The Open Comments: 1

This is an open comments post. So I'm not going to say anything, but let you say whatever you want in the comments below. It can be about this blog, about your in-class experience, questions for me, whatever.

I know I should do this more often--I just forgot! (No comments/suggestions/feedback? You can tell me if you want an open comments posting once a month, once a week...or never.)

13 comments:

Leah said...
on

I'm really enjoying the blog, thank you very much!

I generally study philosophy and concurrent to this class I am taking a philosophy of mind seminar on James, Wittgenstein and Brandon from a philosophical perspective.

And, in reading the two textbooks, I'm surprised at the degree to which (at least at first glance) philosophy and psychology seem to be making parallel arguments without consulting one another. Each, philosophy in particular, relying on a particular set of assumptions.

So I guess my question is if you think all of the different disciplines of psychology we have been discussing in class and the textbook do a good job of talking to one another? And, likewise, if you think that philosophy and psychology do a good job I'm just not seeing it?

Thank you so much!

sincerely,

leah trueblood

Anonymous said...
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Hey,

I love the blog. I would like to see more posts, actually.

Karsten Loepelmann said...
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@Anonymous: OK, I'm working on it.

@Leah: There are some psychologists who are trying to bridge the gap with philosophy (Dr. Mike Dawson here at the U of Alberta, for one). And there are also some philosophers whose work is very psychological--like Daniel Dennett. But still, they tend to be largely separate.

In teaching, things tend to get compartmentalized. I teach a course called "Perception" and a course called "Cognitive Psychology," but there is some overlap between the two. I try to minimize that, to avoid redundancy. (Some students like that, others don't. I can't please everyone.)

I try to add more philosophy into my 300-level Advanced Perception course. That's a challenge for a lot of Psych majors, because they're not used to it. But it is valuable to include that: it aids our understanding of psychological phenomena.

Anonymous said...
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Yeah. I'd love to see more posts. I also visited you in your office hours and you were very nice and helpful.

I'm often afraid to visit professors in their office hours because I'm afraid of sounding stupid... but wait, isn't the assumption that I'm coming to office hours because I'm having trouble? Sometimes professors are indimidating!

Anonymous said...
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Hi Dr. Loepelmann,

I have to say I really enjoy reading your blog. It's nice to see a professor is making an effort to overcome the "barrier" between him and his students.

I'd like to ask you two things, though:

1) It has been statistically shown that professors/lecturers that give higher grades receive better evaluations. You are a great lecturer no doubt. You receive great evaluations. However, you also give relatively higher grades. Do you think your preoccupation about evaluations are one reason why you are willing to give out relatively higher grades? Just a question, not an accusation.

2) What is your thought on grade inflation? I am finding that it is getting more and more difficult for me to set myself apart from other students, simply because so many A's are being given out. The student voice is becoming so great at U of A that professors/lecturers fear giving out lower grades simply because it is not within the "set distribution". By 4th year, ~20% of the class is expected to receive an A/A+. I think that's ridiculous, and it would be interesting to see what the "distibution" was 25 years ago. As well, salary is partially determined by these evaluations (I think), so professors/lecturers have greater incentive to give higher grades.

In the end, I think there will be a decreasing quality in our undergrad degrees if we continue to preoccupy ourselves with grades. Giving out higher grades does not do students a favour: if other institutions find that a university has grade inflation, our degree will be worth much less, our institution's reputation would go down the drain. Take, for instance, Harvard. The university has had a reputation for being a university that inflates grades. Even to this day, most believe that Harvard grades are meaningless. It has had a negative impact on Harvard graduates, especially those with "lower" GPAs, because universities/employers will automatically think that that GPA is already inflated and should be even lower. However, that is largely a myth. My point is is that it is difficult to overcome negative stigma. I really hope U of A does not fall into such a plight. It would be disheartening to know that my 3.9+ GPA is worth nothing if 20% of my classmates have the same mark as me.


-A studious student.

Karsten Loepelmann said...
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@A studious student: Wow, those are some pretty serious accusations. OK, "questions," as you say, not accusations. If they're just questions, I'll answer them. But let me do so in a post, not just in a comment. Stay tuned, and I'll get to your points ASAP.

Anonymous said...
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Hi Dr. Loepelmann,

Looking forward to your response.

I probably needed to reword my comment a bit. "Do you think A preoccupation with evaluations lead profs to give higher grades".

You still rock. Don't get me wrong.


-A studious student

maverick said...
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For such a long, thought out post, that sure was presumptuous. And from such a smart student, too! Maybe grades aren't everything..?

Since I'm looking forward to the summer, I thought it fitting to ask how busy professors are during that time? Why do you teach during summer and how much preparation is done for the next semester?

Thanks for being a great prof and running an awesome blog.

Karsten Loepelmann said...
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@maverick: Most tenured/tenure-track professors don't teach much in intersession, if at all, so they're pretty busy with their research in spring and summer instead.

I teach two courses in spring (or in summer, depending on my schedule). That keeps me very busy: for 6 weeks, I spend more time in class per week than I do in a fall or winter term.

Why do I teach in intersession? I have to. I have to teach a certain number of courses to fulfill my contract. Instead of teaching 4 per term in fall and winter, I like to space things out a bit. Plus, the Department needs me to teach certain courses in spring or summer. Not many people can teach the courses I teach.

I do a lot of prep work--all the time. It's not like I save it all to do in the spring or summer. That really saps my motivation, to have a huge pile of work to do all at once. But usually, I can get to some of the books I've bought and haven't read yet. Like Rachel Herz's book...

Anonymous said...
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I'm not a regular reader, but I did come across this one and would like to leave a comment. Maybe the correlation between high grades and good evaluations are caused by a third variable - A GOOD TEACHER!!! Hm, what a novel idea...

Anastasia said...
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You should do more of these open comment thingies...maybe once a semester?

Karsten Loepelmann said...
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@Anastasia: You're right--that's actually been my plan, but I get all wrapped up in work and forget. Maybe if I got more posts, I'd remember to do it more often!

Anastasia said...
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Maybe if you did it more often, you'd get more posts!

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