MSU asks faculty & staff to volunteer in short-staffed dining halls; @MSU_Football tweets a photo of coach in a private jet

MSU, instead of asking your profs to volunteer in the dining halls, I think you can solve the short-staffing issue another way. Recruiting on the bye week! Looking for future Spartan Dawgs 🐶 ✈️ #TuckComin pic.twitter.com/2sS0gEzkIs — Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) October 22, 2021  

I’m really enjoying seeing how my students are responding to Hamlet.

As part of a class assignment, one student took some friends to see the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of Hamlet. One of her friends is from Vietnam, and my student was very proud that she could answer his questions about what was going on. Many students, even the English majors, confess that in high school they never tried to read Shakespeare’s language, but instead depended totally on…

What do you think… is it safe to throw out this to-do list from 1989?

As an undergrad, every morning before I headed out for the day, I would print my schedule (on a clackety dot-matrix printer that took fan-fold paper). At this point I don’t think I was using any fancy software, just keeping a list in a text editor. I had 9 credits of internships as an undergrad, and don’t remember what the noon interview was. It looks like I must have scheduled…

Trying to Tame Huck Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in America. I regularly teach it in my American Lit class. I never use “the n-word” in lectures, and I remind my (mostly white) students of the power of the word, but the version of the text I assign doesn’t edit that word out. I also have students listen to an audio interpretation of Pap’s tirade, in order…

I’m not a big fan of Disney’s corporate greed.

I’m not a huge fan of Disney, largely because as a grad student in the 1990s, I chose the 1920-1950 time period for my dissertation based on my expectation that the literary works I studied from that time period would fall out of copyright one by one during my career. I planned to mine my dissertation, using what I learned about the literary works in that time period to create…

Why I Left Academe to Become a Science Communicator: The pursuit of academic research was too narrow for me.

From explaining the effectiveness of social distancing for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to communicating earthquake preparedness plans to the public, scicomm efforts are vital for helping turn research into action. Yet despite scicomm’s importance, it remains a hugely overlooked, underdeveloped and unknown area in academia. Academics are trained to communicate with other academics, and jargon-filled research papers prevent broad audiences from engaging with and understanding impactful scientific discoveries.

In-person classes heighten age-related hearing problems (opinion)

My family tells me I’m starting to speak louder than I need to around the house. On my campus, all students are required to be vaccinated or masked. I can hear my students much better than last term, when everyone was masked and practicing social distance. Today I got several emails alerting me that students are in quarantine or isolation, and that they should contact me about how to make…

Delightful interview with a former Setonian editor-in-chief who’s now doing SEO

As a student journalist, Jessie totally revamped the print publications and the website, unifying them with design elements from the Sisters of Charity (the religious order that founded our school) and rounded rectangles that echoed the interface of the iPads (which were at the time a brand new part of SHU’s student technology plan). The way she blended tradition and high-tech is a product of the flexibility of a liberal…

I studied philosophy and engineering at university: Here’s my verdict on ‘job relevant’ education

She double-majored in engineering and philosophy. Fifteen years later, which degree is more relevant to her success? She says that even with an engineering degree, she was criticized for not knowing specific skills that she never actually used (such as drafting by hand) or that she learned quickly on the job (such as the specific CAD software her company used). And after 15 years, most of those specific job-ready skills…

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen…

Make your case stronger – argue against yourself

Academic argument depends on being able to produce the best possible information, presented in a convincing sequence. But we are usually advised we also need to take account of counter points. We need to consider and deal with different positions and troubling information. Wearing blinkers while arguing trips us up, stops us being credible. An obvious way to address the negative is to find alternative views in the literature, or…

That Class Where Stanford Profs Projected Hundreds of Zoom Students on a Video Wall

Of course, not all institutions happen to have a video wall that’s 32-feet wide and 8-feet tall. But Stanford already did, in its Wallenberg Hall. So the three professors reached out to the university’s director of classroom innovation, Bob Smith, to see what they could rig up. No matter how big your screen, Zoom can only display up to 49 people in each session. So the class was divided into…

What does a professor do, other than lecture for a few hours a week?

Wow, this response! 😮 We really do have complex jobs, huh? My doctoral research was on burnout, & I won’t say that is UNRELATED to the graphic either. Here’s a slightly updated version. And as per requests, link to a PPT version you can download & adapt https://t.co/8v8jPhObx5 pic.twitter.com/0ciTJd5sRM — Dr. Susan Wardell (@Unlazy_Susan) June 27, 2021

The Internet Is Rotting

I do what I can. It’s disheartening how, in the past three or so years, several of my free instructional web pages that used to be high in the Google search results have been pushed out by predatory services that provide custom term papers (for a fee, of course). Users of social media are trained to use a flashy, well-designed app, but they don’t learn how to curate and maintain…

Seton Hill discontinues mask requirement for vaccinated individuals

The pandemic is not over. It’s a blessing to live in a country with the resources to acquire and distribute vaccines, and a privilege to work for an employer that respects science and cares for the public good. The email arrived while I was at home relaxing with the family. Seton Hill is no longer requiring masks for vaccinated adults, and students will be asked to show proof of vaccination…

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A friend asks: “Would it be bad form to point out the typos in my class materials?” My answer: Probably yes.

After I posted my grades for this term, I made a dumb typo in this celebratory meme, and a friend pointed out the error on social media. Another friend, who is just starting a new grad program, asked: Curious, would it be bad form to point out the typos in my class materials? I’d say that correcting an instructor’s proofreading errors is probably not the best way to start an…

If You’re An English Major You Should Take a Journalism Class–Even If You Think You Hate Journalism

Journalism is not everyone’s cup of tea. The short, blunt paragraphs and inverted pyramid that tells readers exactly who, what, where, when and how from the get-go are creative writers’ worst nightmares. There is virtually no element of suspense, no character development, and no world building. Right? Well, not exactly. Just like creative writing, journalism is detail-driven and can include humor and depth. Quotations add dimension and often a human-touch to a news story. Experienced journalists know to keep bias out…

Why Can’t My New Employees Write? | Just Visiting

We’re talking about elite students here landing jobs in highly desirable firms. These are Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.” We can presume that their educations have been rigorous as they’ve climbed to the top of the meritocratic heap. If these young professionals can’t write well, who can? And if they’re not writing well, why not? My belief is that the experience of these elite students is similar to my very accomplished, but…