Saturday, February 16, 2008

Science in Mind

Adam CarleAdam Carle

Department of Psychology

Do you know how your mind works? Have you ever stopped and wondered how you learn? As a Psychological Scientist, I ponder these types of questions regularly. I wonder how the brain works. I marvel at the human animal’s capability to gaze at the world and learn from it. I am continually amazed by peoples’ ability to understand the world, however limited. And, despite years of studying the subject, I remain fundamentally awed that we can sit in classrooms, read books, observe others and learn.

What does all this have to do with an Office of Faculty Enhancement blog? And, for Pete’s sake, what does this have to do with life as a faculty member at the University of North Florida? Good questions! In the coming weeks, I hope to show you. I expect to share a few of the things I’ve discovered in my pursuits and reveal why I adopt a Scientific approach in all of my professional activities, from my research, to my classroom, to my service. Yes, even my service.

Quite simply, as a Scientist and professor, I want to best understand how the mind works so that I can most effectively teach. I seek to engage the best practices in my research so that I can correctly understand the nature of the world, including human behavior, thought, and emotion. I want to accurately understand how people tend to work in groups so that I can efficaciously communicate with my peers. I feel that a Scientific approach allows me the single best method to do this. It lets me peer at myself, uncover my own weaknesses and failings, and utilize Scientific findings to correct them. In the end, this lets me give the most to my students and colleagues.

If you read that and thought, “sounds like a heavy weight to place on the shoulders of Science and research,” I suspect you remember Science as a field that forced you to memorize boring facts. Few Scientists would describe Science as memorization and most would portray it as a process of exciting and rigorous inquiry (Pinker, 2007). Please join me in the next few weeks as I travel the roads of research and Science and their relation to the classroom and learning. In the meantime, I’d love for you to share of your thoughts. Where do you turn when you consider altering your life? What sources do you consult when you make changes in classroom? And, importantly, how do you evaluate the effectiveness of those modifications? How do you know what you adjusted made or failed to make a difference?

Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking.

1 comment:

Dan Richard said...

Hey Adam,
Thanks for the interesting questions.

You know, so often we use our "gut feeling" about what we should do. I think we have spent thousands of years using those emotional reactions as a way to inform our behavior.

The problem: our emotions are reactive and subject to change.

I am all for using research and data to inform what I do in the classroom, but I am certain that I will never use techniques in the classroom that don't "feel" right.