Spotlight Post #3 – Year Long Education

Growing up, my school year always started in September and went until mid-June. Our summer vacation lasted mid-June to August for a total of around two-and-a-half months off school. We typically went Monday through Friday with occasional breaks and Christmas and Spring Break. It was not until my pen pal from Indiana told me about her year long school system that I was introduced to an alternative schooling method. Schools around the country vary in the education systems. Tne long-running debate about better education for children is between year-round schooling versus the traditional nine month period.

PRO

Maine Taste Force’s report on year-round education describes the details of the system and its benefits for Maine’s students. Year-round schooling, despite its name, still has the same average 180 school days as a typical system. School occurs during all twelve months of the year with a cycle of around three months of education and one month of vacation. They can, in addition, have a multiple schedule system. Teachers and students are broken into different groups with each group’s education and vacation periods staggered a month following the previous group. One group is on break while the rest are in session.

Maine promotes year-round schooling as it can increase education potential. Other school reports have discovered positive implements of year-round education. Oxnard California year-round schools saw an increase in reading, writing and mathematics scores. A Virginia high school had an increase in state testing scores. Second it has increased attendance. Due to the an increase in vacations, students are less prone to call in sick days. Schools in Jefferson County, Colorado saw drop out rates decrease from five percent to two percent. It is believed that missing a smaller period is more beneficial versus a period in the traditional system. Third, it increases information retention. Students lose the information they have learned over the course of nine months during summer vacation in a traditional run school, and teachers have to review previous information for a significant period during the beginning of the school year. In year-round school, with only a month’s break, more time can be spent teaching new material thus increasing learning. Last, breaks give opportunities for students and families alike. Extra classes as a prerequisite classes, additional classes, or make up work can be scheduled.

Alberta, Canada is home to more than 20 schools that have year-round schedules. The Globe and Mail shared to the public Peel District School Board’s four-year study that followed students at Roberta Bondar Public School, a year-round school, with control traditional school. Results revealed similar results to the points Maine Task Force listed: greater retention and increased time on new material. Summer activities including camps, a counterpoint that people use against year-round schedules because of conflicts, are mainly affordable only by the higher socioeconomic classes. For parents who have difficulty finding activities or supervision for their children due to work, year-round schools offer easier options. Even the students support this alternative method. Thirteen year old Amandeep Pabla states that it eliminates spending time in front of a screen, eating junk food, and forgetting past year’s lessons. Sacha Malhi, a nine years-old enjoys having multiple breaks during the year versus one lengthy break.

CON

Boyd F. Jensen, a former Utah State Board of Education member, shares his opinion in favor of traditional schooling. Six elementary schools in Salt Lake City Utah (in 2011) were running on the year-round schooling system. There was no academic advantage for those in year-round as only half of the students met Utah government’s Adequate Yearly Progress in comparison to the 80% of traditional students. Funding the school year around is also is more costly. Some of the $128,000 increase goes towards air conditioning the schools in August. Jensen advices putting money towards group tutoring, a method that has been study supported. Paul von Hippel’s study shows that the alternative schooling had no effect on the student’s education. Teachers spent the same amount of time reviewing information at the start of the academic year regardless of method. Summer break gives time for students to work, attend tutoring, practice other skills, and spend time with family. These aspects are just as important. The applause for teaching goes to the teachers, parents, and students, not the calendar.

Matthew Lynch advocates for year-round schooling; however, in his article, he brings to light three concerns people have against it. He seconds the expensive aspect of year round schooling especially during the summer hours where air-condition is continually run. Bills tend to increase four to eight percent. Especially with multi-track schooling, this adds an additional three months of billing. Yearly additions to bills may be a financial struggle or an reason to increase tuition. The second point is the diminished time spent outside. Break during summer allows time for children to spend time outside, and this time away creates a healthier growth. The last argument is the scheduling conflicts in year-round schooling. The community is concerned about the ability to find childcare during the more frequent breaks and conflicts with camps that run multiple weeks or the majority of the summer time.

Conclusion

After reading about multiple aspects of year round education, I can see both sides of the argument. The main argument for year-round schooling is the claim that it will reduce education loss during the break. I personally think that either way, there is going to be learning loss between breaks. Students are taught to quickly memorize information, reproduce it on tests, and repeat with new information. The previous information are disregarded. With less memory pathways the information is lost eventually. Much of the information from my world cultures class senior year of high school is lost. The focus is geared towards grades for college, and if students do not enjoy the subject they may not have the desire to remember it. To pick a side, I currently lean towards traditional schooling, but I am not disregarding year-round schooling benefits. I have enjoyed spending my three months of vacation with family, friends, and at camps. Though I cannot disagree with the fact that many kids are now spending time indoors with technology.  I do think that year-round can help with memory.

I think a solution to this dilemma is a mixture of both traditional and year-round. Boyd Jensen’s mention of how it’s not the calendar that teaches children, got me thinking.  After almost completing my first year of college, having the small breaks between learning (a month vacation between fall and spring semester and several four through seven day breaks) helped with my mental health and motivation. I think expanding the school year frame slightly to maybe just two months of vacation and then put more breaks to divide the semester would be helpful. In addition, adding summer work due the following year could help with retention. I remember always having a summer work packet for my math classes to help with retention. I think memory loss can be reduced if we look into other methods not just a calendar change.

References

Jensen, B.F. (2011, January 30). Year-round schools don’t work, so districts should abandon the idea. Desert News. Retrieved from https://www.deseretnews.com

Lynch M. (2016, October 27). 3 reasons not to adopt year-round schooling. Retrieved from The Advocate website: http://www.theedadvocate.org/3-reasons-not-to-adopt-year-round-schooling/

Maine Task Force. (January 1994). Rethinking the school calendar. A report of maine’s task force on year around education. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED380905.pdf

Stechyson N. (2010, August 6). Students in year-round schools do better, study shows. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com

Media Production Project

Mothers undergo many changes as they embark on the journey of pregnancy and motherhood, but unbeknownst to them, their brain may be going under significant changes to help with childcare.

A five-year study carried out by Elseline Hoekzema and 12 other researchers, published December 2016, shares research on the brain’s grey matter (GM) during pregnancy. Results revealed a decrease in GM across various regions of the brain. Researchers claim these reductions occur in areas that enrich emotional skills, facial recognition, and social skills and ultimately mothering.

Twenty-five women wishing to become pregnant and 20 control women, informed by word of mouth and flyers from a fertility clinic in Spain, participated in the study. Prior to conception and two months following delivery, both groups of women underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cognitive tests to study pregnancy effects on GM regions and cognition. Researchers found drastic GM reductions in the pregnancy group predominantly in the anterior and posterior midline, prefrontal cortex, and temporal cortex of the brain-areas involved in social behavior, and decision making. Reductions were also in the hippocampus, surface area, and cortical thickness. The control group had no GM change. The cognition tests yielded no correlation between cognition and pregnancy. Two years following, eleven women who had not had a second pregnancy underwent MRI testing again to analyze the endurance of the reductions. All reductions remained except for those in the hippocampus.

Researchers also tested the mother’s relationship to their child to analyze the correlation between the GM reductions and mothering. Researchers used the Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale, and they found the size of the reduction correlated to whether the mother had more positive or negative reactions towards the baby. fMRI scans showed the most active brain regions when looking at pictures of one’s own child had GM reductions.

To make sure results were not impacted, researchers tested multiple variables for their effect. Conception and delivery methods, multiple births, and the baby’s sex had no effect. Male groups had no GM reduction limiting the brain change to pregnancy versus parenting. Studies are not without flaws. The sample population was made up of highly educated women in Spain and cannot be generalized to the public. Time spent with the child between delivery and the post-testing and lifestyle changes were also not considered. Additional research is needed to discover the diminishing molecule structure. While results show support, they do not prove a cause and effect as the participants cannot be ethically randomly assigned into groups.

This study gives the foundations to delve deeper on brain changes during pregnancy. Only future research can give us a better understanding on the vast power of our brain.

Word Count: News Article (1126), Own (444)

Reflection

I did not find summarizing the article too difficult. Having summarized the article twice already in the other two sections, I had a general knowledge of the article. In addition, the high word count of The New York Times article gave me ample room for my summarization. I did though try to keep it as brief as possible. Condensing is something I still need to work on because I have the tendency to overthink what is important. For example, I wanted to include the information about how there were also grey matter reductions during pregnancy in rats and similar reductions during puberty as other evidence of large grey matter changes. I decided at the end to not include it as my summary was sufficient without it. I kept in mind some of the questions posed for the pop article critique to help guide my writing. Since this post is on my public blog, it should be worded in terms that are understandable to the public. While writing, I added the five critical research questions to give an accurate description of the scholarly article. It gives legitimacy to the research. The questions also guided my writing in comparison to the news article. The news article left out some information regarding three of the questions. In my summary, I gave more depth into participant selection, generalization, and operationalization of grey matter. In comparison to the news article, the research article content is similar. I also did not include some of the information they included from the scholarly article, because I did not see the information as crucial to add. One example is the theory of mind discussion, and puberty. Another contrast is the news article included interviews with different scientists.

After this project, I have more respect for journalists and writers. It is difficult to discern from fake attention-grabbing news to what is legitimate in the media, and I am skeptical at times. I have learned anything published takes a large amount of work. I recently had work published in my school’s newspaper and literacy magazine through my first-year seminar and there is a great deal that goes on behind the scenes with editing and submitting. For sharing a scholarly article, the journalists have to first find an article, read it, and then summarize it. With all the technical terminology, I had difficulty understanding my article at times, and I applaud journalists for their ability to condense the article in an understandable article especially lengthy study articles. They would also have to submit the work to the editor, and revise. Their article may not even be published at times. Overall, this cumulative assignment exposed me to the world of journalism, article analysis, and creation of one’s own article.

News Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/health/pregnancy-brain-change.html

Scholarly Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.4458

References

Belluck, P. (2016, December 19). Pregnancy changes the brain in ways that may help mothering. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/

Hoekzema, E., Barba-Müller, E., Pozzobon, C., Picado, M., Lucco F., García-García, D.,…Vilarroya, O. (2017). Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Nature Neuroscience, 20, 287-296, doi:10.1038/nn.4458

Spotlight Post #2 – Study Skills Analysis

Studying is a daily activity in my life, as many of you can relate. We are in school for the large majority of the beginning of our life. Accompanying every class comes the copiousness amount of notes, tests, and papers, and in preparation for the multiple tests or “knowledge celebration day” as my psychology teacher calls it, we have our personal study habits. Everyone is different in how they study and what works best for them, but some methods are more beneficial for memory than others. The internet provides an abundance of advice from a variety of websites for those looking to improve their study habits for all ages. Today, I’ll be evaluating the memory study tips to see if what recommended is accurate.

For high schoolers, Beth Werrell of Connections Academy, offers four steps for efficient studying. She first recommends creating a schedule which is an effective method as it creates distributed practice. By spreading out material, you can focus on new material versus cramming all studying at the last minute. By using the spacing effect, it creates long-term recall and is one of the more reliable study methods. For note-taking, she describes creating you own system, using abbreviations, and using alternate organization diagrams such as mind maps. By organizing information through chunking or hierarchies (concepts and sub-concepts), it makes it more manageable and create better associations. By making concept maps or reorganizing all information, it can highlight connections between material. The more connections information has, the less likely it is to be forgotten. I agree in avoiding multitasking and distractions as our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Our sensory takes in stimuli from our environment, but what gets processed into our working memory (or short-term memory: current consciousness) depends on our attention. Multitasking splits our attention and some of the information gets lost and our work diminishes. Studying prior to bed actually is not that bad for you. Studying an hour before bed, as discovered by John Jenkins and Karl Dallenbach, is more retentive. Studying with friends, with flashcards, or in an environment similar to your classroom is also beneficial. Studying in groups, when all are focused, can allow compare of answers, time to ask questions, or create practice tests. It should not be the first time you go through material. Studying in ways similar to the exam-environment or material-can help with recall. With flashcards, you want to be sure to mix flashcards around by shuffling or flipping sides to not become overconfident and memorize based on order. Last, Werrell promotes staying healthy by eating healthy and getting enough sleep. She states the statistic that only 15% of teenagers get 8.5-10 hours of sleep. Actually, contrary to popular belief, eight hours is inaccurate. People sleep in sleep cycles of around 90 minutes, and getting full sleep cycles is most beneficial (6, 7.7, or 9 hr.) versus waking up mid cycle which makes you groggier. Sleep helps with memory storage as our brain replays recent knowledge, strengthenss connections, and storages information.

Lynchburg College’s Top Ten Study Skills are similar to Werrell’s tips, but separates them into Time Management, Note-Taking, Reading, and Test Preparation categories. Similar tips include scheduling study hours, study groups, reviewing consistently, and flashcards. Other helpful hints were rereading information and teaching others information or speaking it aloud. Not cramming, despite its commonality, is an important tip. By waiting to the last minute, you are relearning the information and there’s not enough time to fully retain it. Lack of pathways to memories makes it more difficult to recall. As stated previously, spacing your studying creates better recall. You also want to be wary of simply rereading your notes, especially last minute, and it is one of the biggest mistakes students make. You become over assured, there is no processing the information. You want to be able to recall the information-one of the more stronger types of recognition. Instead of just simply rereading information, use the testing effect. Self-test yourself on the information to see what you really know and where weaknesses are. You want to be able to expand the information and apply it. Furthermore, over highlighting can also be less effective. If you are to do this, do so sparingly. Visual guides can help, but a full page of color is overwhelming. Finally, teaching the information reveals the information you understand through recall. Elaboration and creating your own examples while teaching adds to the meaning.

The last article is from Great Schools and is directed towards parents of middle schoolers. Middle school is the transition point where students are starting to be given more homework and more independence, and applying good study skills at this time helps in the future. Staying organized is a method most encouraged though planners, organization systems, and scheduling. As previously stated, organizing information helps with remembering. Thoughts stay in working memory for around 90 seconds and if you don’t effectually encode it (work to remember it) you may lose the thought. Planners and organization systems can help with remembering information especially dates. The article also brings the light to use questions to help lead children to solutions. By asking questions, or turning information into questions students practice recall of information and verbalizing it. It also applies the testing effect. A different tip suggested is the use of acronyms. Mnemonics such as acronyms, peg words, or jingles chunks the information into familiar concepts. Chunking, in addition, helps expand working memory. Creating your own examples establishes more personal meaning to information and can improve recall.

Memory is a key concept in studying. Every person has preferences in processing types, and it may take some time to find what works best for you. Best of luck studying!

References

GreatSchool Staff. (2016, 22 February). Study skills for middle school and beyond. Retrieved from Great Schools website: https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/study-skills-for-middle-school-and-beyond/

LC Tutors & PASS Leaders. (n.d.). Top 10 study skills. Retrieved from Lynchburg College website: https://www.lynchburg.edu/academics/tutoring-academic-support/top-10-study-skills/

Macfarlane, I. (2017, October 28). General psychology mini-lecture 4: memory and studying. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU2QNlGPYxQ&feature=youtu.be

Myers, D. G., & DeWall, C. N. (2016). Exploring psychology (10th ed.). New York, US: Worth Publishers.

Werrell B. (2016, January 28). 4 steps to forming effective study skills in high school [blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.connectionsacademy.com/4-steps-to-forming-effective-study-skills-in-high-school/

Bonus Post – Johari Window

This past week, I completed an online Johari Window which combines our self-description about our personality with others. For this assessment, you pick six words from the given list that you would describe yourself as. Then using the link provided, you can send it to people you know to also pick six words that describes you. The website then organizes all the answers into a chart revealing what character descriptions that you and others picked, just others picked, just you picked, and words not used.

My Johari Window

I thought this was an interesting assignment and I enjoyed seeing other people’s responses. It shows you an alternate perspective of what people think of you in relation to how you see yourself. Initially, I had to narrow down my word choice as many words are similar in description. I see myself as many of the described words, but I took in consideration what words others may not know about me and more complex words versus basic. I also did not want to sound like bragging hence the reason why i chose knowledgeable versus intelligent. For my six words, half were also chosen, but three were not. I thought that was interesting in comparison to some of my other friends who also completed the assignment who had more in common words, but I decided to chose deeper words. My words were synonyms to what other people chose except for complex. Although I did not chose all the words, I can describe myself with many of the other words. Each of my friends and family were different in how they described me. One thought that passed my mind was the different relationships these people have with me. I had my parents, my friends from home (who have known me the maximum of nine years), and friends who I made this school year. Word choice is quite similar in manner so I find that my personality has not changed drastically since coming to college. Some words I would not have initially picked to describe myself are modest and warm; however, after reflecting, they fit me coming from the people who chose them.

I found this a reliable test of personality as it takes in consideration both our’s and other’s perspective. It gives the person a variety of words to chose from and does not box you into a set perspective. Johari shows you all the words that describes you along with percentage of commonality. We do tend to have a bias to see ourselves more positive. That being said there are limitations to how I conducted this assignment. I did send it to my friends and family which skewered the answers to people that know me more. To achieve a more rounded observation I could have set it to teachers or peers that know me, but not as closely. Additionally, I think more words could be added to show antonyms of the words, but I think the word list at the moment works well as it is.

Overall, I found this experience enlightening as it showed the varying degrees of how people perceive me ranging from people who have known me from birth to only seven months. I saw myself in varying degrees as some words were more chosen or words I personally would not have chosen first.

First Impressions #9

Of the thousands of songs that have debuted in the world, many of them are love songs. These songs are jammed to while blasted from the car radio or danced to at weddings. Some of these songs, however, are not what they seem. Although from the outlook they appear to sing about “love,” they actually refer to something more dark and negative. One example of a song is “The One I Love” by R.E.M.

The one repeated lyric “this one goes out to the one I love,” gives the impression that this was written as a dedication to the singer’s love. If you look at the lyrics further in the song, you get a different impression. The following lyric, “this one goes out to the one I’ve left behind” indicates the singer has separated from this person. Now one can view this as a leaving one behind for a short while such as long-distance relationships, trips, or military. It can also be interpreted as the end of a relationship. The next lyric is what juxtaposes the categorization of this song as a “love” song: “A simple prop to occupy my time.” The singer is referring to their partner as a “prop,” an inanimate object. The person had no importance in this person’s life and was only there for entertainment. This “prop” could be a one night stand or a summer fling. The singer could also be a player. The lyric later in the song, “another prop has occupied my time,” further justifies the inaccurate attribution of this song. The singer has found a new partner, again a “prop,” and currently thinks the same about this person as the previous relationships. It can also be thought as the singer taunting a previous lover as they now have a new relationship, but there is still a negative attitude towards this new person.

There are many songs out that actually imply something entirely different than the concrete lyrics. Many popular songs had innuendos. The lesson of the day: make sure you analyze the lyrics of the song prior to having it played on your wedding day.

Lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rem/theoneilove.html

First Impressions #8

Sleep. It is something everyone needs, but it is something that evades us all. Eight hours of sleep is the general concensious for healthy living with teenagers needing more to help support growth. Sleep helps recharge the body and solidify memories. Without proper sleep, the body may not be able to function at full capacity.

I admit, my sleep schedule is horrible. I have grown accustom to being a night owl. It started in high school with the increasing amount of homework my junior and senior year. Being a perfectionist didn’t help nor did AP Calculus. I was up constantly ranging from twelve to two in the morning and waking up at 6:15 AM for school for a range of three to six hours of sleep each night. It had consequences and although most days I was able to function, I was tired at points in the day. My summer schedule ingrained my late nights more in my brain. I would be up late doing projects, art, or watching TV shows then sleeping in.

My college schedule is not much better although I do sleep a bit more. With the greater amount of classes I have (eleven) in comparison to the average college student (four-five) I have a significantly larger homework load. I have been typically going to bed from twelve to two (more on the two AM side this semester) and waking up at eight or 6:50 AM depending the day of the week for classes. Although I attempt to go to bed as early as possible, I always feel that there is something else I should be doing. In addition, I have been having difficulty falling asleep quickly and it can take from 20 minutes to over an our to fall asleep at times.

I think trying to get at least seven hours of sleep with an range of six to nine hours is an attainable amount of sleep. I want to be able to complete my studies, have some social time, but also get enough sleep. I have been actively trying to fix my sleep schedule by doing as much homework or any important task as I can during any small break I have between classes. This way, I have less to do at night. I also have set times of when I want to do daily tasks such as practice the piano or dinner to set limits for myself and have a more set schedule. This helps organize my time better. I have found that organization is KEY for college especially being a music therapy major. I want to try to limit by breaks that I take between studying by not checking my phone too often. Additional methods I want to try is to limit the time it takes me to get ready for bed and phone usage in bed, and try various relaxation techniques and lavender essential oils. As I get a more secure handle on my homework I want to set a time to stop all work and go to bed. Although there is always work to be done, I need to tell myself that it is okay to just sleep.

Spring Break First Impressions

Magic tricks are all around us.  We are always mystified by the unexplainable  in our lives. Magicians do their tricks well as they make the “impossible”  possible as they saw people in half, pull a rabbit out of a hat, and make the missing coin appear from your ear. As many people sit stumped about how these tricks are plausible, many tricks focus on attention of the brain.

Our brains have select attention, as shown in PBS NOVA’s video and the studies included. Magicians use the motion of their hands or body to distract us from the truth behind the trick. Motion detection is a survival method in us all. There is one cell that detects the motion and another that blocks out the background allowing us to focus on the path of motion. For the cup trick, the motion of the cups and hands distracts us from seeing the magician slip balls under the cup even if they are clear. What other others look at, you will probably look at.  You may start attempting to focus on the magician’s hands, but actually, you are not giving full attention to the hands. The magician’s face diverts the attention. In a continuation video by PBS NOVA, it discusses how magic tricks could possibly be used as treatment for autism. People with autism have difficulty with joint attention and follwing social cues. Behaviors or motions that take the attention of people may not attract the attention of those with autism. Magic tricks that use social cues and movement to distract the audience may not distract members with autism. They may focus on the hands and uncover the truth behind the trick. The suggested treatment uses magic tricks to teach social cues and behaviors.

It is truly amazing how our brain works. It fascinates me how easily we can be allured. The discussion of the attention reminds me of our class discussions about attention and memory encoding. We are flooded by sensory stimulations every second, but not everything is encoded. You cannot remember what is not encoded. If our attention is diverted other sensory information is skipped over. Hence, how we can be “listening” to someone but not remember what she just said.

And article published by LA Times discusses the theory that pictures autism as a “magical world.” I thought it was interesting of the alternate use of “magical”. Magic is seen as the surprising, unpredictable, and the unexplainable; however, for people with autism, the world becomes magical as they are continuously experiencing the “magic” due to difficulty in reading and executing social and language skills and hypersensitivity. They are unable to become comfortable to sensory input and organize it.

I think the use of magic tricks could be beneficial for people with autism. Using small, simple, and basic tricks could teach them the following movements, watch for, or countering the tricks. This would teach social cues that could later be applied to real interactions. More research is needed, but I think it could have its benefits whether for people with autism or researching autism itself.

First Impressions #6

Everyone has their addictions. While headlining addictions are the use of drugs or alcohol, addictions can be daily experiences. Are you addicted to a certain TV shows, favorite (unhealthy) foods, or coffee? Whether it be simple pleasures such as these or the more devastating addictions, over use of these can have negative effects, some more harmful than others. The United States is facing a widespread addiction epidemic, especially the use of opioids. For those struggling with an addiction and would like options of treatment, two main treatments are abstinence and the harm reduction methods. There is much debate over which method is the better treatment.

Abstinence is the more well-known method. The goal is to completely eliminate the unwanted behavior. The Alcohol Anonymous 12 Step Program is an example of an abstinence program. From the scientific standpoint of alcohol and drug addiction, abuse will permanently neurologically and physiologically change the brain. Thus, the tendency for addiction is 40-60% genetic, and it is difficult to use it in a non-addictive manner. Due to this tendency, complete restrain is the only way to fully recover and have control.

Those who receive Harm Reduction treatment still have substance use, but the goal is to the decrease the plausible harmful effects. Substance usage will have negative effects and Harm reduction treatment limits the damage to the body as much as possible. The treatment methods vary between addiction. Programs offer alternate drugs, clean needles, driver assignments to keep those under the influence off the roads, and other strategies.

Although each person and addiction is different and the right process varies between person, I would advocate for Abstinence for an addicted love one. I think eliminating the temptation and substance from one’s body is the way that will help for overall better health and life. Although the Harm Reduction treatment attempts to reduce the harmful effects of addiction, the person is still permanently damaging their body by using a substance. With drug substitution, despite removing the addictive substance, you are still using some type of drug. Abstinence is not a treatment that will work overnight and will take dedication, vulnerability, and time. Not cutting cold turkey (complete stop of drug), but slowly taking the person off the substance is the better method. Furthermore, it will stop the permanent damage to the body and mind. For those on the drug substitution, I would try to slowly take the person off those drugs to have them become clean as well. Abstinence provides the possibly to eliminate intake.

If you are struggling with addiction, please get help. You CAN overcome this.

References

New Hope Recovery Center. (n.d.). Addiction counseling: Abstinence versus harm reduction. Retrieved from New Hope Recovery Center website: http://www.new-hope-recovery.com/center/2014/07/29/addiction-counseling-abstinence-versus-harm-reduction/

Spotlight Post #1

Learning styles is a popular theory that is shared amongst teachers, parents, and students. People regularly say humans learn visually, audibly, and tactilely, and that each student learns best by one method. Many websites offer tests to reveal what learning style best fits a person. I have always considered myself as more of a visual learner, but am I really? With learning being important in the classroom, researchers have argued for and against the implication of specialized lesson plans to correlate with the learning styles of the students.

Robert Sternberg, an IBM Psychology and Education Professor at Yale University argues for the use of learning styles as posted by Education Research Newsletter & Webinars. Sternberg believes that if these styles are not understood, it could affect learning and teaching. Students and teachers typically use activities that work with their individual learning style, and at times it may conflict with the other’s style and can affect the educational relationship. Students do better and have more motivation when work parallels to their style. Teachers must be observant and see poor grades as a possible conflict with learning methods. He acknowledges that teachers cannot teach to match every single student, but to use these learning styles when students are having a harder time grasping the information. With teacher guidance, students can make their style stronger and develop fluidity between methods. Sternburg sees “learning style” as a confusing term and created a theory of “mental self-government” that includes legislative, executive, and judicial like sections which all help a student learn. The first creates and plans, the second does the action, and the third judges and evaluates. Students each have a more prominent one.

Another supportive article is “Understanding the Importance of Learning Styles” published on More 4 Kids. In the context of homeschooling, the female author believes that understanding and teaching towards a child’s learning style will help with information retention and make the process more enjoyable for everyone. The teacher’s teaching style is to blame in most conflicts. Failing to recognize individual learning styles can lead to the misdiagnoses such as attention deficient disorder. The author includes the basic KAV learning style-kinesthetic, auditory, and visual-with the comment that it is rare to have a learning balance between all three styles. To give a personal view, the author discusses her experience with homeschooling her children in kindergarten. She found her oldest son to be a visual learner. Her younger son, however, became frustrated, put minimal effort in, and had a hard time sitting still during homeschooling. She and the family’s pediatrician believed he could have autism or ADD, but after research, she realized that her son was a kinesthetic learner. They were using the wrong teaching method as they were teaching more visually.

On the other hand, many teachers and psychologists argue that learning styles are actually a neuroscientific myth. Ani Aharonian, a cognitive psychologist and institutional researcher at Santa Monica College, states that there is minimal evidence that supports the claim that learning styles actually improve one’s learning. Published studies and reports are theoretical and descriptive research and lack the cause and effect evidence. In addition, the lack of randomly assigned control groups and methodological procedures further disproves this theory. Learning styles are more self-believed effective versus research shown. The differences in work methods, highlighting a text books or recording a lecture, are simply just preferences. Lastly, the focus on one method dismisses improving one’s weaknesses and gives students the belief that they can claim unaccommodated learning styles were the blame of poor grades,

Annie Murphy Paul, a writer for KQED News’s Mind/Shift section, also agrees with Ani Aharonian that the learning styles theory has been disproven. She quotes a group of psychologist’s 2008 review that states that adding learning-style assessments to public school’s education is not valid. One method of learning does not improve information intake and testing results. Murphy Paul states that although that the theory has been disproven, teachers should still present information in a way that that all students can benefit universally. It incorporates all the senses by presenting information in multiple forms. This change will keep students more focused versus strictly books or audio. Simply focusing on one method is not beneficial. To reinforce her claim, she discusses Susan Courey and colleagues’ “Academic Music” program that was published in the Educational Studies in Mathematics journal. They taught third-graders fractions paralleling it with musical note values. They also included clapping, drumming, and verbalizing. These student’s grades were 50% higher than those of a non-music class. These lessons allow alternative ways to understand difficult topics.

With this newfound knowledge that learning styles have been disproven and considering both sides of the argument, I would have to agree that correlating a teaching program for the specific learning style for each student may not be completely beneficial given the lack of evidence. These learning styles are preferences and all three are needed in learning. While one way may be preferred, the others are just as important. You should grow your strengths but also address your weaknesses. I also believe that a variety of teaching methods for certain topics may be helpful for understanding a concept better. Activities such as acting out an event (like the action potential we did in class), creating a song, or partaking in the experiments shown in the reading can help create alternative connections to the information. Sometimes information may not click with someone until you explain it in a different way.

References

Aharonian, A. (2014, December 19). The myth of learning styles [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.skeptic.com/insight/the-myth-of-learning-styles/

The importance of understanding individual learning styles. (1990, May/June). Educational Research Newsletter, 3(3). Retrieved from https://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/the-importance-of-understanding-individual-learning-styles/

More4kids. (July 23). Understanding the importance of learning styles. Retrieved from More 4 Kids website: http://education.more4kids.info/77/understanding-learning-styles/#respond

Murphy Paul, A. (2012, April). Do students really have different learning styles? Retrieved from KQEd News website: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/04/13/do-students-have-different-learning-styles/

 

 

 

 

First Impressions #5

I have always been a notorious studier as academics are important to me. Although sometimes I can overdue it to point where going to bed may be better. Studying goes back to the beginning: my notetaking. From the various learning methods, I am more a visual learner. On any readings, I take handwritten notes as writing it out helps me remember information more. Over the years, I have experimented with different writing styles. For my first semester of college, I tried an abbreviated version of Cornell notes where I just have an indentation on the left for the subtopics/question (I cut the summary review) and so far, that has been working for me. I also have color coordinated some basic topics such as vocab words, theories, and people so they are easier to spot when I am reviewing. I am still learning how to pinpoint key information. I try to study in advance of the test day ranging from a week before the actual test. Going through all my notes, sometimes using flashcards, taking practice quizzes are a part of my study routine. I have also found writing info out (on whiteboards mainly) and talking aloud helps too. Repetition is key for me. Some things I would like to work on is incorporating more review at the end of each week to study as I go. I started doing this prior, but I would like to reinforce this even more.

 

For specifically this first Psychology exam, my study habits were similar to what I listed above. I used my Cornell style for notes, took the practice exam, reviewed my notes, and made sure I knew the textbook information. I did not do as much of writing info out during review though. In addition, I used the review questions after each chapter section to review. This helped solidify what I learned after reading and taking notes. Given my exam score, these methods worked well, but I did miss some of the multiple choice and matching sections. I would like to study more in advance for the second exam as this unit has more brain terminology to remember. Flashcards may help with that more. I would also like to use the practice questions more. I did run through those questions a couple times, but I would like to utilize that more to know I fully understand the concepts. I am always looking for ways to refine my work and study habits to better improve. Hopefully next exam will go even better!