Research Paper and Applied Project Topics

Research Paper Topics:

I am working on the topic of most effective methods for substance addiction rehabilitation because I want to find out which methods have been found the most effective and those that have been found the least effective, in order to help my reader better understand how challenging overcoming addiction can be and how much help people who are addicted to substances need to get through that. This topic is interesting to me because I want to work with people who need help overcoming substance abuse at some point in my life. This would be worthwhile for my community because if I was able to weed out any methods that didn’t have evidence of its validity then I could share it with programs in hopes to improve their methods. The challenges with this topic could be lack of empirical data for different methods, lack of reliable data, or lack of statistically powerful data. Key Disciplines: Psychology, Health, Sociology, Biology.

I am working on the topic of how other countries handle drug abuse because I want to find out what other nations have done to improve addiction rates and drug-related crime rates in their countries, in order to help me reader better understand that the drug policies in the U.S. need to be improved to better the condition of people’s health and lives. This would be worthwhile for my community because it might shed some light on different techniques or programs that have worked for other countries in their efforts to reduce drug use. Some challenges of this research would be that people might not agree with some of the policies that other countries have implemented so it is likely to not be accepted or considered. Key Disciplines: Psychology, Sociology.

I am working on the topic of widespread drug abuse in the U.S. because I want to find out it affects the people around us in order to help my reader better understand that drug use is a serious issue in our country and affects more than just the people using the drugs. This topic is relevant in our society today because so many people abuse drugs and there are so many unintended, negative side affects that come with drug abuse. Some challenges of this could be lack of data or studies done concerning this topic. Key Disciplines: Psychology, Biology, Sociology, Health.

I am working on the topic of substance abuse because I want to find out what factors contribute to the development of an addiction in order to help my reader better understand the seriousness of drug addiction and how it can affect anyone. This topic would be worthwhile in my community because so many people are affected with substance addiction and maybe it would shed light on how easy it is to get sucked into drug use and develop an addiction. Some challenges of this topic would be difficulty finding reliable information and sources or lack or scientifically backed data. Key Disciplines: Psychology, Sociology, Biology.

I am working on the topic of Antisocial Personality Disorder because I want to find out more about it in order to help my reader understand more about it as well and hopefully reduce stigmas surrounding all mental illnesses. This topic is relevant in our community because mental illnesses affect such a large amount of people and we often don’t see it because it’s not a physically observable disease like cancer or other chronic illnesses, but rather something that attacks a person’s brain and psyche. Some challenges of researching this topic could also be a lack of empirical data or variability between people who have Antisocial Personality Disorder. Key Disciplines: Psychology, Biology, Neurology.

Applied Project Topics:

The first idea I have for my applied project is to volunteer or work at the State Hospital. This is interesting to me because I want to work with people who have mental illnesses, specifically in an inpatient setting. It’s important to me because I want to be able to help people who feel trapped and be a person in these places that make them feel loved, safe, and comfortable, and provide an outlet to them in a very challenging time. Some issues with this could be a lack of qualification on my part to volunteer anywhere related to this. I may not reach volunteer requirements.

Another idea I had was to shadow an addiction specialist to see how their day to day is while their working and better understand what they do to help people. I want to see how involved they get to be with the people they work with and learn the techniques and programs they implement to help people who struggle with addiction. This is a worthwhile topic to explore because so many people are affected by drug addiction, so if I could glean any worthwhile information I could try to help those around me who don’t have access to resources. Some challenges of this project could again be a lack of qualification that would keep me from being able to observe a lot of things or lack of addiction specialists in this area to observe.

I also was thinking of volunteering or working at a rehabilitation program or sober living community. I am very interested in this because I eventually want to run a sober living community when I’m older. This is important to me because I want people to change their views on people who struggle with substance abuse and understand that addiction is a mental illness and people do need help. I think it’s a very relevant topic because drug use is an epidemic and I want to help in changing that. Some challenges may be that there aren’t any places in this area that I could do my project at or they may not be willing to let me observe/volunteer due to a lack of experience.

Volunteering at the Becket House was another idea I had for my applied project. I think this would be a very interesting place to do my project. I think this would be worthwhile because I could learn about treatments that are used with different age groups or how much a person or child’s upbringing can affect their current day to day life. Some challenges would be lack of experience or knowledge which could be a danger to the people I’m working with.

A final idea I had for my applied project is shadowing a clinical psychologist. This is interesting to me because I would get to observe people who are being treated for mental disorders that I studied in my classes. I would get to see different treatments being implemented and seeing how these treatments work on different individuals. Challenges of this project may be lack of psychologists in the area that would be willing to let me shadow them or volunteer in their office. As well as any lack of experience that could prohibit me from being there.

My PLN Plan

Jeffrey Zeldman https://flic.kr/p/6bRuzG CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For my PLN I plan to continue my use of twitter. I have used twitter before to share ideas and hear ideas from other scholars in my field and in others. I think Twitter is a great place to share new ideas or articles that are thought provoking. It also allows you to have discussion with someone who lives on the other side of the world or someone who lives five minutes away. It can facilitate stimulating conversation and is an excellent tool for sharing new ideas and thoughts.

CC BY 2.0 David Leonardo Méndez Hernández https://flic.kr/p/6jzre8

Because I have already used Twitter as a PLN I know how beneficial it can be to your intellectual being. It allows you to hear from well-known scholars from any discipline you can think of and can provide feedback from those same people in a matter of seconds. I don’t mind being public with my PLN. It’s awesome that I can share my ideas and potentially hear from experts on whatever topic I’m discussing. I plan to tweet, retweet, and interact weekly with people I follow and hopefully hear back from them. My PLN will serve me well if I can glean any new insights and information shared by professionals and experts that I follow.

A Book Fell on My Head. I Can Only Blame My Shelf!

Beanbag Amerika https://flic.kr/p/9MtytK CC BY-NC 2.0

Throughout my life I’ve had so many amazing experiences that have shaped my thoughts, interests, and beliefs into expectations for myself and goals to strive for. Growing up I was surrounded by books. My mom was a teacher so she always had access to whatever books I wanted and she never said no to a trip to Borders, a bookstore that used to be in my town. More often than not, I ended up reading all the books that my older brother and neighbors were reading. I grew up on fictional stories and fantasy books like Ranger’s Apprentice and Eragon. To this day, I treasure my books and am always on the lookout for something new to read.

xroper7 https://flic.kr/p/CuNyiK CC BY-NC 2.0

Being in an environment where reading was so encouraged, I quickly found that reading became one of my favorite hobbies and remains so to this day. I remember reading so much that my teachers would take my books away because I would read them incessantly. This upbringing influenced my intellectual journey tremendously and I easily would not have cared about my education the way I do now.

maher berro https://flic.kr/p/4PmN7D CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another thing that has been more influential in setting the specific goals I have is my faith. The most important thing that I have learned from being a Christian is that God is a God of Love. He Loves us so much that he sent his only son to be nailed on a tree so that we could be saved. With this in mind, It’s now my job to love God and love people. That has been the driving force for my aspirations to work with people who struggle with mental illness or substance abuse. I want to be a person who can love and help someone when they can’t do that for themselves.

Miroslav Petrasko https://flic.kr/p/dcXYCJ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I learned that I had an interest in studying mental illness my sophomore year. I took an online Personality class for a psych minor I was working on and I was astounded at how many potential variables play a role in who we grow up to be. My interests were later confirmed my junior year in my Abnormal Psych class where we got to analyze so many different mental illnesses and how they can affect so many different people in so many different ways.

Gemma Bou https://flic.kr/p/dPBYdE CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I discovered another curiosity of mine my junior year. I took a class called Drug Behavior and a class called Illness, Wellness, and Healing. Drug behavior was centered around different drugs and classes of drugs and how they affect our bodies and Illness, Wellness, and Healing identified more of the social implications of addiction and drug use.

All these things culminated into my decision to become an addiction specialist. I’m hoping that I can do an internship in either a psychiatric facility or with an addiction specialist next semester. Grad school is definitely in my future, but I’m thinking about taking a year off to work and hopefully travel a little bit.

Overall, my intellectual journey has been a challenging, stressful, and demanding one. Yet, it’s also been a joyful, gratifying, and inspiring experience. One I hope can continue for the rest of my life. One I wouldn’t trade for the world’s weight in gold.

 

IDS Intro 2018: A Reflection

CC BY 2.0 Chad Cooper https://flic.kr/p/nVgHb5

As the semester winds down and finals week looms over the horizon, I’ve stopped to relax and reflect during the calm before the storm. This semester has been a whirlwind of assignments, grades, and studying. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect anything less during your junior year of college, but I was still not prepared for how busy this semester was. It was challenging, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

When the semester first started I ranked my IDS class at the bottom of the barrel right off the bat. After all it was just an intro class. Just another course I needed to take to create my program. Now I can honestly say I underestimated this course. I’ve learned just as much as any of my other classes, but it’s been a lot more about myself and my education.

I had no idea that interdisciplinarity was even a word before I learned about this program. Somehow I may have been able to piece it together, but I never would have grasped the true importance and meaning of the word.

CC BY-SA 2.0 Dushan Hanuska https://flic.kr/p/sKyrAp

I learned how crucial IDS is to knowledge and education and how it’s always there, but sometimes we just aren’t seeing it. Through this course, IDS has evolved into a pillar of my educational career and has provided the support and foundation for me to pursue my interests. To me, IDS is the integration of a bunch of great things to make one amazing thing. Like my major for example, I’ve taken biology, psychology, sociology, social work, and health education to make a major geared towards mental health and well-being. Without IDS, I would not have been able to do that. I would be stuck in Gen Chem (Yuck) failing miserably because I couldn’t find relevance in any of it.

Now I’ve learned how important relevance in education is in order to succeed. I’ve experienced learning that’s tailored to me and encompasses everything I could possibly want in a major. It’s unreal how much more connected I felt this semester compared to previous semesters.

I’ve learned about OERs and how much they benefit students. Not needing to pay for books is such a weight off your shoulders. It’s much easier to access as well because I can carry around all my textbooks at once without my backpack straps ripping off (that has actually happened to me. Junior high. Not a good time for anyone lol)

CC BY-ND 2.0 Danny Nicholson https://flic.kr/p/8Pr2P7

Connected learning has given me a modern perspective on learning and has shown me how to integrate technology we use on an everyday basis, with my education. It’s brought such a fresh approach to learning and has facilitated learning in an entirely different way. Who would ever have thought twitter could help me learn? Not me (check out how twitter can be used for educational purposes here!), boy was I wrong. Even this blog has been so fun to work with. There’s so much freedom that goes along with both these platforms and I’ve really been able to delve deeper into my style of learning and how important my education really is to me.

It reminds me of an article we read way back in the beginning of the semester about owning my own domain. I never thought about how disconnected many assignments and papers I’ve done have been. There’s been little room to make it my own and I’m always given a list of confines that I NEED to stay within. With twitter and this blog, I was able to branch out so much and connect everything I’ve learned with my major or my experiences.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Mark Chadwick https://flic.kr/p/d2Preb

This connection and integration that is a part of IDS is so important. So many fields and careers rely on different disciplines and cannot be successful without them. One of my blog posts was about IDS in substance rehabilitation programs and how there are so many interconnected parts that are needed for everything to run smoothly. Here a person’s well-being relies on integration of a bunch of different disciplines. That’s where I first understood how important interdisciplinarity can be.

I hope that in the future I will be somewhere that embraces interdisciplinarity and doesn’t trap knowledge into separate compartments. Even here at PSU, I really hope to see IDS branch out and show students, faculty, and staff just how beneficial interdisciplinarity can be for everyone.

Twitter and School- An Unexpected Friendship

Building my PLN was definitely an interesting journey. I had known that we would be using twitter because of my friends that have already taken this class, but I didn’t really know what it entailed. When we first discussed building our PLNs, I was honestly not too keen on the idea. Twitter is supposed to be fun and I decided that using it for a class was going to ruin that fun for me.

CC BY 2.0 David Leonardo Méndez Hernández https://flic.kr/p/6jzre8

Twitter is an interesting platform with so many faces and sides to it, much of which were unknown to me up until this point. When I began my journey into the academic side of twitter I was totally thrown off by what I was seeing. Every time I went on I found another new article that sparked my interest. Neuroscience, psychology, mental health, drugs, drug use. Literally anything I was interested in or curious about, someone was tweeting about it. It’s so cool too because you can have discussions with people from all over the world on 20 different topics. I would find myself scrolling through twitter every time I sat down to do homework, which may seem counterproductive, but I was learning so much that I can’t really say it was a bad thing.

At first my twitter was really dry and boring, but I had only been following like 5 people. Once I started following a bunch of accounts and people I really started seeing my PLN develop into a useful academic tool. Never in a million years would I have ever thought twitter would actually become academically useful, but here we are.


 

Using this blog and developing my twitter showed me the importance of open pedagogy in my education. I remember discussing open pedagogy over and over in class. For some reason, I just felt like we were beating a dead horse. It wasn’t until I completely embraced my blog and twitter that I finally grasped this concept of open pedagogy. To me, open pedagogy is the reason I have so much freedom in this blog. It’s the reason I find relevance in topics that I may not have found otherwise. Without open pedagogy in this class, I would not be able to find the value or relevance in the information we are learning and discussing. I find value in things when I can relate to them, connect them to my life, or apply them to my own interests and ideas.

Connected learning is another huge player in my journey through education. Connected learning helped me to approach open pedagogy and pretty much everything under the sun with so much interest and ease. Since technology has become a dominating force in our society, doesn’t it make sense to integrate it into education, instead of resisting the change?

Go with the flow. I think that’s the biggest idea that comes into my head when talking about open pedagogy and connected learning. Change is ever present and continuously happening. We live in a time in which differences are becoming more and more apparent. I think we should celebrate these differences and shape our educational practices and methodologies around them. Without our differences, what makes us special?

If students are doing poorly in a class or not understanding the material, is it 100% the students fault like we always assume? Nope. I think more often than not, students aren’t responding to the pedagogy of said course. If our goal is to see students succeed and become influential members of society, why are we giving them the very best opportunity to succeed? With open pedagogy and connected learning, these students can take control of their education and find all the connections and relevance in the world!

CC BY-ND 2.0 Franklin Hunting https://flic.kr/p/7eSQSg

Overall this PLN has been so helpful in my major. I can read articles about psychology, the brain, or drugs, but I can also read articles that incorporates all of these. Without strictly studying material that is within the confines of a specific class, I can decide what is important to me. I have so much freedom to do and say what I want and not worry about writing what the professor wants to see for an A+ paper. Now that I have discovered this freedom, I can’t think of approaching education any other way.

 

*I added links to two articles to give more explanation on Open Pedagogy and Connected Learning. Hope you enjoy!!

Drugs and Brains

CC BY 2.0 Christophe Goessen https://flic.kr/p/7WV2Ft

This semester has been my best one at PSU. Picking every class because I wanted to take it, not because I had to was awesome. I finally feel connected and interested in every single class. It’s also nice to have classes from all different topics, that can still relate. It keeps things fresh. I haven’t felt like I’ve become stagnant. I’m learning totally different things every day, but at the same time they’re all still relevant, so I can still actively participate and connect without hitting a wall. Like I said, I’ve learned so many great things that are extremely relevant, but I want to particularly discuss two of these things.

CC BY-ND 2.0 Gregor Fischer https://flic.kr/p/4C5mQP

The first topic I want to share is from my drug behavior class. Over the course of this semester I’ve gotten to learn about all different types of drugs and how they affect our body; illicit and non-illicit. We’ve gone over drugs on the streets, drugs you get at a pharmacy, and even some in food we consume (caffeine). All of these drugs, illicit or not, affect our bodies in some way, whether it be giving us more energy to get through the day, helping us cope with mental illnesses, or eliciting some trippy psychedelic high. Its honestly crazy what people can get their hands on and what it can do for them. On the other hand, learning more about very common prescription medications and what mechanisms they works on in our bodies is very eye opening as well.

CC BY-ND 2.0 torbakhopper https://flic.kr/p/ejaMJy

Antidepressants are a group of specific pharmaceuticals that we’ve gone over in class. It’s super cool to learn the history of this class of medication. Obviously, since there are many different types of antidepressants, not a single one worked for everybody, but rather people responded differently to some of the drugs than others. Seeing that evolution is so cool. We learned about MAO inhibitors and the first marketed drug was used for curing Tuberculosis (McKim and Hancock). We discussed tryciclic antidepressants and how they were safer than the early MAOIs, so many more were developed (McKim and Hancock). Finally, we came to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which act on serotonergic pathways in our brains. Prozac is a very widely used SSRI; its generic name being fluoxetine. SSRIs act on the serotonergic pathways in our brains. These drugs block the reuptake of serotonin so that there is more readily available for our brains to use (Yue et al., 2017). Initially, fluoxetine was being used to alter one’s personality rather than as an antidepressant (McKim and Hancock). This is an intriguing thought to have in terms of what I’ve learned in my Neurobiology class.

CC BY-SA 2.0 A Health Blog https://flic.kr/p/dLSKTQ

We have been studying the brain and the different mechanisms that allow us to complete everyday tasks. Understanding how neurotransmitters affect our behavior and actions is an essential component to neurobiology. Without these neurotransmitters, our brain would not be able to communicate with our body. We know that different neurotransmitters interact with different systems in our bodies and are influential on specific behaviors (John Nicholls). One of the key transmitters in our bodies is serotonin. The effects of serotonin (5-HT) are better understood by studying drugs that mimic 5-HT, block its specific receptors, or block the reuptake of 5-HT (John Nicholls). By doing these studies, it has been found that serotonin plays a role in regulating affective states, so these drugs have a direct effect on a person’s mood (John Nicholls).

CC BY-SA 2.0 Fotis Bobolas https://flic.kr/p/6PKTHD

Both of these things I’ve learned are super relevant to my program, Mental Health Studies. Understanding the effects drugs have on neurotransmitters in our brains is a huge aspect of treating mental illnesses. Drug behavior introduces me to the more behavioral side of drug use and how people act when they take various drugs. Neurobiology takes this idea a step further and discusses the actual systems these drugs act on and what it means for our brains and bodies, should we take any drug. It’s so cool to be taking both of these classes at the same time, because things I may not be covering in one class we will touch on in the other.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 rachel https://flic.kr/p/CNW8m

I’m hoping that these classes will help me in a career of psychiatric nursing or working in a substance abuse rehabilitation program. Understanding how drugs affect the neurotransmitters in our brain will help me to understand how illicit drugs may interact with prescription drugs or how to effectively implement treatment programs for someone who may be struggling with addiction, along with so many other important factors that play a role in a person’s mental health.

 

References:

McKim, William A., and Stephanie D. Hancock. Drugs and Behavior.Pearson Education, 2012.

Nicholls, John G. From Neuron to Brain. Sinauer Associates, 2012.

Yue, John, et al. “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for Treating Neurocognitive and Neuropsychiatric Disorders Following Traumatic Brain Injury: An Evaluation of Current Evidence.” Brain Sciences, vol. 7, no. 12, 2017, p. 93., doi:10.3390/brainsci7080093.

The Importance of Integrative Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Richard Lee https://flic.kr/p/4ckJBL

Integrative Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies is an article that differentiates the ideas of interdisciplinary learning vs. integrative learning. It also explores the similarities of the two and how they benefit each other.

The article begins by defining each of the terms. Klein notes that integrative learning is broader than interdisciplinary studies. “It is an umbrella term for structures, strategies, and activities that bridge numerous divides, such as high school and college, general education and the major, introductory and advanced levels, experiences inside and outside the classroom, theory and practice, and disciplines and field” (Klein, 2005).  Interdisciplinary Studies rather, “is a subset of integrative learning that fosters connections among disciplines and interdisciplinary fields” (Klein, 2005).

The article then goes into the historical perspectives of each term and how they have evolved through time. Klein reports that in 1935 at a meeting sponsored by the National Education Association the participants came to the conclusion that complete unity in educational approaches was not possible; unifying as opposed to unified. At this same meeting integration, content integration, and process integration were identified.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 J. Sibiga Photography https://flic.kr/p/ayj48g

It was argued that high levels of learning cannot be accomplished if we are studying subjects separately. To reach these levels we need to see integration of knowledge and using an interdisciplinary approach to education.

Three catalysts across the educational spectrum were also identified. These catalysts consist of the “knowledge explosion” (Klein, 2005), in which there is a massive increase in specialties and fields that largely contribute to the issue of fragmentation; in turn creating a bigger need for making connections in knowledge and learning. We also see a heightened problem focus in which our complex society and community makes it necessary to utilize multiple fields of knowledge. The final catalyst noted is educational reform in which there is linkage between two concepts that have complementary pedagogies.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Troels Myrup https://flic.kr/p/kbX1v

Later in the article integrative interdisciplinary pedagogies are discussed. Multidisciplinary approaches that draw from multiple disciplines are mentioned, however because students lack integrative experiences, these disciplines are never truly integrated. We also learn more on additive models that broach disciplinarity, furthering existing compartments, procedures, and compartments. On the other hand, interdisciplinary models accomplish reconstruction of curriculum and focus on experiences that are them, problem, or question based.

Klein stresses that there is no one pedagogy for integrative interdisciplinary learning, rather all these approaches take multiple perspectives to give a more complete and integrated understanding.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Richard Lee https://flic.kr/p/4ckJBL

Some strategies of these approaches in institutions are clustered and liked courses and interdisciplinary core seminars at introductory and capstone levels.

Integrative interdisciplinary approaches are centrally concerned with the application of knowledge as opposed to acquisition and remembering facts; learning the process of posing questions and problem solving, higher and critical thinking. These important aspects of this approach are ones that cannot be found in a textbook, but rather experienced in effective learning and knowledge seeking that promotes insight into oneself and understanding of individual learning processes.

CC BY-SA 2.0 Stinging Eyes https://flic.kr/p/nfS8xB

This article reiterates the importance of integrating knowledge and taking an interdisciplinary approach to learning, of which provides immense benefits. By integrating knowledge from each discipline we are drawing from, we can obtain a more sophisticated, in depth, and comprehensive understanding of a topic. It has also shown me that while there is a central idea to interdisciplinary studies, it can be implemented in various ways. There isn’t a single approach that HAS to be taken, but many approaches that are fluid and can be shaped to address specific needs of students. These approaches can help us stray from conventional learning in which we remember facts and info that become arbitrary after an exam and focus on applying knowledge to our lives and interests and understand its overall impact to our education and knowledge.

Resources:

Klein, J. T. (2005). Integrative Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies. Association of American Colleges and Universities: Peer Review.

College and It’s Love-Hate Relationship With Social Media

 

College is not a stop along the path to adulthood and the workforce, it is a slow-down signal. College provides a time and a place for people to learn what they are passionate about and hone their abilities both socially and academically. However, we are not doing all that we can to further our efforts in education. Use this slow-down to get your feet wet in the workforce and get involved in the professional communities you are interested in.

The way in which we can get involved in the professional community is through connected learning.In order to advance in any educational career you have to be able to fluidly use technology. Because of this there is no way we can circumnavigate around a social media presence, and in turn create a more connected learning.

What is connected learning? Connected learning works to…

  • Create an engaging format to create interactivity and self-expression
  • Facilitate lifelong learning
  • Provide a social support for students to learn and use information in their communities
  • Builds an academic community that allows for growth of knowledge and a broader view of a subject
  • Build connections with professionals you wouldn’t have acquired without technology

The most common form of connected learning in higher education is through social media and other online resources. Mackenzie Kennedy, a Junior at Plymouth State University said that, “connected learning uses technology to give students a way to interact with people within scholarly and professional communities. Online classes have developed my time management skills and made me more independent with my education. It has taught me so much about collaborating with others and using technology to effectively learn.”

Kelsey Dubia another Plymouth State student said that “as a commuter, connected learning has been a great asset for me. Having the liberty to take a couple classes that don’t involve you being on campus has saved me time and even money. I am able to continue to work at my job and also work on my schooling at my own time.”

This idea of online resources helping students further their education is an example of a pedagogy. A pedagogy is in definition the “how” of how a curriculum is being taught. For certain people like Mackenzie and Kelsey having online resources and networks they were able to gain an understanding of themselves as learners and provide a more flexible learning experience.

Online courses are not the only aspect of a more connected learning. Like mentioned above, being a part of social media plays an important role in setting a student up for success in the future and the now. Using social media to build an academic community is what can be called a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Kelsey Dubia said in her brief interview said that, “having a PLN, I have been able to make connections with those throughout the country and world. By sharing and tweeting articles and quotes related to my major, I have gained followers from professionals in that field and have been able to use that as a resource.”

Along those lines, Mackenzie Kennedy said that “creating a PLN has been a one-of-a-kind experience. Before my PLN all I used twitter for was to retweet makeup tutorials and cat videos. Now I’ve discovered the academic side of twitter and its opened my eyes to a whole new way to learn. I can still watch my cat videos, but I can also read articles about the behavioral patterns of cats.”

But with all the greatness that comes with a more connected learning there are also some challenges. Overall there may be certain people that are uncomfortable with have an online footprint. Also, the pedagogy of an online class can be a challenge for those who need the face to face education with their professors.

College is not a one-size fits all. In creating a more online education where students can build communities with professors and other scholars we create a more personalized approach to learning and knowledge.

 

It Takes a Village

CC BY-SA Ripton Scott https://flic.kr/p/5vTBrP

Building my own major has really opened my eyes to the importance of interdisciplinarity. I feel like I’m privy to this big secret of interdisciplinarity, when in all actuality EVERYONE does interdisciplinary work of some sort. Pretty much anything you can think of will probably have some sort of interdisciplinary element to it. How can it not? Humans are naturally social beings who need other people to survive, so why wouldn’t that same concept translate to the academic world? Just take this class for example. This course is solely dedicated to integrating multiple disciplines into one new program, but that’s just one way (out of countless others) that interdisciplinarity proves its benefit and worth.

CC BY-NC CCAC North Library https://flic.kr/p/p8khv2

Interdisciplinarity shows its worth and benefit to me in a second way too. However, this time it shows it in a little bit more critical way. Drug rehabilitation programs. To me, these programs are an amazing example of the desperate need for collaboration of specialists, academics, and people from different disciplines.

The DSM V contains criteria for substance abuse problems a.k.a. substance use disorders. When people who struggle with these disorders get treatment or help, a huge resource is a rehabilitation program. These programs thrive through the collaboration of a ton of different people that are working to help those who struggle with substance abuse disorder.

CC BY Hamza Butt https://flic.kr/p/Vs53Nh

One obvious specialist that we would see in a rehabilitation center would be a physician. Without the help of physicians, we would have no idea what type of treatment could be used to help the individual in question. There are many ways to approach addiction. Some medications have been manufactured to help with addiction, but access and appropriate use of those are dependent on a doctor who is qualified to prescribe and administer those medications. Not only would a doctor help with medicinal treatments, but they would also be needed to understand to what caliber withdrawal symptoms might have on someone.

CC BY-SA amenclinicsphotos ac https://flic.kr/p/ohtBUH

 

Another important player in addiction treatment is an addiction specialist. An addiction specialist is specifically learned in addiction medicine and can create and implement effective rehabilitation treatments. These specialists are usually psychiatrists or physicians that specialize in addiction medicine. Knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to effectively treating someone with a substance abuse disorder.

CC BY Morgan https://flic.kr/p/7igbYP

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, are another piece to this interdisciplinary puzzle. These types of specialists are useful to help with other preexisting mental illnesses, diagnose mental illnesses that are not known of, help people cope with the challenges of rehabilitation and withdrawal, as well as a myriad of other things.

CC BY-ND RebeccaVC1 https://flic.kr/p/8rKqLH

While most of the people that are extremely important to the success of a drug rehabilitation program are specialists, there are a couple other people who are also vital to success. One of those being the patient’s family. Support from family is such an important aspect of one’s treatment. Families of people with substance abuse disorder can go to family therapy, which is shown to have immense benefits to a person’s recovery. Having a supportive backbone whilst in recovery and continued support post-recovery is so important to recovering and counteracting relapse. Without the support of loved ones, rehabilitation programs would be much more challenging.

These aspects of drug rehabilitation programs that I have mentioned are only a few of the interconnected parts of a successful rehabilitation program. There are so many people that can play a role in overcoming addiction, whether it be specialist or non-academics. The integration of all these aspects is so important because one can’t work effectively without the other, and in this case, stakes are too high to do anything else.

CC BY-NC Aleksandra B. https://flic.kr/p/eVX2MD

I want to mention the story of a 28-year-old man named Ryan. I heard about his story in one of my classes called Drug Behavior. We watched a video about his struggle with alcoholism and his road to recovery. Unfortunately, because his body couldn’t handle the symptoms of withdrawal, he passed away 17 days into his treatment. This story shows the detrimental effects substance abuse can have on someone, if no treatment is sought after. I think Ryan’s story Is a great example of these effects, as well as what familial support can do for someone.

CC BY Rinet IT Australia https://flic.kr/p/22HpX4Z

 

We can see the physical toll his illness takes on his body, as well as the emotional toll it takes on him and his family. This is important for reiterating the point that familial support is vital in a person’s recovery. While Ryan’s body already had severe, irreparable damage from chronic alcohol use, we could still see the impact his family had on his decision to seek treatment. If families played more of an active role in their loved ones’ recoveries, maybe what happened to Ryan wouldn’t happen to others.

Helping those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders is something very close to my heart. I’ve had many family members and loved ones struggle with both of these things, so learning more about the role families can play in helping loved ones that struggle with either of these things is huge!

For more information on substance abuse or to find help for someone you know, please visit here.

What’s The Deal With Interdisciplinarity?

CC BY-ND 2.0 Paul Lim https://flic.kr/p/bKRKL

In today’s society and culture, knowledge is being pigeonholed. Every area of study is being shoved into its own space, causing people to focus on one aspect and seldom others. This very reason is why I chose to pursue a degree of Mental Health Studies with the interdisciplinary studies program at PSU. I felt that to get the best out of my four years, I should study what I want and how I want to; which wasn’t going to be accomplished by picking one of the pre-approved majors offered. I liked the idea of being able to decide exactly what I’m doing with my education and be part of the process of developing it.

CC BY-ND 2.0 Kevin Cortopassi https://flic.kr/p/prWEje

 

In the article “Ten Cheers for Interdisciplinarity”, author Moti Nissani writes, “those who stop at the disciplinary edge run the risk of tunnel vision.” Interdisciplinarity facilitates avoidance of this risk. By broadening our educational scope and expanding on small areas of knowledge, we can get away from tunnel vision and work to unify our knowledge. Interdisciplinarity will prove its immense worth to me when I purse a career concerning mental health. Studying mental health through an interdisciplinary approach can provide for a deeper understanding of all that mental health encompasses.

 

The time I’ve spent, so far, exploring the meaning and benefits of interdisciplinary learning has given me so much more than I anticipated. I never really took the time to understand the best way to learn. I just did what the people in charge told me to and relied on what I knew other people had done. Interdisciplinary studies, has opened a world of information that I had no idea about. It has shown me how compartmentalized our knowledge really is and how important it is to include other areas of study, aside from our specialties.

CC BY-ND 2.0 Joris Louwes https://flic.kr/p/ZhBexb

 

It’s also shown me how much a field of work might rely on another. It makes me think of my mom’s career. She is a resource specialist at an elementary school. She doesn’t know if she should test a child until another teacher prompts her. Then after testing she needs to report her findings to the parents and help them to find the best course of action to help their child. If they decide that’s going to see a doctor then we see the reliance of the teacher on the doctor to understand any physical implications the child’s disorder may have on the child. At that point, the doctor might refer the child to a psychologist, who then may refer the child to a behavioral specialist and so on. This need for interdisciplinary work is shown because the teacher cannot officially diagnose the student, and the doctor can’t help much with behavioral strategies. These lines of reliance can be analyzed in many careers, but are only realized if you take some time to think about how important it is to work with other people who aren’t in your designated field.

 

 

CC BY-NC 2.0 Philippa Willitts https://flic.kr/p/9Qexfo

The article “Colleges Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge” by Vartan Gregorian, gives another example of this type of reliance pattern. A technical problem of transportation, such as the building of a freeway, becomes a land-use problem, linked with economic, environmental, conservation, ethical, and political issues. Can we really draw a boundary? When we ask to improve a situation, particularly if it is a public one, we find ourselves facing not a problem, but a cluster of problems … and none of these problems can be tackled using linear or sequential methods.” Without consulting people who have extensive knowledge in these areas, our decisions and actions may have disastrous repercussions, that could’ve been avoided had we opened our eyes to the importance of unity of knowledge.