Friday, January 27, 2006

Graduate Reading, Students, Teachers, Researchers, Research Subjects

My mind is bursting with ideas today after attending a conference with Harvard Professor, Dr. Richard Light. Dr. Light is a statistician and an empirical researcher, and the studies he has done with his students at Harvard are incredibly revealing.

I'm not going to address a great deal of the substance of the conference, since I'm still processing the information, but one very memorable statement (among many) that Dr. Light made was this: when he advises students, he asks them:

"What is your job here?"

As they fumble to answer the question, or give vague and unsatisfactory answers, Dr. Light eventually gives him what he says is his best piece of advice, advice based upon rigorous empirical research about student success:

"Your job is to make an effort to get to know one faculty memebr reasonably well, and for that faculty member to get to know you reasonably well."

Obviously, if faculty members care about student success, the advice could be phrased this way:

"Your job is to make an effort to get to know your students reasonably well, and for those students to get to know you reasonably well."

I think these statements are indicative of what is wrong with the student/teacher relationship in most universities today, and probably says something about research and research subject relationships (think Nate) also.

Graduate students: please read the first chapter "Journalism and the Scientific Tradition" from Phillip Meyer's book The New Precision Journalism:

We will discuss the book on Tuesday in our grad student session.


Blogger C.E. said...

I thought I saw you there!

I also had the privilege of attending this conference today and benefitted from it a great deal. I found Dr. Light to be engaging and fascinating while remaining personable and down-to-earth. Who would have thought a statistician could make you laugh out loud! I will probably talk a little more about this on my own blog in the future, but I just wanted to agree with you here that his methods and ideas for creating relationships between students and faculty really made an impression. I was glad to see you had written about it and I hope some students and faculty who read your blog will take Dr. Light's advice to heart. I think it could make a real difference on campus.

1:39 PM  
Blogger J Caywood said...

Does this mean that I, a lowly undergrad, have an opportunity to pick your brain over lunch some afternoon? Of course after the reading assignment of "Supersize Me" we will have to have Subway or something that at least sounds healthful. Nothing brings people closer together than sharing a meal and prayer.

4:37 PM  
Blogger C625student said...

I also attended the conference last Friday. It was full of important/interesting information. It left me thinking of my role as a graduate student/W131 instructor. I now have another dual role: get to know my students (at least one) really well and one of my professors as well. I have done the latter one; however, do you have any advice for the former one?

12:29 PM  
Blogger Deanna said...

I'm confused. What exactly are you saying is wrong with the student/teacher relationships on most campuses? That not enough students get to know and work well with a teacher? I could not attend the conference, but from the other responses I am guessing this is correct. My experience at Millikin Univ. was the first time I felt any real connection between a teacher and myself. I believe these connections changed my life and are also partly responsible for me being in a Master's program. Since coming to IPFW, I have felt connections with several teachers. Personally, I think it is wonderful. Finally, I am not sure I understand what you intend my mentioning "Nate." Are you being critical? Again, sorry for the confusion.

9:59 PM  

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