Archive for February, 2012

Should Professors Use Facebook to Communicate with Students?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Nearly 85% of faculty have a Facebook account, two-thirds are on LinkedIn, and 50% are on Twitter according to research from Faculty Focus. But, professors’ use of social media shows we are behind the relationship curve when it comes to connecting with students. Only 32% have friended undergrad students and about half (55%) connect with some students after graduation.

Some faculty may be hesitant to friend students on Facebook. To do so on an isolated basis can send the wrong signals, and I know some faculty prefer to keep a clear line between the role of teacher and student. So, why might instructors want to connect with current students on Facebook?

First, it’s where students are. With the help of the students in our upper level marketing courses, we recently surveyed over 500 students regarding their social media use. Over two-thirds (69.8%) are on Facebook every day. In case you’re wondering, 63% also have Twitter accounts and half (49.8%) check them daily. As teachers, our job is to communicate with students. Sure, we can communicate with them in other ways. But, if you want to speak to your audience in the way they prefer and in the way they communicate with each other, you’ll connect through social media. That’s what I do and I learn a lot from my students that way as they often post industry-related articles on Twitter or Facebook to my attention.

Second, anyone who studies marketing knows that social influence is a primary factor in consumer decision making. If you want to influence others in any meaningful way, you must provide value within their social circles. Granted, the kind of value faculty may offer students via social media is questionable. Even if we think we are cool, odds are pretty high we are not. But, students don’t expect us to be cool. They know we are their instructors, not their peers. That means their expectations are pretty low. That said, what makes a good friend is often just being there. If you’re not there and not aware of what’s going on in their lives, you will have a harder time relating to them.

Third, you can overcome sending the wrong signals to students by inviting all students in your classes to friend you on Facebook. They are smart enough to know they can do so and still screen who sees what on their posts. So, no need to worry that they will be afraid you’ll get too close to them. By the same token, you can designate students into specific friends lists that you can choose when you want to post to them or not. If you don’t know how, just ask a student.

by Kirk Wakefield.

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Brief History of Psychology

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Contemporary psychology deals with a vast range of topics; while at the same time looks into human behavioral patterns and mental processes from the cultural level to the neural level. Psychologists study all matters pertaining to human mental issues that begin right from birth and continue until the death of the person. So, by gaining full understanding of the history of psychology, you will be able to better understand how the individual topics are studied and what has been learned so far.

Questions put forward during the Formation of Psychology
Right from the very beginning, the study of psychology has been faced with a number of difficult questions. The first question of how is psychology defined established it as a separate science, separate from philosophy and physiology. Other additional questions that psychologists were also faced with throughout the history of the subject were:

  • What issues and topics should the subject of psychology deal with?
  • What methods of research should be used when studying psychology?
  • Should research be used in order to influence education, public policy and other aspects of human behavior?
  • Is psychology a science?
  • Should psychology focus on internal mental processes or on observable behavior?

The Emergence of Psychology: Physiology and Philosophy

While psychology did not really emerge as a separate science until the latter half of the 19th century, its initial history can be traced right back to the ancient Greeks. During the 1600’s, the famous French philosopher, Rene Descartes, introduced the concept of dualism, which stressed on the fact the body and the mind were basically two separate entities that interacted together to form the normal human experience. Many of the other issues that are still debated by psychologists today, like relative contributions of nature vs. nurture, are deep-rooted in these early philosophical concepts.

So why is psychology different from philosophy? While many of the early philosophers relied heavily on methods like logic and observation, the psychologists of today tend to use methods to study and come to conclusions about the human behavior and thought. Physiology also made large contributions towards the eventual emergence of psychology as a science. Early physiology research on behavior and brain had a very dramatic impact on psychology as it is today, ultimately leading to the application of many scientific methodologies that study the human behavior and thought.

Psychology as a Separate Scientific Discipline
During the mid 19th century, Wilhelm Wundt, a German physiologist started using scientific research methods to look into reaction times. His works outlined many of the most important connections between physiology and psychology.

So what were Wundt’s views on psychology? He looked upon the subject as a study of the human consciousness and even sought to apply certain experimental methods in order to study the internal mental processes. While this process today is known as introspection and is considered to be highly unscientific and unreliable, in those days it helped set the stage for all the future experimental methods. And although his influence began to dwindle in the years to come, this impact on the subject is definitely unquestionable.

The First School of Thought
One of Wundt’s most famous students, Edward B Titchener, went on to become one of the founders of psychology’s very first school of thought. According to structuralism, the human consciousness can be broken down into small parts. Using introspection, trained students attempted to break down reactions and responses to the most basic of all perceptions and sensations.

Though structuralism is notable because of its emphasis on scientific research methods, it is considered to be unreliable, subjective and limiting today. When Titchener died, the concept of structuralism also dies with him.

Psychology really flourished in America in the 19th century. William James came out on top as the leading American psychologist during this period and his principles of psychology made him the Father of American Psychology. His ideas and concepts served as the foundation for a new school of thought, which was known as functionalism. Functionalism focused on how the human behavior works towards helping people comfortably in their respective environment. Functionalists use methods like direct observation. The functionalists however stressed on the fact that consciousness is an ever-changing and more continuous process. Although functionalism is no longer considered to be a school of thought, it however did go on to influence the next generation of psychologists.

Sigmund Freud
Until this point, psychology tended to stress more on the conscious human experience. However, Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian physician changed the whole face of psychology in such a dramatic way by putting forward a theory of personality that stressed on the importance of the unconscious mind. His work with patients suffering from mental ailments like hysteria led him to believe that our early childhood experiences as well as our unconscious impulses contribute greatly towards the development of our adult behavior and personalities.

According to him, psychological disorders are basically the result of unconscious conflicts that take place within us, and that become unbalanced or extreme. His theory had a huge impact on the 20th century psychology, influencing the mental well-being as well as in many other fields like literature, art and popular culture. Although many of his concepts are looked upon with skepticism today, his influence on modern psychology cannot be questioned.

The Emergence of Behaviorism
Psychology evolved dramatically during the 20th century and another school of thought known as behaviorism became dominant. Behaviorism was a very big change from all the previous theoretical perspectives, and rejected emphasis on the conscious as well as the unconscious mind. Instead it strove to make the discipline a more scientific one by stressing on observable behavior.

Behavior stresses on the fact, that the subject matter of psychology is basically the behavior of a human being. The impact of this school of thought was enormous and it dominated the scene for almost 50 years. Even though it eventually lost its importance, the basic principles of behaviorism are still used today. Therapeutic methods like token economies and behavioral modification are often used to help kids overcome maladaptive behavior and to learn new skills. Conditioning is used in most situations ranging from education to parenting.

The Third Force or Humanistic Psychology
Although behaviorism and psychoanalysis dominated the first half of the 20th century, a new school of thought, known to us as humanistic psychology emerged during the latter half of the 20th century. Referred to most as the ‘Third Force’ in psychology, this theoretical concept lays emphasis on conscious experiences.

by Natasha Bantwal.

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Enhancing our science education

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Compared to other subjects, students see learning of science as mainly the transmission of facts and contents that are of little relevance to life.

RECENTLY attention has been on the lack of interest among our students in Science in schools.

This issue perhaps needs elaboration and continued engagement because in the context of the K-economy and Malaysia’s developmental policies, science, technology and innovation (STI) are critical drivers.

The current data seems to show that our manpower needs in important areas such as engineering, ICT, health and agriculture are still far from adequate (our unfulfilled needs range from 30% to 50%). Then how about our need for Science teachers?

There are also indicators that highlight the critical need for Malaysia’s Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) to be boosted.

According to one source, as an STI funder Malaysia ranks fourth behind Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco among OIC countries in terms of GERD being a percentage of GDP.

At a recent international science education symposium at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, attended by researchers from all over the world, the gravity of the situation in the decline in the interest in science was declared in a “statement of concern” which began with the sharing of actual worldwide data confirming the range of interest as being from “little” to active dislike for science.

Compared to other subjects, students see learning of Science as mainly the transmission of facts and contents that are of little relevance to life as well as Science being more “difficult” than other subjects.

by Prof. Datin Dr. Azizan Baharuddin.

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Science Activities for Preschoolers

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It is very rightly said, that there’s no age for education and it applies to humans right from a very young age. Preschoolers or toddlers from the age group of 2 to 5 years are in a very vulnerable age. This is the best age group, when they are the most inquisitive and curious about so many things. They want to know everything that is happening around them, which are the different colors, tastes, smells and creatures that are present. Science is something that is present all around us and everything in nature has a reason for its existence. Thus, there are many science activities for preschoolers which are used to test their intelligence and the ways that these children react to certain smells and tastes. If you’re looking for such science activities for preschool kids either in your family or school, take a look at the following ideas which might be useful.

Science Activities For Preschool Kids

In science, there are a few basic fields like biology, physics and chemistry. You wouldn’t expect a preschooler to know what these are, but when you classify science activities for them, it is important to show them the difference. Thus we here, have tried to make an attempt in listing out a few science activities for preschoolers from the three basic subjects of science. Thus, read on to find out the various fun as well as educative activities, which can be very useful to teach preschoolers the basics of science. More on school activities and science activities for kids.

Biology literally means the study of life, which includes both plants and animals. When you have to teach preschoolers about the biology around them, you can’t teach them the complicated names and classification they have. All you have to tell them is how to recognize a plant or an animal, by appearance, colors, habits and sometimes food. These activities can be making crafts of plants and animals like;

  • Butterfly
  • Frog
  • Snail
  • Bat
  • Birds
  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Flowers
  • Fruit trees

These easy crafts can be made out of paper or cardboard. This is a fun activity, as all these plants and animals have various shapes, sizes and colors so the kids find it very exciting to make as well as color them. You can also take your preschoolers to a zoo or a garden to make them aware of all these creatures and plants that exist around them, and they will be happy to learn about it, as they are very curious in this age. More on kids’ art activities.

Physics on the other hand deals with all the shapes and sizes present in nature. Kids also love to ask questions about the nature and its components. Thus, if you want to teach them something about physics, you can perform these experiments in the form of a magic show to excite them a little bit. These fun science activities for preschoolers can be;

  • Reflection of light
  • Air Experiments with the help of balloons
  • How is color produced
  • Various shapes present
  • Various types of rocks
  • What is magnet?
  • Experiments for Static Electricity
  • Physical changes that occur in daily life
  • Constructing shapes with origami

More on outer space activities for preschoolers.

Another essential part of science is the subject of chemistry. There are chemical changes which are taking place all around us, every sec of our lives. You can carry out these chemical experiments also to make your preschoolers understand what is happening around them. Some chemical activities you can perform are;

  • Water forms (solid, liquid and gas)
  • Density of air and water by using eggs
  • Why liquids mix?
  • Absorption and Adsorption with sponge
  • Senses like hearing, feel, eyesight
  • Popcorn making
  • Volcano eruptions
  • Chemical change experiments

There are many more science activities for preschoolers which you can demonstrate to them at home or at school.

by Apama Jadhav.

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A Brief History of Emotional Intelligence

Monday, February 27th, 2012
  • 1930s – Edward Thorndike describes the concept of “social intelligence” as the ability to get along with other people.
  • 1940s – David Wechsler suggests that affective components of intelligence may be essential to success in life.
  • 1950s – Humanistic psychologists such as Abraham Maslow describe how people can build emotional strength.
  • 1975 – Howard Gardner publishes The Shattered Mind, which introduces the concept of multiple intelligences.
  • 1985 – Wayne Payne introduces the term emotional intelligence in his doctoral dissertation entitled “A study of emotion: developing emotional intelligence; self-integration; relating to fear, pain and desire (theory, structure of reality, problem-solving, contraction/expansion, tuning in/coming out/letting go).”
  • 1987 – In an article published in Mensa Magazine, Keith Beasley uses the term “emotional quotient.” It has been suggested that this is the first published use of the term, although Reuven Bar-On claims to have used the term in an unpublished version of his graduate thesis.
  • 1990 – Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer publish their landmark article, “Emotional Intelligence,” in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality.
  • 1995 – The concept of emotional intelligence is popularized after publication of psychologist and New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

by Kendra Cherry.

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Going hyper over words and sounds

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

It can be trying to learn grammar especially when it involves words that are spelt the same but which may have different sounds and meanings.

ONE OF the difficulties that English Language Learners (ELL) have is to clarify and understand the difference between those words that belong to heteronym, homonym, hypernym, and hyponym families. These are challenging grammar categories that require intensive study.

Heteronym is a broad, general, definitional category for words that are spelt differently and have different meanings but are related because they are pronounced the same, i.e. related phonologically.

Homophones (same sound) and heterographs (different written form or spelling) are also classed as heteronyms because they too are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings, e.g. They’re going to their new house over there.

A Heteronym is also the term used for another name of something in another language, e.g. The English word: park, is the Heteronym of the French word: parc. The Antonym or opposite of a Heteronym (different name) is a Homonym (same name).

Heterographs are words that are spelt differently and have different meanings but that sound the same, e.g. pour, poor, pore. Orthographically, that is, spelling-wise, they are different and therefore clearly fit the definition of a heterograph. Phonologically, that is sound-wise, they are the same and therefore can also be called homophones.

As heterographs have different names and meanings but are related phonologically because they make the same sound, they can be placed in the broader, general category of Heteronym (different name).

The antonym or opposite of a heterograph (different spelling or written form) is a homograph (same spelling or written form).

Heterophones are words that are pronounced differently even though they are spelt the same, that is, they are different phonologically.

They also have different meanings. Another name for a heterophone is a homograph (written or spelt the same). e.g. The sailors tied a huge blue bow to the bow of the ship. I refuse to allow you to dump refuse in the park.

Both heterophones and homographs are sub-groups of homonyms (same name). The antonym or opposite of a heterophone (different sound) is a Homophone (same sound).

Homonyms are words that have the same name, that is, they are orthographically related or are spelt the same. Homonyms have different meanings but are pronounced the same, e.g. I will boil the water to bathe the boil on his leg. — The girl I met at the fair had fair hair.

Homographs are a subgroup of Homonyms because they too are spelt the same and have different meaning. However, unlike the pure homonym, homographs are pronounced differently, e.g. You must refuse to allow him to dump his refuse in that vacant allotment.

Homophones also are classed as a sub-group of Homonyms. Like homonyms, they are pronounced the same and have different meanings but they are different because they are spelt differently. The Antonym or opposite of a homonym (same name) is a heteronym (different name).

Homographs are words that are orthographically related, that is, they are spelt the same but which are pronounced differently and have different meanings, e.g. The minute he arrived he began talking about his trip in minute detail. — The sailors tied a huge blue bow to the bow of the ship.

by Keith Wright, the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S)

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Have faith in yourself

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Give your best shot and let not anxiety and self doubt weigh you down when entrusted with a task.

SELF-doubt is a grave word. Who can say they have never had moments when they felt they had bitten off more than they can chew?

If you, for instance, have just been given a new responsibility at school that frightens you out of your mind, I think you’ll know what I mean.

When I say this, I am thinking of a friend who has just been promoted to being the head of the Science and Mathematics department at her school. She called me up in a panic and wailed, “I don’t think I’m ready for this! What shall I do!?”

Will it help if I tell you that only very recently United States President Barack Obama himself confessed that he self-guesses himself all the time!

You must remember that Obama is rated as a man of supreme self-confidence, and Jolie, why — she’s near perfect, isn’t she?

Let me digress a little. I was only 26, when a much older teacher (who was probably fed up with being head of the Science panel at school) decided that he could hand over the mantle to me. Of course, I was inexperienced and had little to say in protest except that I was too young for the post!

Sure, he was persuasive. “Don’t worry, it’ll be a breeze, I’ll be here to help you, If I can handle it, you can …” he said and soon after I ended up heading a group of laboratory attendants and a team of some 20 teachers — many with more experience than me.

You think I wasn’t scared at first? I felt, rather than knew, that such a heavy responsibility, should never have been given to a “greenie” like me, but I had no say on the matter. So dedicated was my predecessor to the cause of relinquishing his position that even before I could count to 10, I was already made to sign on the dotted line.

The truth is, yes I went through some pretty anxious moments. But, each time I thought I would go under, I somehow managed to stay afloat. However it turned out okay, and yes, I made mistakes but I learnt from that experience.

No room for retreat

With the job being mine at that time in my life, there was actually no room to “chicken out”.

“The worst case scenario,” I thought, was to tell them “Blame it on my inexperience!”

I did however, listen to my husband, who advised me to take stock up my strengths and use them. I had several. I was, for instance, a very organised person. This aided me considerably in taking my responsibility seriously and performing my duties assiduously. Come to think of it, I even chalked up progress where none had been thought possible.

Keeping the example of administrators I admired, I began to handle the job, the people and the challenges day by day. My learning curve soared. Yes, there were days I wish I was a like the other young teachers who had classes to teach but with no major responsibilities.

It also helped that I had been brought me up to take things in my stride. I was no stranger to hard work and things also worked in my favour. I sought mentors actively, read voraciously and thought creatively. Like I said, I did what I had to do to make it work.

by Nithya Sidhhu.

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Closing the gap between the ‘gens’

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

The great divide between the baby boomers and Gen Y is slowly narrowing and the way forward is for the former to understand and accept the latter’s culture and vice-versa if an amicable working relationship is to be developed.

Sure, every young job seeker below the age of 30 talks about the ideal Google office environment where it’s literally stripped of all conformity of an office.

“Like what?” you (if you’re below 30) might ask.

First, it is about your dressing when a person of your generation walks into interviews in spaghetti strap tees, jeans and sneakers. The next is your need for work-life balance as part of your job expectations even though many from your generation might not have as yet worked a single day in your life. Another factor is your demand to have freedom to access social media during office hours as you find that staying connected is indeed necessary.Unfortunately, for these youngsters, a larger population of those in managerial positions are still those from the baby boomers era and would still turn up their noses to these demands.


So how does one strike a compromise? I would say all job application rules should apply. That would include research such as getting into the minds of these managers and seeing what they expect, how to make a good first impression (like taking off the jeans and sneakers for something more formal) and request not demand for access to social media especially when you can point out its advantages in helping the company collect data. (This is more plausible as managers now are more open to social media being a useful tool for research).

With the recent move to extend retirement age, it is likely that the baby boomers and Gen X managers will stay in employment a lot longer. This would also mean a compromise in expectations between the two generations is very much needed.

It may be useful to take note that whatever the managers know about the Gen Y culture is through the reports they read and supported by their limited dealings with them which is usually confined to their own children.

And, often reports paint rather unflattering pictures of the young job seekers. A quick glance at some of the reports have given me the impression that more than 50% of them don’t pay their credit card bills, demand flexible hours and rather take a lower-paying job that allows them to facebook at work!

Hence, your first job before you get employed would be to brand yourself and to convince your employer why it would be worthwhile to hire you.

by Paul Kam.

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Sex, babies and books

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Many parents dread it when their young ones ask them where they came from. Some parents relied on a children’s sex education book aptly titled Where Did I Come From? but the book has since been banned for its graphic content.

MUMMY, where did I come from?” When her daughter asks this question, says a freelance copywriter who wishes to be known only as Suet, she will be prepared with the right answer.

“I will talk about sex with my daughter as soon as she starts asking questions,” says Suet, 29.

“I would rather my child learned about sex from me than from other sources such as the media.”

But there is one source that she would not mind learning from, and it is a book that has been recently banned in Malaysia.

Suet says she only heard of the book titled Where Did I Come From? when the controversy surrounding it first emerged.

This naturally piqued her interest and she has managed to get a PDF version of the book from the Internet.

“I can’t speak for all parents but I think it has been tastefully done in an educational way,” she says.

She also admits to having ordered the book online and is keeping her fingers crossed that it would arrive soon.

It is a fact that many parents still dread hearing these questions from their young ones, and many would probably fob off the question by saying a baby was a special delivery by a stork or that they were found in the hospital.

It was to help parents explain such things that inspired British writer Peter Mayle to write the book, which is described on its cover as the facts of life without any nonsense and with illustrations.

The book which Mayle dedicated to parents everywhere has been sold in Malaysia for quite a while, and many have used it to educate their children about the “birds and the bees”.

by Rashvinjeet S Bedi.

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Creating a sacred work space

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

A CONDUCIVE workplace is vital for a person’s career development, personal protection, as well as harmony in the office.

Preparing such a space can be challenging, unless the individual has a private office. However, it’s not impossible because there are several ways to go about it.

Most working people spend the prime hours of their day in a room or cubicle or an open office space, and are exposed to vibrations that can have adverse effects on them.

Fatigue, weakness, restlessness, aches, poor concentration and high levels of stress are all linked to artificial light and electromagnetic radiation via electronic equipment like computers and mobile phones.

One good way to create an auspicious work area is to perform regular space clearing to flush out the negative energies, and attract positive vibrations. Choose a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed – before you start work or after working hours. Discard all old newspapers, unused books and clutter on or under the table to free the space and allow fresh energies to flow in freely.

After you have cleaned up your workstation, have a private corner to create a sacred space. In this protective zone, you can build an unobtrusive “altar” by displaying anything that gives you comfort and peace. It can be an image of living or departed saints, a guardian angel, or someone with whom you feel safe and happy.

Remember, your guardian will never take the offensive against a person or situation that makes you feel vulnerable. But it will offer a mantle of protection around you, and strengthen your aura levels so that negative energies cannot get to you.

To promote good vibrations at work, pay respect to the holy space you have created by viewing it before you start your day.

If you are having trouble with a colleague, place an indoor plant between the two of you to offer protection. Display plants and fresh flowers that have protective qualities, such as fern and jasmine.

by T. Selva.

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