My iBooks Collection

My iBooks Collection
My iBooks Collection: Some of my favorite books!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Embracing the remix.

The Remix Culture

I'm just posting one of those TED Talks that I like.

Kirby Ferguson: Embracing The Remix

Saw this video because of this article: How Remix Culture Fuels Creativity & Invention


Good artists copy. Great artists steal. - Picasso

But what if it is YOU who was stolen from? 

 Great artists steal. But not from Steve Jobs. - Kirby Ferguson

This reminds me of my undergrad thesis proposal story that I want to bury forever. Although it still haunts me every now and then. I could narrate the story here (I actually did, then decided to delete it), but narrating it would lose the whole point of "burying" it. I'm just going to do really really good on my masteral thesis so it can overlap the memory of my 'stolen' undergraduate thesis idea. 

I just feel so sad because there are international psychologists whom I've talked to and are interested but I am not proud of it anymore because somebody already did it.

Everything happens for a reason (or so I tell myself).

I want to bury the topic on academic procrastination and start a new direction, which is on MOOCs, Online Learning & E-learning.

It's definitely a bigger ocean than mere academic procrastination behavior...

Educational Psychology: The Basics

Reading a book on educational psychology I got from saylor.org as my attempt to do a crash course refresher of my bachelor degree because - I love my bachelor degree - and I know it can help me in my masteral comprehensive exam (somehow). The book is a Global Text Project and Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution.

The things below are just my notes taken from reading the book. Some definitions of terms are verbatim.. 

I decided to post my notes here for personal future reference.


Learning Theories

"Learning is permanent changes in behavior, skills, knowledge or attitude. A key feature is permanence: learning does not account if it is temporary."

Behaviorism: learning as changes in overt behavior

Classical conditioning (Stimuli & responses) Ivan Pavlov
Extinction - removing of conditioning over time
Generalization - Similar Stimuli activate conditioning
Discrimination - conditioning to specific stimuli

Positive conditioning to the school can elicit intrinsic motivation.

Operant conditioning (reinforcement & operant) B.F. Skinner
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
Rewards and punishment
Extinction - lack of reinforcement 
Generalization - similar operants, reinforce the behavior
Discrimination - reinforcement on specific operant
Cue - comes before operant, clue to receive reinforcement

Constructivism: learning as changes in thinking

Psychological constructivism: changes in thinking as result of individual experiences

John Dewey: linking prior knowledge and relevance to real world
Jean Piaget: Cognitive Theory 
Assimilation - interpretation of new information in terms of pre-existing concepts and information or ideas
Accommodation - revision or modification of existing information in terms of new information or experience.

I.e. Child learns what a bird is and associates flying objects to birds (assimilation); child learns that not all flying objects are birds (accommodation)

Cognitive equilibrium -balance between reliance on prior knowledge and openness to new information 
Schema - mental representations of objects and experiences

Social constructivism: changes in thinking due to assistance from others
Jerome Bruner: instructional scaffolding - students can learn more given the appropriate guidance and resources
Lev Vygotsky: Zone of proximal development - the distance between novice and expert in the area where change in learning happens

Bloom's taxonomy as a guide to scaffold students

Meta cognition - ability to think and regulate ones thinking (thinking about thinking, self reflections)

Student development

Jean Piaget's Cognitive Development: 
Sensorimotor stage: object permanence the ability to know that an object exists even without sight 
Preoperational stage: make-believe, dramatic play of children
Concrete operational stage: reversibility the ability to think of a process in any order

Decenter - the ability to focus on more than one feature of the problem at the same time
Conservation - the belief that an amount or quantify stays the same even if it changes in apparent size or shape.

Formal operational stage: hypothetical reasoning the ability to manipulate ideas that vary in several ways and do so in their minds. 

Self-concept and relationship development: Erik Erikson's eight psychosocial crises of development

Development of personal development: Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of motivation and needs

Development of knowledge and ethical belief: Lawrence Kohlberg's Morality of Justice


Student diversity

Build on existing student styles but do not lock students into just a particular type of style. 

Learning styles

Cognitive styles
Field dependence - individuals focus on patterns as a whole instead of focusing on the parts of the pattern separately
Field independence - individuals analyze overall patterns into their parts
Impulsivity - reacting too quickly resulting to more errors
Reflectivity - reacting slowly and committing less errors

Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences

Group differences:
Gender roles
Differences in cultural expectations and styles; attitudes and beliefs

Student motivation

Motives as behaviors
Operant conditioning can be used as a way in motivation

Motives as goals
Goals that contribute to motivation
Mastery goal - intrinsic motivation
Performance goal - extrinsic motivation 
Performance-avoidance goal - motivation is avoiding to fail, self-handicapping 

Motives as interests
Interest = intrinsic motivation
Personal interest 
Situational interest

Motives related to attribution
Attribution are perceptions of the cause of success and failure
Locus of attribution - internal locus or external locus
Stability of an attribution - stable-source of success/failure if permanent; unstable-source of success/failure is not permanent 
Controllability - extent to which the individual can influence the success, controllable or uncontrollable 

Motivation as self-efficacy
Self-efficacy - the belief that you are capable of carrying our a specific task or of reaching a specific goal
Low self-efficacy can result to learned helplessness
Self-concept - beliefs about general personal identity
Self-esteem - evaluation of identity

Motivation as self-determination
Maslow's hierarchal of needs 
Autonomy - the need to feel free of external constraints on behavior
Competence - the need to feel capable or skilled
Relatedness - the need to feel connected or involved with others

Expectancy X Value: effects on student's motivations
Expectancy-value model of motivation
student's expectation of success and the value that students place on a goal
Expectancy x Value = motivation

TARGET: a model for integrating ideas on motivation
Task - the value of the task; perceptions on difficulty; authenticity/relevance
Autonomy - degree of responsibility; autonomy strenghtens self-efficacy and self-determination
Recognition - recognizing student's achievements appropriately; praise is for qualities which a student can control (effort instead of intelligence); don't use it too loosely
Grouping - how students are grouped; cooperative, competitive or individualistic; cooperative supports the student's need for belonging
Evaluating - grouping affects how are student's efforts evaluated;
Time - amount of time needed to learn a material or do a task task
(Will update this soon... Need to jump to assessment!)

Bottomline about motivation is to sustain focus on learning.

Teacher-made assessments

Assessment - gaining information about student's learning and making value judgments about their progress
Measurement - answers the question "how much"; information about learning is often assign to specific numbers of grades and involves measurement
Evaluation - process of making judgments about the assessment information

Assessment for learning - formative - priority is designing and using assessment strategies to enhance student learning and development; ex. teachers can use to improve teaching or students can use to improve their learning, informal (observations) and formal (systematic gather of data) assessment

Assessment of learning - summative - assessing students in order to certify their competence and fulfill accountability; provide info how well student has mastered material

Assessment as learning - metacognitive - using assessment as a strategy for learning


High quality assessments
Validity - appropriateness of the interpretations and uses of assessments; involves overall judgment of the degree to which the interpretations and uses of assessment results are justified
Content Validity - How well does the assessment include the content or tasks it is supposed to have?; degree that assessment tasks are relevant and representative of the tasks judged by the teacher to represent their goals and objectives
Construct Validity - more complex than content validity and focuses on making judgments about student's specific skills; construct validation is the process of determining the extent to which performance on an assessment can be interpreted in terms of intended constructs and is not influenced by factors irrelevant to the construct
Criterion-related validity - how well the tests predict another variable


Reliability - consistency of the measurement; How similar would the scores be?
Absence of Bias - bias occurs in assessment when method distorts performance because of personal characteristics

Two types of assessment bias:
1) offensiveness - when items are offensive and may distract test taker from performing well i.e. questions are offensive in some gender or ethnic group
2) unfair penalization - when items disadvantage one group because of differential backgroun experience i.e. items are for people who are knowledgable in sports

Types of teacher-made assessments
Observation - observing student's behavior to gain information about students
Questioning - as questions to keep student's attention, highlighting important details, promoting critical thinking, allowing students to learn from each other and providing information about student's learning
Record Keeping - keeping record of observations; keeping anecdotal records about students provide important information than relying on one's memory

Selected Response Items
True or false - two choices
Multiple Choice - more than 3 choices (do not put too many choices)
Matching - two parallel columns

Constructed response items
Completion and short answer - fill in the blank
Extended response - open ended questions; essay

Scoring Rubrics
Holistic scoring rubric - general descriptions of performance and a single overall score is obtained
Analytical scoring rubric - provides descriptions of levels of student performance on a variety of characteristics

Performance Assessments
- students complete a specific task while teachers observe process or procedure as well as the product
Alternative Assessment - tasks that are not pencil-and-paper
Authentic Assessment - task that students do that are simular to those in the "real world"

Portfolio - meaningful collection of student work that tells the story of student achievement or growth; purposeful collection of student work

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Academic Career Part 2

I really love going to work/school.

My heart thickens and grow all the time. <3

Most especially whenever I see undergrads (and they're everywhere!)

In college, the world revolves around our social life.

Whenever I see the undergrads, my thoughts would be like... "heh.. I used to be one of them."

My world focused on my social circle without minding how other people would perceive us.

But now, I'm an outsider. I'm the one observing them.

And my heart grows every single time.

I attribute it to the positive emotions I've created during my college life. It wasn't always good emotions of course... but they were all good memories. It's the kind of stress that I enjoyed.

Heh... Undergrads <3 <3 <3

This is one of the reason why I know being an academic is the career I want to pursue.

I like the school environment. I like being surrounded by young ones.
It makes me remember my younger days (and makes me feel young like them too! :P)

And I love my school! #AnimoLaSalle


Comprehensive Exams

I had my compre orientation last Wednesday, January 29 and my teacher said we should start practicing writing essays. I told myself good thing I have a blog. I should definitely continue my attempts to linking my studies in the things that I post here. I am so scared. My exam is on February 15, 2014. The innate part that gives me anxiety is because I am a performance oriented individual. I have anxiety when it comes to being evaluated. Comprehensive exams show off how well you know about whatever it is you're studying about. I have confidence, no doubt about that. And I'm a self-directed learner. Thus despite my performance goal orientation, I am too mastery oriented. I both value achieving good evaluation and focusing on the learning experience. 

But hey, what am I fussing all about? This IS a master's program. I have to prove that I deserve to get a degree to be a master in learning and teaching. And that goes with all the theories and concepts that I should naturally be aware of and know, plus adding more to that. It's just there's too many things in my head right now so I need to dig deep into the pile of knowledge and organize the file cabinets in my head. 

Anyway, the four core subjects that my exam will cover are.
Principles of Learner-Centered Teaching
Principles of Learning
Learner Centered Assessment
Curriculum Development for Learner-Centered Education

Need to start posting blog posts on these, with citations. 

CREATE. Highest level on Revised Bloom's taxonomy. 
So I will create blog posts :) 

It's my strategy for studying so that my learning will stay in long term memory.

Learning-Centered Principle #4. The successful learner should create and use a repertoire of thinking and reasoning strategies to achieve complex learning.

Cool. Awesome. See. I know my stuff. 

Just need to start organizing!! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't you worry, don't you worry child. #RHIZO14

Rhizo14 Week 3 Topic: Embracing Uncertainty

"Up on the hill across the blue lake,
That's where I had my first heart break
I still remember how it all changed
My father said
Don't you worry, don't you worry child
See heaven's got a plan for you
Don't you worry, don't you worry now"

I'm a worrywart. Or so I used to be.

I'm an over thinker. As my friends would always tell me.

I think too much, they say.

"You need to relax", Oh I've heard it oh so many times.

I always response with "I know."

It's probably one of the reasons that I blog. I like to literally "transfer" my thoughts from my mind to paper. Sometimes, when my mind is so chaotic that I don't know what to do next... I write.. and I keep on writing.. letting the fingers type my thoughts away... and after putting it all on paper, I close my notebook (or my tablet) and let the thoughts stay there so I could go on with my day. It works for me. And when I'm on the right state of mind, I can look back on what I wrote and see it on a much saner perspective.

You can see in my blog's side bar, a photo. The Four Agreements. Reading the book changed my life. I have less worries now (can't say I've removed it all). But I'm happier. I am embracing uncertainty.

You can see in my About Me description (I just recently had the courage to fill that up), that I mentioned I was in a "quarter-life crisis" during my early 20's. This kind of crisis that I don't want to expound about right here in my academic blog (you can just google about it to know more what I'm saying).

But much of the quarter-life crisis revolves around uncertainties. Am I supposed to be where I currently am? Am I in the right career path? Where am I going to be years from now?  Is this what I really want to do? For the many years ever since I decided to take my masters program in learning and teaching, I was in limbo. What do I really want to do? I want education... I want to work in a school... but I don't want to teach... what will I teach?... I probably will teach eventually... I don't want to teach in a traditional sense... I don't know what to teach.. my major is educational psychology, unlike others who are more specialized with English, Math, Science, among others. All this "searching of self" so I stopped studying.

I came back to school when I figured out my life plan. It was carefully planned out with a timeline and all. Had estimated my year of graduation and planned out other things I will be doing in life. But early 2013 drastic changes in my personal life had happened. My plans in life had to change. And there I was back in a limbo again. The song "Don't you worry child" helped soothe me.

I kept telling myself, "Everything will fall into place".

I have a quote posted in my room "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

All through these years, I have been mastering embracing uncertainty. I should probably get a degree on that now.

Every time a person asks me what my future plans are, I tell them what I would like to do as of the moment and then also say, "but you know... plans change".

We have to be prepared for these changes.

I always tell my friends "the world is round".

This is a metaphor saying, that today you may be on top... but tomorrow, you may be at the bottom.

We have to prepare ourselves.

We need to equip ourselves with "survival skills" just in case things don't go on as the way we initially planned or expected. We have to learn to expect the unexpected.

My friends always say, I am a strong person.. that they can't believe I could handle such things and that I haven't broken down... that I am a tough cookie. But deep inside, they don't know that the warrior is a child.

I wasn't born to be a tough cookie... I earned it... or in better words, I learned it.

Shaped by my experiences. My biography. My life.

I learned to embrace uncertainty. More so, I welcome it with open arms.

It is in the unknown we discover things that we never would have thought about.



This is part 1 of my Week 3 MOOC Assignment for Rhizo14. I haven't really answered Dave's question about learning because I want to ponder first on what I think about the phrase "embracing uncertainty".

I am a fan of this practice as I have explained in my own personal experiences.

I will end this post with the song my dad always sang when I was a kid.

Que Sera Sera ( Whatever will be, will be)

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, "What will I be?
Will I be pretty?
Will I be rich?"
Here's what she said to me:

"Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be;
The future's not ours to see.
Que sera, sera,
What will be, will be."


*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)


Magic Tricks and the Gorilla. #FutureEd #RHIZO14

Before reading the post watch this Magic Trick Video.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Enforcing Independence and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. #RHIZO14

I have been purposely delaying my blog post regarding the Week 2 topic from #Rhizo14 class. Although when I first saw it, I told myself it's a good topic and probably so many things to talk about. But I wasn't putting much thought on it recently. Not sure if I just didn't want to think for the past few days or because I don't know where to start talking about enforcing independence on students. 

I'm still adjusting to this whole Rhizomatic Learning thing because up to now, I still don't know what a Rhizome is.. And the little voice in my head still keeps pronouncing it as "Rheeeezome" .. (See, there it goes again!!)

Not Rheezome, stupid little voice in my head, IT'S Rhayyyyzome. lol. I feel like a toddler learning words or more like, Hermione teaching me how to properly pronounce a hex. But it's nice to learn new things eh? Things that you have absolutely no idea about? Learning to learn, relearn, and unlearn? All I'm getting from observing people's conversations are key words and key phrases like: putting chaos into order, community is the curriculum...

What do you mean community is the curriculum???? I wonder if I answered this during my curriculum development course in 2012, my professor would probably say I'm being too philosophical. I tried reading blog posts about Rhizomatic Learning but I think I just got confused as ever. (I wish I new about Rhizome before though, it's a wonderful topic to bring up in class and confuse everybody...in confusion we learn.)

While reading the blogs, what ACTUALLY came into my mind is that I've always had been careful of putting my real and full name scattered all over the internet, especially when I graduated college and realized that my career will be in the academe. (The fear of students googling you.) But recently with all these academic networking, I see a lot of people are actually using their own names too (Well, I think it's their real name) and it's actually nice to recognize the names of these people, when I hop into one blog to another and from one social network to another. 

It's really how you use these internet tools responsibly. And by surrounding myself with these professionals, I get to be influenced by how I should use it and talk about things that matter. 

"Small minds talk about people, average minds talk about things, great minds talk about ideas."

Sometimes though, I'm scared of what I say because I feel like I talk non-sense and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what's going on. But that's how we grow and learn right? Stepping out of the comfort zone. Dealing with the unknown. Putting yourself out there. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Things like that. 

Anyway, so how shall I start talking about enforcing independence 

Maybe I could start with a tweet I saw regarding the topic.


Funnehhhh :)


When I saw Dave's syllabus for EDD66 on how he enforced independence. I was both impressed and sad.

Impressed of course because I like to be in this class, although I really didn't get the contract part of grading.

I was sad because I remember my undergraduate Educational Technology classes, wherein we were "taught" using tools. And when final project came, I actually learned more by just googling tutorials. Classes felt so much a waste of my time.

Before I answer Week 2's challenge though, I will include Dave's response to my previous post How Do We Know What Students Need To Learn? - Thanks Dave, no idea why the spotlight suddenly went to me. (Fuzzy feelings). But it does feel like a real learner-centered classroom now where the students are "navigating" the learning experience. Wouldn't be making this video if I didn't come to class, eh? #betterlatethannever :) 

*blush*



Although, Dave, I have to, uh... Listen to your video again and again (even though I still hate hearing my name.. So weird that somebody I personally don't know talking to me :P). 

Kinda having some philosophical something something in my head that's cloudy and I can't even describe it.

Does this mean, we can never know what students need to learn? 

So... We'll just, let them... Do... The choosing? 

You mean there's no answer?!? Lol 

I think I'm having an "Ohhhhhhhhh" moment here. Like, ohhhhhh.. So that's what community is the curriculum is? Shouldn't it be... The community chooses the curriculum? 

I think this is the "The Balance of Power" as far as being learner-centered is concerned, like negotiating the syllabus and allowing students to propose changes. Dave's EDD66 syllabus reminds me of Weimer's strategy in her communication class. She listed a lot of tasks that the students can accomplish in class, but only ONE task was mandatory (which was they had to give a speech, since it was communication class). Everything else, the students had the choice if they were to do it or not (they can even skip the class if the schedule for that day was not their option). Each task had corresponding points though, so it was up to the student to choose the task as long as they are able to add up and reach the certain number of points equivalent to the grade they desire. 

With regards to assigning points... I can't currently expound on the idea how you "decide" the weight of the points... That is actually one question my classmates have brought up during group study when we talked about assessment. For a rubric example, what is the basis for giving a certain % weight for a certain criteria? And for quizzes, what is the basis that 7/10 is the passing cut off? That..... is part of learner-centered assessment I have yet to ponder about. I know the answer is there somewhere, but I have to search within the file cabinets of ze brain. We can negotiate it with the class to democratically decide what is the passing grade though. But... is everything just going to be negotiated? 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Moving on... 

I will again try to relate Week 2's questions with my review of comprehensive exam because I have NOT been studying for the past few days. My mind has been floating recently. I wish my exams are over. This is prolonging THE agony. Also, I don't want to end up writing rhizomes on my Compre essays :)) I might not be able to articulate and justify it well on my exams.

Question #1 How do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible?

When I read Weimer's syllabus (as mentioned above and only remembered it as I reflected on community as curriculum), it made me think that her strategy is actually a learning environment where her students must be responsible. Responsible to choose whatever task they should be accomplishing, as well as responsible to keep track and compute their grades so that they can reach the cut off for their desired grade. Although, she had mentioned one experience where there was a student who STILL failed her class because the student didn't know that he didn't reach the cut off. "If I knew I lacked points, I would have done more", the student says. So she started to ask herself, should she have given student reminders on what their current points are, mid-semester? She had assumed that students should have been responsibly tracking down their points on their own. 

So I guess it's a trial and error thing. You figure things out as you implement it semester after semester. Her strategy to "choose whatever you want to do and participate in" actually does enforce students to be independent. 

Weimer also points out that there is also that resistance to change. Because our students are used to a system where the teacher decides for themselves, they get surprised when you give them freedom and choice. And surprisingly, given the freedom... they resist. They are used to being dependent. But since we are enforcing them to be independent, how much responsibility should we be expecting from our students? 

The question the underlies here though, is the developmental level of our students. How much freedom can our students take? Do we let them figure it out on their own? Like that of the student who failed because he didn't track his points. We can easily say, "ah he should have known". But that's why we reflect on such things because we want to avoid such things happening again and again. 

Question #2 How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?

I guess, this is related to the scenario above. How can we assure that our students are conscious about their progress? This answers the question if we should remind them of their midterm status. Maybe "remind" shouldn't be the word, because it sounds like making them dependent. We can disseminate the information somewhere, "inform" them about it and again it will be the responsible of the student to inform themselves of their status. That, then may allow themselves room to self-assess and self-remediate their performance. 

This goes in hand with "The purpose of evaluation" in learner-centered teaching. As I've mention in previous posts Weimer's LC "the purpose of evaluation" is 1) promoting learning and 2) promoting self & peer assessment. Focusing on learning process and allowing students the opportunity to revised their work instead of focusing on assigning grades and moving on to the next task.

Giving emphasis in the learning process than merely attaining a specific grade (I'm fully aware of this, yet I myself am still grade conscious. although to be fair, I am both performance & mastery goal oriented.. So it's not just all grades that matter to me), that should help us give somewhat assurance that the students will self-asses and self-remediate. If we point out that we don't care about the grades and we are emphasizing the learning process... Wait, I just already said that. I guess I'm just emphasizing that we should focus on the learning process and not the grades. (oops, there I go repeating it again)


*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)

Friday, January 24, 2014

A mentor from other side of the world.

In 2006, I was an 18 year old undergraduate student taking Bachelor of Science Major in Educational Psychology. We had our very first research course, which was an Introduction to Research Methods. I don't know what was on my head during those times but I made an attempt to contact a Psychologist who was a professor in University of South Florida. (I don't think twitter and facebook was that popular yet - more so exist)

Lo and behold he replied to me and we had an exchange of e-mails. A distinguished research professor in psychology, in the United States, was replying to a mere undergraduate from far away country and barely even knew what she was doing. In my mind I thought, "Wow, he was sparing his time entertaining me, my requests and my questions." 

I really appreciated him giving me the attention. And because of that encounter, I developed a great deep interest in research while the rest of the class just wanted to breeze through it. Our communication ceased by year 2007. 

Below is a snippet of our conversation. He provided me his instrument that could measure Test Anxiety. 

So embarrasing, look how INFORMAL my e-mail was! :P 

In 2012, I decided to get in touch with him again to tell him the good news that, well.. I graduated undergrad already, informed him about my undergrad thesis and told him we made an instrument (he was known for making scales), and said that I was already taking my masteral program and will be taking another thesis soon. He was helping me think of a thesis topic. (I have never heard of  the word MOOC yet, although I knew about Coursera but I didn't pursue my Coursera classes that time).

He said he was working on anger measures during that time and he said that he would be happy to give me permissions and provide me with any of the measures that they have. I told him I wasn't going to have thesis yet until June 2013.  

Fast forward, its already January 2014.. and I haven't started with thesis yet (Well, I took a hiatus after finishing my course subjects... these things need time, you know ^_^ ..besides, if I didn't take a hiatus I won't probably be working on MOOCs now)

Because of my previous post on taking exams and my test anxieties, I remembered Dr. Charles Spielberger and decided to get in touch with him again to tell him the good news about the progress of my masteral journey and the thesis topic I have decided to work on (i.e. MOOCs)

I went on to twitter, to check maybe he has an account. When I typed his name on the search bar, what I found out was sad sad sad news. Obituaries!! I did not want to believe it at first because it might be a different Charles Spielberger so I had to google again and look if he was the one who worked on the test anxiety inventory (he's more know for the development of the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory according to wikipedia). 

What's more alarming to me is that when I went back to check my old e-mails, I told him that I was going to submit my concept paper in June 2013 and HE DIED on JUNE 12, 2013!! 


I CANNOT imagine if I did not take a hiatus on grad school and if we were still exchanging e-mails until that time and then one day I won't receive any e-mails from him anymore only to discover that he's dead. 

I cannot imagine how would I be feeling during that time. Like now, its been months already.. and I still can't believe it. I just had to make a personal blog post dedicating it to him. He was a key person that inspired me where I am today. Why I pursued an academic career. It was a make or break experience during my undergraduate years if I was to embrace research or loath it. And him, sparing a few minutes to reply to my e-mails was a very important part of my school life. 

Anyway, I've said enough. I guess what I'm trying to think now is... I'm going to be more than motivated as I am in pursuing what I'm doing right now. Finally finishing my M.A. Work on my MOOC research (now I have found more mentors from the other side of the world). and eventually further pursue Educational Psychology.

Although I probably should be starting my dedication on reviewing for my exams. :)

Thank you Dr. Charles D. Spielberger. You are such a nice man. Thank you for entertaining a mere undergraduate like me and inspiring me. I never got the chance to meet you. But you will definitely be in my prayers and thesis acknowledgements :) May you rest in peace.


Charles Donald Spielberger, Ph.D. (1927-2013) was a clinical/community psychologist well known for his development of the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).
In 1972, as incoming president of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) he appointed the first SEPA Task Force on the Status of Women, chaired by Ellen Kimmel.[1]
Spielberger was founding Editor (1973–76) of the American Journal of Community Psychology,[2] official journal of Division 27 (Community Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. He was President of that Division in 1974-75. He won the Division's 1982 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research in Community Psychology. He was president of the APA in 1991.
Spielberger was formerly Chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of South Florida in TampaFlorida and in 2012 belonged to a think tank there.
In 1987 Spielberger was one of the key psychologists who supported the efforts of David Pilon and Scott Mesh in their efforts to form a national graduate student association. Spielberger was very supportive and helpful in this effort along with Ray Fowler, then APA President, Virginia Staudt Sexton (St. John's University), and Pierre Ritchie (Canadian Psychological Association). in 1988 those efforts were successful and the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students was formed and in thriving 25 years later with over 30,000 members. SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Spielberger

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Student Expectations: More about being Learner-Centered

Teachers have expectations of their students... But we also need to remember and take into consideration that our STUDENTS also have their own expectations. It's important to recognize them.

This video is an example. Different students will of course have different expectations.


How do you know what students need to learn? #RHIZO14

Mr. Dave Cormier raised me a question via twitter. Actually, two questions.


Literally scratched my head...

Here I am, reading and discussing with my gradschool classmates about Learner-Centered Teaching and the question posed to me made me stop and say... "Good question". Am I really qualified to earn the degree on being a "Master" in Learning in Teaching? heh.. These questions ARE related to learning & teaching.

I raised these questions to my gradschool classmates and told them that even if it wasn't about our comprehensive examination review topics, we should try to answer the questions on our own to prepare ourselves in practicing taking an exam. Exercise some critical thinking and test-taking skills.

Tests bring out all sorts of emotions, anxiety, pressure. I myself hate taking exams. The reason I loved college because my undergraduate degree barely didn't have final examinations. Most of my courses required research outputs or other types of paper work. I remember during finals week, my block would run wild and free while the rest of the university was stressing on reviewing notes and feeling all the anxiety.

There's something about exams that give me anxiety, probably the pressure of sitting in a chair for a couple of hours and forcing ourselves to create and squeeze out information from our minds. With the pressure of being "graded". I should probably take advantage of my excessive talking, rationalizing and over-thinking as an advantage for my compre. *Metacognition in the process here*



How do you know what the students should learn? 
After much thought, I realized this is in relation to Maryellen Weimer's "Function of Content". How do we know which content to remove in our syllabus and which ones should stay? She stresses that in the practice of Learner-Centered teaching, we should "use" content to promote learning and not to focus too much on "covering" it. In Teacher-Centered instruction, the focus of teachers is always on covering all the topics which results to competing with time and compromising the learning experience of the students.Which leads us back to the question, how then do we know what the students should learn?

I'm going to go into the practice of using Grant Wiggin's Understanding by Design. In UbD, the whole idea is to start with the "desired results". At the end of your topic or unit or semester, what is your desired result? The guide question in UbD asks "What kinds of long-term independent accomplishments are desired?"

It begins with... Students will independently use their learning to....

This practice is helpful because you're able to think of a standard that students should be able to do and it should be long-term. The "big" picture. What do you want students to be able to do? This gives purpose in what you are doing. It's like a Mission-Vision thing. Remember the saying "Vision without mission is merely a dream, mission without vision just passes the time. Vision with mission can change the world"

Your desired result is your vision. If you don't have a vision... then your just "passing the time".

So when you already have a desired result... you go down to asking, "In order to achieve the desired result, what should they understand?

Students will understand that...

As well as thinking, "In order to achieve the desired result, what essential question should be always raised?"

Students will keep considering...(in question format).


And then, we go into identifying "What knowledge and skills do students need to have in order to achieve the desired results?"

Students will know...
Students will be skilled at...

When you have identified all these... it will be easier for you to think of "learning activities & learning assessments" - and there you would incorporate the various teaching and instructional and assessment practices. Hopefully, your practices aren't teacher-centered because remember Weimer's advice... Use content to promote learning, not cover it. Your learning activities and assessments should be aligned with what you have identified above. What should students know? What skills should they develop? That is the whole point of identifying those things, to serve as a guide.

I guess.. to give a short answer from Dave's question "How do you know what students to need to learn?" - You first think of what your desired result is. Your vision, so that you're not just "passing the time".


Do they all need to learn the same things?
I think the key word here is "need". Well, no, they don't need to know the same things but I guess they all need to know the basics. The things you have identified under "knowledge & skills". Some will definitely learn more than others. As long as they all achieve the desired results, then I think you've achieved success - you have achieved your vision. 

So again, it all boils down to your "desired results". 

What is your vision?

Kinda like a lot about life huh? It all starts with a dream.

***updated: A comment in Rhizo14 facebook group mentioned something about the common core standards, in Understanding By Design, it actually starts with "unpacking" the standards... I just didn't discuss it here because I was thinking of learning as a whole (not restricting myself with formal education) - like seminars maybe, or MOOCs :) ***

On a personal note: This is so crazy. I'm collaborating with PhDs and professors from other parts of the world. And here I am, an overstaying M.A. student who just overcame the "quarter-life" career crisis. They are out of my league. But I feel like I have tons of mentors where I can learn from.

I do have a habit of extending myself and reaching out to people. I have this inner drive thinking I can do more than what is expected. I remember during my undergraduate year (2006), for our first research course I contacted a guy who worked on test anxiety and he mailed me stuff via postmail! manuscripts and even a copy of his instrument (for freeeee). He was Charles D. Spielberger. I was so delighted as an 18 year old having contact a busy person from abroad and was helping me out, a mere undergrad. I wasn't publishing or anything, we were just going to do a simple research as partial completion of our course subject. Hmmm... I should definitely try contacting him again, last time I talked to him I told him I was taking masters. lol I should probably tell him "well... I'm still taking it" ha. But he was one of those key people in my undergraduate experience that made me more enthusiastic about educational research. - ohh maybe Dr. Spielberger has twitter :)))

And now, I've finally found what my key interest is and it basically falls under online learning (or e-learning, still need to decide on that). And I'm finding more and more people to draw inspiration from. Mr. Dave (and his wife, Ms. Bonnie) to begin with. I kinda figured out in the long run that they were a couple. And I think I find it cute because they both share the same interest. It's always nice that you have somebody to talk to that can relate with what you're talking about. Sometimes, when I'm with my friends.. I think if they were honest enough they would tell me "Toni, stop talking about your research and your MOOCs because we have no idea what you are talking about and we also don't give a damn." Well, I think that's what they are thinking. So as a result, I try not to talk to them so often. Don't wanna bore them to death. :D


*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) 

Related Post Re: examinations see previous post on Cheating is a Skill: Redefining Cheating & Thoughts on Learner-Centered Assessment =)



***updated: OMG!!!!!!!! I typed Charles Spielberger on twitter in hoping to reconnect with him and turns out he died LAST YEAR June 12, 2013 (see link) I feel so sad!!!!!!! And I wasn't even able to update him to tell him the "good" news that I'm almost... finishing my masters... (Though he'll probably say, What took you so long, dear?)

BUT THIS IS SUCH. sad sad sad news :( 

R.I.P Dr. Charles D. Spielberger.. Thank you for mailing me a free copy of your Test Anxiety instrument which gave birth to my love and enthusiasm with educational psychology research. 

Cheating is a Skill: Redefining Cheating & Thoughts on Learner-Centered Assessment #RHIZO14

I think I can justify putting time & thoughts on the first topic for Rhizomatic Learning MOOC.

Cheating as Learning.

This week, my focus on my comprehensive exam review is all about on Learner-Centered Assessment. 

**Side Note: I realized it's a good thing I joined this MOOC course (even if I'm a week late) because the "host" of this MOOC party is the person who "coined" the word MOOC itself. Don't know how that helps with my comprehensive exam but, I like the feeling I'm globally involved.

My thoughts on Cheating As Learning.

Last year, I joined a MOOC in Coursera on "Video Games and Learning" and there was a topic on "Learning as Cheating the Game". This implied that players who "cheat" in the games they play, also needs to learn how to cheat the game in the first place. When we cheat, we also learn. Or rather.. when we "learn" something (like a new strategy, or a new technique), we are "cheating" the game.

In that MOOC, there was a professor who made a practice to "encourage" her students to "cheat the class". She makes her students form into groups and asked them to talk on "How can you cheat this class?"

What the students came up with were reading strategies, identifying common questions professors will asks, what aspects they should be prepared for, focusing early on things for the final paper.

Cheating. for me. is basically. a skill...

(much like academic procrastination for me is also a skill, it was my undergraduate thesis but I won't discuss that here... I've move on with that part of my life :P)

In one of the MOOCs I also took last year via Coursera, a MOOC on Social Psychology. There was a topic that words are actually just constructs to organize things. Words are just ways to "categorize" our thinking. (which leads to prejudice, but I won't talk about that here either).

My point is just that, we need to define "Cheating" as well as there are also different definitions for "Academic Success".

Cheating As Learning.

Students, find it "unfair" when other students cheat and yet they get the same "results". But when we think of the construct "unfair", it just basically means... "Man, I hope I was that person." These students who "cheat" knew something that couldn't be read in the text books. Hustlers, I could refer them. In high school, I used to sit beside a "hustler" and I was the student who barely had experience cheating in exams. But to my luck, there was this one math exam that I really really had no idea about (probably calculus). In that certain exam... HE had the answers!!! (dunno how he got it, but he's got connections)... Of course I was very very nervous because in principle, I was doing a "bad" thing.. I was being a BAD student. But I was one of those people very thankful to have "cheated". I needed to cheat.. to pass the exam.

I am not saying I encourage students to cheat during exams BUT...
It's really a matter of defining the word "cheating". 

This would be a good thesis topic eh?

If we define cheating as "copying answers from somewhere else" then it goes back then to the assessment practices, WHY do students cheat?

There I was, a good student who typically studies instead of "asking seatmates" for answers. But I succumb to cheating. Hustler students are not selfish of sharing answers because they've been there in the situation where you don't know the answer but need to pass. I was lucky to be sitting beside a hustler, instead of a really bright student. Most bright students don't like sharing their answers because for them "you should have studied well" and it is unfair for them because they poured "hard work" in studying, so why would they just "give" the answers away? And most bright students, don't share answers because they don't want to take the "risk" of getting caught. They weren't used to this practice. They didn't have the "skill" to be a cheater.

I was the middle student. Wasn't a hustler, neither was I the very bright student.
I have yet to thank that hustler for that moment. It was a student experience that I still cherish until now.

It's not breaking the rules unless you're caught right? hmmm...

But if teachers allow it, then it's a whole different story.

Thus the practice of "open book or notes" type exams, "group" exams, "take home" exams.

Open book exams for example, "technically" that is totally CHEATING! That's why students love it when exams are open notes, or take home or collaboration.. it's unconventional and for them it's "breaking the rules" - it's cheating.



So let's go further on Learner-Centered Assessment practices (Please bare with me, I have to blog about LC too because I also have to focus on this to prepare for my comprehensive examination - so this is my way of "cheating" the exam).

Why do students, cheat? 
Assuming we define cheating as "breaking the rules the teacher imposes".

Then it now boils down to the responsibility of the teacher.
How does the teacher decides the rules? and
How does the teacher choose and design the assessment?

**Side Note: This reminds me of the time a classmate who asked a seatmate for paper and the professor shouted at her "That's Cheating!!" - to think the exam hasn't even started yet!! AND SHE was our BEST performing classmate! Why would she cheat??

Take a chill pill and watch out for you b/p.

This is why as educators we need to learn about Learner-Centered Assessment Practices.

Why do students cheat? - You have to think of the circumstances that you put them into. Every behavior has an explanation. It could be because students don't find the value or relevance of the assessment you are giving them, or it also mean you are imposing a set of rules that is too rigid.

According to Weimer's Learner-Centered Teaching book, one of the purposes of evaluation should promote learning. The other purpose is that it should also provide opportunities for students to develop the skill on self & peer assessment.

So when you give evaluations/assessments, first ask yourself "What is my purpose?"

Teacher-Centered practices have had a habit to use tests as punishments. I know I've had teachers like that. When you've pissed off the teacher or if the class is noisy, the teacher gets mad and gives the class a surprise quiz.

What is your purpose?

The next thing you should also think about when making an assessment is that, "Is my assessment aligned with my goal?" 

YOU DO have a goal right?

Understanding by Design is one of the practices you can use in designing learning units. It lets educators establish goals. And all your activities, lessons AND assessment, aligns with the goal. It is your guide. You don't ask students to submit picture cut outs and put them in a collage just for the sake of having an output. Of course not unless, your "goal" is developing motor skills and learning how to cut and paste (for pre-school teachers I assume).

Going back to Learner-Teaching Assessment, focus your assessments in the learning process and REDUCE student's stress and anxiety related to evaluation experiences. Weimer also states not to use evaluation for "hidden agendas" and to provide more formative feedback. Involve students also in the assessment process by giving them the opportunity to self-assess themselves and assess other peers. These are Learner-Centered practices on assessments.

So when you make rules, do you give demerit to students who come to class without paper? Is your GOAL "teaching students to be responsible by bringing their own paper"? Do you give "plus" points to students with legible hand writing? is your class a penmanship class? These are important notes we should reflect on when it comes to assessments.

This goes to my next point about grades... students are highly motivate by grades. My "cheating" experience in high school was motivated because I did not want to fail. Students cheat if they are pressured to pass. Why do grades matter so much? It's because when teachers give too much emphasis on grades instead of learning.

There are a lot of other Learner-Centered Assessment practices.. (which I should be reading more on right now..) So I have to end my blog post abruptly like this. Lol Sorry. But I pretty much make sense right?



*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Better Late Than Never: P2PU #RHIZO14

Earlier this month, I've seen Dave Cormier tweet all about his class at Rhizomatic Learning using P2PU MOOC Platform.

I have no idea why I didn't think of enrolling.

Actually, there are two things (or three, probably) I can think of why.

1) The word Rhizomatic sounds too foreign to me. The word itself cannot bring prior knowledge to gain motivation in engaging myself with it. I know I've read about it and the word comes from the Rhizome plant. BUT the thing is, I don't even know what a Rhizome is... I have not encountered what a Rhizome even looks like (because of this I just started googling for images, but still... no idea what it is). It goes back to learning principles huh? (i.e. motivation, engagement, prior knowledge, effort) But I'm enrolling now, because a lot of the tweeters I am following keep putting hashtags of Rhizo14 and retweeting it. So here I am, joining the bandwagon :) ... Even if whenever I see the word "Rhizo", a picture of a Rhino pops in my head. Might as well join the MOOC class so that I can change my perception that a Rhizo is NOT related to a Rhino (or is it?) ... And maybe I'll finally know what a Rhizome plant is.

2) I didn't enroll in the MOOC because, it's not Coursera. I have no "biases" on platform preference ( or maybe it turns out I do), but I just felt like Coursera is my comfort zone. All the courses I've enrolled in are in just one website. It's like the same case in joining a lot of social networks or downloading a lot of messaging applications. They all serve the same purpose! Why the need to be part of em ALL. Ahh.. but the difference is, coursera isn't offering Rhizomatic Learning. and eeeeverybody is hashtagging #rhizo14 ... I want to be part of the loop :(

and the 3rd reason why I didn't think of enrolling is probably because at the back of my mind I told myself I would be dedicating this entire month on reviewing for my comprehensive examinations which is why recently I'm focusing on Learner-Centered Teaching/Education/Curriculum/Assessment. I WOULDN'T wanna fail my exam right? ... MOOCs can be less priority over REAL brick and mortar schooling (redundancy intended)... right? ..

But here I am... it's what the heart wants.

I just serrrriously need to work on my time management now because next week, my Coursera course on "History and Future of Higher Education" by HASTAC will start. It's a FutureEd initiative that I also still have to read more about. http://www.hastac.org/future-ed. I'm in this course because I typed "education" in Coursera, and clicked "enroll" in ALL courses that popped up. heh...

Like I said, too many things on my plate right now... So my strategy is. I will find out more about it as soon as class starts :D

It's a good thing that my 4th module for the Foundations of Teaching and Learning MOOC classes won't start until February. It's one of those MOOC series I wanted to do continuously as I have mentioned earlier in this blog. It has a series of 8 MOOCs, which started last September 2013 and estimated date to finish is December 2014 (one year.. I know).

So... let's focus on hopping in the Rhizo14 bandwagon shall we?

Better Late Than Never.

I'm posting links below that I should be reading first before jumping into class but, I'm late!!!! so... I'll just post the links here first and get back to this later :D. "Virtually" going to class now as soon as I publish this post and link it to twitter (a must..)

https://p2pu.org/en/courses/882/rhizomatic-learning-the-community-is-the-curriculum/
http://davecormier.com/edblog/2014/01/12/your-unguided-tour-of-rhizo14/
http://www.teachthought.com/learning/rhizomatic-learning-is-a-metaphor-for-how-we-learn/


*RHIZO14 is the hashtag for the "Rhizomatic Learning" MOOC provided by Dave Cormier via P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)

Connectivist Theory & Rhizomatic Learning

Ever since I have decided to study MOOCs, I've... come across a lot of interesting discoveries in learning.

My master's degree program is Master of Arts in Learning & Teaching. Despite not having a job in teaching in an actual classroom yet (ever since I graduated undergrad), my master program is indeed very very helpful. I would like to study theories on learning, specifically learning in the digital age. 

Exactly right now, I'm supposed to be reviewing on Learner-Centered Teaching (comprehensive examinations coming up)... Which is why I haven't really posted anything substantial in my blog for the past month.

I haven't "attended" any MOOC classes recently either, so there wasn't really anything to post. Although I should be posting things about Learner-Centered Teaching huh?

I tried searching for a MOOC on Learner-Centered Education, but I have found none yet T_T.

Anyway, this post is just a reminder for myself to go work on these ideas in learning

Connectivism & Rhizomatic Learning. 

To start with, I should read George Siemens' blog to learn more about Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.


I can't believe... They've been working on this since 2004 & 2008 (respectively). 

I feel like I have decades to catch up with. What have I been doing since then??

Okay, I shouldn't be too harsh on myself. To justify... I was an undergrad and I was taking my masters.. each moment in my life, I was working my way in different sort of things. 

It's just... I reaaaaally wanna work on these things already.

I want to work on my thesisss. =) 





Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Academic Career

Not until it slowly dawned unto me that I have finally landed a job in my university, that I knew my calling was going to be an academic.


Now I know why I have been feeling all confused for the past years because I never want to teach full time, and yet I wanna work in a university and I want to pursue research like what we did in my undergraduate years.

Anyway... Nobody at a young age aspires to be an academic. It's just NOT in the list of cool jobs kids are aware of or exposed to. They see a writer, an actor, a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut, a businessman, a singer, a ballet dancer... But not an academic. Yes, there is the teacher... But being an academic is different. It's can be more than just a teacher. And that is actually what I want to be... More than just a teacher. I want to teach maybe someday, but it's not my only goal. 

I read a tweet a couple of weeks ago which I can totally relate with: Being an academic means accepting the fact that your family and friends do not understand nor have interest in what you do.

It was so funny (as an aspiring academic, my sense of humor has also changed).

When people ask what my major in college was: educational psychology. I don't bother wasting my time explaining what it is. 

To make things simple. I let them believe what they think it is. "Ahh so you want to be a teacher."

K.

Close enough.

During my group study with my graduate school classmates, they told me I was lucky because I wasn't working yet and I could focus on studying for the exam. (Told them lucky if you put it that way, but unlucky in financial sector). One of my classmates told me I should venture into teaching because that's when I can actually feel if the things we are studying are feasible or not. Our program was Master of Arts in Learning & Teaching. I told her.. "I will teach eventually... But not now. Teaching isn't really my goal. I want to teach because I am an expert on something and not because teaching is the only job I could do. Besides, I don't know what to teach, the classes I want to teach does not exist here yet."

She still couldn't get my point and I told her that my undergraduate degree is Educational Psychology and that it's so vague. Luckily, one of my grad classmates was also a graduate of Educational Psychology and she helped me explain.  


For the past days while reading the 288 page book of Weimer on Learner-Centered Teaching, I took couple of minutes aside to research about life as an academic. There are certain issues especially about the "two-body" problem especially referring to a relationship where one is an academic and the other is not. 

Outsiders...do not understand. 

I read about a blog post of a husband and his struggles about his wife being the academic.


He met her during highschool and it was funny how he wrote it. He said "I did not know she wanted a career out of being smart.... How was I suppose to know she wanted to go pro?"

That's a good way to put it probably, a career out of being smart.

I could never find my forte before... All I know is that my friends said I was really diligent, hard working and a workaholic. I wasn't the smartest one when I was in elementary or high school. I was a regular kid and also MOST of the time... The noisiest student and part of the group which disrupts class. But I had good grades without sacrificing my childhood so much with the pressure of being on the top. 

In college, I had good grades too. And also involved myself with a lot of school activities. I graduated with an academic award, and also... Still enjoyed my college life surrounding myself with social activities that's typical of a college student during my time. We would hang out and drink our way towards graduation. But, I also was very conscious of my academic performance.

My ex boyfriend said, that I was smart.

But what does smart being mean?

I couldn't say I'm street smart, I'm so dumb at remembering directions. I absolutely have no sense of direction. I also don't want to go through Garner's Multiple Intelligences because it would make my blog post too.. well... academic (irony intended).

I just simply enjoy the sheer pleasure of learning.

Whether by books, by experiences, by traveling, or by listening to a friend's problems and helping her realize the lessons in life. 

That is probably why being an academic is the right career path for me. 
Learning is my passion. Whether formal or informal, intentional or unintentional. 

Anyway as I read through google searches of being an academic... Popular posts come up regarding the struggle of being in a relationship with one. I remember my ex-boyfriend. We were together for 4 and a half years. At some point, he went abroad to work and for the rest of our relationship it was long distance. We had plans to get married, and he wanted to have a family already. But deep inside I was struggling. I was still computing my estimated year of graduation and include the fact that, as I was nearing to finish my M.A., my thoughts were playing around on pursuing PhD. Distance makes the heart go fonder. But only in the beginning. Eventually we grew apart. But there were no regrets. I do not blame my choice to follow my passion because eventually, I knew our relationship won't work out. My dreams and aspirations had contradicted his. I know I will not be happy if I gave this up. I have, in fact ... Already delayed it a couple of times in order to see him. That was enough the sacrifice.

Other posts from a life of being an academic, I read about working hours and being paid with stipends. This isn't a typical graduate student here in the Philippines because usually, graduate students have full-time jobs in the day and become students at night. But I can totally relate with the western situation of graduate students because with my M.A. experience I have experienced being "unemployed" and experienced working under apprenticeships and being paid stipends - best of it all, I treated it as a wonderful opportunity - things which outsiders, would not understand. 

PhD comics totally helped me through that. 

But all those struggle was worth it. After jumping in various employments and experiencing different roles since I've graduated undergrad, I have found myself in the same place where my "future" began.

Back to my university.