing with her fear of presenting did such a fantastic job! Her topic was intuition… she was able to share some dramatic events in her life entailing premonition and we where able to discuss if it was a self-fulfilling prophesy. I was able to gauge how my responses increased or reduced her discomfort…. Giving my back to her or having eye contact worked sometimes in different ways… and of course, how could I not talk about the subject! At the end of her time, everyone was there cheering her and glad that she was able to take on the challenge of presenting so well.

We took a break… (or thought I would)… instead was meeting with the student how was absent the first day… encouraged her to catch up specially since she was participating nicely in the discussion and made good contributions to the dynamic… eager to go! YES! But I also underlined that there was a lot to catch up! So, go for it, but absences don’t work in this setting. Humm, this model of intense teaching in half a semester…. How can it work? And for whom? How can I match people with resources…. Without dragging those flying? How can the law of the average work for the advanced students? Should they be facilitators? The other idea is to separate the high achievers from the ones behind and keep two modes going… OMG! How can I even think of doing that!!!! How are we all going to dance the excellence rumba!

Back to the room. I have not had a break I informed those listening. And everyone wanted more information about the papers. I did an outline of what the structure of the paper was and most acknowledged their familiarity with the concept. I offered to leave some links with information about the parts of the report on “Manhattan”: the computerized learning environment. We did two more individual presentations. One of them was interestingly focused on the job experience of the presenter. I suggested to her after the presentation to have made more of a feature of explaining where and what her job was so that the context of her description would frame/contextualize her comments. The time management became predictable and useful. In some instances discussion flowed nicely and by the last presentation we where running short of time for discussion. I am sure that the presentation mark helps with participation--- (Grankageva, you are a genius!).

Opening a half an hour slot of time for small group discussion seemed appropriate then (conceptually), and they had as the task to review the examples they brought and identify the best ones. Then papers started to pour all over the place! No names on papers, …how am I to know whose they are. A student started asking for clarification about the structure I was giving. On the last hour of class, when it was time to listen to the two last presentation—I am looking for the presentation rubrics to give markers and cannot find them…I tell everyone to submit their work in a folder. The egg timer was ticking, students all set, papers everywhere… raters are assigned.. (where are those presentation rubrics???) The same student says… you now want us also to get envelopes to put all our materials in it…? I sat back, took time to mouthful of air, heard the person next to me say… it is ok… (you think?)….

Use your copies of the rubrics now, or hand write them (as someone suggested)… and let’s move on. The group was seating on the side of the room, next to the computer. Their presentation seemed like that of 2 groups… I even marked them as that.. two separate ratings. I noticed that the previously anxious presenter was happily presenting and that the first presenter was really a fantastic resource through out the class… what a nice mix!!!! The use of a webpage for a demonstration was nice and the discussion was short but informative.

We had all in all 5 presentations, (peer ratings, self ratings, teacher ratings), discussion about the examples, explanation about the paper and how reports are constructed in Psychology, and adjustments made for a student who was absent the first day. Self-ratings on participation, comments in 3x5 cards about what their papers where on. Was given an article to review its appropriateness for a paper…. Told students to let me know in their communications how I could assist and that I was a resource for them. At the end of class a student stayed on and discussed her paper and also commented about the tension in the classroom being typical… an initiation ritual of sorts!!!! WOW, I don’t need that… I am so glad to know that the “Socratic” method leads to learning--- I better research the term, I was using experiential-participatory before.

OK, what would Doernyei, say about motivational practices?

About Creating the Basic Motivational Conditions I could tell that norm setting and monitoring in a group seems to take a lot of the time… specially when they are developed in the process. Ultimately I wonder how a pleasant environment can be created with so much setting up of structure and rules….

Generating Initial Motivation-- there seemed to be some positive acknowledgement about the complexity of the topics presented here and the subjectivity of the demonstrations and examples. Students where able to link examples and concepts to the discussion and finding patterns within the discussion started to emerge…. (for example, is an attribution bias an error?). The extent to which the class will reach a stated goal –other than the grade…, and issues of intrinsic motivation remain a challenge to most students. The rubrics could work as goals, but they are external. And for one student, intrinsic motivation was demonstrated as she saw ways to improve on an excellent presentation and participation!

Maintaining and Protecting Motivation. How can I keep offering motivation, autonomy and structure, and norms. We did work solid and had a mix of activities…. We where paying attention, rating, presenting, participating… and me—under a cloud of information--- my goal: that overwhelming feeling has to change!
How can the self motivation increase?

Encouraging Positive Self-Evaluation. Now is the time to signal the best outlines, pinpoint what worked in the presentations, and highlight interesting approaches. I did that with some of the students in my written comments, and other times as statements for all to hear. Rewards, encouragement, acknowledgement of their effort…. I’ll keep an eye on that.

Ok, next! Reams of paper and 8 modules for next class!

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