Posted in Psychology

My Obsession and the reason behind it

For those who have known me for the past couple of years, you may notice a large shift in my likes, dislikes, appearance, personality, language, and even my mannerisms. This shift is due to a couple different factors, one of the biggest factors is Jeffree Star (for those who don’t know him, look it up), and the second-factor being drag queens and the LGBTQ2+ community.

To understand these changes, you must know where I am coming from. Growing up, I was introverted, bullied, and being a bully, fat kid with no friends, low self-esteem and no confidence what so ever.

I missed middle school to go to a special school, for children with discipline problems (if you knew me back then, that is an understatement), and was thrown in high school, feeling like I was mentally behind 4 years (maybe even more) which didn’t help any of my issues. I graduated high school being labeled as an outcast, which this attitude continued throughout my 4 years at community college, where I had more interactions with my instructors than my peers. I then moved to Lethbridge to continue my education, still having the same issues including issues of mental health and illness (which didn’t help).

During my education at the University of Lethbridge, I slowly began to focus more on my mind than anything and made a few temporary friends through my classes (those of which I don’t even talk to anymore).

On May 29th, 2018, I made a bet with my mother that if I could lose 50 LBS by December could go with them to Mexico (free of charge), I won the bet and could focus a bit on my appearance, and my mental health, but it wasn’t enough.

Early in November 2018, I came across a Facebook post of a Genderless male dressed as a female known as Jeffree Star that the world was obsessed with, and decided to check it out. My first thought after watching one of his videos was “A train wreck: horrible to watch but you couldn’t stop looking”. So, in the interest of my own curiosity, I check out the Shane Dawson series: The Secret World of Jeffree Star, to which I found it quite fascinating, and my; what my parents and family call my obsession began.

Here was this fashionable, androgynous, flamboyant individual that had so much confidence that to some may be confused as ego, and oh ya he was rich (but I wasn’t concerned with that.

In the first episode of the Shane Dawson series, I enjoyed that fact that Jeffree he had so much controversy and negative opinions about him, but that didn’t stop him from living his life and being himself (which I have always struggled with) which is totally relatable in my eyes.

The second Episode, allowed the viewers to get a glimpse of the controversy, negative opinions and labels that people have continuously applied to him, which (again) I could definitely relate to. The labels that I perceived prevented me from growing and hindered a lot of who I was and what I could accomplish in life. Being told that you can’t do this because your too fat, too dumb, because of your mental illnesses; it was self-limiting in all aspects.

The third episode showed a humorous side although Jeffree is a make-up mogul, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and enjoys having fun, making jokes and again just having the confidence to be himself while ignoring all the negative shit that could (but doesn’t) consume his life. He was able to show his caring and giving side by buying his friends gifts, which is something I always strive to do (whether I can afford it or not).

The final episode is where I really established a connection with Jeffree star. In the final video Shane and Jeffree visit Jeffree’s old stomping grounds, to which during a moment, Jeffree reveals his struggles with mental health. His father committed suicide when he was 10, and because Jeffree was so different and felt so alone, he started cutting himself as a coping device. He would wear bagging clothing that would cover up his entire body so that people couldn’t see the scars, he continued cutting himself, and used tattoos as not only an art piece but as a way to hide the scars, almost as a way to deal with his mental health issues, where he successfully stopped cutting him about 4 years ago.

Although I wasn’t cutting myself and I didn’t have a parent commit suicide, I too struggle with similar issues of mental health and felt alone, which made him even more relatable. Here a person who had so much trauma in his past, and was able to conquer it while having the courage to live as their true authentic self which he reminds people through social media. For example, Jeffree’s snapchat or rants (as he would call them) offered so much guidance and inspiration of how to deal with one’s problems in life, Jeffree’s snapchats have talked about so many issues that people face every day or he discusses things that people are too scared to talk about from removing toxic people from your life, how to be fearless and take a risk, how to be a better person by blocking out all the negative things that people say, the importance of self-care (if you want more examples, to check out his snapchat) these videos gave me hope, inspiration and guidance that look forward to it every morning, I even went to the extent to draw the Jeffree star Cosmetics logo on my pill bottle lid that contains my anti-depressants I dubbed it my Daily dose of Jeffree, which served as a reminder to deal with those mental health issues daily, or when I am struggling at the gym, I imagine Jeffree pulling up in one of his cars and coming to my gym, which somehow gives me a second wind to keep going. I have enough thought of to go as far as to think about getting a Jeffree star Approved logo tattoo symbolizing that I am Jeffree Star approved.

For the people who know me before this all started, I never wore make-up, and the only times I did wear make-up was for my graduations. But that has all changed because of Jeffree Star and the connections I feel I have with him, I started getting into makeup and caring about my appearance (although my parents say different and think I am wasting my money and time). When I first started with makeup it was just to have more of a connection with Jeffree, but it became so much more. When I used make-up, I started to feel like I could be creative again (which was something I was always told I was) it was colourful art that I created and wore on my face, but then I started to get a lot of compliments and I liked the positive attention I was getting from world. When I wore makeup, my face looked snatched but my clothing didn’t match, so once again I was focusing on improving my appearance, thereby improving my confidence and self-esteem, and before I knew it I was watching Jeffree star make-up tutorials and entering the make-up world. When I went to Calgary on multiple occasions I made it a point to stop at Sephora to buy and explore the wide array of products and colours that I could use. Growing up fat, I could never go into a store that skinny people were shopping at, I had go to special plus size stores like Pennington’s or Addition-Elle to find clothes which made me excluded. This was the first time that I could go into the same store as skinny people and purchase the same items, I felt included.

As my makeup world began to expand, I found myself going to Sephora or other make up stores and being able to talk to people about make-up or brands without feeling dumb or isolated that I didn’t know what I was talking about (which I felt before as I didn’t know about pop culture or things of that nature so I felt like I couldn’t contribute to the conversation so why try)

Because of this new-found knowledge and confidence, it opened up more doors than I ever could have imagined. In December of 2018, I went to a baby shower where I was able to take the confidence and knowledge to expand my social circle. I met my partner in crime Alysen, and we talked makeup and Jeffree star, which lead to talking about drag queens, to which from that she invited me to a drag race viewing party, where my social circle was flipped on its head. Through this one interaction that was first built upon topics of Make-up and Jeffree star, I met Jorgen, Vance, which lead to meeting, Pam, Sheena, Hannah, Lane, and opened me up to the world of drag queens and the LGBTQ2+ community.

In the world of drag queens, you have these male performers or fashionistas who dress up and perform as females, creating an alter ego. The confidence that they displayed was so admirable and desired. These queens had the most amazing, colourful outfits, displaying these wild personalities, they had their own slang (henny, girl, yasss, yass queen, ect…) and mannerisms that I slowly started to absorb it (despite the objection of my family and parents) it brought out my flamboyant side, a side that I was always afraid to show.

Through this newly found social circle, personality reveals and newly adapted mannerisms, I felt like I was a part of a community, liked I belonged to something, which one something I always observed but never could obtain till now.

New doors were opening for me, doors that I didn’t even know existed. Because of the confidence that I was gaining and with the idea of Jeffree by my side, I took a risk and applied myself to the professional world. I applied for a job of Master trainer of the Inquiring minds workshop for the mental health commission of Canada. And much to my shock they gave me the position (without even an interview). This new position opened more doors, where I was sent to Toronto (on their dime) to train and realized that I was the youngest trainer, while everyone else had master degree, PhD’s and years of experience, this gave me the ultimate confidence boost, showing me that I had a point of view and something to offer.

Because of all these changes, I have been able to grow personally, mentally, socially, professionally and gain strength and confidence in myself, to which I am now influencing others. I have connected with more people and built relationships using topics of Jeffree star, Make-up and drag queens, than I ever have in my whole life. Even to the extent that people come to me to talk pop culture, Drag Queens, Jeffree Star, and even ask for make-up advice (which makes me feel really good like I have something to offer or show)

Some people have called these changes and mannerism things like “just a phase or not necessary” but without these influences (or obsessions by some — you know who you are) I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have this past year, so… Thank-you Jeffree.

Listed below are some of my favorite Jeffree star snapchats:

Posted in learning, Photography, Psychology

My Value of Education: What I’ve Learned

So we have come to the end of the semester, where we reflect on what we have learned and falsify a glowing report for our professor Jesse Martin. So in honor of our wonderful professor Jesse Martin, I plan to the newly discovered KISS Principal or “Keep It Simple Stupid!” Principal.

In regards to the class, I have come across and researched many different psychological effects and principals (many I have written on). This includes desirable difficulties, SAFMEDS method, Zeigarnik effect, Ikea effect, the Jones MUSIC model, Carol Dweck’s Mindset theories, how we live our label, how learning styles hurt learners, and of course the KISS principle. Not only have I expanded my knowledge of various psychological principals and effects that occur within learning and education, but I have also discovered insight into the system of education and learning.

As a society, we are screwed when it comes to learning and education, so much so that Post-secondary education is the biggest Ponzi scheme, where students are on the bottom.pyramid-of-capitalist-feudal-system

Where education is striving to become a successful business, where it seems that more money is put into marketing and appearances than schooling, learning, and the students who are the foundation of education and keep the Ponzi scheme going. The students are the customers, and the degrees are the products that we are purchasing for tens of thousands of dollars. The result of this expensive purchase is that students are not able to think critically.  Where their primary focus is on the grades, which are only for accountability will never reflect what the student has learned, leaving the education system at a standstill in progress. So until someone steps up to challenge the set system, change, and actual learning will never occur.

I now reflect on the metacognition that had occurred after talking with Jesse Martin (before and after every class). When I inquired about topics and information about learning and education, I found myself focusing too much on the system, realizing that I cant change something that doesn’t want to be changed, leading to the conclusion that the entire system of education is resistant to change because students and teachers are comfortable in their bubble. For a shift to occur within education, a drastic action must occur, i.e., sue education for Malpractice.

In conclusion, I have developed a realistic perspective on how bad our education system is, which has forced me to become an independent agent for change. I conform less, question authority (more than before), question the reasons for why society and education do things in a particular manner, inspiring more confidence in my actions towards, enabling me to do things my way, regardless of the system in place. So much so that I am one of the first undergrad students to work with the teaching center, and take control over my learning regardless of other’s opinion, thoughts, or previous actions.

Moreover, I end this post, concluding that teaching is an art, and learning is a science and should begin to be thought of and applied as such.

For this week’s featured image, I put up Jesse Martin, the professor who inspired the newly found confidence, knowledge & independent agent of change… Cool! I am now a superhero.  change-agents1-1920x800

 

Posted in learning, Psychology

Effortful Learning: Synthesis​

Learning is an effortful process, as demonstrated in the last three blogs. This synthesis will reinforce the notion of effortful learning, with the goal of inspiring other individuals to reflect on their learning and question the current system of education.

As mentioned in the post about desirable difficulties, the brain and memory are less of a filing cabinet, but more of a muscle. When novel information has entered the mind, the information must be rehearsed for it to be encoded within long-term memory, much like working out the muscle to keep fit; if the memory is not repeated or muscle is not worked out, both slowly diminish.

In the case of desirable difficulties, the information obtained must be continuously reviewed over a more considerable amount of time (testing and spacing effects) to maintain the information both time and energy must be applied.

Unfortunately, teachers do a lot of the work of learning for us. By organizing the material onto slides (organizational effect) that allows for easier comprehension of the material in a way that diminished attention (disfluency effect), so that little effort is needed by the student to understand the material. Not only do teachers do the work for us, but the traditional structure of education and standardized testing assist students with fast-tracking of information so that they can obtain a high grade through a multiple choice exam. With the goal of the education system to achieve A high GPA and test results; which is pursued by both students and teachers. It appears that teachers and post-secondary institutes want students to succeed only in the form of grades as that is how they measure success. Providing students with effort-less learning contradicts how learning is acquired: through effort, time, persistence, and difficulty, not through the ability to fill in a bubble on a scantron sheet.

The current study techniques as illustrated in my prior post consist of cramming, lecture slides, highlighters, flashcards, and the list of ineffective study techniques goes on and on. But for learning to be meaningful and active, students cannot merely rely on surface level strategies such as rereading the textbook or highlighting their notes. Unfortunately, these methods achieve decent if not exceptional results within grading, but the function of the current education is to make learning easy, but learning should not be easy, as emphasized in previous posts.

In conjunction with the effort-less student strategies, learning is individualized. By this I mean, that unless students form a study group, studying and learning is done as an individualized activity.  For example, in our Camus library, there are more isolated cubicles than study rooms or work tables, which promotes secluded studying. In individualistic societies, collective learning and test taking in the classroom are frowned upon; many call it cheating.

By not giving students the opportunity to see different perspectives, discuss, reflect on and challenge the information with each other, students become used to learning in one manner which is lecture halls and isolated. Resulting in a lack of effort because students are habituated to the same environment, and less attention is needed to succeed, so studying becomes subjective. This is because of this set structure of individualized learning and lecture halls, other forms of learning or feedback never occur (differentiated instruction delayed feedback). To illustrate this lack of effort and individualization for students, a news article recently came out that states that millennials would give up their right to vote for the next two elections to have their student loan debt forgiven. To some, this may be an acceptable choice, but to a majority of people, this is shocking. This example shows how millennials and a portion of society think individualistically rather than thinking of the collective. Now whether this choice is due to an overabundance of debt, the lack of effort it takes to vote, or that their vote doesn’t matter, it still reflects the focus of individualized effort rather than collective effort.

At this state, it appears that studying and learning are done without any scientific evidence, even go against psychology and how we actually learn; education and learning have become subjective, in the way that their methods are based upon tradition and opinion. But as we have seen in the SAFMEDS post, learning should not be subjective, and that there is a significant amount of psychology within learning, to make learning more effective in the long run. With this being said, I end this synthesis with one question: Do C’s really get degrees? I believe so.

The featured image, although disturbing, is an accurate portrayal of the learning, knowledge, and effort within the education system.

References

Blumberg, J. (2017). 50% of millennials would give up this fundamental American right to have their student loans forgivenCNBC. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/29/millennials-would-give-up-this-right-to-wipe-out-their-student-loans.html

Dangel, H. (2017). Effortful Retrieval | Center for Excellence in Teaching and LearningSites.gsu.edu. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from http://sites.gsu.edu/scholarlyteaching/effortful-retrieval/

Davis, M. (2017). How Collaborative Learning Leads to Student SuccessEdutopia. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/stw-collaborative-learning-college-prep

Hopper, E. (2017). Individualist or Collectivist? How Culture Influences BehaviorHealthyPsych.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://healthypsych.com/individualist-or-collectivist-how-culture-influences-behavior/

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Learning Myths vs. Learning Facts – The Effortful Educator. (2017). The Effortful Educator. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://theeffortfuleducator.com/2017/07/17/learning-myths-vs-learning-facts/

McFeeters, F. (2017). The Effects of Individualism Vs. Collectivism on Learner’s Recall, Transfer, and Attitudes Toward Collaboration and Individualized Learning (PH’D). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

McGarry, K. (2017). effortful learning: desirable difficulty. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/effortful-learning-desirable-difficulty/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: ineffective Pedagogy and Academia. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/ineffective-pedagogy-and-academia/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: SAFMEDS. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/effortful-learning-application-of-safmeds-2/

No authorship indicated. (1987). Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning (2nd ed.). Psyccritiques32(6). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/027279

 

Posted in learning, Photography, Psychology

Are Learners Actually Learning?

It seems like the current state of education (especially post-secondary education) is coming to a crossroads. Teaching first can be traced back to the great Greek Teacher Confucius (561 BC). The teacher is seen as an authority figure, where they stand in front of an audience of students, telling them to “sit down, shut up, and listen”, while they read their lecture from PowerPoint slides, almost like a performance given by the teacher. There are over 50 billion webpages that has been indexed through Google yesterday! So, with such enormous amounts of information, I think we stand at crossroads in post-secondary education because teachers were used to access information, and expertise, but it seems like we don’t need teachers to access information, and do they really provide us expertise, or are they just a part of traditions and use social expectations? I believe so, because based on the science behind learning, it appears that with traditional teaching methods, is it possible that teachers are learning more than their students in the classroom? Yes, and here’s why.

Learning is defined as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught”. In the science of learning, one way that the student learns is through the organizational effect, but who organizes the material and puts it into a nice neat package with a bow on top, that is then presented to students, for them to passively learn or memorize… the teacher. Learning is better acquired through the spacing effect where studying is spread out over time, and who reviews material throughout the semester rather than just passively taking notes, which will be reviewed and crammed into a short amount of time… the teacher. Learning is increased when during the learning process, feedback and testing provides more learning because of the testing effect, and who received the most proper feedback through the method of questions and clarifications during lectures… the teacher. Finally, learner is negatively impacted by a psychological effect known as Digital Amnesia, or more commonly known as the google effect, where there is a tendency to forget information that can be instantly found on the internet, which can often result in a lack of learning and increases in memorization, and who uses the internet more to review and memorize information rather than understanding it and teaching it over a longer period… the students! With all it appears to me that teachers are learning more than the students. But how can we reverse this, so that students are learning more than the teachers… Reverse Mentoring is the solution.

mentoringReverse Mentoring occurs when the student becomes the teacher, and the teacher then becomes the student. This utopian concept is a unique way to approach learning and education, because when the student becomes the teacher, societal norms, labels and expectations are broken. This is because the student who is never considered to be the authority figure, adopts the authoritative role, which allows the student to teach the less informed, find their voice as an authoritative figure, and especially, reflect on what they know in terms of knowledge and understanding.

In addition to the authoritative role reversal, fluidity between the student and the teacher is kept, because not only can both parties understand the other’s point of view but they both develop on skills and gain tolerance for each other. Students typically sit passively in class, and teacher’s adept an authoritative position that can make them appear unreliable (which is the furthest thing from the truth, because teachers were once students).

iStock_000020048166_smallIn addition to personal and relationship development and growth, reverse mentoring causes a larger and desperately needed change… Active learning for the learners, not the teachers! This is because when the students become the teachers they organize the material, providing the information over a spaced period of time, is given feedback when the teacher doesn’t understand the material, and they students must know and understand the material in order to relay it to someone else.  For the students who lack learning and knowledge on a skill or topic, maybe the best way for them to learn, if for the students to become the teachers for the students to learn. Concluding that it is the student who is teaching is learning more as a teacher than as a student, not the student who is learning.

For this week’s featured image, I present the only person that I would switch perspective with… my sister Nicole. She is 6 years younger than me, in nursing school, and acts like she is the older sister, that has her life all figured out. I would love her to gain my perspective, and vice versa.

References

Chaudhuri, S. and Ghosh, R. (2011). Reverse Mentoring: A Social Exchange Tool for Keeping the Boomers Engaged and Millennials Committed. Human Resource Development Review, 11(1), pp.55-76.

Chen, Y. (2013). Effect of Reverse Mentoring on Traditional Mentoring Functions. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 13(3), pp.199-208.

de Kunder, M. (2017). WorldWideWebSize.com | The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet). [online] Worldwidewebsize.com. Available at: http://www.worldwidewebsize.com [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Google effect. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_effect [Accessed 20 Oct. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Testing effect. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testing_effect [Accessed 20 Oct. 2017].

Hirsch, S. (2017). History of Teaching As a Profession | Synonym. [online] Classroom.synonym.com. Available at: http://classroom.synonym.com/history-teaching-profession-6458025.html [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

McGarry, K. (2017). Ikea’s Value of Learning.. [online] Cognitive mindset. Available at: https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/ikeas-value-of-learning/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2017].

Merriam-webster.com. (2017). Definition of LEARNING. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/learning [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

Morris, L. (2017). Reverse Mentoring: Untapped Resource in the Academy?. Innovative Higher Education, 42(4), pp.285-287.

Pesavento, T. (2017). When Students Become teachers. [Blog] Go Guardian. Available at: http://blog.goguardian.com/students-become-teachers [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

 

 

Posted in learning, Psychology

Liquid Networking

Liquid being is an art exhibit currently at the university of Lethbridge. There was one art piece that really struck me (in a psychological way).

associated.jpg

This art piece is like associative learning. Individual cones are interconnected into the next cone, and leads to the next; resulting in a fluid and intricate track. If the cones were used individually, they would hardly hold any water, other than a few droplets on the surface; when the cones are interconnected creating a track which can hold and carry large amounts of water from one location, to another. Thus, being more effective when placed together, rather than individually. Through associative learning, pieces of information that are interconnected to each other become more durable and effective in their function, compared to individual pieces that are separate from one another.

Simply put, associative learning is a learning principle that states that ideas and experiences reinforce each other and can be mentally linked to one another. In a nutshell, it means our brains are not designed to recall information in isolation, so we group information together for better recall. Part of associative learning is associative memory; defined as the ability to learn and remember the relationship between unrelated items. This is typically done by associating a fact or information to you personally, making it more memorable.  By using associative learning and memory, or linking ideas and information together (like the cones), the information is encoded deeper, thus stored in long-term memory.

Typically, with associative memory, having multiple inputs of information or connections during the encoding stage results in deeper storing f information, making the memory stronger and easier to recall later, which as we know can produce more effective learning that is associated with more information than a term or fact or isolated piece of knowledge.

But in education, associative learning and memory, are subordinate strategies for studying and learning. For example, one of the go-to strategies for studying is flash cards, as it is the opposite of associative learning or dissociative learning (If there was such a thing).  With flashcards, you have a term or cue on one side, and on the other side you have the description, definition or information pertaining to that cue. When using flashcards, you remove the associations that are connected to that information. Flashcards only focus on pure memorization and/or recognition; not associative learning, knowledge or understanding.

So how can students learn more effectively and incorporate associative learning in their studies and education? One way is to build a connection with the information when it is presented. This can be done by students asking questions of “why am I learning this?”, “how does this class or information relate to me on a personal level or my chosen career?”; or by professors informing students not just what they will learn in their class but “why should students learn it”, or more abruptly “why should they [students] care?”. By asking and reflecting on such questions, it takes advantage of the usefulness portion of the MUSIC. Model of Motivation, creating intrinsic motivation. For students forced to take a class to meet a degree requirement, most students just try to pass the tests or assignments and don’t care about the information outside of the class or test. So, by finding parts of the class, information or skills that relate to the students on a more personal note, more associations are formed, and more effective learning occurs.

Another way that students can incorporate associative learning in their education is to relate to the information on a personal level. For students who can only answer the above questions with responses like “It was the only class available”, “it’s an easy A” “It’s a prerequisite”, or the ever popular ” because I have to, but don’t want to” tend not to have any motivation or interest in the information presented. So, with the course information, students can associate the information to personally, for better recall and understanding. For example, students are in an anatomy class, can relate the body parts and their functions to their own body and bodily functions.  Or if students are in a class where the information is dull and difficult to memorize, such techniques like gnomonic devices, made up or real-life stories experiences help remember the dull information better. By using such methods of associative learning, another layer of cues is created resulting in more effective storing of information.

So maybe by students and professors implementing such useful and associative strategies, it could result in more effective learning, to which our minds could metaphorically resemble an interconnected trail of cones that carry information more efficiently than any single, isolated cone, such as flashcards and pure memorization. By having such an intricate track of associated memories and learning, we can construct a beautiful image like the one seen underneath this trail of associated memory pieces (cones), and maybe just maybe, that beautiful image could represent the knowledge and understanding that has developed because of associative learning, like the one seen here:

floor-e1507871335202.jpg

For this week’s featured image is of my interpretation of what our minds could look like after the implementation of associative learning, that has been built up over time to create intricate networking of information that has been understood, collected and stored for future use and critical thinking.

References

Craik, F. and Tulving, E. (1975). Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104(3), pp.268-294.

Shams, L. and Seitz, A. (2008). Benefits of multisensory learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(11), pp.411-417.

Spanella, T. (2017). Associative Learning: Definition, Theory & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. [online] Study.com. Available at: http://study.com/academy/lesson/associative-learning-definition-theory-examples.html [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

the free encyclopedia, W. (2017). Associative memory (psychology). [online] En.wikipedia.org. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associative_memory_(psychology) [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Wissman, K., Rawson, K. and Pyc, M. (2012). How and when do students use flashcards?. Memory, 20(6), pp.568-579.

Posted in Psychology

Can Failure Lead to Success?

For this post, I’m going to start off with a relevant story, so here it goes. I a few years ago I took an art history class, studying European art. I was studying for an where I had to provide the name, and artist and date for a couple hundred pieces of art.  Before the exam, I had difficulty remembering a few different artwork, thus I got them wrong. so after the exam,  I reviewed my test and the artworks that I could wrong or unfished I could remember better than the answers I got right or finished; and to this day, a few years later (and going into a completely different discipline, I can still remember those couple artworks that I got wrong and are still unfinished in my mind.

This is one of the artworks that I got wrong. The greek statue Doryphoros was sculpted by Polykleitos (poly= polysporin). So why I can remember this and other artworks I got wrong or didn’t finish after all these years, but I can’t remember the artworks I answered correctly? This is because of the Zeigarnik effect.

Bluma-Zeigarnik-1921
The Zeigarnik effect was discovered by Bluma Zeigarnik (power to the females). Bluma was a Soviet Psychologist who discovered that better memory occurs for interrupted or unfished tasks, by an experience she had at a restaurant with a waiter. The effect is described as “people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks”. Bluma Zeigarnik states in her paper that by interrupting a task or having an unfinished task, we remember it better by 90% on average.

 

So why do we remember unfished tasks better than finished tasks?  There have been many theories as to why this happens. Two theories by Seifert and Patalano in 1991 hypothesized that there is more time spent on the unfished task than the finished task, hence why it is still unfinished. This theory is debunked because, in reality, we spend more time completing the task, which is why is it finished.  Seifert and Patalano’s second theory is that by having an unfinished task, it is easier to recall because of the smaller amount of information that needs to be recalled, in other words, chunking; where you can better remember information divided into manageable chunks of information.  This theory was tested and proven to be false as experimenters manipulate the size of each task and then there was no change; people remembered the unfinished task better than the finished one.

So with these false theories out of the way, why does this effect occur? The most explanatory theory is that as a society and a stubborn human race, we have an innate drive for perfection, leading to the observation that we fear failure. With this being said, having an unfinished task drives us crazy, resulting in a quasi-need (a need based on intent or purpose) for completion and perfectionism. Because of this need, we spend more time thinking about it or recalling it into our working memory, thus it is better encoded into our long-term memory.

So now that we have explained how the Zeigarnik effect occurs, how can we harness it into learning? The Zeigarnik effect can be used in a couple different way. The first is that by having this innate drive for completion, it motivates us to complete a task with achievement; so with this effect in mind, we strive for completion and perfection in tasks. So later down the road, we remember the task better because we strived to complete the task and failed to, the encoding it into our long-term memory.

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Another way to harness the power of the Zeigarnik effect is to use it as a memory aid in learning. This is seen in the Pomodoro Technique, where you study for a certain time say 25 minutes, then interrupt yourself with a break for a few minutes, and when you return to studying or learning, you have encoded the information better than if you were studying for 2 hours with no break in between.

WIth this being said, it seems like there is a link between the Zeigarnik effect and learning, in more ways that the Pomodoro technique. if we break down learning, it occurs through trial and error that occurs over a period of time. With trial and error, it is often the case that we fail, take a break and the reexamine the problem, to find a better solution (sound familiar?) This trial and error of learning seems to be a mirrored definition of the Zeigarnik effect. where we attempt, fail or not finish, take a break and then reattempt the task or problem, thus it is better remembered later. With this being said, it could be the case that the Zeigarnik effect is a huge motivator as well as a key part of why failure is a part of learning, to which learning is more remembered in the long run. One final thought to this female inspired and motivated blog post, can it be said that our failure is the key to success in learning? I think so. Thanks, Bluma.

Since I gave you the key to success with thanks the Zeigarnik effect, I decided that for this week’s featured photo, I would give you a keychain. Free of charge, so enjoy.

References

Atkinson, J. (1953). The achievement motive and recall of interrupted and completed tasks. Journal Of Experimental Psychology46(6), 381-390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0057286

No Interruptions? How The Zeigarnik Effect Could Help You To Study Better. (2017). Psychologistworld.com. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from https://www.psychologistworld.com/memory/zeigarnik-effect-interruptions-memory

Pomodoro Technique. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Seifert, C., & Patalano, A. (1991). Memory for Incomplete Tasks: A Re-examination of the Zeigarnik Effect. Thirteenth Annual Conference Of The Cognitive Science Society, 114-119.

Wikipedia. (2017). Zeigarnik effectEn.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeigarnik_effect

Zeigarnik, B. (1927). ON FINISHED AND UNFINISHED TASKS.

 

 

Posted in Psychology

Grades Now or Learning Later?

What is the purpose of grades? To increase motivation, to reflect what you have learned, or to provide a point of reference for future learning— all of the above are incorrect (you fail this exam). The true purpose of grades is accountability, for educational institutes to show how well students perform on assignments and tests. As humans, we have an innate, evolutionary impulse to categorize, to which education has become one of our victims.

William Farish invented the GPA system in 1792 at the University of Cambridge.  He created this system (inspired by factory workings “grading” the quality of the products that were being made) as a way to process more students and their work in a shorter amount of time while increasing his income, dubbing him the “world’s most famous lazy teacher” (Soh, 2011). When people heard this idea about how you could increase production within education, many schools adopted the same method— thus you have the grading system.

The result of this grading system is that not only does it extinguish the desire to learn, but students are afraid to take a risk of learning something because of the possible cost of not receiving an A or A+, so they constrain their learning (and the mistakes that come with it). I was helping out in a class, and when the teaching assistant explained a self-concept exercise (only worth a small percent), all the student questions were about formatting, references, and criteria in order to receive the highest grade possible; they completely missed the whole point of the assignment. To students, it is all about the performance and rewards, rather than the process and knowledge obtained.

To the students, grades all about the performance and rewards, rather than the learning and knowledge that can be obtained. We see this all the time, where report cards in primary school are of utter importance. Most children strive for gold stars and a report card with all A’s, while parents demand them so that they can judge their children’s performance in school. In contrast, what happens when parents ask the child what they learned in school today— and the child struggles to think of an answer.

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We see this all the time, where report cards in primary school are of utter importance. Most children strive for gold stars and a report card with all A’s, while parents demand them so that they can judge their children’s performance in school. In contrast, what happens when parents ask the child what they learned in school today— and the child struggles to think of an answer. With this said, I can think of a few psychological explanations for why is there so much emphasis on grades, especially in higher education.

The Focusing Effect. This is a cognitive bias, where people put too much emphasis, focus, and importance on one aspect of the event, resulting in the inability to think about the value of future events, consider other possibilities, see the bigger picture, and think about how it could be useful in the future. As students, we focus on the grades, rather than the larger concept of how will this class and knowledge help me in the future. This bias can also relate to education; how it is more about performance than learning and knowledge. We focus more on the small details like grades, thinking that they are of utmost importance, but we lose sight of the purpose of education and learning, and only institute structure and change in the small details of lecture rooms and teaching, rather than consider how these changes and the system as a whole impact student learning. Grades do not dictate our success (as we think they do). For example, when you get out of school, it is highly unlikely that anybody will ask you your GPA, and use that as a factor to evaluate you. Nevertheless, we lose sight of this notion because of the focusing effect. In other words, we cannot see the forest through the trees.

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Delay of Gratification. This is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward; it is normally associated with resisting a smaller, immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later. The effect is most famously demonstrated in the Marshmallow Experiment done by Stanford University in 1960’s. Children are in a room sitting at a table, with a fluffy marshmallow sitting in front of them; the experimenter tells them that if they can wait until they return (without eating the marshmallow) then they are rewarded with a second one.  As you would expect, most of the children cannot avoid temptation and eat it before the experimenter returns.
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This is a somewhat predictable response for children because they tend to lack impulse-control, but can the same be said for adults and students in higher education? I believe so. Because as a society, we are consistently ambushed with instant gratification, the same can be said for our education and grades. We do not want to wait and plan for something that may or may not happen in the future, like applying our newly developed skills and knowledge to real-life situations; students want an instant gratification of a physical reward of their performance and effort now, not later. In addition to this, grades because they are physical and can be measured, serve extrinsic motivators to increase performance, but we shouldn’t be motivated by a letter or number that is completely subjective, we should be motivated intrinsically to gain knowledge and see what we can do with it.
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Delay Discounting AKA hyperbolic Discounting. This is the psychological tendency for the subjective value of a reward to decrease as the delay to obtaining that reward increases, in other words, people tend to want small rewards now, than wanting to wait or attempt to try for larger rewards later. Although similar to delay of gratification, Delay Discounting is in reference to time. Nevertheless, how does delay discounting play into education and grades? Throughout our four or five years at a post-secondary institute, the application of learning after those four years, seems meaningless because it is so far into the future, so in the meantime between the present and future, it’s all about grades— tests, assignments, papers, GPA and making the Dean’s Honor list. It is easier to think about the “now” rather than the “later”, hence, we tend to discount future events and not care about them as much. Moreover, frankly, who has time to plan when we are so overwhelmed with acting tests and researching papers? With delay discounting, it can be very difficult to think about non-measurable events or stimuli that seem to occur so far in the future, and grades and learning are no acceptation.  How-to-beat-psychology-and-grow-wealth

After explaining why there is such an emphasis on grades, using three different psychological biases: focusing effect, delay of gratification, and delay discounting AKA hyperbolic discounting. It should be clear that grades are ineffective for learning. As grades are subjective (created by a lazy teacher), remove the ability to take risks, decrease motivation to learn, and do not reflect what have you learned; we need to ask ourselves is there a way that we can measure learning and what does learning actually measure.

For this week’s featured photo, I put one of my artworks up. It provides a good analogy of what we should focus on. Rather than looking at this serigraph as blue horizontal lines, green vertical lines and pick diagonal lines; view it as a cluster of bamboos in a body of blue water. In addition to the abstract concept that is bamboo, I produced this piece, out of pure passion for art making. I did not receive any grade or extrinsic incentive to produce this piece, and we should treat education and learning in the same fashion. Do it because you want to, not for the grade, because your grades will NEVER reflect what you have learned.

References

Bembenutty, H. (2008). Academic delay of gratification and expectancy–value. Personality And Individual Differences44(1), 193-202. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2007.07.025

Bembenutty, H., & Karabenick, S. (2013). Self-Regulation, Culture, and Academic Delay of Gratification. Journal Of Cognitive Education And Psychology12(3), 323-337. http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1945-8959.12.3.323

Bower, J. (2017). A Short History of Grading. For the Love of Learning. Retrieved from http://joe-bower.blogspot.ca/2012/09/a-short-history-of-grading.html

Cayubit, R., Cadacio, C., Chua, M., Faeldon, V., Go, W., & Verdan, M. (2016). Academic delay of gratification, academic achievement, and need for affiliation of selected high school students. Educational Measurement And Evaluation Review (2016),7(2).

Cherubini, P., Mazzocco, K., & Rumiati, R. (2003). Rethinking the focusing effect in decision-making. Acta Psychologica113(1), 67-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0001-6918(02)00155-5

Green, L., & Myerson, J. (2004). A Discounting Framework for Choice With Delayed and Probabilistic Rewards. Psychological Bulletin130(5), 769-792. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.769

Kahneman, D. (2006). Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion. Science312(5782), 1908-1910. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1129688

Soh, K. (2011). Grade point average: what’s wrong and what’s the alternative?. Journal Of Higher Education Policy And Management33(1), 27-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360080x.2011.537009

 

 

 

Posted in Photography, Psychology

Ikea’s Value of Learning.

For my first post on learning and education, I will discuss effects that examine the value and effort of learning. Have you ever have a professor lay out the material and research in a nice organized fashion: power point slides, bullet points, summaries? What do you remember from that class… probably not a whole lot? Laying out the material for students is like laying out clothes for a child when they have an opportunity to dress themselves… they don’t have a clue and end up putting on a bunch of random clothes, like Julian from Big Daddy.

tumblr_ktwi0rGm3I1qzmuypo1_500 Julian “Frankenstein” from Big Daddy, had the opportunity to dress himself; choosing to wear underwear on the outside of swim trunks, oversized cowboy boots, and a towel as a cape.  The same can be said for learning, hence the organization effect.

The Organization effect is “outlining, integrating, and synthesizing information produces better learning than rereading materials or other more passive strategies” (Hu, 2017), so by organizing materials for others, you inhibit their learning. Part of effective learning is organizing information, in a way that you have associated it with the knowledge that you already know. By organizing, summarizing, and bullet pointing your own material and research; rather than just memorization. You become more familiar with the material, allowing it to be better ingrained in your Long Term memory (LTM) for later recall.

Beyond this acquisition of knowledge through LTM, learning is more effective when students can understand the purpose of learning such material. By organizing their own material, it can help to answer the question of how and why is this information relevant — adding value to their learning.

This line of questioning leads to the larger realm of inquiry: what happens to knowledge and learning when students put in the effort to learn the material rather than the material being presented in a neat and tidy bow in the form of slideshows and bullet points? They remember it better and care about it more– hence the Ikea effect.

The Ikea effect is described as adding a higher automatic value to something because of the effort they put in to create it— a labor of love. I believe this can relate to learning. By using the organization effect to organize our own material, we not only remember it more effectively in our LTM, but we value the knowledge and learning more but because we have put in the effort to organize and understand it. By using the organization effect, students can establish the Ikea effect towards their learning and education.

A real life example of adding effort to learning from students that result in the added value of their knowledge and education is seen in this Ted Talk: “What if students controlled their own learning?”. Students design, and control their learning and education. The result? Students are passionate about their studies and intrinsically motivated to achieve, which is not fueled by grades or physical measures, but by their motivation and passion for learning and knowledge obtainment on topics of interest.

 

 

This real life example shows that by having students be active in their learning, by making mistakes, and putting in the effort to earn, it adds higher value to education and learning, thus implementing motivation, and passion. WIth this being said, can we add a higher value to learning and education as a whole beyond the degree and grades? I believe so.

For this week’s feature photo is of my cousin Allyssiah and her son Felix. Felix was a labor of love, that has motivated Allyssiah to go back to school and get her degree so she can provide a great life for Felix. The motivation, passion, and the love doesn’t end as soon as he walks, talks, grows up, graduates, gets married and has kids. The love, passion, and motivation of Felix will always be there for Allyssiah. This is how learning should be. it should stop as soon as the task is done, or the grade is achieved, it should continue throughout the rest of your life, using acquired knowledge to help perpetuate growth and learning. Learning; like Felix; should be valued, promoting motivation, drive, and development.

References

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (2001). How people learn. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Donovan, M., Pellegrino, J., & Bransford, J. (1999). How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. Committee On Learning Research And Educational Practice, 88. http://dx.doi.org/0-309-51946-2

Hu, X. (2017). Organization Effects – L.T.T.A @ the UoMHome.umltta.org. Retrieved 14 September 2017, from http://home.umltta.org/home/theories/25p/organization-effects

Martin, J. (2017). The Science of Learning: Organization Effect. ACADEMY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP OF LEARNING. Retrieved from https://learningscholarship.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/the-science-of-learning-organization-effect/

Metcalfe, J., & Shimamura, A. (1996). Metacognition: Knowing about Knowing. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Norton, M., Mochon, D., & Ariely, D. (2011). The ‘IKEA Effect’: When Labor Leads to Love. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1777100

Ted Talk X. (2017). What if students controlled their own learning? | Peter Hutton | TEDxMelbourneYouTube. Retrieved 14 September 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMxqEkg3wQ0&t=339s

Posted in Psychology, Writing

If it Quacks Like a Duck, and Looks Like a Duck, its a Placebo.

Our society tries to seek out natural treatments and alternative medicines because we think of them as safer and just as effective (if not more effective) than the manufactured versions, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many of them don’t work at all. And even worse, some of them can cause illness, serious side effects, or even death. This is the myth, and the associated problems, Bill Nye takes on in his show “Bill Nye Saves the World.” The first episode entitled “Tune your Quack-o-meter”, examines natural cures, alternative medicine, and the placebo effect.

Purveyors of natural treatments often twist science in puzzling ways to make their ideas sound effective and magical. One magical medicine man featured in the episode claimed sound can heal cancer and other diseases. He claimed that, if you could match the specific vibration of the affected cells, sound could be more effective than modern medicines. Another healer claimed crystals, chakras, and chants could do the same. Unfortunately, these things do nothing except make hundreds of dollars disappear — money that could, and likely should, be used for medicine that has been tested and scientifically proven.

Alternative medicines are untested and unregulated. There is no empirical proof, but people still use them despite being dangerous and ineffective. Alternative medicine is “any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture.”

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Bill Nye Saves the world Season 1, episode 2. checklist for false alternative medicine in determining its authenticity

I believe that these “natural healing” methods lead to bigger issues. People are scammed out of hundreds of dollars. They lose valuable time that be used on scientifically-proven medications. They can interfere with medications they are taking, come with confounding side effects, and even lead to death. Even then, people claim they still work. This is due to the illusory placebo effect.

The placebo effect is the belief that a medicine or treatment works despite having no active ingredients. Natural and therapeutic tools  like dollar store crystals and sound are what I would label as an illusory placebo effect. This is where someone believes there has been an improvement due to the treatment when, in fact,  there hasn’t been any improvement whatsoever. This is enhanced when marketing agencies use terms like “a new study claims… ” or “scientists say…”. Here, the claims are subjective, biased, or completely false.

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Bill Nye Saves the world Season 1, episode 2. Explaining the Placebo Effect. 

With that being said, I believe there is a difference between a treatment and a tool. A tool in medicine or well-being is something that can assist alongside proper treatment. For example, crystals, sound vibrations, or different forms of therapy can help by making someone feel better and given them peace of mind, but they should never be labeled as a treatment. It is irresponsible and harmful to those needing treatment, their families, and the general public. This is no different than Peter Pan saying fairies only exist when people believe in them. Am I comparing these natural remedies to mythical creatures? Yes, yes I am.

“Although some might think this show is a waste of Netflix space, Bill Nye Saves the World” adds science and reasoning to controversial topics and brings them into the public eye. Alternative or natural treatments should not be seen as cures or even as a substitute for pharmaceutical medication or treatment. I do believe that, just like any other form of therapy, they can be used along side doctor recommended medicine.

Bill Nye saves the world series, although some might question the target audience or that say that this show is a waste of Netflix space, this show brings science and reason of controversial topics like homeopathic medicines into the public eye. Alternative or natural treatments should not be seen as cures or even as a substitute for pharmaceutical medication or treatment. I do believe that just like any other form of therapy like crystals, yoga, and sound therapy are tools in treatment along side doctor recommended medicine, but not as a solo remedy for such aliments as cancer. So, once again Bill Nye has saved the world.

Posted in Photography, Psychology, Writing

Could Brain Damage Cause Brilliance?

The New York Times features an article about using cognitive brain manipulation to explore mental disabilities such as autism. This article leads to future possibilities that could have a huge impact on how mental disorders are studied. This article begins by the author discovering new skills, such as impressive drawing, through the application of electrodes of certain brain regions. The electrode experiment led to further investigation into the ability to manipulate human cognition past their mental capacity and provide insight into how the human brain functions. One example of this type of manipulation of brain areas is the research into autism.

Allen Snyder developed a theory while studying autism called the Savant theory. Snyder theorizes that a small number of people with autism can perform super specialized mental acts. These acts can include learning new languages without any formal training or impressive drawing skill.

The unlimited mental capacity within people with autism leads to the larger question of the neurological impairment that causes autism. Could neurological impairment be the cause of such genius-like abilities? With this line of questioning, I wonder if higher brain capacity is caused by lack of brainpower.

An analogy that I think relays this thinking is having all your eggs in one basket. By having more brain area impairment, more time and neurons are applied to fewer brain areas as compared to multiple brain regions. The experiment to investigate this savant theory was tested by the manipulation of electrodes to shut down parts of the brain. This type of testing can also give people with normal functioning brains gives a glimpse into the reality that people with mental disabilities deal with daily.

By manipulating certain brain areas, changing the way people perform and think can provide more intense and scientific research into what causes mental disabilities.  It could also change the way we think in unexpected ways

Not only can we determine the underlying cause of mental disorders, it but can also assist in the treatment of mental disorders. This treatment and cause for mental disorders can be achieved by stimulating other areas of the brain to dispel syndromes and side effects of mental disorders by using a normal functioning brain to create autistic syndromes.

In summary, not only can brain manipulation help with treatment and prevention, it can also assist with therapy. This technique could be used as a therapy where people can learn what is it like to have a mental disability. By gaining a new perspective and appreciation for people who deal with daily mental difficulties.

This week’s featured photo is of graduation shoes, which is symbolic of this blog post, by allowing people to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. whether this is through shoes or brain manipulation.