If you have questions or need advising, stop by my office (CAS 301) during my office hours, which are M, T, W, TH 1:15-3:15pm; F 10:00am-12:00pm. 

It’s probably best to make an appointment, which you can do at my appointment website.

This site also contains notes on writing, learning, technology and other miscellanea. Below are the last ten entries of my Notes.

Memory and Learning

Scott Young (with Jakub Jilek) has an excellent post called The Complete Guide to Memory. It gives the ways that memory works and also provides general recommendations for applying this understanding in practical ways that are useful for learning and studying. Some techniques include, as you are reading, categorizing, structuring, and explaining to yourself in your own words what you are reading. And there are others, too. Good luck improving your study habits, and learning!

Close Reading and Media Ecologies

Alex Reid talks about the meaning of close reading as used in English Studies and the difficulty of defining it. He writes:

It’s really founded on the premise that interpretation and hence the meaning of the text is to be found/made in the careful consideration of word choices, style, specific sentences, and so on. A good amount of contemporary close reading is connected with what some call symptomatic interpretation (following on Fredric Jameson), which basically means that one views the text as a symptom of a larger cultural issue. As a result, close readings–in both literary studies and rhetoric–tend to move from quoting specific passages out of extensive texts to making fairly large arguments about race, gender, class, sexuality, and so on.

He moves on from there to discuss how this type of close reading cannot handle the “massive flows of data” and information we now read or collect. There’s a need to develop new “rhetorical and aesthetic practices” and ask,

“What new rhetorical capacities emerge through our relations with emerging media ecologies?

Winning an Argument

In Winning an Argument, Shane Parrish writes:

If you want to win an argument, ask the person trying to convince you of something to explain how it would work. Odds are they have not done the work required to hold an opinion. If they can explain why they are correct and how things would work, you’ll learn something. If they can’t you’ll soften their views, perhaps nudging them ever so softly toward your views.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that someone might do the same to you.

Creativity is the Art of Connecting

Many people want to believe that they aren’t that creative, that creativity is something special, intuitive. But Shane Parrish cites others who argue that creativity is simply connecting things. such as Steve Jobs’ taking of a calligraphy class that influenced the design of the first Macintosh computer ten years later. 

It’s a short but worthwhile read.

The University and Social Media

Thomas Basbøll writes about Academic Virtues and makes the point that using social media to spread research findings

shows we are now trying to get people believe things they can't possibly understand. We are telling them what we think the truth is but without allowing them to engage critically with it. That's precisely what our classrooms and journals are for. They are situations in which ideas can be presented along with their justifications, and where those justifications can be questioned before the proposed belief is adopted.

Learning Styles Challenge

Will Thalheimer updates his “Learning Styles Challenge” to $5000.

That is, if any person or group creates a real-world learning intervention that takes learning styles into account--and proves that such an intervention produces better learning results than a non-learning-styles intervention, they'll be awarded $5,000!

This challenge started 8 years ago, and still no one has been able to show in research that learning styles make a difference in learning outcomes.

Getting It Wrong Helps Learning

An article in Scientific American, Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn, reports on research that shows 

learning becomes better if conditions are arranged so that students make errors.

People remember things better, longer, if they are given very challenging tests on the material, tests at which they are bound to fail.

This learning effect occurs because generating possible (even if wrong) answers) to questions or retrieving information (even if failing to retrieve it) helps remembering more than simply studying the information. 

Six Principles for Making New Things

Paul Graham has six principles for making new things:

Here it is: I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.

Four Great Commencement Addresses

Shane Parrish has collected four excellent commencement addresses: 

Steve Jobs

David Foster Wallace

Neil Gaiman

Naval Adm. William H. McRaven


Great new online thesaurus by Dave Winer.