Archives for the month of: February, 2016

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As I stare lovingly at my neat, prioritised To Do list, I allow myself to bathe in the warm, smug  glow of time well-managed. Stephen Covey would be proud. Except, of course, on further inspection, my “write blog post” task has slowly crept from the ideal of quadrant two, with all its promise of thoughtful, creative work, towards the screeching deadlines of quadrant one.quadrants

The thing is, I know how to prioritise my time; I run workshops to help other people manage their workloads and prioritise their tasks. But sometimes, well, stuff happens (right?!), and you find yourself spending your time increasingly on “urgent, important” tasks and “urgent, unimportant” things, unable to give enough time and attention to the important, meaningful parts of your work. Unless, frankly, you have magic powers, this will happen to all of us from time to time, but if it goes on for too long, it starts to become the norm, with more and more of your once important but not urgent work creeping towards the red zone. Read the rest of this entry »

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I often get asked by new researchers, generally when starting to complete their training needs analysis, which skills do I think they need to spend time to develop. This question doesn’t have a straight forward answer as everyone is different, coming to research with a range of experiences, different preferences for the kinds of activities they would enjoy focussing on and often different career pathway intensions. So obviously there isn’t a standard answer to this question (hence the purpose of completing a training needs analysis) however, if I’m really pushed to pick just one, then the choice for me is communication of your research.

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mentoring.pngAcademic work is commonly understood to be a tripartite trifle of research, teaching and admin. Researchers obviously have free and abundant access to doing research as a formalised part of their role, and can find admin work to do by joining formal research staff committees, organising sector conferences, and belonging to institutional special interest groups e.g. Athena Swann.

So what about teaching? Where do researchers learn not just how to ‘do teaching’ but also how to ‘be a teacher’ in a university setting. David Hyatt says that thinking beyond workshop learning and skills development, we need to aid researchers in developing ‘repertoires of practice’ that fit their work environment, doing academic work by a process of inclusion and actually supporting them to get on with the job. And for universities to do this properly we have to look around at the value that research staff offer to our teaching & learning, and supervision strategies.

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Unconscious bias is a type of unintentional bias that all of us ‘suffer’ from (even the most scientifically-minded and critical thinking academics!). It refers to a psychological phenomena, that we are unaware of, where our brain’s perception of other individuals plays tricks on us. Our brain as an effective processing machine, fires rapid decisions, makes short cuts on how we perceive and assess others. Howard Ross calls it the “human danger detector”. It’s not that we are either good or bad people in the way we judge others, it’s just that our brain has to process so much information that it has evolved mechanisms to make things easy in processing information. But the bug is, that it may not always help us make the right decisions.

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Unconscious bias makes us look at others through our own specific lenses

Psychologists have extensively researched unconscious bias. Tests have even been developed to unearth and measure such biases. The term implicit bias is also used to describe such biases, once individuals become aware of them. The most commonly known test regarding unconscious bias is the Harward test, which measures different types of associations we make- you can test yourself with Project Implicit: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ Read the rest of this entry »