(#368) Fake, Illegitimate Or Incomplete Information?

June 11, 2017

Just because you find a lot of information does not mean
you have found accurate or credible information

If, as famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed, “An expert is a man who stops thinking because he knows,” then can we say the same for a person who claims one source of information as the fount of all legitimacy and contrary accounts to be illegitimate or “fake”? Has she stopped discerning because she “knows” what is legitimate and what is fake?

More than five years ago, I shot a quick video (see below) outlining four basic considerations when considering information to address an issue or task?

  1. What information do you need for the task at hand?
  2. Where will you find that information?
  3. How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy and legitimacy?
  4. How will you organize and use the information for your audience?

Can we grow as individuals if we filter what we read, hear, and see through one source (or a number of like-minded sources)?  Are we motivated to grow–or just “be right” even in the face of confounding information?

Do we care?

A friend shared two stories this week.  I doubt they are apocryphal.

  • A neighbor asked my friend where she got her news. My friend rattled off a list of seven or eight sources. Out of hand, the neighbor dismissed the entire list as thoroughly “illegitimate.” When asked what her source of information was, the neighbor mentioned one source. Just one source. It was, according to her, legitimate. End of story. (See numbers two and three, above.)
  • My friend has found the same situation in her college classroom.  No matter the topic,  two camps emerge. Diametrically opposed. Refusing to listen and discuss with the other. Each considering their source(s) of information legitimate and the others’ suspect at the least and fake at the worst.

Is this a sign of intellectual laziness? A lack of critical thinking? Or is this sort of thing nothing new—just magnified because everyone can have a social media platform where we surround ourselves with “likes” and “shares” and then block opposing viewpoints?  (I still remember my mother often warning me (more than fifty years ago) not to speak about politics or religion.) It does seem like today’s volume, as well as the personal vitriol, has been cranked up considerably.

I offered a suggestion to my friend.

  1. Pick two sources of news that generally disagree on issues and stances.
  2. Find one current news story on which both of these sources present a similar account of the issue or event.
  3. Print both stories without any attribution (nothing that would identify the sources).
  4. Ask your friend (or students) to identify the “illegitimate source” based solely on the content presented. If both stories are drawing the same conclusion then how can the argument hold that a particular source is always illegitimate?

Perhaps you could do it as well to at least start a rational conversation. Start with common ground and move from there.


Video recommendation for the week.

Just because you find information does not mean you have credible information.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#361) Where’s My Trophy?

April 23, 2017

How would you develop a meaningful and effective employee recognition program?
What represents “average” and what looks like “excellent” at your workplace?

Transformational leaders understand the importance of timely, authentic, and meaningful employee recognition.   The leader knows her people and what best motivates them. (For instance, accolades must resonate with the different generational mindsets that may be in the work setting.  Boomers may crave financial reward and titles, while millennials favor flexibility benefits.)

Even though the All Stars generally standout, there will be shortsighted, why-not-me workplace citizens who have difficulty recognizing and acknowledging the good work of others. What’s a leader to do in order to connect with all team members?

One of the last scenarios in my new book gives readers the opportunity to grapple with the best way to recognize employee efforts.  While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation or job title, for example.  Instead of “department chair,” use “manager” or “supervisor.”

Whether we talk about faculty, corporate managers, dockworkers, or administrative assistants recognizing them for a “job well done” seems like commonsense to overall personnel development.

Your work environment may adeptly understand and expertly execute employee recognition. If so, I would like to learn about your system. Leave a comment on this blog.


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage for the scenario.

For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.


As you and your colleagues grapple with this scenario, consider if Professor Hadit works in an environment where everyone believes he or she is excellent. If that is the case, then hasn’t “excellent” in that environment actually become “average”? Excellent indicates far above the average. What represents average and what looks like excellent at your workplace?

The scenario:

“Got a moment?” asked Professor Hadit as he stood at his colleague’s office door.

“Sure, come on in, Don. Have a seat.” Professor Binder pointed to the seat at the side of his desk. Both professors taught in the English department on their campus. Don Hadit it was the current department chair. He had been in that position for two years.

“Not sure where to start, Ann, other than this is the stereotypical case of doing what I thought was right only to catch grief from every direction. Remember the campus meeting we had last week with the campus president?”

“Yeah,” replied Ann. “I thought it went well. Very positive. Especially the recognition of the ‘all-stars’ in each of the departments. Finally, nice to see faculty recognized for what they do well.”

“Well, there’s the rub,” said Don with a sigh. “We, the department chairs, were asked to pass along the names of some of our faculty who have done something well over the last semester. We could only give four or five names. The president wanted to reach out and thank those folks. So, I did that. Thought it was a good idea, too. Unfortunately, my phone has not stopped ringing, the email inbox keeps dinging, and there have been a few unpleasant conversations—or should I say diatribes—in my office.”

“I don’t understand,” offered a confused-looking Ann. “About positive recognition?”

“Yeah. It seems people got very upset—I mean red-in-the-face mad—that they weren’t recognized. Some went as far as to tell me why the people I chose were not deserving of such recognition. I’m flabbergasted. Feeling a bit blindsided. Even had one person claim the only reason you were recognized is because we are friends outside of campus. Gee. Since I observe every teacher in this department and conduct thorough evaluations, I thought I was in the best place to be objective.”

Ann raised her eyebrows and blew a slow breath.

“I’m not sure how to rebound from this one. Frankly, I’m mad as hell. Got any thoughts?” asked Professor Hadit as he slumped into the chair and stared straight ahead at the wall. “I feel like we’re stuck in a place where everyone has to get a trophy!”

Reflect on This

  • If you were in Professor Hadit’s position, would you have proceeded any differently when asked by the campus president for a few of the “All Stars” in your department? Briefly explain.
  • How does your workplace recognize its All Stars? How should it recognize the All Stars?

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#350) Regrets? Choices And Lessons.

February 5, 2017

A culmination of all those choices. Some small.
Some large. All help create the person you are becoming.

Would you, if you could, go back in time and change the choices that you made?  I know.  A wide open question and open to lots of interpretation. (I’m not thinking about those 1970’s leisure suits you might have bought…though I can remember that red crushed faux velvet suit I wore in 1974.  Insert hand against forehead here!)

In response to an earlier blog post, a friend shared a Mercyme music video with me last week. (I have posted it in the Video Recommendation section below.) The songwriter is writing a letter to his younger self. At one point he considers, “Even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it were a smoother ride….”

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

While there have been some rough, tumultuous, and gut-wrenching times, I don’t think I would change my choices. Yes, some of the stuff was a real pain in the posterior. Sure, if I had the “power” to go back, I would be tempted to take back an ill-advised word, change a self-congratulatory action, or rethink an ill-conceived plan.  And while I might wish I had had more tact, diplomacy, and grace, I am willing to concede that all of those choices for good or bad made me who I am today.

I own the choices. I look at their culmination in the mirror each day.

I have had failures to be sure. As cliché as it sounds, they helped me grow.

Again, Mercyme sings it this way to the younger self:

…Or do I go deep

And try to change

The choices that you’ll make

‘Cause they’re choices

That made me….

Regrets? That’s a question each person has to answer. I do not make light of traumatic situations you may have faced or currently confront.  Consider, however, your overall life journey. The people you have touched. The differences you have made and the legacy you will leave (and build each day).  A culmination of all those choices. Some small. Some large. All help create the person you are becoming. Don’t be too quick to dismiss any of them. This does not excuse inappropriate behavior. It does look for lessons, though.

John Milton observed that “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

Photo (c) Steve Piscitelli

I titled a song on my second CD, “Love My Life.”  And old man speaks to a young person and shares:

Listen to what I say

Life’s too short to throw away

It’s filled with many threats

And too many do regret the life they’ve lived

But I choose to live my life instead.


Enjoy the entire recording by clicking below. (c) Steve Piscitelli. 2010. All rights reserved.


Video recommendation for the week:

Mercyme’s Dear Younger Me.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#315) Play Your Song, Now

June 5, 2016

What song lives in you?

I had the opportunity to listen to Kai Kight speak this past week in Austin, Texas. He titled his thoughts “Composing Your World.” Using his violin and stories from his journey, he poignantly drove home two oft-repeated life lessons.

Image: dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Don’t regret what might have been. Kai related how years ago his mother, with tears in her eyes, told him of her breast cancer diagnosis. The tears were not tears of fear, not tears for the unknown or the chemo treatments that lay ahead. No, they were, Kai told the audience, tears for the past. Tears for experiences not lived.
2. Play your song. Kai is an accomplished violinist. He can masterfully play the masters. But as he developed his craft he remained restless. He wanted to play his own music. Every opportunity he had, he would construct his own pattern of notes and melodies. These excited him. The scripted music that his conductor led the orchestra through did not juice him.

Video recommendation of the week.

Kai’s metaphor gives us a another powerful reminder to use our precious time to construct and live a life of meaning. Rather than shedding tears for an unfulfilled past, embrace the promising present, play your song, and think of the wonderful opportunities in front of you.

A number of years ago I delivered a breakfast keynote to a group of realtors. As the audience finished their meal, I encouraged them to evaluate their lives and consider being “responsibly selfish.” That is, I challenged them to take care of their needs. Get to the gym, pick up the musical instrument they always wanted to learn to play, write that novel that was inside of them, or make the difference they can in their communities. Live their authentic lives.

I remember how one person in the audience got upset with my message and later sent me an email stating that “selfish” is easy but not good.  For me, that is where “responsibly” comes in. Think of it as an “investment” in yourself. It’s not license to ignore responsibilities, go into debt because “I deserve [fill in the blank],” or lead a hedonistic lifestyle for the sake of meaningless pleasures.

We all have responsibilities to tend to (children, business, partners, financial obligations, and our own health and well-being for instance). AND we have an opportunity (obligation?) to experience our lives, embrace the present, and create our own songs.

What notes are inside of you? What song can you share with the world to make it a better place and you a more complete person?

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#313) Information Literacy 2.0: WHO Is The WHO Of Your Information?

May 22, 2016

We need to pay more attention to the sources of our information and 
we now need to question whether the sources are real people.

A note to my blog followers: This week’s post marks the sixth anniversary for this blog. Thank you for following and sharing my weekly posts. It all began in an Austin, Texas hotel room at the end of May, 2010.  I had just completed facilitating a session at the NISOD annual conference and decided it was time I dove in to the blogosphere.  Please let me know if you have ideas for future topics. Now, let’s begin year #7 for the Growth and Resilience blog.
_____________________________________________________________________________
It has become cliché to talk about the explosion of information. We’ve either seen or heard statistics like:

  • 5 million pieces of content are posted on Facebook every minute.
  • 72 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Nearly 300,000 tweets are posted on Twitter every minute.

And we could go on about the millions of emails sent, thousands upon thousands of photos and video shared on Instagram or Snapchat.  Blogs, like this one hosted by WordPress.com, number in the tens of millions.

In both of my books, I wrote about basic information literacy skills.  I cautioned that just because there’s a lot of information doesn’t mean that it’s good information. Even did a short video on the topic a few years ago.

The third question I pose in the video above (“How will you evaluate the information you found?”) takes on added importance today. Not only must we determine whether accurate information has been presented, we need to pay more attention to the source of the information. When I speak about source evaluation, I stress the importance of understanding bias, scope, depth, and background of a source.  According to an article in the May 2016 edition of Wired, we now need to question whether the sources are real people.

Huh?

Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard present an argument that bots—“spam accounts that post autonomously using programmed scripts” and fictitious names—have inundated the web. According to TwitterAudit, for instance (on May 22, 2016), @realdonaldtrump registers at 76% real and 24% “fake followers.”  @hillaryclinton comes in at 79% real and 21% “fake followers.”  Go to TwitterAudit.com and give it a spin.  As the site itself states, this is not perfect (meaning, it too would need more vetting and evaluation as part of an information literacy exercise.)  Oh, and when I typed in @stevepiscitelli, the “audit” showed 13% “fake followers.” Hmm.  Note: These findings are not indicting a person or entity that it is creating the fake followers. I know I have not done that. The findings do indicate that we need to at least ask some questions about the numbers and comments concerning “followers.”

“So what’s the big deal?” you may ask. According to Woolley and Howard, “Automated campaign communications are a very real threat to our democracy. We need more transparency about where bots are coming from, and we need it now, or bots could unduly influence the 2016 election.”

Image: digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: digitalart/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And, it can go beyond election campaigns to other discourse on the web.  Not only do we need to discern what is real, but we now have to pay attention to who is real.   This may not be a totally new dimension as we’ve had robocalls for years. If you were around during the Watergate years you may remember the “dirty tricks” campaign associated with Donald Segretti of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (Nixon).  But the stated magnitude and reach of these bots is enough to give us pause.

In a social media culture that gets wrapped up in numbers of followers, likes, shares, and views, bots add another dimension.

Read wisely, my friend.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars). 

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#311) Grade Inflation: Have We Arrived In Lake Wobegon?

May 8, 2016

Grade inflation/distortion has consequences for
self-efficacy, self-awareness, and self-competence.

For most colleges and universities around the nation, graduation time has arrived. Professors have evaluated the final exams, grades have been submitted, and students anxiously await their grades. Or, more to the point of this post, they await their expected “A.”

Grade inflation

The condition that, if you stop and think, moves toward making everyone average.  If “A” is supposed to represent “Superior” or “Stand Out” but the majority of students are getting As, doesn’t that mean that the “A” has become more average than a rank of superiority? After all, if 40%, 50% or more of the students have inflated grades, how do the truly exceptional stand out and how do employers identify the great ones from the less-than great?

Maybe, we now live in the land where everyone is superior.  Doubtful.

Image: prakairoj@FreeDigitalPhotos

Image: prakairoj@FreeDigitalPhotos

Does grade inflation actually exist?

One extensive study pinpoints two eras of high grade inflation: The Vietnam War Era and the Student as Consumer Era (1980s to present era). The grade of “A,” according to this research (and more) is the most common grade now at both four and two-year institutions. A few years ago a Harvard professor “stirred up controversy by criticizing rampant grade inflation at his institution.”

The obvious question: Why does this exist?

While each institution may differ, some of the reasons put forth for grade inflation include:

  • Inflated high school grades do not equip incoming college students with the experience of receiving grades other than an “A.”
  • The student as “customer” mentality where the customer is always right creates expectations that have to be fulfilled.
  • Higher tuition costs are a fact and, thus, parents clamor to get what they paid for (high grades).
  • Student evaluations of faculty—and the use of those evaluations for tenure, promotion or renewal of contract can intimidate faculty.
  • Students have become obsessed with receiving (not necessarily earning) nothing less than an “A” for their graduate school application.
  • Where there is a larger reliance (at community colleges, for instance) on adjunct instructors—their concern for job retention may influence grades.
  • A lack of consistent standards across a department or discipline can create a wild west of grade distribution.

Video recommendation of the week.

In this video, The Economist takes a look at forces associated with grade inflation.

Inflation or Distortion?

But does grade inflation actually exist?  If we follow an economic argument, it does not. In true economic inflation there is no cap on prices. They keep rising. But in what passes for grade inflation, there is, in fact, a cap. There is no grade higher than an “A.” So what we really have is grade distortion.

Time for Question-storming

Whatever we call it, it exists. But what or who causes it? Certain departments? Particular courses? The same instructors?

Interesting anecdotal observation: When the charge of grade inflation is leveled, it generally appears to be aimed at the previous classes or instructors. The finger tends to point to another colleague, another campus, or another school as the culprit.

Can grade inflation be attributed to “academic freedom”? That is, each instructor can establish the best way to gauge and rank progress for her students.

If a student got an “A” in a feeder course and is struggling in the next level, is that because of grade inflation or does the current instructor deserve some scrutiny as well?

If they do not already exist, would agreed-upon departmental objectives, standards, performance benchmarks, and/or assessments help eliminate or prevent or, at least, minimize grade inflation?

What is the connection, if any, between grades issued and faculty evaluations? If a relationship exists, can it be transparently proven? If a relationship exists, should it be discontinued?

What have been the consequences of grade inflation? Does it lead to a poorly-prepared and a deceptively-delivered product (diplomas or certifications) for the future employers?

And will students who have come to expect inflated (or distorted) grades come to expect the same on employee evaluations, salary raises, and promotions? After all, if I got top grades should I not get top dollar as well?

If we believe the research, we find ourselves where more and more students are average and it’s not a fictional town. It has consequences for self-efficacy, self-awareness, and self-competence.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


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