The Myth of Multitasking

Over the past two years of teaching at Creighton University, I’ve discouraged the use of technology in my classrooms. I haven’t outright banned it, but do I refuse to make it easy for my students to use laptops to take notes (see my previous blog post about how hand writing notes increases retention and synthesis of material better than typing does). I also don’t use … Continue reading The Myth of Multitasking

Women in evolution – highlighting the changing face of evolutionary biology

If you haven’t yet checked out this special issue of Evolutionary Applications, take a few minutes to learn about how women have contributed to the field of evolutionary biology, the history of this changing male-dominated field, and personal stories of the women that infiltrated the field early on and continue to work towards gender equality. These inspirational research articles and personal accounts should be shared with all … Continue reading Women in evolution – highlighting the changing face of evolutionary biology

What makes a good teacher?

A new article from the Chronicle of Higher Education addresses some of the most important characteristics of what makes a good teacher, and surprise surprise, being a top scientist in your field doesn’t even make the list. Being an amazing researcher and being an amazing teacher are not synonymous. It’s true that both require a lot of time, practice, and experience, but more often than … Continue reading What makes a good teacher?

Distressed students create stressed professors

As academics, we’ve been trained first in research, second in teaching (if we are lucky), and rarely in interpersonal skills. This can lead to some distressing situations when we inevitably have a student enter our office upset about personal issues and wanting to share. I find this problem is two-fold. First, students aren’t trained on how to communicate their needs without oversharing. For example, what … Continue reading Distressed students create stressed professors

Finally settling the one-space/two-space debate

Finally, an source to corroborate my constant preaching on the one-space/two-space debate. Trust the typesetters who say that you should never, ever use two spaces after a sentence. It is an antiquated habit that is no longer necessary with modern technology and fonts. Share this far and wide and help scientists around the world to quit wasting space and characters on unnecessary dead space! Continue reading Finally settling the one-space/two-space debate

Title Brevity = Citations

A recent study spreading through the academic community like wildfire suggest that papers published with shorter titles get cited at a hire rate. Why this might be, we can only guess, but the authors suggest a few theories. 1) Shorter titles are easier to read and understand. 2) Higher impact journals are more restrictive of title lengths, so short titles correlate with high-quality papers. 3) Studies highlighting incremental advances … Continue reading Title Brevity = Citations

When learning through writing, typing doesn’t count

I’ve always said that I learn through my finger tips. As an undergrad, I used to study by copying my notes onto impressive piles of multi-colored notecards. I rarely studied them by the time I was done, but the act of writing everything out drastically slowed the speed at which I could think about the topics at hand. My brain could no longer frantically rush from … Continue reading When learning through writing, typing doesn’t count

How NOT to relate to this year’s incoming students

Each passing year, the commonalities between myself and my new students diminish, making it more and more difficult to relate to them using social references. This is never more obvious than when, in an ill-fated attempt to ad lib a joke in class (one that is actually really funny), it falls among deaf ears and blank stares. “Oh come on, that Wayne’s World reference was funny! Wait, what’s Wayne’s … Continue reading How NOT to relate to this year’s incoming students

10 Things this Instructor Loves

Every semester, the first day of class comes with some anticipation, and not just from the students. Knowing that this one day sets the tone for the entire semester, I often struggle with how to introduce myself. I WANT to convey myself as a fun, enthusiastic instructor that is approachable, caring, and understanding; but I NEED the students respect me, understand the syllabus, attend class, and take responsibility for … Continue reading 10 Things this Instructor Loves