Saturday, December 31, 2016

One last post before the New Year

This is an interesting read about the philosophy of emotions.  It might aid some of your own inner reflection as well as to help you make new year's resolutions that have been to you.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mindfulness Again

This piece appeared in the Sunday NY Times Week in Review, a reposting of something from four years earlier.  I thought you might find it interesting.  I hope your vacation has been relaxing.  I know that for me it has taken more than a week to unwind.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Compulsory Viewing When I Was A Kid

If you've never seen this before, you might be amused by it, even though the image quality is a bit shaky.  I saw that it was colorized and that version might be easier to view, but I didn't see a free version of that.   The March of the Wooden Soldiers, which happens right at the end is what people remember of this movie.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Course Grades Uploaded

Both in Moodle and in Banner.

Reminder - Discussion Group

There is definitely no obligation for you to do this, but if you are interested in participating in the discussion group please let me know.  The original message is here.  Thanks.

Take Aways

This is only a little bit related to the course.  Mainly it is just some suggestions of interesting reads, none of which are very recent, that you might peruse over the break or next semester for your own entertainment and edification.

  • Bolman and Deal Part 2 - the second half of the book, which we didn't cover at all, is worth a read in its own.   It takes the four frames developed in the first half and recasts them in a leadership setting.  You might enjoy that. 
  • We did not talk at all about executive pay, which really is a big topic.  Since the subject matter gets more than a mention by the a current Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, Bengt Holmstrom, I thought this might be interesting for you to look at.  Note in the second half of the piece the issue on whether the compensation must depend only on verifiable performance.  We did talk about that in considering the principal-agent model.  
  • This piece called Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? is from a few years ago and is by Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton (the business school at U Penn).  The giving he talks about is more random acts of kindness than it is where a quid pro quo is expected.  You might try some of your own random acts of kindness over the break - with your friends or your family.   See how they react, particularly whether you surprise them with your kindness.  A positive reaction (as opposed to a gift in return) may encourage you to try it again. 
  • This piece called The Bell Curve is one I really like.  It by Atul Gawande, a MacArthur Genius Award winner and a prolific author (plus he is a very well known M.D.).  It is about what determines excellence when excellence can be measures, in this case in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.  It might interest you to to see excellence cast this way, as it probably defies many of the stereotypes you have for it.  
  • This one called The Expert Mind mind and should appeal to those students in the class who have a chess interest (I know there are a few of you), and other students as well.  It is about how experts differ from novices in their thinking and what it takes to become expert.  Chess is used as means to illustrate the more general issues.  

Course Grades Posted Later This Afternoon

I am waiting on a student who had a conflict and couldn't take the final quiz the normal way.  I would like to post these all at one time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reminder - Final Quiz becomes available at 11 AM tomorrow

And it will run till 11 PM Thursday night.  My intention is to post final grades in Moodle and In Banner on Friday.   I will make another announcement then when it is done.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bah, Humbug. Scrooge was an economist!

For your amusement only.  I thought you'd find the title of this piece interesting.  There is an economics paper  published in the American Economic Review (the top journal in the U.S.) back in 1993 that got all of this started.  You can find the paper here.

Class Projects

While I am still waiting on some of these to come in, I uploaded the virtual elevator speeches I have received and also posted grades for those teams.   Below I want to make several more in depth comments about the projects.

About the Grading

The grading was pretty generous in my view.  The underlying philosophy with this exercise in particular but also with much of the rest of the course is that this is learning as intermediate product.  In other words, perhaps what you did here can be of use to you to learn something else in the future.  Evaluating that is different than evaluating final product (which is sometimes called mastery learning).  None of you have yet mastered the papers you were reviewing.  With intermediate products in learning, the mistakes can be more useful than something polished.  I really didn't want to penalize mistakes made in earnest.  So the grades were high with very little variation from one team to the next.

About the Virtual Elevator Speeches

If you haven't heard of this book before, you might look at Made to Stick.  There are also a variety of online presentations under that title that you might view.  It gives you a sense of what your job is as presenter.  Surprisingly, you don't present the paper.  Instead, you present connections that your audience might make to the paper.  This is a different task.  It is hard enough when you know the audience.  In this case, your audience was supposed to be students who might take the course in the future.  If I were in your shoes, I would have tried to envision myself (as student) as the audience but without having read the paper first.

One other general point.  If you haven't read the children's story The Princess and the Pea you should.   It is not very long and conveys an important point.  While this presentation was for class only, you can think of it as practice for presentations you will make in the future, possibly where you are a subordinate presenting to upper management.  In that case, it is good to think of upper management as like the princess in the story.  The least little thing might bother them.  You should avoid that if at all possible.  One thing that many presentations did is to end abruptly before the music finished.  That's the sort of thing you should avoid.

Now some more specific comments.  When you write a white paper you typically produce an Executive Summary to go along with it.  That is one or at most two pages which gives an overview of the full white paper.  Many people read only the executive summary.  Or they read that and then a chunk of the white paper on the topic they are interested in.

However, an executive summary is different from a presentation on the paper.  Some of your presentations were really more like executive summaries.  You didn't trust that the images could communicate the ideas.  So you put in a lot of text.  But that is because you were presenting the paper rather than the connections the audience should make.

The most common single error in a presentation made by a subordinate to the bigwigs is to give too much information early on.  The reason for the error is that the presenter is nervous and wants to establish that he or she is qualified to make the presentation.  But the bigwigs are entirely uninterested in that.  Their time is scarce.  Can they get their hooks into the idea immediately or not? If you don't grab them right off the bat, they are lost.

Some groups did have an image reliant presentation but I found the image selection challenging - meaning I wasn't sure what message I should be drawing from the image.  If the audience is confused, it is possible they will tune out before they can catch onto what is being presented.  Group C did a nice job with image selection.  Their presentation is worth looking at.  It really is very simple.  That was the goal.

About the Papers

This is where the bulk of the work was and for most of you I'm sure this was a stretch.    What is most interesting to me is how much overlap there was from one team's paper to the next, although the papers under review were quite varied.  What this showed me is that sometimes you can learn a broad topic by studying something in a bit of depth that is on a particular aspect of the topic.  The particular gets connected to the general.

I am guessing that for most of you reading the paper you reviewed was a challenge and it is probably the case that you won't be reading Econ journal articles in the future, though you might read pieces from Harvard Business Review or other Business Reviews as you try to advance through your career - a much cheaper way to learn management thinking than to pay for an MBA.  (I'm not knocking the formal business training, just saying that you can do your own professional development by reading published work on this stuff.)

The other part of the exercise that you probably won't get again anytime soon is to have someone edit your first drafts for you.  If you do end up in a job where writing a white paper happens now and then, that editing function becomes increasingly important.  If you can learn to be a good reader that way and give feedback to others about their drafts, you will be valued for that.  And if you can't do it, it's good for you to know somebody who can.

You see a lot of bulleted lists out there nowadays, a trend I find regrettable, because then the people generating the lists don't have to connect the ideas into a narrative.  That is left for the audience to do.  Part of the goal behind the paper is for you to understand that the authors really should be the ones who do that, but it is a lot of work.  We easily could have had still one more round of revisions, except for the end of the semester.  Let's be thankful for that.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Grade for Comments Second Half have been uploaded

I will grade the project tomorrow and see if I can get the final quiz into Moodle (making sure it is not invisible).   I will also post the elevator speeches to Moodle tomorrow.  For those of you who have still to submit your elevator speech, I you can get it to me by then.


Grades for Blog Posts - Second Half Now Posted in Moodle

I need to take a break now.  I will get to the grading the comments after that.  I would expect those to be posted by late afternoon or early evening.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Comments Matrix/Moral Hazard with Music Selection

I have just uploaded the Comment Matrix - Second Half into Moodle.  Here I would like to explain what is there.

1.  For each post the alias is credited with a comment if that person made a comment.  Two or more comments don't give any more intensity in the recording.  Neither does a very long comment.  When I get to the qualitative assessment of the comments, which I still must do, it might come into play then.

2.  For the last post I only counted the comment by the author of the post.   I did previously announce this.  One of my broader issues with the class is knowing if an intended message gets through.  Often it seemed it didn't.

3.  There are aggregates, by post and by alias.  Unlike the last time where I did those manually, this time I used formulas in Excel to do the counting.  While mistakes are still possible, surely that makes them less likely.

* * * * *

The virtual elevator speeches have been trickling in.  I launch each one to see whether it will play.  So I get a sense of the music chosen.  In all cases the music appeals to me.  Why is that?  These pieces were supposed to be for students like you who were getting exposed to the subject matter for the first time.  Do you actually listen to classical music and/or jazz?

I won't hold it against you.  I'm just noting it here.  This is another one of those things that didn't happen last year.

Incidentally, another of those things is that the teams actually never chose a name.  They stayed with their letter only.  I wonder if that impacted team performance in any way.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Update on Where I Am with the Grading

There is a lot to track! I've posted the last Excel homework on the Shapiro-Stiglitz model and the last two blog posts.  I am in the process of tracking comments and reading through them (two separate activities).  I am not quite halfway there.  This is going slow, plus my arthritis is acting up doing this (I wonder why) so I need to take regular breaks.

The upshot is that I probably won't have the grades for Blog Posts and Comments Second half till Saturday.  I will let you know that as soon as those are posted.  I will get to the projects immediately after that.  The virtual elevator speeches have been coming in, but some are still pending.

Good luck on your finals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A little humor and....

.... if you've never seen it before an essential part of anyone's education about American culture.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What I forgot to say in class this morning.

In doing our review I failed to mention an idea I am toying with - replacing either one of the live class sessions or perhaps both with mandatory office hours.  Students would be put into groups of 3 or 4 and have a 20 minutes session scheduled during regular class time.  Since the class meets for 80 minutes, I could do 4 such sessions a day.

In this way I'd hope to get everyone in the group to chime in.  And in that setting, as distinct from the full class, I wouldn't feel reluctant to call on you if you weren't otherwise participating in the discussion.

The big deal for me is that I haven't worked through how to keep these conversations somewhat novel.  If I can somehow figure out how to do that, then this would work for me.  Focusing on the blog posts of the particular group members might do the trick.

In any event, I am toying with this.  If you have some thoughts on the matter, you might make a comment here, or send me an email about it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A totally optional discussion group on leadership for next semester

The last few years I have invited students to join me in the spring for a weekly discussion group on the topic of how they might get more out of their learning.  Three years ago, I didn't get enough nibbles.  Two years ago I had three takers.  We met each Friday afternoon throughout the spring semester.  It was an interesting experience, unusual for both the students and for me.  Last year I had two takers initially, but one soon dropped.  The other person was extremely shy and it was kind of odd to have conversations with him.  We went for a while but didn't meet quite as regularly.

This year I'd like to do something similar but on a different topic.  I maintain a reading list on leadership and learning.  We might start with a few pieces from there to help us find a rhythm.  After that, I'd hope that students would offer up their own pieces for us to discuss.

When the group seemed to work well we went for somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours and met in BIF.  That much of what we did I'd like to keep.  Based on that experience the ideal number of students is at least 3 and probably no more than 5.  If we can get that this time around we'll be a go.

If you are interested you can indicate that either by commenting on this post (and maybe that will attract some others to do likewise) or you can send me an email.

Let me say one more thing about scheduling.  I am not teaching next semester so I am pretty happy to meet whenever is convenient for the group (if such a time exists).  But I would prefer daytime to evening.  You should probably treat that as a firm constraint in assessing your own availability for this.

For the Last Class Session

An Idealistic Approach to Student-Faculty Interaction 

I was taught the following at the Frye Leadership Institute  back in summer 2003.
  • Every students wants to have a personal intellectual relationship with some faculty member
Does this still remain true today?  (If not, why not?)  How well did we do on that score?

Class Attendance
  • Demographics by eyeballing
    • Observable factors that seem to matter: (1) gender and (2) transfer student or not.
  • What the Syllabus says on the matter
  • Some students reported (near term) disutility from going to class (test in some other class, preference for sleeping in, other possible explanations). 
  • Class mixed on requiring attendance or not.
  • The puzzle for me remains that for 2012-14 attendance was not an issue.  The vast majority of the students came to class.  

  • There were some interesting comments (because they showed a lack of rationality in the strict sense) about deadlines.  At least a couple of students wanted the blog posts to be due Thursday evening (an earlier and therefore tighter deadline).  
  • One student wanted the deadline to be Sunday night, which coincides with deadlines for other courses.  
    • I need some time between when you submit blog posts and when I read and comment on them.

Gift Exchange
  • Walking the walk - did students learn to reciprocate?  
  • Did the professor reciprocate when students offered up a gift?
  • Were there some acts of kindness that students initiated?  

Bigger Picture Issues that Tie into Undergraduate Education

  • Are you a sheep?  Or are you self-directed in your own learning?  
    • Many of the final blog posts made it seem as if you were a sheep, though you may not have intended to communicate that. 

Stop Googling.  Let's talk.

  • The preference to have the laptop out may be indicative of aversion of conversation more generally, because listening is slow and often doesn't provide immediate reward.
  • Alternatively, I may have intimidated students in class with my questions that were too "off the wall" and without obvious answers, so students may have sought refuge in their laptops so they wouldn't have to answer the questions.

  • Learning to Accept Responsibility without Feeling It Is an Undo Burden
    • A post written about the class last year.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

This Week's Blog Post and Comments

I moved the prompt from the calendar to the class site, because we were on vacation last week.  Some people didn't find the prompt that way.  I hope everyone will get caught up with that now.

Regarding comments, I think it is overkill here to comment on the posts of other students for this last post, but you might write a brief response to my comment.  Also, since students are divided in what they are writing about, there is less feedback for that a student when writing a comment on the other prompt.  So this time it is not necessary.

We should have an interesting discussion on Tuesday in class about this.  Students clearly have strong feelings on these matters.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Our last class session is Tueday

We will review the blog posts due tomorrow and discuss what students report there.  Following that, I will answer any and all questions students might have about the last quiz and material that might be covered on it.  We will reserve some time at the end for administering the ICES forms.

I observe the following without comment.  Today we had the lowest attendance of the semester.  I believe there were 7 students and because of that  I forced those sitting in the back to come nearer to the front.  Also, among those who were not present, two submitted the Excel homework during the class session and one submitted it after.

I could not get the projector to work today, so much of what I had planned to do went out the window.  I will make a brief video to show some thoughts about the Excel homework - further implications.  However, I am not up to doing that today so I will do it in the morning and post it to the class site when I'm done.

Today's Quiz

The projector didn't work in class today, but truthfully I only thought of this after class was over.  There are three questions.  They all pertain to this image.

1.  What is this guy's name?

2.  What magazine is this guy associated with?

3.  What slogan is he identified with ?