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.

 

Mental Health Studies

Mental Health Studies

CC BY-SA 2.0 amenclinicsphotos ac https://flic.kr/p/nYcpys

Mental Health Studies is a program that explores the biological, psychological, and general health related factors that influence a person’s mental well-being. This program includes courses in biology, psychology, health, sociology, and social work. It addresses not only what mental health is, but what contributes to a person’s mental health and how to improve their mental health. I created this program so that I could pursue a degree in what I am interested and feel passionate about. The prevalence of mental health issues in today’s society and the experiences I’ve encountered concerning mental health, have given me a personal connection and a passion to study and understand more about it. This major is unique because it has a narrow focus on a specific topic in psychology and incorporates supporting courses from other departments. With a standard major of psychology or biology I wouldn’t be able to focus on the mental health topic in as much depth as I can with this program; nor have the opportunity to study this topic from different academic perspectives.

CC BY-NC 2.0 zero one https://flic.kr/p/4ZpRHD

I’ve included many courses in various areas of study. The courses in biology that I’ve included are Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II and Neurobiology. Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II are important in learning about the essential components and systems in the body and how they operate. By understanding bodily functions, I will be able to identify the implications a person’s mental health can have on their entire body and vice versa. Neurobiology allows me to learn more about the brain from a biological standpoint. This class will help me focus on the most complex organ in our body and explore the brain’s functions in greater detail than in Human A&P. This class will help me to understand how the brain functions in different areas and how it inputs into the rest of the body.

CC BY-NC 2.0 Caterina SM https://flic.kr/p/e8W9XX

The courses in psychology that I’ve included are Abnormal PsychologyBehavioral Neuroscience, Personality, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, and Community Mental Health. Abnormal Psychology is important for this program because it focuses on psychopathology. This course is central to mental health studies because it examines psychological disorders and their symptoms. In this class I will develop a more thorough understanding of psychological variations and how modern mental health has evolved into what it is today. It will also include many different perspectives on mental health and how to appropriately discuss psychological disorders. Behavioral Neuroscience is also integral to this program. This course examines the anatomy of the brain and the neural processes from a psychological perspective. Mental disorders are studied in terms of brain functioning and what damage to individual parts of the brain could result in. Personality focuses on different theories of how personality is developed and how it can form a person’s general perspective on life. This allows me to understand how different experiences during personality development can affect a person’s mental well-being. Treatment of Psychological Disorders identifies different strategies to treat various psychological disorders. Many different approaches to such treatment are discussed and examined. Community Mental Health concentrates on context and community and how it influences mental health. It also discusses the best methods of preventing mental health problems.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 United Nations Photo
https://flic.kr/p/SJGjxS

Health education courses included in this program are Drug Behavior, Mental Health Issues, and Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living. Drug Behavior examines different classes of drugs, including prescription drugs, as well as illegal drugs. Understanding drugs, and how they affect our body, is important in identifying how drugs and pharmaceuticals can manipulate biological processes. Mental Health Issues provides information on mental health and resources that can help with these issues. It also investigates various theories concerning behavioral changes. Applied Nutrition for Health Living focuses on the body’s reactions to foods and substances that are consumed. This includes metabolic processes and what substances are important for our bodies to properly function. Macromolecules, vitamins, and minerals important to our health are identified and what repercussions result from consuming too much or not enough of these substances.

Mental Health and Society is a social work course that is included in this program. This course examines how different social aspects can affect a person’s mental health. These social aspects include class, race, gender, ethnicity, age, and many other components of social interactions. It also discusses mental health services and practices, cross-culturally.

Illness, Wellness, and Healing is sociology course that is part of this program. Illness, Wellness, and Healing studies the history of disease and medicine and how it has evolved to our modern understanding. It examines medicine, disease, and their social implications in cultures all over the world.

I am including Statistics I in my program as my QRCO. This class is important to include because it provides understanding of how to perform statistical tests, which can be used to analyze data.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Feggy Art
https://flic.kr/p/6YZyNH

My program is interdisciplinary because it incorporates courses from many different areas of study and provides an integrated perspective of these areas on mental health. This program allows me to study mental health from a biological, psychological, sociological, and health education lens. Mental health is a complicated topic of study that is best understood using the points of perspective that are encompassed in this program. By studying mental health in various disciplines, I can understand biological processes deeper than in a psychology class. Conversely, I can study the behavioral aspects of mental illness more comprehensively in psychology classes than I would in a biology course. This program is important to me because I want to work with people who struggle with mental illnesses and help them overcome challenges they face. With a degree in mental health studies I can develop a foundation of knowledge on mental health and use it to pursue careers such as psychiatric nursing or working in substance abuse rehabilitation programs. My main goal in pursuing this degree, is to develop a better understanding of the best ways to help people who struggle with mental illness.

 

Update:

I am now in my senior year fall semester with only two more classes to take before I am done with my major. I have made one small change to my program. I switched Mental Health Issues with Stress Management, but I’m hoping to change that with independent research that I will be conducting throughout the semester. My future plans are still the same, however I am leaning more towards going into the addiction realm of things and working with rehabilitation programs and things of that nature. Nursing is still an option for me, but I’ve recently moved it to the backburner for reasons I don’t even know. I’m hoping to do my applied project in one of those fields and hopefully get an internship in the other one, whichever that may be. I didn’t realize how quickly college would come to an end. I still feel like I’m too young and uneducated to make such substantial decisions for my future, but I could continue to say that for my whole life or just take the plunge and go with my gut. Who knows? I think that as long as I have goals, the sky is the limit. I just need to make sure that I’m making moves to bring my goals and plans to fruition. Make some forward motion. I would hate to get a job for the time being and become complacent about working towards those goals. Either way, I think it’s safe to say I’m both nervous and excited for whatever I plan to do with my degree. The main thing I want for myself is to do something that will impact people in a positive way. Whatever that may be. Obviously, I have an idea of what I want my career to look like, but If for some reason it doesn’t work out that way, as long as I’m making someone’s life even a tiny bit better, I’ll be content.

 

State Schools, Clinical Psychology, and an Unshakeable Drive: An Interview with Plymouth State’s Dr. Kathleen Herzig

CCBY christa https://flic.kr/p/4MqEK7

Plymouth State University is home to 193 professors and instructors. Of these 193 professors and instructors, 84% have a doctorate or terminal degree in their field of study. That just blows my mind. Hearing stats like that makes me feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the academic community at PSU has to offer. I’ve taken courses in many different departments and I’ve never had a professor who wasn’t qualified to be teaching that class. I think I’d even go as far to say some of them are overqualified. But that’s the best part! Professors who have so many accolades, accomplishments, and honors, are still taking the time to enrich our lives and further our educational development to astronomical heights.

One of these professors is Dr. Kathleen Herzig. Herzig grew up in Hingham, MA., a town south of Boston. She did her undergrad at University of Massachusetts Amherst and majored in psychology. At UMASS Amherst, she was put into a psychology Talent Advancement Program (TAP). These are selective programs that put students in residential spaces with other students within that TAP. This program is actually what sparked her interest in psychology. Herzig confesses some of her motivation to be a clinical psychologist is partially due to a skeptical professor. “I think I’m actually a clinical psychologist in part because I was told by a professor that because I was a state school student I couldn’t do it.” Thanks to Dr. Herzig, all state school students now have evidence that anyone can become clinical psychologists!

CC BY-NC-ND Josh Mazgelis https://flic.kr/p/cpNe9d

After graduating, Herzig continued her education at University of Connecticut where she was a research assistant to a doctoral student there and helped conduct research in non-verbal communication. As a student in the honors program, she did her own thesis on family child care and needs assessment and observed children in their homes.

Herzig continues, to share that she became a clinical psychologist because, “[she] wanted the option to do research and to do [her] own research.” The option to work in a university setting also played a role in her decision to pursue clinical psychology.

In her first semester of teaching at PSU, Herzig was given the opportunity to teach Community Mental Health. She was the first clinical psychologist on faculty for a few years so she got to construct the course to her liking and form it from a clinical psychologist’s perspective (before Herzig taught the class it was being taught by teaching lecturers). She expressed how, “it was both a little cool to make it up myself but also a little overwhelming because it’s not like I could look at another school and be like, oh who teaches the community mental health course there? I will write them and see if they can tell me because there really aren’t a lot of classes like that.” Just another example of Dr. Herzig’s drive. Creating a syllabus for a course you’ve never taught before, at a school you just started at, with little to nothing to go from. That kind of just speaks for itself.

CC BY-NC-ND Sam Carpenter https://flic.kr/p/e7ZYMm

During the interview, I asked Dr. Herzig about interdisciplinarity in her work and study. She told me currently, she is working on The Happiness Quest, which is a research study run by a philosophy professor here and includes Herzig and two other sociologists on campus. She goes on to describe how she finds interdisciplinarity beneficial. “Psychology is very individualistic. The mental health problem comes from the individual and maybe their family; a person’s genetics, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and I agree with that. However, there’s this whole context. There’s the world. There’s culture. There’s social oppression. There’s all these different things that impact our wellness. So that is much more of a social work lens and a sociology lens really.”

CC BY-NC carnagenyc https://flic.kr/p/acodwv

 

I think this is awesome and creates so much forward motion in terms of inclusion and perspective in the world. Developing your own point of view and not sticking to rigid perspectives of your field helps to shed light on situations and provides ground for interpretations that may not have been made otherwise. I also think this challenge to include different perspectives into our own lives and thought processes is so beneficial because it can integrate so many more ideas and principles into our work. “Clinical psychology in a weird way is a little bit interdisciplinary because it takes sort of the research base of psychology and the study of the mind, and combines it with psychiatry.” The point that I take away from this statement is that even though Dr. Herzig studied clinical psychology, she was still able to identify ways that other areas of study were involved.

CC BY-NC Mitchell Joyce https://flic.kr/p/ayLCsn

 

 

When I first received the assignment of interviewing a faculty member I was filled with dread, because sometimes I’m super awkward and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of one of my professors. However, through this interview, I was able to get to know Dr. Herzig more than I would have just taking one of her courses. I think what I admire most about Dr. Herzig was her tenacity and resolve to prove her professor wrong. Imagine one of your professors saying something like that to you. Nice. Cool. I’ll just go home, cry a little, and then attempt to make sense of my life that is turning to shambles. I mean I’d love to say that I could channel the same feeling Dr. Herzig had when she spoke with her professor, but who knows. All I can do is remember this story and hope that I can use it to push myself when I run into the inevitable obstacles and bums along the way.

 

Thank you Dr. Herzig for giving me your time and knowledge! Plymouth State is lucky to have you!

Are Our Domains Really “Ours”?

CCBY Mervi Eskelinen https://flic.kr/p/dZE3LC

What a time to be alive. The Information Age. A time that gives anyone the tools to research anything they want; to create and publicly share their ideas. Information on any topic at the tip of our fingers and accessible by one click of a mouse. The technological advances made by society has greatly impacted the amount and caliber of work that people can do; especially when those people are students. It has allowed for students to gain a deeper understanding of the topics they are learning about or are interested in. Technology has paved the way for students to become the greatest scholars the world has seen. To become the greatest researchers, thinkers, and learners they can be. Because of these assets, technology has and will continue to be an extremely relevant tool.

I find this topic to be extraordinarily important because I have been immersed in a world where technology is continuing to advance every day and I have been shown the usefulness and influence that technology has. As a neurobiology student, I can go online and within 2 minutes, have hundreds of journal entries from researchers who have done experiments on fluoxetine’s effects on invertebrates. As a psychology student, I can find as many papers written on schizophrenia, as there are people in the United States. As an anthropology student, I can find any, and all, information on the cholera epidemic in Peru. These are just a few examples of how I personally see and understand the immense benefits of technology.

I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major, meaning that I am majoring in multiple areas of study, or disciplines. Technology has proven itself useful to me yet again, in the form of this ePortfolio. I can use this platform to share my thoughts and ideas on a range of topics and completely personalize it to best represent myself.

CC BY-ND Brian Evans https://flic.kr/p/VPTLBE

The ideas presented in the article “The Web We Need to Give Students”, by Audrey Watters, dives into the ideas of student privacy and what it actually means to give students their own domain. Watters comments on how, “Having one’s own domain means that students have much more say over what they present to the world, in terms of their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities.” To me, this emphasizes the importance of students having a place that is completely theirs. Because It is a public place that students are sharing their thoughts, content should come completely from the student. I believe that the best way to ensure the content being posted to personal domains is safe and protected is to educate students on the implications their publications can have and give them opportunities to develop something that is completely their own, something they can be proud of.

Gardner Campbell reiterates the importance of personal domains and why they are vital for a student’s online presence, in the article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure”.  “Pointing students to data buckets and conduits we’ve already made for them won’t do. Templates and training wheels may be necessary for a while, but by the time students get to college, those aids all too regularly turn into hindrances.” This quote promotes some serious thought. How can students completely personalize and take control of their domain if they are only given the basic, cookie cutter options for personalization. At that point can we really say personalization? Can we truthfully say that a student owns their domain? No. At best, it can be said its sort of personalized or that it’s partially the student’s domain.

 

CC BY-NC Michael Fisher https://flic.kr/p/8QLZUM

Andrew Rickard explains this idea of partial ownership in his article “Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?”. He delves into the issue of student’s domains becoming an extension of basic classroom assignments and what affect that has on a student’s ownership. “Giving a student ownership over data means nothing if it doesn’t allow them to determine that data”. While reading this article, I thought about the idea of a student domain only containing the topics and ideas relevant to the class they are taking at that time, or those deemed important by the student’s professor. Sure. We can argue that even so, the student is still the creator, and therefore, owner of the content being published. However, If the content does not reflect the personal ideologies of the student, and really get down to the nitty-gritty of who they are, then I don’t believe that we can really get a handle of who that person is. The point of publishing the work also shifts from being an inspiring excerpt from the student’s mind, to something that will please the professor so that the student can receive a good grade. It doesn’t give complete and total creative freedom to the student and therefore their ownership of their domain is compromised, or better yet, shared with their professor.

CC BY caligula1995 https://flic.kr/p/pkdRmp

Overall, these articles showed me what it really means to have complete ownership and the importance of constructing a domain that is totally yours. This will benefit me as I construct my major over the course of this semester. I now understand, the untapped freedom I have been given in the technological world and how to use it for my personal development. Knowing that I am in complete control of my educational well-being and future is a breath-taking feeling.

Do you think that ownership is as important as I do? Should professors be able to dictate a student’s grade based on what the student chooses to post to their personal domain? Leave a comment so we can continue this discussion!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed yourself!