Category Archives: Professional Socialization

Writing a Dissertation: What They Don’t Teach You in Grad School

This blog post describes useful ideas and tools for those working on dissertations and other long writing projects. It is written from the vantage point of historical work, but has much to offer social and psychological science scholars, as well. — Edprof

Erstwhile: A History Blog

IMG_2542 copy.JPG Tools of the dissertation writer’s trade. (All photos author’s own.)

This week Erstwhile editor Sara Porterfield shares what she wished she’d known before starting her dissertation and what she’s learned from the writing process. 

Until it came time to write my dissertation, graduate school kept me on a schedule with measurable goals and milestones around which I could structure my days and schedule. Once I defended my dissertation prospectus, however, that structure disappeared. All of a sudden I found myself faced with what seemed like an almost insurmountable task—writing what is essentially a book—that my training hadn’t really prepared me for. Yes, I knew how to research in the archives; yes, I knew how to write a well-crafted and convincingly argued seminar paper. But I didn’t know how to put together an argument over 300 pages, or even what tools to use for researching and writing such a project.

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How should leaders respond to the firestorm over high-states assessments? | School Leadership Matters

Source: How should leaders respond to the firestorm over high-states assessments? | School Leadership Matters

This is a “reblogged” entry from Sheri Williams’ School Leadership Matters Blog.  Wise words that have value beyond the realm of school leadership, I think.
— EdProf

 

Codes of Ethics in the Professions

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (at the Illinois Institute of Technology) hosts an extensive collection of codes of ethics across many different fields.  A valuable resource for professional studies scholars, researchers and practicing professionals in all fields.

Codes of Ethics Collections | ethics.iit.edu.

Tips for Social and Psychological Researchers

4researcher.org — provides a variety of resources for researchers aimed at fostering career success.  The site promises “practical advice for working researchers.”   Created by the 3-C Institute for Social Development in Cary, North Carolina.  Worth a look!   — EdProf

Journalists on the Edge of Truth – NYTimes.com

In this re-blogged post (8/19/12), David Carr offers a number of interesting observations on pressures facing journalists.  I was especially struck by his observations on changes in the nature of professional socialization in journalism.  He notes a shift from how journalists who came up the ranks by working in old media (“legacy media”) to a new situation in which media stars rise to prominence without the requisite experiences necessary to foster conformity to conventionally understood professional ideals.   I wonder if there are not parallel problems in other fields as well?   — EdProf

Journalists on the Edge of Truth – NYTimes.com.

The Psychological Contract

In 1952, Rutgers University Professor Selman Waksman won the Nobel Prize for developing Streptomycin, a powerful antibiotic that cured tuberculosis.  His 23-year old graduate student, Albert Schatz, claimed to have been the first to isolate the bacterium that produced this drug in August, 1943.  Schatz and Waksman applied for a patent, but the royalties all went to Waksman.  Schatz sued and won a share of the royalties, but Waksman never acknowledged the part he played in the discovery.   Waksman had a distinguished career until his death in 1973.  Twenty years later, and fifty years after the discovery of Streptoymycin, Schatz published the second of two articles describing his role in the discovery (Schatz, 1993). This year, Schatz’ claim was confirmed by the discovery of his detailed 1943 lab notes in a box of Waksman’s papers (Pringle, 2012). The notes show that Schatz was the first to isolate the bacterium.

From a professional studies point of view, this story provides rich terrain for analysis.   It is a reminder that professional communities, while said to be self-policing, are not always or perhaps ever what novices imagine them to be. The disparity between students’ idealism and reality constitutes  a violation of the psychological contract implicit in the relationship between student and mentor as it is enacted within the structure of the research university.  When institutions violate the psychological contract, those who work within them experience adverse psychological effects.  This is not by any means limited to universities and science laboratories, but a more general phenomenon experienced by teachers, physicians, nurses, social workers, professors, and others who find themselves grappling with shifting institutional priorities, ominous new power structures, and heartbreaking barriers to best practice.  What this suggests to me is that those who train professionals need to try to understand students’ images of professional life and conceptions about the field as a whole.  They also need to be reflexive — able to model honest self-appraisal, self-criticism, awareness of the field’s potentially problematic effects, weaknesses and shortcomings, as well as its achievements and technical demands.  There is a vital role for the humanities and the social sciences in this enterprise.

To return to the case at hand, the “system” (and the individual scientists working within it) produced a great societal benefit, yet also permitted, and may have promoted, inequity and injustice.  And it is noteworthy that all this contention emerged concurrent with what one journalist described as “the birth of big Pharma.”  Today, scientific discoveries are made by large, complex groups of people, yet when we teach about science, we still employ a curriculum that spotlights the work of “heroic” individual scientists who are the stars of the scientific show — immortal symbols of the quest for understanding.  The media promote public conceptions of the solitary, successful, charismatic scientist (and teacher, and physician…) that no longer align well with professional life as most of us ordinary beings experience it.

Recognition remains the gold standard in the political economy of academic life — publications, citations,  grants, prizes, awards, tweets, followers!  Schatz never gave up his quest for recognition.  And as the “op ed” letter below suggests, Wacksman was a well regarded teacher and scientist who attended to the needs of the next generation (Erikson, 1950).  With respect to human lifespan development, I think this story demonstrates how scholarly priorities can change through the life course. In particular, the interests of senior scholars may move away from concerted efforts to acquire yet more intellectual knowledge toward articulation and reinterpretation of one’s life and its meaning.

Sources and Further Reading

Conway, N. & Briner, R. (2006). Understanding Psychological Contracts at Work: A Critical Evaluation of Theory and Research. Oxford University.

Erikson, E. (1950). Eight Stages of Man (Chapter 7), Childhood and Society, New York: W.W. Norton.

Forbes, P.  (2012).Experiment Eleven: Deceit and Betrayal in the Discovery of the Cure for Tuberculosis by Peter Pringle – review . The Guardian, June 29.

Pringle, P. (2012). Notebooks Shed Light on and Antibiotic’s Contested Discovery. New York Times, June 11.

Rousseau, Denise M. (1996). Psychological Contracts in Organizations: Understanding Written and Unwritten Agreements. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Schatz, A. (1993). The true story of the discovery of Streptomycin.  Actinomycetes, Vol. IV, Part 2: 27-39

Gratitude, Mindfulness and Awe

 

Image of a spiral galaxy

Pinwheel Galaxy



From the Association for Psychological Science (APS) 2012 Annual Convention website: An article and video on “Facets of Mindfulness as Predictors of Gratitude.”   This co-authored paper presentation was given by Anthony Ahrens of American University.  Gratitude increases the desire to be helpful to others and appears to be amplified by mindfulness (as demonstrated in this particular study).

The same page references Wray Herbert’s discussion of the societal and psychological benefits of experiencing AWE (“Making Time Stand Still“).  This and many other fascinating commentaries appear in the “We’re Only Human” blog.  It would be interesting to know more about how professionals maintain capacity for emotion regulation, including maintaining a sense of purpose when things go wrong.  And since there are always risks associated with carrying out professional roles and responsibilities, there are always going to be times when outcomes fall short of expectations and hopes.

Those readers interested in the comparative study of professional communities might want to compare the APS web project to the American Psychological Association (APA) web site.  Take a look. Which organization seems most engaged with the task of conveying vivid images of “professional identities” to site visitors? I imagine the audience for these sites includes a wide range of “guests” — licensed practitioners, psychological scientists, students at all levels, and members of the general public.   Every institutional website has a history produced by the actions of individuals and groups.  It would be interesting to know more about the histories of professional association websites, since “internet presence” constitutes an important interface between professionals and the people they serve.  — With gratitude and awe,  EdProf

Sources

Association for Psychological Science Website: “http://www.psychologicalscience.org”

Ahrens, A. (2012). “Facets of mindfulness as predictors of gratitude” (video post). “http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/video/facets-of-mindfulness-as-predictors-of-gratitude.html” (February 15, 2012)

Herbert, W. (2012). “Making time stand still. Awesome.” Posted on the We’re Only Human blog. “http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human/making-time-stand-still-awesome.html” (January 26, 2012)

Herbert, W. (2012) We’re Only Human Blog. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human

Photo Credit: European Space Agency and NASA.  For more information on this “pinwheel galaxy” See: http://spacetelescope.org/images/heic0602a/

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