May 8, 2012, 11:00 am
For many faculty, summer brings at least some semblance of increased flexibility. But it is also a time in which we hope for increased productivity. And sometimes these are at odds with each other.
Personally, I have observed that less structure to my days means that I am more likely to schedule appointments, personal and professional, at random points, which makes my days add up to very scattered weeks. So I’m trying out a new-to-me idea of summer appointment hours, similar to office hours. The goal is to block out a three-hour period each week in which I let myself schedule or accept appointments with others, to wrangle some order and allow myself to focus on just work on the other days of the week.
At the end of the summer I’ll review how it worked. But in the meantime, I’m interested in hearing from ProfHacker readers: how do you corral appointments from cutting up your…
May 2, 2012, 8:00 am
“I got into [math, physics, chemistry - insert any quantitative discipline, really] because I don’t like to write!”
How many of us in the quantitative disciplines (or, as I prefer to describe it, disciplines that have a strong quantitative element) have heard that phrase from our students? I certainly have, and it saddens me. There is a lot of evidence that strongly suggests writing prose helps our students think through the material they are encountering in our course or process the development of their skills towards a certain major. We know that thinking of writing as a process, rather than just putting together answers, makes our students stronger. And strong writing skills mean that a student can communicate their work anywhere – in the workplace and to the world at large. But have you ever tried actually implementing writing in your quantitative courses? How did that work out?
April 18, 2012, 8:00 am
RSS feeds are great for keeping up with journal article publications as they come out. (We covered the basics previously here. ) But lately I’ve noticed that several of my feeds haven’t updated, and sure enough, I found that some feeds had been changed without proper notification. So I’ve added “check on RSS for all journals that I read” to my to-do list as an item to do at the end of every semester.
How about you? How do you make sure the automated processes you’ve got in place keep going? Have you also noticed a break in article RSS feed updates? Let us know in the comments.
April 9, 2012, 8:00 am
Undoubtedly, one of the major themes of the 2011-2012 academic year for me has been books. Through a series of circumstances, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to read more widely than ever before. And this means the books are stacking up at my home office, my campus office, and everywhere in between.
Because I’m more used to keeping up with journal articles than I am books, I began looking for some kind of program that I could use to easily itemize my growing library. I already use Goodreads to keep track of what I read, so I was pleased to find that they already have iOS and Android apps available for adding books to your account. Up until recently I was adding only books that I was in the process of reading, but then I realized I could use Goodreads to keep track of all of my books.
Adding a book to your library is incredibly simple – it’s as easy as opening the app, choosing …
March 26, 2012, 11:00 am
Faculty can have many different forms of professional development available to them – conferences, workshops, teaching-related journals, email lists, etc. Choosing to add something else to the list is not something to be considered lightly. However, over the past year I’ve been participating in Global Physics Department (and if you’re connected to me on Twitter, you’ve seen me rave about it.) I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful, so I wanted to share more about it here at ProfHacker.
Global Physics Department (GPD) is a group that meets online once a week to discuss matters relating to teaching physics, both at the college and high school level. There are several elements to GPD that I believe to be critical to its efficacy. These include
1. A moderator. Andy Rundquist is our gracious host most Wednesday evenings at 8:30 pm Central (the best time zone, as Andy always says),…
March 12, 2012, 8:00 am
First, let me be clear: I am extremely skeptical of academia how-to books. It seems as though they rarely have much to say to me, a physics professor at a small liberal arts college. And so it was great cynicism that I started to read Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times by Marc J. Kuchner.
Kuchner is an astrophysicist who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. But, I think crucially for this book, he’s also a country music songwriter. He begins his book by describing the manner in which he figured out how to market his songs – and his realization that much of that knowledge he picked up during that process actually applied to working in science. The result is a book that understands both the mechanics of marketing and the nuances of the crazy but wonderful world of science, a world that is populated by people, not just data. Kuchner successfully gives a…
March 6, 2012, 8:00 am
[Other pieces in our Travel Essentials series: AllSubway and Bereavement Fares.]
Checklists streamline and automate effort and are often an effective tool for busy academics – especially when traveling. You might already have a checklist for what to pack, but have you considered making one for what to wear during your travel from Place A to Place B? And making that set of clothing into a sort of uniform?
For the past year, I’ve streamlined my travel prep to include a straightforward travel uniform – a nicer long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, socks and clogs (for easy removal during the security check without having to go in bare feet in the TSA area, yuck), and a pashmina – all meant to make me look presentable but feel comfortable. While the combo is definitely not as posh as some other travel uniforms I’ve seen, it’s nice to not even think about that part of the travel prep…
February 23, 2012, 8:00 am
There has been quite a bit of press lately about the peer review process and access to journal articles, namely, how these are controlled by some of the bigger-name journals (at great expense to libraries and users). The point of this post is not to argue the rights and wrongs of review and access of journal articles. What I’d like to highlight here is a complementary service to Mendeley that can help you curate your own subsection of journal articles, including comments and reviews to and from fellow academics who weren’t invited to review the articles the first time around.
PaperCritic is a open publication review tool that uses the Mendeley API in order to facilitate commentary and review of journal articles. In short, you can connect it to your Mendeley account and then comment on articles publicly, including rating them on readability, quality of argument, and other fields. Check…
February 6, 2012, 11:00 am
Penultimate, a Profhacker-favorite iPad app for handwriting capture, has undergone a significant update. Version 3.3 gives the program the ability to link to Dropbox and Evernote. And it’s got a few other goodies as well. Check out the blog post by parent company Cocoa Box for more details.
Have you tried connecting Penultimate to Dropbox and Evernote? What are your favorite ways to connect your iPad or other table device to the programs you use? Let us know in the comments.
[Image Creative Commons licensed / Flickr user sludgegulper]
February 2, 2012, 8:00 am
In a previous post, I described how reading How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing proved to be beneficial to me, a fairly skeptical scientist, in increasing my writing productivity. (A brief summary of my post: the book recommends scheduling writing time and participating in a writing group. Do it. It works.)
I also alluded to the fact that reading the book has boosted my productivity in other ways, which I’ll now describe in this post. But first, a disclaimer. I’m a science faculty member at a small liberal arts college, and I work solely with undergraduate students. My semesters are primarily focused on teaching (which can include classroom and instructional lab time) and mentoring, with some institutional service thrown in. Research theoretically is partitioned to the summer, but in my world (doing experimental nuclear magnetic resonance research with…