Connecting with your student at home

Connecting with your student at home

There is so much evidence to suggest that participating in your student’s education will help them succeed, not only in school but also in life. They will be much more likely to stay off drugs, not abuse alcohol, have higher self-esteem, and be overall more adjusted. Here’s some simple tools on what you can do to participate on a daily basis

Closing the education gap between men and women

There are many factors that contribute to get women in to higher education and then keep them there as well.  As Mottarella, Fritzsche, Whitten, and Bedsole (2009) mention, there are still gender stereotypes and expectations that we place on men and women that will impact whether or not they stay in class or decide to fall into the stereotypical gender roles of what men and women are supposed to do.  As mentioned in the article, men are supposed to be the higher earners of the family while women are looked at to take care of the children and household (2009).

It seems to me, as is similar with many other social issues where a certain class is perceived as less than another, the problem is based in stereotypes and the best remedy to the problem is to fix the stereotype.  Increasing education to change the mode of thinking and expectations of gender roles, having parents instill the expectation in both sons and daughters that higher education is important, expected, and available to both, and also fixing the difference in pay scales between genders may also help.  By not doing the latter there is less incentive for a woman to want to go to college if they know the payoff is not the same and they will possibly be facing shame and ridicule from going against the grain of expectation.

As a former college teacher, I know that my proportion of female to male students is very high.  In two of my courses I have a 5:1 ration and another it may be closer to 3 or 4:1.  This trend suggests that we are on our way to closing the gap, but keeping the women in school until they graduate is just as important as getting them there.


Mottarella, K., Fritzsche, B., Whitten, S., Bedsole, D. (2009). Exploration of “good mother”

stereotypes in the college environment. Sex Roles, 60(3-4), p223-231, DOI:10.1007/s11199008-9519y

Social media

The internet is definitely a social tool.  You can communicate instantly with people all around the world, take classes from your home, find a date, shop, and many other things.  Fine (2007) shows how protests can be organized and messages conveyed via networking sites like Twitter and text messages.  These tools of technology were demonstrated to be used for social change.  They protested, people listened, society changed (Fine, 2007). We have recently seen how history was changed for the better using social media, both in Egypt and OWS, and the not so good in the London riots.

Voelcker (2006) points to several “social entrepreneurs” who have used technology to change the world.  Whether it is through a self-contained toilet using less water and chemicals, using food preservation techniques to limit waste, or offering free online courses, but technology can be used to better the world.  By using technology in this way it allows others to increase their opportunities to help as well. is a great way to use technology for social change.  Whatever the cause, this site brings different political issues to a discussion.  As of today there are public option debates, Afghanistan issues, and other health care issues (  The internet is a great way to get information instantly.  It is also a great way to get misinformation quickly.  It is important to be discerning about this medium of information because everyone does have access to it.


Fine, A. (2007). Networks online and on-land. Social Innovation Review. Winter, 2007. 36.

Voelcker, J. (2006). Creating social change: 10 Innovative Technologies. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Summer, 2006. 45-53.

Assessment tools

I have been asked numerous times how to do a proper assessment and whether self-assessments can do the job by themselves.   I do not believe that self-assessment should ever even be considered to replace other forms of assessment.  The subjectivity of self-assessment, as well as the level of expertise from person to person varies so widely that using this exclusively would be a catastrophe.  I do, however, think that self-assessment is a great tool.  As Harrington (1995) mentions that most assessment tools, like standardized tests, are too generalized and not specific enough to the task at hand.

As most assessments are used as a pre-screening tool for employment purposes, using self-assessment would not be a very valid instrument to use for hiring practices.  There is little incentive to be honest in this case with your skills.  As a teacher who is trying to teach a college success course to new students where they try to understand their strengths and weaknesses, I can tell you that people drastically underestimate their limitations.  For some reason, everyone deems themself an expert on everything despite massive evidence to the contrary. If training were performed to more accurately self-assess or if self-assessment were used as it is now as a supplement to other assessments, then this would be ok.  If it were used as a substitution I do not see how accurate assessments would be attained and useful information gathered.


Harrington, T. (1995). Assessment of abilities (ERIC DIGEST). Greensboro. NC: Eric   Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services, from ED389960).

Boys vs. girls: Are they really different?

The discrepancy of math scores between males and females has been found to be due to expectation bias of both the teacher and the parents.  If the teacher told the class that they expected the boys to do better than the girls, the scores reflected that.  If they told the class the test trended to score better for girls, then the scores reflected that as well.  Also, if they told the children there was no difference in scores and everyone should score about the same, then there were no significant differences between genders.  I believe the main problem is that we place expectation on children that they should not expect to succeed in certain areas even before they step foot in class.

Kelley and Blashfield (2009) state that psychology is no different than any other social construction because of the passion, pressures, and preconceptions that we bring into our studies to confound them.  Broverman, Broverman, Clarkson, Rosenkrantz, and Vogel (1970) found that double standards in clinician’s views of men and women were a glaring example of these biases, where the health care officials favored the men over the women.  This is very similar to the math scores of girls and boys.  If teachers expect girls to perform worse than boys on tests then they may be influencing those poor results by teaching the girls differently, worse, or not at all.

By changing the bias of the teachers and showing them that these things affect how their students score on tests perhaps we can stop this from happening.  We should be teaching teachers that girls are just as capable as boys are in terms of math ability.  It would help greatly to reduce the bias of teachers to expect girls to score high just as they do boys.  This is no different than a researcher showing bias in expectation from one group over another in their study.  It confounds the results and therefore does not elicit a solid study with credible results.

As a former math professor, I have seen this bias and what it can do to someone. Female students in their 20s and 30s who have never understood math until someone actually took the time to sit down and explain it to them: the rules, the logic, the tricks, etc. All of their hangups were based on teacher biases and the expectation that because they were girls they would have to work harder to figure things out. It’s not fair to the student or to our society that we are sabotaging people based on faulty information and expectations. Tell the student you expect them to succeed and they will.


Broverman, I. K., Broverman, D. M., Clarkson, F. E., Rosenkrantz, P. S., & Vogel, S. R. (1970). Sex role stereotypes and clinical judgments of mental health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 34, 1–7.

Kelley, L.P., & Blashfield, R.K. (2009). An example of psychological science’s failure to self-correct. Review of General Psychology, 13(2), 122-129. DOI: 10.1037/a0015287

Public education systems in CA and LA

Main Discussion Post

My “a ha” moment came from finding the lack of logical thinking in issuing of funds between the policies of SB 2042 in California and how the rebuilding of New Orleans’s education system is bearing a striking resemblance (Beabout, 2007, Hafner & Maxie, 2006).  As both California and New Orleans are experiencing over-crowded public schools, under-funded school districts, and under-performing minority groups then a similar system of recovery should work in both cases to a certain degree (Hafner & Maxie, 2006).  In order to improve the situation for the public schools to prosper, it is important to provide assistance and regulation for that to occur.  If students are stuck going to public schools because they cannot afford other means or the transportation situation does not allow it, yet the schools are not able to be funded because the attendance continues to drop for other students having the means to leave, this leaves the public school children behind, possibly permanently.

Having said that, I think it is the parent’s and the student’s right to go to school wherever they would like to go and putting limits on who can go and who can stay seems unfair to me.  Somehow the parents and students in the district need to force the hand of the district to tell them that the level of education and funding is inadequate, there are other options, and there is no reason to sacrifice education for the sake of possibly getting more funding later for the student.  I would never put my child at that much risk of hoping the school district turns itself around.  This, to me, seems like a monopoly.  This is something that we all need, like utility companies, and the options that are provided are going to a chosen few that can arrange it.  I do not think this is an issue that can or will be resolved simply or soon, but is one that needs addressing.

Beabout, B. (2007). Stakeholder Organizations Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Public Schools. Multicultural Education, Winter, (43-49).

Hafner, A., & Maxie, A. (2006). Looking at Answers about Reform: Findings from the SB 2042 Implementation Study. Issues in Teacher Education, 15(1), 85-102. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Group decision making

Making decisions in an organization is a very important process.  There are those who are better at it than others, and those that are better at seeing the bigger picture in keeping the group and organization moving in the right direction.  Kumar, Aquino, and Anderson (2007) explain that too often, organizations do not do their due diligence in formulating a strategy and evaluation of potential outcomes when decisions are made.  Brainstorming should be part of the strategy formation session as well (Kumar, Aquino, & Anderson, 2007).  Bakenova (2008) mentions that the strategy might be slow and compromises made in order to start progress.  The steps of rational decision making involve defining the problem, identifying the decision criteria, and allocating weight to, developing  alternatives, evaluating, and selecting the best alternatives.  As Robbins and Judge (2009) mention these things depend on whether or not the decision maker has all of the necessary information to make the decision or not and if they can identify all of the options.

Developing and maintaining trust in workgroups is part of a key in an organization.  Yukl (2006) explains that high levels of cooperation and trust will ensure a team in carrying out its mission.  Keeping these values high will keep the team members helping each other, sharing information, and working together better in stressful situations (Yukl, 2006).  It is therefore important for the leader to foster better teamwork and communication to keep the flow of information moving and the team functioning at its highest capacity.  Larson (2007) found using diversity as a resource was very beneficial.  Larson (2007) found that groups who used their diversity to solve a problem were far more likely than any individual in the group was able to do themselves and even more likely than a non-diverse group was able to come to.  Being able to use current resources, like employees and their respective diversities, to be able to take different perspectives on a task is a big strategy to allocate resources.

Too often problem solvers do not take the time to find a good solution or look to analyze future problems that may arise because of botched decision making (Clark, 2007).  Being able to define what the problem is is a very important step, and something that is never trained (Clark, 2007).  A good decision maker ultimately is one that is rational and removed from the process emotionally.  If there is too much at stake for an individual, it may not be the best idea for them to take part in fixing the problem if at all possible.  Obviously this is not always possible, but staying focused and open to information, being able to parse out what is important and being able to see any problems that may come up from any proposed solutions are important and valuable tools.