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Posts by Billie Hara

November 11, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

What's for Lunch? (Hummus edition)

It’s easy to get into a rut with lunch foods.  We start off with lots of ideas about how varied and nutritious our lunches will be, but we get busy.  Then we don’t think about it.  Then we are left grabbing the first thing we think about.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or canned soup, for instance, can become staples of lunch.  Another staple?  Hummus.   Today is another example of something fresh and light using this new staple:  Pita Pockets with Hummus and Salad.  You can make hummus yourself or you can purchase it premade.  Either version is good.


Pita Pockets with Hummus and Salad


  • 2-4 pita breads
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded a...
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November 6, 2009, 01:09 PM ET

Professorial Professionalism

Over the past few weeks, ProfHacker has posted articles about disruptive student behavior, in terms of classroom antics (talking during a lecture) and the unfortunate ethical violation of cheating in classes.  These are not behaviors we want to deal with, and they are not typically issues we have been trained in our graduate programs to handle.  But we have them in our classes and in our offices nonetheless.

It’s unfortunate, we might think, that a student exhibiting cheating or rude behavior will one day get a job in “the real world.”   This student could become our child’s teacher or a local government official.   As university professors, we are training future leaders.  We want them to exit the institution as young adults ready to take their place in industry and in society, demonstrating knowledge in a discipline and professional behaviors.

But first we have...

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November 4, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

What's for Lunch? (White Chili)

Chili was once thought to be a greasy, fat-filled food.  In some ways it probably was (or still is).  We often think of chili as a food to eat when the weather turns cold, or it’s something we eat during certain events.   Maybe it’s a Texas tradition, but chili was often something that we poured out of a can onto a paper plate that had been filled with Frito corn chips.  Frito-chili pie is a staple at Texas high school football games.  (Not a healthy food choice, to be sure, but oh-so-good!)  But chili doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  Many ProfHacker readers have mentioned their love of and dependence upon their slow cookers, and today’s recipe–White Chili–is perfect for a slow cooker.  This dish can make a good meal (with or without the corn chips).    

  • 12 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ...
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November 2, 2009, 06:03 PM ET

Why Students Cheat (and what to do about it)

At the beginning of most class sessions, as students are coming into the room and getting prepared for that day’s work, we make small talk.  One particular day we discussed college football.  I asked the semi-random question of the students who were present at the time:  “if a player on Team A fouls a player on Team B (pulls a face mask, throws a punch) behind the referee’s back, should Team A be penalized?”

The answer was a resounding, “no!”  Because, the students stated, that behavior is just a part of the game.  They recognized the behavior as being against the rules of the sport, and they realized that Player A shouldn’t have committed the foul, but since the referee didn’t see it, it didn’t matter.  It’s almost as if the foul never happened.   Getting away with those punches is an unwritten parts of the game, they reasoned.   But that was...

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October 29, 2009, 02:00 PM ET

What's in your (Lunch) bag?

For several weeks, we at ProfHacker have talked about the different types of foods we can take to lunch– you know, to be healthy, wealthy, and um, smart.  Most days, we are successful in bringing something to work with us for lunch.  Other days, maybe not so much, but we strive for the best.  We strive for balance.  Nevertheless, after weeks of discussion, it’s time to pony up.

What’s in your (lunch) bag?  Take a photo of it and post it to the ProfHacker group on Flickr.  We can’t promise any kind of prize for the most creative lunch, but we can promise to steal share your lunch ideas.

So, show us what you’ve got for lunch.


[Image by Billie Hara; licensed through Creative Commons.  Click through to Flickr and read the notes about the image above.  This is what I had for lunch on the day I wrote this post.]

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October 28, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

What's for Lunch? (Bento Edition)

Japanese Bento boxes are popular with more than the Japanese.   Common among many who desire a practical and healthy lunch, these small, decorative boxes can hold a surprising amount of food.  These containers can hold salads, soups, leftovers, or creations made especially for the box.  Some mothers, lore has it, compete with one another to produce the most creative Bento box lunches for their children.  We have mentioned Bento boxes in other ProfHacker “What’s for Lunch” posts, and several readers have mentioned them in their comments.   Following our lead (or maybe not), the New York Times recently featured an article on Bento boxes and the creative lunches they can hold.  Nonetheless, Bento boxes are big business.

You can put just about anything into a Bento box.  Some of the staples of this lunch form include bite sized fruits (apple and grapes are standard) an...

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October 26, 2009, 02:00 PM ET

Disruptive Student Behavior

In this new ProfHacker series, we take on a potentially charged subject:  disruptive student behavior in the classroom.   In this series, we will present a scenario, and we’ll offer a few suggestions from ProfHacker readers about how they might handle a similar situation.  Of course, many of the scenarios we will present are dependent upon the discipline, the class size, and the culture of an institution; we will try to include as many of these variables as we can, while understanding that we can’t account for each and every situational difference.  What we are discussing here are behaviors that– no matter the discipline or the institutional culture– impede learning for other students.  The situations are real and the respondents are real.  However, we have chosen to keep the identity of each respondent and the details surrounding each scenario anonymous.

One last...

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October 21, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

What's for Lunch? (four dish edition)

During these mid-semester weeks of 18-hour days, I find myself slipping back into unhealthy food habits.  Fast food becomes my friend.  I eat lunch out of a vending machine.  I don’t think much about cooking.  I’m too busy, I reason, to spend time cooking.  I need to spend that time on grading or writing or whatever it is that I need to do.  However, right about now–in the midst of the busyness and the stress–is when I need to be taking care of myself and cooking (eating) healthy foods.

There is still that issue of time.  How will I find time to cook every day?  Honestly?  I won’t. Times like this call for a concentrated effort in meal preparation.  I have learned over the years the art of “once a month cooking.”  This system helps save time, but it also helps save food and money.  Since I live alone, I have modified the system. I cook a few dishes, and...

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October 19, 2009, 06:20 PM ET

Online Writing Groups (dissertators and new faculty)

In her 2006 book, Writing the Successful Thesis and Dissertation:  Entering the Conversation, Irene Clark begins her chapter on writing a literature review with a well-known fairy tale:

In the children’s story “Rumplestiltskin,” a greedy king locks a miller’s daughter in a room filled to the ceiling with straw.  The king tells her that she has one night to spin all the straw into gold and that if she fails in this task, she will be killed.  In utter despair and in complete confusion about how or where to begin, the Miller’s daughter cries and wails until the gnome Rumplestiltskin comes to her rescue and performs the task for her.


We could look at the writing of a dissertation or any longer document in much the same way.  We begin with confusion and we whine and cry, but sadly, Rumplestiltskin doesn’t come to our rescue.  Lucky for us, we won’t die if we...

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October 16, 2009, 12:20 PM ET

Responding to Student Writing (audio style)

Responding to student writing in an effective and timely manner is important to student success.  And we want students to succeed, to be good writers.

However, students don’t often expect to receive detailed and intricate feedback on their work; they expect to see the dreaded “red pen” marks. They assume that we don’t really read their writing, that we give each page a cursory glance, and that we are only looking for spelling and grammatical errors.  This implies–and the students believe–that “writing” is only “writing correctly.”

But writing is much more than that, and as professionals we understand this.  We know that revision has a key role in the process of writing, but good revision requires good feedback.

Studies in composition research note that students pay most attention to the notes a professor makes at the end of a document and not the...

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