• Competing for Students' Attention in the Age of Distraction: A Discussion

      Fertig, Jason
      Topic/Problem Statement: As educators, we want our students to learn complex formulas, read challenging pieces of literature, and perhaps perform some academic research (Rousseau, 2006). Yet, can students who are quite addicted to smartphones perform deep work or are they stuck in a life of shallowness (Newport, 2016)? Evidence suggests that prolonged smartphone use robs students of the willpower necessary to perform the cognitively demanding tasks we ask of them (Baumeister and Tierney, 2012). Hence, in this session I aim (1) to present data on internet addiction, (2) to have the audience share their feelings on whether smartphones have changed students, and (3) stimulate interest in a work group dedicated to researching internet addiction and disseminating strategies for combating it. Context: I assume that there is a chance that while you are reviewing this submission, you have looked at your phone at least once and have multiple browser windows open. That is also how our students operate in class – and we cannot solve it by just telling students to put their phones away. Such short-term solutions do not produce long-term results. Students need to become aware of how their attention is diverted and their willpower is depleted. Approach: Given only 20 minutes, I aim to build an awareness of this issue through presenting some selected research on what smartphone use is doing to students. I also aim to report results of an internet fast assignment that my students performed. Ideally, I would also like to recruit a group of colleagues interested in working on this issue with me. Discussion: I use 2012 as a proxy for “when things changed in the classroom.†The iPhone was released in 2007, but around 2012, every student came to class with a device more powerful than the spaceship that went to the moon. Before 2012, when I entered the classroom, students were talking to each other. After 2012, most of them were face down in a screen until class started. Before 2012, I could engage a classroom in a period-long discussion. After 2012, they stopped responding and I had to alter my pedagogy to get them to respond (I posed a question, had them write “minute papers,†then asked what they wrote). I assume that I am not the only person seeing this phenomenon. Thanks for your time. References: Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2012). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. Penguin. Newport, C. (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focus Success in a Distracted World. Grand Central Publishing. Rousseau, D. M. (2006). Is there such a thing as evidence-based management?. Academy of management review, 31(2), 256-269.
    • Do C Students Get Better Grades? Using the DISC Profile to Enhance Classroom Engagement

      Fertig, Jason
      Focus/Problem Statement: How can we learn about the uniqueness of our students in order to better understand and engage them? We know our students are not a homogeneous group. Enter the DISC profile. Context: I’ve used the DISC profile in my undergraduate and graduate classes for two years. It has transformed the way I see my students. Learning the profiles of my students challenged my previous assumptions about their motivation. Approach: The DISC profile is a widely-used personality inventory assessment (probably second to Myers-Briggs-MBTI). Compared to MBTI, the DISC is easier to interpret and to teach to students. I’ve successfully taught students the DISC in 1-2 class periods, whereas MBTI took much longer. Using the profiles to guide my pedagogy resulted in more engaged students and better performance on team projects. The DISC profile, based on the work of William Moulton Marston, is a 2X2 model of the interaction between introversion—extraversion and task focus—relationship focus. The model contains four main “types” Dominance (extravert/task), Influence (extravert/relationship), Steadiness (introvert/relationship), Compliance (introvert/task), with combinations of these variables yielding 15 different profiles. While 15 profiles seem cumbersome, the 2X2 model provides a simple, common framework that guides each one, thus, it avoids “learning 15 separate types.” Brief Results: Because over 50% of my students are introverts, I’ve learned to subdue my bias towards the extrovert ideal, and to teach a class the connects with all DISC profiles. Reflection: The DISC is simply to learn and administer. I wish more of my colleagues could benefit from using it in their classes.
    • Why Won't Our Students Speak Up in Class?

      Fertig, Jason
      My proposed session is a follow-up to my presentation from the past year, as I have collected additional data. Focus/Problem Statement: Do we expect our students to act like extraverts, when data shows that 70% of them are introverted? Context:  I’ve collected DISC profile data from 345 undergraduates and over 200 graduate students, which is more than double what I had at this point last year.  This data has provided valuable evidence that can help any educator better connect to their students.  Approach: The DISC profile is a widely-used personality inventory assessment in industry (probably second to Myers-Briggs-MBTI).  The DISC profile, based on the work of William Moulton Marston, is a 2X2 model of the interaction between introversion—extraversion and task focus—relationship focus.  The model contains four main “types” Dominance (extravert/task), Influence (extravert/relationship), Steadiness (introvert/relationship), and Compliance (introvert/task), with combinations of these variables yielding 15 different profiles. Compared to MBTI, the DISC is easier to interpret and to teach to students.  I’ve successfully taught students the DISC in 1-2 class periods, whereas MBTI took much longer.  Using the profiles to guide my pedagogy resulted in more engaged students and better performance on team projects.  While some scholars will dispute the finer points of these instruments, in practice the benefits outweigh the flaws. Brief Results: Because 70% of my students are introverts, I’ve learned to subdue my bias towards the extravert ideal. Reflection: The DISC is simple to learn and administer.  I wish more of my colleagues could benefit from using it in their classes.