Why does feedback hurt sometimes?

The Thesis Whisperer

This letter was written by an experienced academic at ANU to her PhD student, who had just presented his research to a review panel and was still licking her wounds.

The student sent it to me and I thought it was a great response I asked the academic in question, and the student who received it, if I could publish it. I wish all of us could have such nuanced and thoughtfu feedback during the PhD. I hope you enjoy it.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.27.05 PMA letter to…My PhD student after her upgradeWell you did it. You got your upgrade. But from the look on your face I could tell you thought it was a hollow victory. The professors did their job and put the boot in. I remember seeing that look in the mirror after my own viva. Why does a win in academia always have the sting of defeat?

Yeah, it’s a…

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Online learning facilitation – notes from the field

Today I learned some important lessons about effective online facilitation.   First, my online presence matters.  Students really do want to feel that they can related to their instructor. I met a new student today when I happened to stop by her place of work. I noticed she had the textbook on her desk, so I introduced myself to her. She seemed so relieved to meet me.  She said, “I was so nervous about taking this course online, but when I read your letter, I felt that maybe you were someone who cared.”. 

For me, that sentence says it all.  People matter. You matter. Your students matter.  They want to know that you are interested in their success, and want to help them through the course.

Next, I learned that the little details also matter. I made a few small errors, but some students were very concerned.  So, I need to pay attention to the details. 

VAK in an Instant

Learning styles, learning preferences,

Learning styles, learning preferences; which term is important?  Social media sites are being flooded with discussions on whether or not learning styles should be taught.  But does the label ‘Learning Styles” really matter?  Does it make a difference if we apply learning styles or learning strengths or learning preference?  I think not.  What really matters is that students gain awareness of how they learn best.  And, that students become more confident in their ability to learn.

One of the more successful strategies I have tried is a simple exercise encouraging students to think about their preferred method of receiving information.  I call it the “VAK” attack.