How the Midwest went from the idealized to the derided

While Pittsburgh has become more metropolitan in the last generation, the culture here one county to the east still bears witness to its rust belt past. This may sound dull as ditch water to those who believe that the “flyover” states are inhabited largely by clodhoppers, fundamentalist zealots and loudmouthed Babbitts. In fact, Lauck’s aim is to examine “how the Midwest as a region faded from our collective imagination” and…

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Survivorship Bias – You Are Not So Smart

Successful people may just be lucky; focusing too much on their successes can silence the honorable failures that we can all stand to learn from. People who consider themselves “lucky” take more risks, and are therefore more likely to discover opportunities. They brush off their failures rather than dwell on them. People who consider themselves unlucky tend to stick to the same safe patterns. Wiseman speculated that what we call…

Prototypes in Technical Writing: What are They?

Many a high school student has muddled through a book report in a single caffeine-fueled sitting, but successful research term papers or quarterly progress reports require planning. In technical writing, a prototype might be a full table of contents (with summaries for each major section) and one or two complete chapters.   If conducting a survey is an important part of your project, your prototype might be a complete survey of a…

My hard-working media students curated a collection of psychology student editorials & infographics at blogs.setonhill.edu/DissingDissonance

My “Media Aesthetics” students worked with students from Elizabeth Jacobs’s “Social Psychology” class, where students wrote editorials and designed infographics about cognitive dissonance. My students helped the psychology students with their drafts, then chose essays they thought had a good chance of going viral, and used WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Hootsuite to publicize those selections.

The American Scholar: Celebrity Profiles

Phllip Lopate writes a good essay on the challenges of writing a celebrity profile. My take: Just as Plato argued that ideal leaders would be so well-balanced that they would not desire to lead (and thus would not have the power-lust that would enable them to rise above their competitors), it follows that ideal celebrity profile writers would be so well-balanced a journalist that they would not desire to flatter celebrities enough to be…

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A professor examines why her students seem to act so helpless (essay)

This essay on college students acting helpless (Chronicle of Higher Education) struck a few chords. I put a lot of time into writing my course policies and assignment instructions. The students who want to know how they can earn a 99 instead of a 95 invariably ask really good questions that arise from their close scrutiny of those documents; on the other end of the spectrum, however, I do get a fair share…