Today the Google Doodle recognizes the quarter century anniversary on the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Today the Google Doodle recognizes the quarter century anniversary on the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the ‘will of the people’ in building a socialist state in East Germany.”
“In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.” (Click on the magnifying glass icon for quotes.)
My own reflection is how the wall has become a metaphor. A physical wall came down that night, while simultaneously a new construct rose up to take its place, which continues to rise, but the new one is invisible, metaphorical, Orwellian, and rhetorical. Walls purposely are opaque, not transparent, and thus not easy to see through them.
This invisible Orwellian wall, still under construction, is just as intentional as the earlier physical one had been, and just keeps rising. Two sides of folks will look at this wall, but only see two different walls, like staring on only one side of a coin, never flipping it to acknowledge there is another side. There can be no compromise, deny the other side, deny there is another side. Heads; there is only heads. Tails; there is only tails.
Compromise now is equivalent to having no standards. We fear compromise for fear we will become it. Fear of becoming it is fear of the self. Protect, protection at all costs. The wall has risen.

Client: Hey ASC Dr.
“I heard that people no longer put objectives on their resume because it’s assumed the employer has a pretty good idea that your objective is to get the job you’re applying for. What’s your opinion on that?”
The ASC Doctor:
“Correct, and further it is worse (to me) whenever one puts only what s/he wants from the position (not what one will bring to it!). If one does include an objective, refer to those skills and attributes one brings, not gets, then it’s ok to have an objective statement. (It shouldn’t go more than one or two sentences, tops.) It should target narrowly, where it’s clear you’re applying for “that” job (not just jobs). It even can be good in instances when it’s clear “this” resume” is going specifically for “that” job. If the objective implies “here’s my generic resume,” it is a resume killer.
Employers in this climate can pick who they want to hire, so they hire only those who make clear that which s/he brings, and how s/he wants specifically that job. It even can be good, and adds, when it’s very targeted on what one brings (not gets), and bad whenever generic about what one wants to get.
At the other end of the resume, the phrase “References Upon Request” is viewed as generic, unnecessary, and wastes one line from the real estate on the resume. It implies the candidate doesn’t know yet that references come into play at the end of the hire process, not the beginning, and hasn’t sussed that out yet.

The ASC and the Flipped Classroom

The ASC is a long-time practitioner of the Flipped Classroom methodology, years before the Flipped Classroom approach discovered a name for itself, a half decade ago.
Curious how a great idea does not ring true until it is “my idea.”
The pedagogy of the Flipped Classroom flows nicely from the roots of Student Development Theory-to-Practice, developed and practiced throughout Higher Education since 1937.
Student Development, until recently, has been largely ignored by traditional faculty who have, until now, preferred the oldest teaching method having the least success with classroom learning—the lecture method.
The gravity using the lecture method centers around the teacher. The gravity using the Student Development approach (now with the name Flipped Classroom in the sciences) centers around students learning, and that they do.
What’s news in the science classroom is that STEM faculty finally have come around to recognize (translation, “discovered”) that the Flipped Classroom works better. As a pedagogic learning methodology it blows away completely the old school lecture method to a classrooms filled with bored, passive students.
Old school, teacher focused—new school, learner focused; flipping it is that easy, but it’s taken centuries to get here.
Continue reading

Study Smarter, Not Harder

Wasting time between classes is a success killer; use these tips towards greater study success.

  1. Review notes as soon as possible after the lecture, take 3 minutes to write a summary of the main issues, arguments, and POV. Reviewing notes as soon as possible enhances best memory retention.
  2. Preview a chapter: read the title, the bold print headings, and summary (if any); don’t read like a novel.
  3. Ask your professor or TA a question (profs give benefit of the doubt to students whose work they know).
  4. Prepare, review difficult formulas, concepts, terms electronically (is there an app?) or with flash cards.
  5. Check Blackboard, Howdy, Blinn portal for any recent postings on your classes.
  6. Meet with your study group during the day; meet with your tutor in the evening.
  7. Review the requirements for a major assignment (term paper, project), and make sure you understand them. Students who misunderstand the assignment make the most common mistakes.
  8. Find a source for a research paper or project online or at the library. Ask a reference librarian for help.
  9. Review or update your “to do” list every day, and your calendar for the week.
  10. Check the college website for news and events.

Off topic, interesting, in the news: Dating apps gone wild

Huffington Post:

The New Yorker:





The Objective Statement: Yes or No?

1)   Many leave off the “Objective” section to save space. Ask yourself, why would an employer care about your objectives? It is all about the employer’s objectives and what they want accomplished.

2)   Highlight your skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the employer. Some use the top part of the résumé to summarize their strengths that are applicable to the job, i.e., what you bring to the new job.

3)   Make your résumé robot-friendly. Large companies use APT (Applicant Tracking Systems) initially to weed out job applicants. Pepper your résumé with keywords that were in the job posting. Companies score résumés for relevancy and the robot looks for words that match the employer’s search terms.

4)   Avoid confusion by not using abbreviations or acronyms. Be certain that your résumé has zero misspellings (especially keywords from the job ad).

5)   If the option allows, upload your résumé as a PDF when applying online, avoid cutting and pasting it into an email. Employer ATS programs may improperly read a Word document because of your fonts or hidden commands.

6)   Match your résumé to every job application. This means extra work, but you do want the job, right? One-size-fits-all résumés kill employer interest, they give the impression that you are applying for anything out there. Customize!

If you do include an “Objective,” indicate those skills, attributes, and accomplishments that you bring to the position, team, and company. What do they want accomplished … write a sentence about how you will deliver on it.

Affluenza Leads to Sneaker Smackdown:

America has always been in a struggle between the pursuit of riches and simple living.

The exploration of the New World at its start was to discover roads paved with gold, however, our earliest settlements and settlers were Puritans and Quakers.

The Boston Tea Party was an attempt by colonists to thwart the money-grubbing rich back in England from living off of them no more.

George Washington might be thought of today as a “shopaholic.” The father of our nation loved the best; he was known to work in shopping to perfect Mount Vernon when his journeys allowed.

Henry David Thoreau’s very thesis in his classic book Walden was an appeal for Americans to “simplify,” a theme that continues to inspire to this day. In the eras of both Washington and Thoreau, the word consumption meant “to destroy.” Tuberculosis (TB) was known originally as “consumption.”

That Americans were first to invent and embrace the modern shopping mall is not a coincidence. American malls have well placed ATM banking machines, Multi-Mega-plex IMAX Cinemas, and gigantic food courts, all designed to create an acceptable place for the public to be, all day long and night, encouraging continuous consumption. Once teenagers love something too, it’s ‘Merican.

UCLA annually conducts a freshman college study. In 2012 the study cited three out of four freshman’s reason to go to college was: “to be able to make more money,” an all-time high (74.6%). Related, another all-time high (81.0%), the top personal goal of freshman: “being very well off financially,” freshmen qualify it too as “essential.”
The UCLA study identifies a mismatch between freshmen expectations and the reality that seniors find at graduation. A barometer that signals this affect is the freshmen response to feeling frequently “overwhelmed by all I had to do,” another all-time high response (30.4% in 2012), a steady upward trend.

What does it mean? Is there a ray of hope in a sea of worry? One positive outcome seems to be a correlation between freshmen who respond to being overwhelmed, and also that there is a “very good chance” they will “participate in practices that will help them successfully navigate the transition to college.” In other words, overwhelmed but willing to grab a life-preserver if tossed. Among overwhelmed freshmen, 41.1% reported being “likely to get tutoring,” as opposed to chilled out freshmen, who do not feel overwhelmed (26.0%).

Taken together, these findings spotlight the necessity that tutoring services, such as The ASC, be available to support and promote students’ self-efficacy, which should be essential. It follows then that students who grab the life-preserver (get tutoring), significantly raise their academic and personal performance levels, often by whole letter grades, which leads to academic, career, and personal success. A great reason to go to college. Seek out and consume that … those are shoes worth fighting over.

Despite all-time high Dow, millions face doomed retirement dreams

 Consider these five statistics:


  • 46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. (Employment Benefit Research Institute)
  • 40% of baby boomers now plan to work until they die. (AARP)
  • 36% of Americans say they don’t contribute anything at all to their savings. [CNBC]
  • 87% of adults say they are not confident about having money for a comfortable retirement. (
  • Expected retirement age is up to 67 from age 63. (Zero Hedge)

Posted to The Chronicle of Higher Education (got 12 likes, hooray!)

This comes in the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category, so I think it’s on topic.

My dissertation study assumed people do community service learning for altruistic reasons, indeed, they do not. People do stuff for reasons, even when they think it is selfless. Okay, that’s understood.

The presenting article to which I’m replying puts forth the notion that “strong and silent types” get ignored and left. I would like to point to a particularly annoying aspect of punishing the good, specifically, the gulf between what we claim to honor (honesty) and the reward (gained through deceit). My glaring example is the SOP whereby an outside job offer is necessary to get a raise. To get a raise, first, one must prove their disloyalty by going out and getting a job offer from somewhere else.

I have worked at places where if the powers-that-be knew you were looking for an outside job, they would fire you on the spot; however, once you do announced you’re leaving to a better offer, the elusive pay rise to stay, suddenly, somehow, coughs up and is extended. Huh? So there was money after all.

The only way to get a raise (particularly in this climate) is to practice deceit. It is deceitful because the new place expects your arrival, having spent money on it, indeed, they’re planning it; but you do not intend to go, because you are using them to get a raise. This deceit is rewarded by your current employer, suddenly able to cough up a raise that wasn’t available earlier, often way out of proportion to what should have come at the start.

By way of example, among every millennial I have worked with, only one I know recognizes this SOP as unethical and deceitful (and he worked for me). All the rest believe it’s the SOP to get a pay rise; best have another job offer in hand, that’s SOP. We teach everyone, everywhere deceit to get ahead, then wonder why American Management isn’t trusted and in the tank.

Old school was: work hard, when your efforts are a cut above, boss notices, puts your name forward, you’re rewarded with a raise. On campuses today, you could be St. Paul and Gandhi rolled into one, when you ask for a raise, wallop, you get “the script”: “Well, you know,… the budget cuts, constraints, restraints, best return to your desk, be grateful you have a job at all.” Except after you prove disloyalty presenting another job offer that’s in hand, somehow, money that wasn’t there is after all.

In a squeaky wheel culture, the “strong and silent” types finish last.

New Essay Prompts for the Common Application

The much anticipated change to the college essay portion of the 2013-14 Common Application has been released.  The Common Application is used by over 500 colleges & universities in the USA. There are two big changes: 1) the number of prompts, and 2) their length.  The “old” guideline for the essay word length was around 500.  The new guideline, just released, limits the number of words to 650, adding the caveat that it will be strictly enforced.

The old version included a single open-ended prompt. Some critics of that prompt have alleged the question was so open-ended that some applicants would blow their opportunity for a close reading by falling into a common writing trap, i.e., drifting off into irrelevancies that clarify nothing.

The 15 member advisory panel that created the new prompts obviously supports the college essay.  They believe it can make the difference when deciding an application for admission.  Counselors on the panel assert the contention that when test scores and grades do not reveal a candidate’s potential, a well written college essay can be the finger on the scale that tips the application towards admission and, thus, hits the mark. 

In a word, the college essay matters.  The new prompts are:

  • “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”
  • “Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?”
  • “Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?”
  • “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?”
  • “Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.”
See the official document here:



List v. listing

I often hear these used interchangeably.

The nouns “listing” and “list” are not synonyms.

“List” describes an ordered set of items.
“Listing” describes the process of creating a list.

Use “list” when you want to describe an ordered set of items.
Use “listing” when you want to describe the process of creating a list.

What are these biases?

Confirmation, cognitive, cognitive dissonance, double blind, memory, anchoring, illusion of control, and familiarity biases explained:

Confirmation bias in psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study. Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or under-weigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis. As such, it can be thought of as a form of selection bias in collecting evidence.

Cognitive bias is any of a wide range of observer effects identified in cognitive science and social psychology including very basic statistical, social attribution, and memory errors that are common to all human beings. Biases drastically skew the reliability of anecdotal and legal evidence. Social biases, usually called attributional biases, affect our everyday social interactions. And biases related to probability and decision making significantly affect the scientific method which is deliberately designed to minimize such bias from any one observer.

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs, or from experiencing apparently conflicting phenomena. In simple terms, it can be the filtering of information that conflicts with what you already believe, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce your beliefs. In detailed terms, it is the perception of incompatibility between two cognitions, where “cognition” is defined as any element of knowledge, including attitude, emotion, belief, or behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions. Experiments have attempted to quantify this hypothetical drive. Some of these have examined how beliefs often change to match behavior when beliefs and behavior are in conflict.

Double Blind bias is an important part of the scientific method, used to prevent research outcomes from being ‘influenced’ by the placebo effect or observer bias. Blinded research is an important tool in many fields of research, from medicine, to psychology and the social sciences, to forensics. Blinding is a basic tool to prevent conscious and unconscious bias in research.

Memory bias may either enhance or impair the recall of memory, or they may alter the content of what we report remembering. There are many memory biases including the humor effect, positivity effect and the generation effect. The humor effect states that humorous items are more easily remembered than non-humorous ones. Positivity effects states that older adults favor positive over negative information in their memories. Generation effect states that self-generated information is remembered best.

Anchoring bias in decision-making or focalism is a term used in psychology to describe the common human tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.  During normal decision making, individuals anchor, or overly rely, on specific information or a specific value and then adjust to that value to account for other elements of the circumstance. Usually once the anchor is set, there is a bias toward that value. Take, for example, a person looking to buy a used car – they may focus excessively on the odometer reading and the year of the car, and use those criteria as a basis for evaluating the value of the car, rather than considering how well the engine or the transmission is maintained.

Illusion of control is the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over. The predominant paradigm in research on unrealistic perceived control has been Ellen Langer’s (1975) ‘illusion of control’.  Langer showed that people often behave as if chance events are accessible to personal control. In a series of experiments, Langer demonstrated first the prevalence of the illusion of control and second, that people were more likely to behave as if they could exercise control in a chance situation where ‘skill cues’ were present. By skill cues, Langer meant properties of the situation more normally associated with the exercise of skill, in particular the exercise of choice, competition, familiarity with the stimulus and involvement in decisions. One simple form of this fallacy is found in casinos: when rolling dice in craps, it has been shown that people tend to throw harder for high numbers and softer for low numbers.

Familiarity increases liking or Exposure effect is a psychological artifact well known to advertisers: people express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them. This effect has been nicknamed the “familiarity breeds liking” effect. In interpersonal attractiveness research studies, the term exposure principle is used to characterize the phenomenon in which the more often a person is seen by someone the more attractive and intelligent that person appears to be.

At Graduation, I asked my students…

“How are you going to make the world a better place?”

Believing one ought not ask something s/he would not answer, my reply:

Existentialism is the problem of the day, so, I drill into students how critical it is to make meaning in life, particularly for their own life and the life of others; else they not find it later in life or at all. I believe as J.D. Salinger did, that people are whole when they are young, and not old. Youth is a time when the joy of life exists in experiencing and not acquiring. It is the time of youth when skillful teaching inspires the deepest learning in people’s lives before they accept the limits, lies, and illusions of huge institutions and the influences of the self motivated outside family members and friends. Perhaps because of this, students seek me out to be their mentor. Each time, the student picks me; it always happens that way (the only true mentor-ship). In return, I develop and direct their capacity for deep learning, the intent to direct them towards making a difference in the lives of others and at least one person. More than politics, this process engenders the greatest impact, for the longest time, and for the most good in this world; it speaks directly to their soul in the existential crisis of our day. Indeed, the secret door to the head and heart has always been opened through one’s soul. An examined life: make a difference, make meaning, matter.

“Deliberate Practice:” What It Is and Why You Need It



Research into the history of education (dating back several thousand years), combined with more recent scientific experiments have uncovered a number of conditions for optimal learning and improvement. Again, from K. Anders Ericsson, here are the four essential components of deliberate practice.

When these conditions are met, practice improves accuracy and speed of performance on cognitive, perceptual, and motor tasks:

You must be motivated to attend to the task and exert effort to improve your performance.

The design of the task should take into account your pre-existing knowledge so that the task can be correctly understood after a brief period of instruction.

You should receive immediate informative feedback and knowledge of results of your performance.

You should repeatedly perform the same or similar tasks.

It’s important to note that without adequate feedback about your performance during practice, efficient learning is impossible and improvement is minimal.

Simple practice isn’t enough to rapidly gain skills.

Mere repetition of an activity won’t lead to improved performance.

Your practice must be: intentional, aimed at improving performance, designed for your current skill level, combined with immediate feedback and repetitious.


Survey says!

According to a recent survey, among students who graduated from a four-year college (see link “Millennials”):

74% say their college education helped them grow intellectually
69% say it helped them mature as a person, and
55% say it helped them prepare for a job or career

The corollary* is, of course:

26% say their college education did not help them grow intellectually
31% say it did not help them mature as a person, and
45% say it did not help them prepare for a job or career

(*…assuming choices were “did/did not”)

What do we think of them apples?

Double dose your standard deviation in The ASC

Research suggests well-designed human tutoring could deliver around two standard deviations’ worth of learning performance. This is a shockingly large move; on a bell curve, an average student would move two standard deviations to the 90+ percentile of performance, and, more startling, someone at the lower quartile will move into the upper quartile of performance.

Embrace the future; double dose your standard deviation in The ASC.