The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’

The discourse around “learning styles” (the idea that because some students prefer to learn visually, orally, kinesthetically, or through reading/writing, teachers should adapt their lesson plans to meet student preferences) has been useful to me in that it helped me to realize that some methods of instructions that seemed natural to me were actually choices I was making because I was familiar. But students who blame teachers for not respecting their “learning style” aren’t doing their education (or their teachers) any favors. I was introduced to “learning styles” early in my career, by a college administrator who was an evangelist…

The Lost Art of Paste-Up

When I started using a word processor as a middle schooler in the early 1980s, I recognized the editing commands “cut” and “paste” as metaphors.  Here’s a short video showing the physical cutting and pasting that was required to arrange paragraphs of text prepare a document for mass production. According to layout rules, you’re not supposed to end a line with just a single word at the end of a paragraph, and you’re not supposed to break up a paragraph so that a single line from that paragraph begins or ends a column.  Note that this editor actually shaves slivers…

Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive

When I used to teach a “Media and Culture” class, I had students do an oral project, a handwriting project, a typewriter/cut-and-paste project, and a digital project, and we spent quite a bit of time reading and talking about how the ways we read and write affect not only what we read and write about, but also how we conceptualize the world and our place in it. I do remember  a time about 16 years ago when I overheard a student in the hallway, during some good-natured teasing banter, saying to a colleague, “Email is for old people.” That was…

Reading fiction early in life is associated with a more complex worldview, study finds

This study relied in part on the repondents’ self-reporting of what they read as children, but it was a complex study that approached the core issue from multiple angles. The researchers note that an “association” is not a “cause” — yet the correlation is still worth reflecting on: Those people who did not read fiction in early life have a fundamentally different worldview than those who did. Research has demonstrated that people who read more fiction tend to have better perspective-taking abilities. Now, new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that reading more fiction early in life is…

Plagiarism Today Plagiarized in a Plagiarism Atonement Essay

Jonathan Bailey writes: In short, Bello, an author who admitted to plagiarizing in her now-cancelled debut novel, wrote an article about the experience and, in that article, included poor paraphrasing without attribution of an article that I wrote over a decade ago. It’s a moment that even 16 years of work in this field did not prepare me for. To be honest, even as I write this, I am still confused trying to figure out how to approach this both intellectually and emotionally. […] In short, Bello has, by her own description, a deeply flawed writing process. One that makes…

The Nagus (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 11) Quark is named the financial leader of all Ferengi

Rewatching ST:DS9 In an episode focusing on father-son dynamics, Jake declines the chance to spend time on Bajor with Sisko, Nog bears the brunt of punishments heaped onto his father Rom, and the visiting Ferengi leader Zek expresses dissatisfaction with his son Krax. I give credit to actor Wallace Shawn and the make-up team and everyone else involved in creating such a repulsive caricature; but the truth is I just didn’t like spending time with the cackling, wheezing, decrepit Grand Nagus. For a race that is famous for being greedy, I think the depiction of Ferengi is a bit inconsistent,…

The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…?

Some scholarly journals have a more rigorous peer review process than others. Source: The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…? Update: The page has been edited.…

How to Use the Feynman Technique to Identify Pseudoscience

Simon Oxenham quotes physicist Richard Feynman: “I finally figured out a way to test whether you have taught an idea or you have only taught a definition. Test it this way: You say, ‘Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language. Without using the word “energy,” tell me what you know now about the dog’s motion.’ You cannot. So you learned nothing about science. That may be all right. You may not want to learn something about science right away. You have to learn definitions. But for the…

It’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” 111th birthday

Interesting introduction to the history of musical annotation and copyright. The journey to that sheet music copyright began with Greek and Roman grammarians; they had developed signs to guide declamation (high voice, low voice and falling voice). Musicians adapted those signs to “[indicate] the contour of a melody.” This provided “a memory aid to singers who knew words and melody by heart.” In the mid-1000s, medieval music scholar and teacher Guido of Arezzo decided there needed to be a better way to teach novices. Consequently, he “revolutionized the music education methods of his time.” His innovations made it possible to read music, for a signer to perform a chant that he had…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo
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Pitching a Magazine Article: Resources for Beginning Freelance Writers

Jerz > Writing > Journalism A “pitch” is the publishing industry’s term for “proposal.” Your goal is to find out whether an editor is interested in a story you’ve written (or that you’re about to write). An editor with deadlines to meet and a flood of pitches from established authors will need a very good reason to take a chance on a new writer.  How to Pitch a Journal or Magazine Article (Harvard.edu) How to Pitch an Article to a Magazine (MasterClass.com) Pitching Articles: 5 Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Pitch  (WritersDigest.com) How to Write a Pitch to Editors That WINS (15m video from Megan Grant)…

Grappling with Genocide: Fostering Empathy and Engagement through Text and Image (NEH funded education summit, Seton Hill University, July 11-22 2022)

Some of my amazing colleagues have collaborated on an amazing NEH-funded summer institute that provides teachers in grades 6-12 with resources for teaching about genocide. The event, scheduled for summer 2022, includes units on the erasure of Native Americans, an empathy-building Narrative 4 storytelling workshop, and more. There’s a stipend for participating in this event, and on-campus housing is available at a very modest cost — about 10% of the stipend. See the details on the Grappling with Genocide website. Here is how John Spurlock describes the event on his blog: During the two weeks of the institute, students will…

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 modern-language paraphrases. That means that from year to year, they never got any better at understanding Shakespeare’s original language. Early in the term, I usually walk students through the first…

The sped-up culture that delivers that novel to your doorstep overnight is the same culture that deprives you of the time to read it.

This ambiguity—fiction as virtue and vice—sheds light on a larger truth about all the components of Amazon’s administration of literary life just enumerated: as state of the art as they may be, they are to some degree self-contradictory, or at least conflicted. For instance, if what fiction most essentially is for us is a volume of commodified time, one of the most notorious facts of contemporary literary life is that there is so little time for it. This is especially so inasmuch as reading a novel is a relatively long-term commitment compared with other forms of cultural consumption. It is…

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.

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Media Bias Chart 8.0 (Left vs. Right; Fact vs. Propaganda; Complex vs. Clickbait; Idle Chatter vs. Original Reporting) Version 8.0

From AdFontes Media. If you never disagree with the slant of your news source, then you probably aren’t reading a balanced news source; you’re just reading a source aligned with your bias. A truly informed person will consult credible sources (above the green line) on both the left and right. Know where your biases are, and make an effort to read credible, fact-based news and analysis that presents views that differ from your own.  

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 to an audio adaptation while they read, but I also point out that our task in the classroom is to study Shakespeare’s words and the historical context in which he…

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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

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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 academic relationship — unless of course the typos are substantial enough to interfere with your understanding of the material. I don’t mind if a peer corrects me on social media,…

‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation

As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup. […] Framing everything as a grand conflict against scheming enemies can feel enormously reassuring. And that’s why perhaps the greatest culprit of our era of misinformation may be, more than any one particular misinformer,…