Dear aspiring graduate students,
Spring is in the air! The birds are chirping, and a grad school rejection letter is in your inbox. Okay, this may not be completely true, but some of you may feel this way during this time of year. Grad school is a tough road to hoe, and the application process is no exception.
When I applied to grad programs, everyone warned me to expect rejection letters. I was told to apply everywhere, with hopes of getting in somewhere. I took this advice to heart, and applied to at least 12 different programs (foreshadowing: I don’t even remember how many schools I applied to). Most of them were doctoral programs, but a couple were also “back-up” master’s programs. At the end of the day, I received over 9 rejection letters. It was heartbreaking.
However, to all of those disheartened undergraduates, we at The Novice Professor wanted to send you some words of encouragement. Over the next week, Karly & Jen will share their perspective on the tumultuous route to graduate school. While it may seem like you have hit a roadblock on your pursuit to graduate school and your career, it is really just a minor detour.
Guest Contributor: Dr. Bob DuBois, Waukesha County Technical College
In 2009, I attended my first National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP) and started thinking deeply about how to transform students to lifelong learners. As a result, my students, colleagues, and I will never be the same. In 10 years, the drive to incorporate the science of learning into my teaching has prompted a campus lifelong learning book club, a series of four student workshops, two full-day professional development in-services, and numerous professional keynote presentations, workshops, and seminars. And, of course, I attend NITOP every year.
Initiating a Lifelong Learning Book Club helped initiate discussions across my campus about the science of teaching and learning. It even convinced some to abandon popular myths about learning (e.g., learning styles). Each semester, we read, reflect on, and discuss at least one current book. We began with Daniel Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School? and as of this spring, we have read 21 books, including, for example:
Welcome to The Novice Professor's new website! Ciara and Jen have both mentioned that The Novice Professor was on the move. We are excited to welcome you to our new website. Our mission hasn't changed. At The Novice Professor, we strive to bring you new insights into the world of higher education.
We are all grateful for your interest in our website, and hope you continue to follow us! To stay up-to-date with The Novice Professor, you can follow the twitter hashtag #TheNoviceProfessor. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, or want to contribute to the blog, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
Stay tuned, we have a new post coming soon!
Written by Karly Schleicher
If you follow me on twitter, you know I am a huge fan of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast. A while back, I was listening to some old episodes I had missed. I discovered a series they did called You 2.0, where each episode discusses research that could help improve our day-to-day lives. The series covered a variety of topics, but one in particular made me reflect on my teaching practices.
I saw an interesting article on PHYS.org the other day that got me thinking about how we design and implement assignments and projects in our classes.
The article was written by Sam Birmingham, a coordinator of a company that promotes tech startups in Australia. The article discusses how children should play with their LEGO sets to improve their skills…..the answer is not by following instructions. Birmingham’s article acknowledges that when children create builds independently, following the directions for a given set, their confidence and basic skill are improved. However, he encourages us to then throw away the instructions and encourage children to play collaboratively and come up with their own ideas. In doing so, they gain more complex skills that become important later on. An expert quoted in the article makes a clear connection between the different kinds of play and future careers, suggesting that instruction following jobs are becoming automated and that jobs will be in areas where creativity is necessary.
I think these ideas are highly important and relevant in our classrooms. Are we creating students who follow instructions or are we creating students who can think creatively and work with others?
Teaching is something I’ve had the opportunity to do my entire graduate career. I feel very fortunate for this because I’ve been told that some graduate programs don’t afford students teaching opportunities until they’re much more advanced.
My very first day of graduate school at Illinois State University (ISU) was the day I taught my first class. I was the instructor of a research methods writing lab. The Friday before, I met with my supervisor, and during that meeting with him, he gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me through the years: fake it ‘til you make it. His words stuck with me especially through the first semester at ISU. I was a brand new graduate student, and mere months ago I was an undergraduate just like my students; however, I knew the course material and was going put my best foot forward to teach it to them. I didn’t know every little detail about how things would unfold throughout the semester, but I didn’t let that detract from my credibility.