Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: Yea, Nay Or A Third Way?

This is an ongoing debate throughout America’s school districts. I enjoyed this article by Anya Kamentez. It could make a great debate for middle and high school students.

By Anya Kamenetz
JANUARY 25, 2018

“If something on their desk or in their pocket dings, rings or vibrates — they will lose focus.”

“Students are doing so much in class, distraction and disruption isn’t really something I worry about.” How should teachers — both K-12 and college — deal with the use of computers and phones by students in class?

On the one hand, those sleek little supercomputers promise to connect us to all human knowledge. On the other hand, they are also scientifically designed by some of the world’s top geniuses to feel as compelling as oxygen. So where does that leave teachers? Should you ban these devices in the classroom? Let students go whole hog? Or is there a happy medium?

This seemingly simple topic ends up being what one professor and pedagogy expert calls “a Rorschach test for so much that’s going on in education.” Recently, the California state teachers’ pension fund weighed in — as a large investor in Apple, the makers of the iPhone. In an open letter, along with another activist shareholder, they called on the company to study digital distraction among youth and to make it easier to limit young people’s use.

The letter cited a national survey that found two-thirds of K-12 teachers said the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom is growing. Of those teachers surveyed, 75 percent said students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased.

SPONSORED BY

Research at the college level backs that up; a small, 2017 study at the University of Michigan found students in an introductory psychology course spent up to a third of class time surfing the web to non-academic sites — even though they knew that the researchers were tracking their computer use. Sounds ominous. But the debate over devices in the classroom has many more perspectives. I spoke with four professors, a high school teacher, a psychiatrist and a technologist to get a range of different views.

No way, no how

Allia Griffin teaches in the Department of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University in California. Her policy is simple: “Phones/devices must be turned off and not visible during class time.”

Her reason is simple too: “Phones are distracting. My experience has been that no matter how invested a student may be in a class discussion or lecture, if something on their desk or in their pocket dings, rings or vibrates — they will lose focus.”

And she worries about missed opportunities to socialize face-to-face. “Beyond being distracting, students also use phones/laptops/devices as objects to hide behind to avoid participating in class or interacting with their peers.”

Frequently, Griffin adds, “I will walk into a classroom on the first day of the quarter and will find 30 students sitting silently in their seats and individually texting or Instagram-ing on their phones. This is a tragic scene. The college classroom is … a unique space to exchange ideas and thoughts and develop the ability to communicate with a variety of people.”

“Candy” is unhealthy

Katherine Welzenbach teaches high school chemistry in Overland Park, Kan. She, too, bans cellphones — and even backpacks, where phones often hide — in her classes.

These devices are worse than distracting, she says. They can connect teens to cyberbullying, hate speech, sexting and other “unhealthy” experiences. Welzenbach is vocal about her stance, despite what she calls “shaming” of teachers like herself who take a hard line. “Teachers who see cell phones as distractions are often labeled as being ‘unengaging.’ ”

She understands the argument that teens need to learn to use the Internet appropriately. But she uses healthy eating as an analogy: Don’t give kids unlimited access to “Halloween candy and Christmas cookies while they are still learning to eat a balanced diet.”

Distraction has an upside

What you’re really talking about when you talk about laptop bans, says Jesse Stommel, is student freedom.

“Ultimately, I see strict laptop policies (and especially blanket bans) as a form of control,” explains Stommel, who directs the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.

And that, he tells NPR, is a bad thing. “I don’t think the attention of students is actually something teachers can or should control.”

Stommel, who’s been engaged in many debates over laptop bans on Twitter, calls the issue “weirdly divisive” but also, in the end, “a red herring.”

Instead of an “authoritarian approach,” he suggests a conversation. “We can talk to students about attention and have them talk to us about how attention works for them,” Stommel says. “This is the kind of metacognitive work that is the stuff of learning.” Distraction, he adds, can actually be a gateway to learning. It can be necessary for “peak experiences like making connections, having epiphanies, understanding abstract concepts.”

There may also be times, he says, that the phone or computer can be an in-class tool. “We can also ask students to use their devices in ways that help them and the rest of the class, looking up a confusing term, polling their friends on Facebook about a topic we’re discussing or taking collaborative notes in an open document.”

On the other hand, says Stommel, there may be times and places to shut it down, too: “We can ask students to close their laptops at particular moments, recognizing that it is useful to learn different things, at different times, in different ways.”

Embrace diversity

Catherine Prendergast, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also believes that blanket bans are a bad idea. But her concern is a little different than Stommel’s. She’s thinking about students with special needs.

“Federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA], extends to protect students’ classrooms,” she tells NPR. “If a student needs to use a laptop as an accommodation, they have a right to do so.”

But making the student ask to bring a laptop could be seen as an invasion of privacy, Prendergast says. Better to allow them for all: “The ADA enjoins us to affirmatively seek to remove barriers to education and to make our classrooms more inclusive, not less.”

Some students need to be device-free

Victoria Dunckley, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and the author of Reset Your Child’s Brain, has a different perspective. She prescribes strict limits on screen time to young people who are suffering from a variety of psychological ills. She says she’s encountered “pushback” when trying to shield her patients from using devices at schools that have integrated them into the classroom.

If your students are distracted, then improve your teaching. Derek Bruff is a mathematician and director of the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He says research finds that note-taking by hand can lead to better recall than note-taking by typing on a computer. The reason is that when you write more slowly by hand, you have to think through what you’re hearing and put down only the most important bits; touch-typers tend to transcribe what a person is saying without doing much processing of what they’re hearing.

However, Bruff adds, comparing those two scenarios misses a point that’s backed up by even more research: Lecturing while someone takes notes is not a very engaging or effective mode of teaching to begin with.

“If you’re going to spend 80 to 100 percent of your class time lecturing, phones are going to be distracting to students,” he says.

What works much better? Getting students to collaborate and debate in small groups, for one thing. He’s also seen anecdotally that, “If you give students something productive and on-topic to do with their devices,” it reduces idle browsing. He calls this the “Google jockey” approach.

Like Stommel, he believes there is a time and a place for laptops and phones, but also a time and place to exclude them. “Sometimes you want three students around a piece of paper.”

Fight technology with technology

Alanna Harvey is the co-founder and marketing director of Flipd, a phone app that limits the use of your phone. You can set a timer to lock yourself out of all functions except for basic texts and phone calls.

Not long after launch, they noticed that college students were among their biggest user base, and began aiming the app at educators.

“Our research and discussions with customers have consistently found that digital distractions are negatively impacting the learning experience for students and educators,” she says.

Harvey argues that Flipd offers a fresh, not coercive approach. Rather than instituting a ban, the company encourages professors to offer extra credit for installing the app and using it during class.

Highly engaging lesson plans, as Bruff advocates, are all well and good, but they’re no match for the latest game or social network, Harvey says.

“Some of the most engaging professors I know are Flipd customers,” she says. “Which I believe suggests that the problem isn’t the professor, it may not even be the students, but it’s the devices we know that are designed to influence and manipulate our behavior in many ways.”

Bring policies in line with values

John Warner, who teaches English at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, has been on both sides of the device divide.

As recently as four years ago he had a policy of “no laptops in class, except for specific, designated activities,” and banned cell phones except for emergencies. But after engaging in debates online with Stommel and others, his position shifted.

He sees himself as “more of a catalyst for learning, rather than a conduit of information.” In order to live up to that value, he in turn needed his students to be what he calls “self-governing” over technology.

Warner says it’s been working well. He has small writing classes, with about 20 students, and he almost never asks them to simply sit and take notes. “Students are doing so much in class,” he says, “distraction and disruption isn’t really something I worry about. They’re too busy.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

2018 ACT Personalized Learning Summit March 19-20, 2018

The Summit will feature action-oriented breakout sessions and motivating keynote speakers. Session topics include, but are not limited to:
Encouraging access and equity through technology
Successful K-12, postsecondary, and workforce partnerships
Increasing student preparedness for college and career
Social and emotional learning
Free resources from ACT
We are also happy to announce that Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist at Google, will provide an energetic kick-off to the Summit with his morning keynote on day one. You can check out his 2013 TEDx Talk here.
WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND
button_register_blueEducation professionals will come together to discuss the diverse needs of today’s learners and learn a variety of methods to address these needs. You’ll learn about key education and workforce initiatives to help foster positive change throughout your community. Networking opportunities will provide time to get to know one another and discuss best practices in preparing all learners for college and career success.
DETAILS
WHEN
Monday, March 19, 2018 – Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Camouflage Off

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

Introduction

I love my community too much to just sit back and say nothing. I feel obligated to speak out.  After all, one of my first cousins who is the father of an eight months old baby girl just died December 2017 due to an accidental drug overdose. His overdose has put a huge burden on the family. Now there is an eight months old girl without her father and mother who is hanging on the edge of depression.  Therefore, this is personal for me. I have nothing against others. Nonetheless, I am saying we need to speak out against things that harm our well-being and overall progress.  When we hit music industries and others in their pockets, they listen. Think of the Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights struggle. Why did the City of Alabama reconsider bus discrimination? Money

One day while sitting in the barbershop, I became intrigued, distraught, fraught, ashamed and embarrassed all at the same time. I was not sure of what I heard blaring out of the speakers. Nevertheless, clearly derogative for any public establishment. I started to listen with more focus for the purpose of attempting to decipher the lyrics. I still had no idea of the mumbling or lack of clarity on the part of the artist. Despite my difficulty of trying to make out what the artist was saying, it was clear the young black boys, teenage boys, and African American men had no problem. After all, they were singing the song with gestures and dance. I needed to know more about the craze. Some of the lyrics became apparent enough for me to google the lyrics and follow the song on YouTube. To my surprise, the song had an astonishing 228 million hits. The video and lyrics were simply deplorable and ruining. This type of song can be categorized as a modern day form of Jim Crow and oppression no matter how the record industry, critics, or other artists are trying to spin the meaning. Even more disturbing were the young black minds that were being shaped and molded by this image of life and perception of females.  As a trained sociologist, I started to think like a sociologist. I wondered how habitual exposure to such adverse events which flirts with glorifying violence and drugs manifest in school and do they contribute to the demise of family institutions and school achievement. The words that come to mind are learning, behavior, and socialization.  In the next section of this article I will define socialization as well as the different agents of socialization and how these agents impact our individual behavior as well as their impact on social groups at the micro level and macro level.

Agents of Socialization

On our journey to becoming teenagers, young adults, and eventually mature adults, how do we come to be? What impacts our thoughts, personality, behaviors, likes, dislikes and our decisions? Why do we like certain music, certain foods, and certain clothes that we wear? Who told us it was appropriate? How do kids know to sag their clothing in Seattle, Washington and clear across the country in Teaneck New Jersey? Why have tattoos taken our country by storm?  Why do females now call each other bitches and laugh about it (Reality TV)? Finally, despite how we feel while growing up, why do we more than not, eventually start to behave like our parents? The answers to all of these questions lie inside of what is known as socialization.

Socialization is known as the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society). According to most social scientists, socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children ( Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017). However, it is much deeper than just socialization.

There are Five Agents of Socialization and these agents have a profound impact on who we are or become as time progresses. These agents are known as family, peers, school, mass or social media, and religion. Some sociologist omit religion and instead focus on culture.

FAMILY

Family is the first agent of socialization. Mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents, including members of an extended family, all teach the child. Many social factors affect the way a family raises its children. Sociologists recognize that race, social class, religion, and other societal factors play an important role in socialization (National Opinion Research Center 2008). A person may pick up traits from elsewhere in the world, but they also seem to always carry the unique traits that were initiated by their family.

PEERS

A peer group is made up of people who are identical in age and social stature and who have things in common. Peer group socialization begins in the earliest years, such as when kids on a playground teach younger children the norms about taking turns. Peers tend to play a bigger role and influence as the child becomes older.

SCHOOL

Most U.S. children spend a great deal of their day in school, 180 days a year, which makes it hard to deny the importance school has on their socialization (U.S. Department of Education 2004). Schools build a sense of competition into the way grades are awarded and the way teachers evaluate students (Bowles and Gintis 1976).

RELIGION

The United States is full of synagogues, worship sites, and similar religious communities where people gather to worship and learn. Like other institutions, these places teach participants how to interact with the religion’s material culture. Many religious institutions also uphold gender norms and contribute to their enforcement through socialization.

The many Facets of MEDIA

The media distribute impersonal information to a wide audience, via television, newspapers, radio, internet/cell phones, iTunes, social media such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram and music industry like Epic Records. With the average person spending over four hours a day in front of the television (and children averaging even more screen time), media greatly influences social norms (Roberts, Foehr, and Rideout, 2005). People learn about objects of material culture (like new technology and transportation options), as well as nonmaterial culture—what is true (beliefs), what is important (values), and what are expected norms (Lumen Learning, 2017).

“Children learn through watching television. Some of the things they learn are beneficial; others are not. They learn about the world and the ways of the society. Children learn more than facts from television; they also get a good daily dose of stereotypes and a lot of misleading information about their world. Most of all, they get a big helping of violence” (Gonzalez-Mena, 2010).  Of the five agents of socialization, the one that enter all homes across the globe is media (Lumen Learning, 2017).

The Impact of Media and how it Shapes our Lives

The media is my main area of concern. The impact of media has grown significantly in the last seven to ten years. Media comes into our homes through multiple channels such as social media, television, internet, and cell phones. Parents purchase cell phones for their child. In many cases, students receive their first cell device as young as first grade. From that moment forward, parents are left in the dark in regards to what their children are exposed to on their hand held device. Young people are exposed to rated “X” porn to “X” rated music. These exposures can very well have a positive or negative impact in regards to who we eventually become, how we treat one another, as well as ones’ outlook on societal topics and life.

Now it’s important for me to disclose what I witnessed in the barbershop which had me acutely despondent and discouraged. The song “Mask Off” (2017). A tune that seems to consistently reference a mixer of Molly and Percocet drugs. Urban dictionary (2017) defines Molly Percocet as Molly is a pure form of MDMA also found in some ecstasy pills. Gives you warm butterfly feelings , bliss, euphoria and more intense sexual experiences. Makes you want to dance, grind your teeth and dehydrated. An additional definition from another source states, Percocet contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone (Drugs.com, 2017). Now this is alarming because throughout 2016 and 2017, one could not turn on their television, radio, or internet and not hear how opioids had destroyed an entire family or neighborhood such as neighborhoods in Ohio and Missouri.

I am not saying the artist is promoting the use of drugs. Nonetheless, one thing is true across the country.  There has been a definite increase in accidental drug overdose. I am saying the audiences who listen and watch through media outlets are young and impressionable children, adolescents, and young adults. Can we assume young audiences are NOT trying to determine if the artist is promoting or not promoting the use of drugs? I am saying young people are being exposed to these events during happy and motivating moments  when they attend bars, clubs, family reunions, on social media, and other social events.  As a result, young minds may associate these types of songs as acceptable because adults are idolizing certain types of songs. Therefore, act upon them by living these events out which ultimately may lead to devastation to them and their families.

 Drug Epidemic on America

“In August, President Trump declared America’s opioid epidemic a national emergency two days after vowing the U.S. would “win” the fight against it. About a month earlier, the Department of Justice charged more than 400 people who officials said were preying on addicts to shell out money for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition, and doctors who were allegedly prescribing unnecessary opioids (NBC News, 2017).

The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that the epidemic’s true cost in 2015 was $504 billion — more than six times the most recent estimate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late October that illegal, lab-made fentanyl contributed to the death of at least half of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, underscoring how deadly the epidemic has become in recent years” (NBC News, 2017).

As a community, do we sit and absolutely do nothing about what we know could potentially be detrimental to young lives and the community? Do we continue to allow Epic records and others within the music industry sell us snake oil? Do we continue to provide paid critics a platform to say certain songs are the best ever even though the songs may degrade our black women and undermine our community? Do you believe the owners of the music industry have no clue as to what drugs do to individuals and a community at large? Do you think the music industry doesn’t realize there has been a spike in drug overdoses? Money is at the root of our children demise. The next section addresses one of young children’s idols and models.  This leads me to ask, will you as parents allow your boy or girl to hang out with people who just talk about illicit drugs? Do you desire your child to have such role models? As responsible parents or leaders of the community, would you allow your daughter or son to go for sleep overs in such environments?

Yes, it is understood people change but before they change will you allow your child to be exposed to such horrific environments that glorify violence and drug use? I know critics will say I am hating, but nothing could be further from the truth. There were people who told Rosa Parks to get up because they were scared and she was going to make things worse for all African Americans. There are those who say Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t kneel due to him giving the NFL a deplorable name. These status quo humans have always been around. I am simply trying to point out how the media is allowing such deplorable songs not rap music but horrifying songs which are only beneficial to the artist(s) and owners of record labels.  However, at the expense of so much more such as our children, families, and communities.

 Product of your Environment

Have we ever wondered who some of these people are and their origin? To be clear, this is not to be judgmental, but instead to disclose the facts. Who have these strong grips on our young children and in some cases communities? Though I am pointing out one person thats hot right now, he is by no means the only one. There are too many spreading lyrics that are alarming. Some communities suffer more than others.

Born Nayvadius Wilburn into a family of street hustlers going back at least two generations. Future has four children with four different women: Jessica Smith, Brittni Mealy, India J, and singer Ciara. He was engaged to Ciara in October 2013, but Ciara called off the engagement in August 2014 due to his infidelity (Wikipedia, 2017). Their son, Future Zahir Wilburn, was born on May 19, 2014. As of 2016, Future is being sued by both Jessica Smith and Ciara. Smith is suing him for failing to pay child support, and stated that their son “suffers from emotional and behavioral issues stemming from Future’s neglect as a father” (thejasminebrand, 2016). So how many of our school age students are experiencing the same negative adverse events? Events that negatively impact academic performance, but yet society is expecting school systems to be miracle workers, but never point out the short comings of many parents. Ciara is suing him for defamation, slander, and libel (Wikipedia, 2017).

Future is also known to drink a drink called “Dirty Sprite”.  This drink is a drug infused concoction that contains cough syrup among other ingredients. Despite rumors of the drink having negative side-effects, the rapper is a fan (Capitalxtra.com, 2017). Finally, while a teenager and running the streets, the young artist was shot (Capitalxtra.com, 2017).

In closing, this argument I am presenting is not new. During the 1920s, it was Jazz. During the 50s it was Blues and Rock and Roll. During the 60s it was long hair and the Beatles. However, I am not sure if Jazz and long hair increased death by 30% across the country. I dig rap music, but not songs which flirts with taking opioids that paralyze the country.  We cannot continue to normalize these types of songs. I did not say rap music.  We can not normalize opioid use. 

Lyrics to the Song

Full Lyrics:   https://genius.com/11364239

Call it how it is
Hendrix
I promise, I swear, I swear
You heard, spit it, yo

[Chorus]

Percocets, molly, Percocets
Percocets, molly, Percocets Rep the set, gotta rep the set

Chase a check, never chase a b—h, Mask on, f— it, mask off (Future, 2017).

References

Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 1976. Schooling in Capitalistic America: Educational Reforms and the Contradictions of Economic Life. New York: Basic Books.

Encyclopedia Britannica (2017): Retrieved December 30, 2017

Future Facts: 20 Things you need to Know about Mask Off Rapper: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from http://www.capitalxtra.com/features/lists/future-facts/where-from/

Genius Lyrics Retrieved December 28, 2017 from https://genius.com/11364239

Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education, by J. Gonzalez-Mena, 2009 edition, p. 335-336. Retrieve December 28, 2017 from https://www.education.com/reference/article/media-as-influence-socialization/

Lumen Introductory to Sociology: Retrieved December 24, 2017 from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sociology/chapter/agents-of-socialization/

National Opinion Research Center. 2007. General Social Surveys, 1972–2006: Cumulative Codebook. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.

Percocet Drug: Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://www.drugs.com/search.php?searchterm=Percocet&a=1

Roberts, Donald F., Ulla G. Foehr, and Victoria Rideout. 2005. “Parents, Children, and Media: A Kaiser Family Foundation Survey.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from (http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/7638.pdf).

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2004. “Average Length of School Year and Average Length of School Day, by Selected Characteristics: United States, 2003-04.” Private School Universe Survey (PSS). Retrieved December 30, 2017 (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/table_2004_06.asp).

Urban Dictionary 2017

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” — John Hope Franklin, one of most important historians of 20th century.

 

Racial Differences in Mobility Rates in the United States by Educational Attainment

Filed in Racial Gap, Research & Studies on November 20, 2017
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau documents the number of citizens who moved from one residence to another between 2016 and 2017.

Blacks in the United States are more likely to move than Whites. In the 2016-to-2017 period, about 5.4 million African Americans, nearly 13 percent of the entire Black population of the United States changed their residence. For non-Hispanic White Americans, 10 percent changed their residence during the period.

Most of these moves for African Americans were local. About two thirds of African Americans who moved went to different residences in the same county. More than 13 percent of all African Americans who moved went to a different state and 2.4 percent moved abroad.

When we factor in educational attainment, we discover some interesting differences between Blacks and Whites. For those who did not finish high school moving rates were similar; 8.8 percent of Whites and 9.3 percent of Blacks. A much larger gap in mobility was apparent for high school graduates. About 12 percent of Black adults who graduated from high school but had no college experience moved between 2016 and 2017. For Whites with only a high school education, 7.7 percent moved.

For college graduates, 9.4 percent of all African Americans changed residences between 2016 and 2017. For White college graduates the figure was slightly lower at 9.2 percent. But for those with a graduate or professional degree 14.5 percent of Blacks and 8.7 percent of Whites moved between 2015 and 2016.

Why White Working Class Americans Are Dying “Deaths of Despair”

As an educator for all students, I find this article amazingly alarming. Why? Many of our students are having to face these challenging factors.  As I noted in prior article, these challenging factors equate to Adverse Childhood Events. Our school counselors, administrators, and teachers should be in the know about this alarming research so that we can do a better job of dealing with all students despite their origin.  All of our students are counting on us.

BY STEPHEN FRANKLIN
Share TweetReddit1StumbleUpon5200EmailPrint

Behind the death spiral are growing rates of suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, liver diseases and cirrhosis. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

He was alone and miserable, cleaning up a strike station in Peoria, Illinois, where members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) had lived in the heat and the cold.

The UAW had just folded its standoff against Caterpillar after years of strikes and was returning to work largely on the terms the company had first laid down.

“We were losers when we came back from Vietnam,” the muscular, middle-aged worker told me nearly two decades ago. “We were losers when we put up this battle and now we’ve lost the American dream.”

Workers like him have been losing more than their American dream. They’ve been losing their lives.

In 2015, Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton pointed out that the death rate of middle-aged white Americans had changed direction and spurted upward, reversing years of steady decline. The “turnaround” was mostly driven by the deaths of those with a high school degree or less.

Delving into questions raised by that study, the economists’ latest analysis finds that the grim reality has continued to touch working class white Americans with limited educations. And they predict that these middle-aged Americans are likely “to do much worse in old age than those currently older than 65.”

Behind the death spiral are growing rates of suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, liver diseases and cirrhosis, the economists say. They liken the trend to the sudden emergence of an iceberg rising up out the water.

Why?

What makes these middle-aged white workers different from black or Latino workers in the United States in the same economic straits, or from workers in similarly rich nations—all of whom show declining death rates?

Indeed, as Deaton explained in a recent NPR interview, these white Americans’ death rate now exceeds the rate for black Americans “as a whole.”

“It’s as if poorly educated whites have now taken over from blacks as the lowest rung in terms of mortality rates,” he said in the interview.

Without pinpointing a specific reason, Deaton and Case suggest that the cycle of “deaths of despair” comes from the collapse of jobs and benefits for these workers who then tumble into heart-breaking problems of physical and emotional health, family difficulties, drugs and just plain survival. It is a portrait of cascading hopelessness, where workers go from stagnating wages to joblessness to dropping out of the job market.

If you’ve spent any time listening to workers’ heartbreak for the last few decades as I have, however, it is saddening to hear the shock and controversy among experts over the economists’ last two reports.

They could have heard the cries for help building.

All they needed to do was spend some time in a union hall, hang out at an unemployment office, kill an afternoon in a bar or the gloomy living room of a worker on the decline to hear the despair that fills workers’ hearts. But this is an especially American tragedy rooted in our workaday DNA.

An American dilemma because when good-paying jobs began to vanish for workers with a strong back, grit to do a tough or mindless job and little education besides high school, it’s like somebody stole their soul.

Many blue-collar workers, who once earned decent wages, thought they owned their jobs and what comes with it. But most American companies don’t agree.

Many American workers once thought that their tire factory, steel plant, paper mill or garment mill would never shut down and would be there for their children. But fate dealt a different hand for workers and their families in Akron, Gary, Youngstown and across the South, where the garment industry vanished in a huff.

Traveling to these places and more, I realized that the most lethal wound from the hollowing out of blue-collar jobs for American workers is the psychic one. Seeking out local union officials in the 1980s at places where the jobs had disappeared, I found that some had died suddenly or sunk into solemn silence. They had tried to stand tall, to help their rank and file move on, but there was little help from their union or their government and the future kept on darkening all around them.

Helping these workers hasn’t been easy because so many blame themselves and not the companies or the American way of doing business for the misfortune that suddenly enveloped them. One day I talked a young worker out of suicide. He’d failed to get back on his feet after his small auto parts plant in southern Michigan had shut down and blamed himself.

I’ve met with wives of striking workers in Decatur, Illinois, who came together to help each other because their husbands had slipped into silence or were numbing themselves with alcohol. I spent time with a grief-stricken husband, whose union was on strike, and whose wife died during a demonstration. I spoke often with a labor-friendly priest in Decatur, who was stunned by the last words a wife gave her husband. He had returned unhappily to work after a long-term lockout and had been fatally injured in a car accident. She told her dying husband that at least he would not have to go back to the job.

Not long ago, I met with a middle-aged worker in Chicago, the sole source of income for her family, who fell into a deep depression when Mondelez International said it was moving a large chunk of workers’ jobs at its Nabisco bakery to Mexico.

Soon after she was laid off, a job opened up and she was called back. But her fears about her future had already taken a powerful toll.

After hearing news of the layoffs, the woman had begun losing her hair until she was totally bald. The bakery workers union is fighting the move with a boycott of the firm’s Mexican-made products.

Unaware of her mother’s situation, her teenage daughter was stunned when she returned home from college and saw her mother. “I was scared,” she said. “I thought she had cancer.”

She didn’t have cancer. But she had, indeed, succumbed to an illness—heartbreak.

If at all possible, finish your dissertation prior to graduating

I saw this article and decided to comment on this article about completing your dissertation.

I had the pleasure of attending Cardinal Stritch University of Milwaukee, WI. I loved the cohort set up because colleagues looked out for one another and challenged one another to finish their dissertation prior to completing all course work. If you did not finish the dissertation, we were challenged to have gone through IRB.

Not only did colleagues challenge each other, the faculty or professors also motivated students to complete the dissertation. This was tremendously helpful. The majority of cohort 28 had their dissertation finish prior to graduating with PhD.  When one does not, it is severely difficult to finish due to job, life, and family. I did not say it was impossible, I am saying it is extremely difficult.  So if at all possible, please make sure you have at least gone through IRB prior to graduating.  Write everyday no matter what. You will be grateful to say the least!!

Please click on the link below:

https://www.thrivinginadmin.com/blogs/2017/7/21/one-question-that-will-motivate-you-to-finish-your-dissertation

 

The Importance of Non-Academic Factors and College Readiness

Most parents, dream of their children’s graduation from college and successful careers, this is especially true for parents who have not attended any higher education institutions (Conley, 2010). Parents rely on high schools to provide the academic preparation necessary for college success. However, high school graduation does not necessarily equate with college readiness. Many students are not prepared for success in college (ACT, 2012).

It’s well established that GPA, completing rigorous coursework , and high American College Testing (ACT) scores greatly impact students’ college preparedness and students’ ability to meet first year of college demands.  These are known as academic factors. Though academic factors are extremely important, this article is for the purpose of providing insight into Non-Academic Factors that improve college preparedness as well as retention beyond the first year of college.

High School to Post-Secondary

The transition to post-secondary institutions is a huge life change for all students. (Tinto, 1993). In his theoretical model, Tinto (1993) focuses on several predictors of retention and success in college.  Academic and nonacademic preparation during K-12 and adjusting to college life are more likely to predict students who drop out of college during their freshman year. Students drop out for many reasons such as a lack of financial aid, being unprepared for college therefore students cannot meet academic rigor, personal reasons, and inability to adapt to their chosen institution.

Tinto (1993) suggests that “college ready” transition to college is categorized under Academic and Non-Academic adjustments. Academic adjustment enables students to grasp at least minimum standards regarding academic performance. Non-academic indicators include, social integration, becoming actively involved, and building relationships with faculty, psychological and physical stability and individual’s ability to fit with the institution, and a sense of belonging. College can be the best four years of one’s life, however, it is a time when students must adapt to obscure situations filled with new challenges and barriers. This transition separates students from their childhood friends. Students are forced into challenging new task, roles, routines, and relationships. It is time for students to put into practice all of the social skills, norms, and expectations taught by their immediate family, because college life allows for more freedom, independence, and responsibility. As a result of this transition, identity transformation also takes place, which forces students to choose their own actions. Therefore, it is imperative for the universities to implement interventions that are designed to serve the well-being of students, which enhance retention. Non-academic factors are just as important as academic factors. Social integration and college support are imperative components for student’s endurance (Tinto, 1975, 1993). Tinto disclosed that less than 25% of students who dropout from postsecondary schools, are related to academic problems. Majority of students cut ties due to failure with integration. Students become unhappy with college life expectancies and develop feelings of isolation. Tinto’s Longitudinal model of Departure describes an “interactive model of student departure” (p. 112) and as “primarily sociological in character” (p. 113). Tinto (1987) put forward as a basis of argument that students prior to college experiences such as psychological skills, family background, secondary schooling, impact students’ goals and resilience. As a result, students’ goals influence university experiences.

Non-Academic Factors                                                                                              

The author’s areas of focus for this article are Non-Academic factors.  Non-Academic factors are seldom acknowledged when considering whether or not a student is college ready.  Consequently, non-academic factors can be strong predictors as it relates to preparing students to persevere through rigorous coursework and calculated expectations of postsecondary institutions. School districts more than not, solely focus on Academic factors such as rigorous coursework completion, high school grade point average (HSGPA), and ACT scores and never consider other factors associated with students’ college preparedness. Non-academic factors such as students’ confidence, self-motivation, finances, social support, family support, and some researchers would say the most important non-academic factor is social integration. Social Integration is considered a postsecondary student’s ability to connect with others through joining organizations, meeting and building relationships with new positive friends, and developing friendships with college employees (Tinto, 1975). These practices reduce the chances of students feeling home sick or a sense of loneliness.  Both contribute to students dropping out of college.

All students who enter college have gone through K-12 exposed to contrasting experiences. Research findings by Stupinsky, Renaud, Perry, Ruthig, Haynes, and Clifton (2007) suggest individual differences have a major impact on students’ post-secondary achievement. Adaptability, endurance, motivation, self-efficacy, self-control, mindset and self-regulation leverage how students react to academic expectations of college, college life expectations, and transitioning.  Mind-sets are the attitudes, beliefs, and emotions students have about themselves and schooling (Dweck, 2006; Walton, & Cohen, 2011). Examples include engagement, motivation, self-efficacy, and persistence (Robbins et al., 2004).

Academic preparedness cannot live in isolation. Students who complete AP courses, score high on ACT/SAT, and earn high grade point averages are less likely to drop-out of college due to poor academic performance. Instead, dropping out is possibly due to their inability to integrate socially as well as not being motivated by their college selection.  First year students who join orientation programs have a higher success rate in college opposed to students who do not participate in such social clubs. Research findings also suggest students who were admitted to colleges with a low ACT score and grade point average but yet had strong social connections and supports, had much better graduation success (Schnell, 2003). These findings also “suggest students’ entering characteristics play an important role in persistence to graduation, but potential for success can be increased with the addition of first-year programs” (Lotkowski, Robbins, & Noeth, 2004, p. 14).  Furthermore, research results support the notion that when schools consider pre-college academic strength such as GPA, ACT scores, and non-academic predictors students’ performance increases and the same can be said for their sustainability through rigorous post-secondary years.  ACT (2010; 2012) research shows that differences in college success across racial/ethnic and income groups narrow when students have the requisite academic achievement and relevant nonacademic skills (Robbins, 2004; 2006).

Alliance of Academic and Non-Academic Factors

College retention programs can do a better job of retaining students by combining both academic and non-academic factors. The most compelling alliance to retention happens when academic and the most important non-academic factors are parallel to each other (Asera, 1998; O’Brien & Shed, 2001; Tucker, 1999). Many students with poor academic performance still endure the rigor of college due to their social integration and feelings of belonging with their chosen college. Universities that implement programs that embrace mentoring and support groups into their school’s mission, enhances levels of student involvement, motivation, and academic self-confidence. Consequently, students ultimately remain committed to the institution (Padgett & Reid, 2003). Interventions will help keep students actively engaged as well as help students meet the expectations of academia and college life transitions.

References

ACT, Inc. (2010). The condition of college and career readiness. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/ehost/

ACT, Inc. (2012). Creating your explore and plan: Road map to student success. Retrieved from http://www.act.org/education/benchmarks.html

Asera, R. (1998). Supporting student persistence. Black Issues in Higher Education, 15(10), 104.

Conley, D. T. (2010). College and career ready: Helping all students succeed beyond high school. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

DeBerard, M. S., Speilmans, G. I., & Julka, D. (2004). Predictors of academic achievement and retention among college freshmen: A longitudinal study. College Student Journal, 38(1), 66-80.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine.

Lotkowski, V., Robbins, S., & Noeth, R. (2004). The role of academic and non-academic factors in improving college retention. ACT, Inc.

Padgett, V. R., & Reid, J. F., Jr. (2003). Five-year evaluation of the student diversity program: A Retrospective quasi-experiment. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 4(2), 135-145.

Stupinsky, R. H., Renaud, R. D., Perry, R. P., Ruthig, J. C., Haynes, T. L. & Clifton, R. A., (2007). Comparing self-esteem and perceived control as predictors of first-year college students’ academic achievement. Social Psychology of Education, 10, 303-330. doi: 10.1007/s11218-007-9020-4

Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.

Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Tinto, V. (1988). Stages of student departure: Reflections on the longitudinal characteristics of students leaving. Journal of Higher Education, 59, 438-455.

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Tinto, V. (2012). Moving from theory to action: A model of institutional action for student success. In A. Seidman (Ed.), College student retention: Formula for student success (pp. 255-256). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science Magazine, 331, 1447-1451

Wimberly, G. L., & Noeth, R. J. (2005). College readiness begins in middle school. ACT policy report. Ames, IA: ACT, Inc.