Jul. 8th, 2014

oh my goodness it's one of those days. I started with a skype at 9 am; then I was supposed to work on a paper from 10 to noon, but instead I had to a) alert people about an upcoming 2pm call (and create an agenda for it) because one of the participants emailed me asking about it; b) edit the powerpoints for my 4 pm call, because my undergrads are good but they are still learning how to communicate about their work clearly, and their ppts needed polishing before I could ship them out; c) submit a paper that my grad student had finished, and that had been through all the co-authors' final review; d) review some changes Vica made to a grant that I had promised yesterday to deal with and give him feedback on; e) deal with some budget/personnel effort issues with admin; f)answer my students' questions about their analyses, posters, powerpoints, etc. ::phew::

Then at noon I met with Jeci about her presentation at the 2 pm call; met up at 1 pm with the hubby for lunch (yay!! :), and back to my office for the 2 pm call, 3 pm call, and still have an upcoming 4 pm call. The 3 pm call is kind of low demand on me (hence my posting here) but the 4 pm call is back into full-on analysis mode, where I have to be paying attention and thinking critically.

On the other hand, I think we are actually making progress on some of this work. On many of these projects and analyses we are still floundering about re-thinking our analysis methods and/or trying to make sense of the results, so it's slow work. But it'll come together. Sometimes in all those calls it's just a sentence or two that makes the difference, that tips the balance and makes what looks like a disorganized heap suddenly all fall into place. :)

Which actually leads to another thought, which is I would definitely describe the mode I have to be in on a lot of these calls as "critical thinking." For these calls that I'm engaged with (as opposed to sitting in on), I have to be listening to what people are saying and constantly thinking about all the alternative approaches, analyses, interpretations, etc., so that as a group we have combed through as many of them as possible before we come to a conclusion. But that's not just critical thinking in the abstract--it's a combination of both form and content. I have to know the field in order to generate an alternative hypothesis--I can't do diddly-squat about thinking about potential side-effects from a drug, for example, other than to know generally that we should *think* about the side-effects and how that might affect subject participation and the validity of whatever it is we are measuring (and even that I only know to ask because I've seen so many psychiatrists point it out, I certainly didn't think of it on my own). I can say that this or that imaging method might be better for what we are trying to do, or that we know age and gender affect this brain measure but not that; but I am dependent on someone else to point out that the depression score and response time measures are often related and can't be interpreted separately for a given clinical population, for example.

So how do we *teach* that? There's a reason that grad school is more like an apprenticeship; so much of what you are learning is intertwined method and content, not just "here's how it's done in the abstract, now go apply it". But in a 12-16 week undergraduate class, where I have to impart content as well as critical thinking, I have to be a bit simpler--I have to remember that what seems obvious to me, not critical thinking at all, is actually new and unfamiliar connections between ideas for the students. Hm hm hm.



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