Friday, April 25, 2014

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Think about a decision you have made recently. It can be a minor one, such as deciding which restaurant to go to on a Saturday evening, or a more important one such as a career move. Analyze this decision, taking into account the processes you went through to arrive at it and how you justified it in your mind as being a good decision.

A minor decision that I made many months ago was setting up this blog with one email address instead of using a separate account that would've been much easier to log in and log out. Grrr. I also have to waste time trying to remember what I did wrong.

Right now I'm trying to decide which statistics class to take this summer. I can retake one class and hopefully improve my GPA, or I can move on from the horrible experience and hope that my next stats class has logic to it and some easier software that comes with some instructions.

I know we've tried to set up an informational packet about classes to take in other departments, but it also depends on who is teaching and if they are teaching it during the same semester the I need it. It is becoming more and more frustrating as UNT builds bigger goals but we're still struggling to find class with amazing teachers. I am too far into my course to switch to a different university but it has crossed my  mind. Not making changes is also a decision, some times doing nothing is the the worst decision.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Describe your experience learning another language. What were the challenges you faced?

In high school we were only given two options, German or Spanish. I chose German and took it for four years knowing that I would attend college and needed all four years even though my school only had two years set up so I had to take the last two years through an Independent Study class. I learned to read and write and German but I couldn't speak it very well. We also never completed an overseas trip so I've never been able to use the language in its natural environment.

When I graduated and switched to the university level I found that they taught languages very differently and even though I had four years of a foreign language on paper, my skills were not nearly high enough for the advanced classes. I was very disappointed in myself and in my small town high school for not properly preparing me for basic college courses. I worked through the lower levels and tried to take the upper level courses a year later but I ended up dropping it altogether.

It is strange now because two of my best friends from college ended up taking French and continued to take French throughout college. Both of them were able to spend a semester in France and using their skills to live abroad. One friend ended up teaching French at the high school level and the other friend lived in France for two years after her divorce teaching English to college students and they thought she didn't know any French at all. When she came back to the States she got a job teaching French at a Plano middle school and I think she still teaches there today.

I also tried to take Japanese during college when I needed an elective and had no idea what else I wanted to take, I was almost finished with my classwork and ready to graduate. I decided to take a Japanese class for fun since I had taken many Chinese and Japanese history classes. (I was burnt out on English/American history.) Turns out I was the only white girl in the class. All of the white boys in the class had Japanese girlfriends and the rest of the class was from Thailand. We had a guest speaker one day and she started with an introduction and the rest of the class laughed along with her. I was the only one who didn't understand her and clearly out of my element. It was a little depressing.

I ended up with a decent grade and I like the teacher and teaching methods. The teacher even approached me about teaching English in Japan and if I hadn't been engaged I probably would have gone. However, I don't like seafood so if I think about practical matters involved in the trip I'm not quite sure how I would have managed, I always assumed I would have been eating noodles the entire trip. The teacher had taught us some Japanese by having us sign children's lullabies and if I remembered the words I'm sure they wouldn't actually make sense to me since English nursery rhymes don't logically make sense either, but they were fun to sign and it felt like I was learning something successfully.

So I've given up on foreign languages. I have a cousin that can learn a little bit of many languages with different base languages but I've never been able to catch on. Once I can see the word in my mind, my tongue freezes up and I'm trying to pronoun the word phonetically. I understand the sentence structure and verb tenses but putting it all altogether in one coherent sentence is a huge challenge. Or my sentences are too long.

I do wish English had more structure in some areas though. I remember hearing about Harry Potter characters when the books were still being written and translated. Every so often we would learn more about a character because translators needed to know if the characters are male or female for their language structures. English does not have these rules and it seems like we are missing something, to me. I suppose to it good to avoid gender bias, as an academic, but within my free time reading I think it would add a little more dimension to some characters and their voice, and how I'd hear it in my head. I love the Harry Potter on audio CD for the American versions, the speaker uses different voices for all the characters and adds so much energy and humor to the story. I also like how J.K. Rowling stopped translating the English into American so we would learn new small words common to Great Britain although I have to admit that tripe does not good to me for some reason and I have no idea what it is. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Drawing from Memory

The goal for this week's blog was to chose an image of a stranger and draw a picture of the person from my memory. This was much tougher challenge than I had anticipated since I've never been good at drawing, especially drawing faces, and picking a stranger made me wonder what type of person I would be most comfortable drawing. I did look through my classmate's drawings and found them very helpful - I avoid pictures with more than one person and one picture reminded me of a beard growing contest so I chose one of those images.

The proportions in my drawing are completely wrong but I had concentrated on the image of the beard and the top hat with less emphasis on the person's face. Luckily the picture was focused on the person and his beard, so I did not remember the background at all. I should have centered my drawing a little more and the beard doesn't look as thick in my drawing but overall I was able to remember the basics.

I draw the outline of the image quite quickly, knowing that my memory would lose some of the details quickly, and then I went back and added some color and filled in the image a little more. It still looks like a stick figure but overall it's not too bad, considering my serious lack of drawing skills.

I had also decided to use markers to draw the picture instead of using pencil so that I'd be forced to outline the drawing and was not able to go back and second guess myself by erasing some areas and trying to perfect them. This also forced me to concentrate on the details first and accept them as they had already been drawn. I wish the details of the beard were more accurate and the face has very little detail. The suit coat and body part of the drawing has more detail than actually present in the photo, my memory filled in those areas based on men's clothing in general. So I missed several details and added in a few extra ones, overall an accurate depiction as described in our textbook of my short term memory. (Although I felt better about my drawing before I uploaded the pictures and placed them next to one another.)

Friday, March 7, 2014


Post a reflection on how you have evolved as a learner from high school to graduate school. What strategies or methods did you use to encode and retrieve information from your long-term memory. Did your learning strategies and methods change over the years?

Describe two or more techniques that you would like to incorporate as a graduate student to help you learn effectively.

This question should be an easy one to answer, how do I study, but I'm having a hard time with it. Also posted this week was the question about trying to remember a source and if I ever forget where I learned anything. Right now I'm forgetting how I got through undergrad school. For me, the question depends on which degree, since I have two and they are very different. The first one was history, and in those classes I had to go to class and take notes, review the notes, and the repetition helped me learn how to answer essay questions.

The second undergrad degree was similar to a graphic design degree and those classes forced me to be creative and create something new for the final, I had to prove my knowledge by learning the software and showing my progress through a creative outlet and project. I often needed to clear out my brain so the creativity would work.

Lately I've been taking more classes that are abstract in thought and I've needed to research my answers and form a coherent answer - very similar to my first degree, but the essay questions are more focused so my answers need to be less abstract. Recently I took a class that only used multiple choice questions and I found myself hating the class since they often used trick questions, two answers very much alike but only one of them is absolutely correct, according to the textbook.

Overall, I'd have to say that keeping my information organized has worked the best for me. Reading the material, taking notes by hand, and reviewing the material often helped the repetition and I'd remember that way. I've tried taking notes on my computer but it doesn't work as well for me. I focus on the typing and spelling/grammar, but I'd lose some of the information in the process - or the computer wouldn't work that day and technical frustration is the only thing that was successful.

Complex sentences and visual clues do not work for me. I used to study with the radio on or a football game, but now I get more done when the TV is off. The TV serves as a clock, so if I spent an hour reading something I would notice the time passing because one episode had played and I'd feel like I wasn't getting enough done in the short time I had given myself.

My learning style has changed, but the past few semesters have required a lot of cramming. I learn enough at the time, but overall I was so stressed about the due date that I didn't retain as much information as I had hoped. Having surgery in the middle of one semester did not help at all, it took even more time for my body to recover and after that I still had to get my mind back into focus again. Now I'm trying to get things done before the due date, even though that has not worked this past week.

I have noticed that the Fall semester feels more stressful than the Spring semester due to an absence of a Spring Break, or any time off. The Fall semester feels like a marathon until Thanksgiving, I take a short breath, and then I'm sprinting until the end of the semester since Finals are only a few weeks later and then by Christmas I am ready to sleep for at least a week. Usually I will go out of town for Christmas but this past year I didn't since it was too stressful to plan ahead and once I was done with school I was too exhausted.

Staying in shape would be a better option for me, physically and mentally, better time management helps, and avoiding distractions. Then again, knowing that I'm almost done with my class work (being able to see the finish line) has also helped. It sounds easy and basic, but forcing myself to take baby steps has been a challenge. My classes used to meet in person, so I'd have constant updates and reminders that would keep me on track. Now my classes are online so I have to remember to pace myself and keep track of due dates and how long an assignment will take me to finish.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Go to Create a free account. Train your brains for  5 days. Report your progress and share your experience. You can customize the training based on what you are interested in. Do you think that the daily use of these activities help users to be better learners, memorize important facts, increase task speed and accuracy or solve problems?

I've been waiting to post my blog so I could train my brain this week through daily workouts on My scores overall seemed to variety quite a bit. I did notice that my 'workouts' in the evening scored much higher than my morning workouts. The range of available games is impressive and I wonder if physical therapist use this website or  others like it to engage patients. I'm not sure I'd use the games to workout a young healthy mind - I don't really have a solid reason behind this thought so it could easily be persuaded to change, I guess I hope children's play would develop the same skills in a more organic and natural way of evolving. I suppose I might be one of those people who needs to get away from the computer more often, but all of my classes are online right now.

The Luminosity tasks were each interesting, I'm curious to know more about their development and the intended focus of each task. If I want to increase my memory, why does the card game of Memory seem to be a favorite but is one game I least enjoy. I do like that type of variable on Luminosity, I couldn't alter my workouts since I was using a free trial. Being able to rate the tasks and setting my preferences for tasks that I'd like to try again over time would be very helpful. Everyone learns differently and the website appears to offer many options but I'm not sure if those options can be controlled by a paying member.

Being able to participate in more than three  tasks would also be nice, even more than the five allowed for paying members. Some days I feel better and I like to take advantage of 'good' physical and mental health days. Other days are a total loss due to frustration or a change in the weather causes body aches. I've placed pressure on myself this week to complete training every day so maybe I should have started soon so I could skip a few days. The tasks only took a few minutes though and they are a fun diversion.

I do feel like the tasks were a diversion, something new to try besides watching TV, reading homework, or other mindless activities available online. I wondered a few times how different these tasks may be compared to video games and the idea that our society views Luminosity tasks as more educational while video games are seen as a waste of time and played by many lonely misfits. Or the view that video games have a link to violence. None of the Luminosity tasks were violent by any means, but once we start trying to train our brain it feels like there is thin line between education and learning versus wasting time and resources.

I also found some other "brain games" online but those tasks were similar to jigsaw puzzles, dragging tiles into place to create an image, or simple math games. The Luminosity tasks felt much more mature and less like a lack of time spent on each one, but I'm not sure why even though I've been asking myself that question all week.

Overall I have to say that it is wonderful to find games online similar to the games I planned as a child. Perhaps their marketing of food, colors, and old fashion competition still works to bring people together. The Luminosity tasks do not bring people together, at least not in the trial version, since each individual is working on their own tasks. Perhaps we become better people and that will bring us to new people in the future.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Please select (a), (b) or (c) and post your experience/reflection on your blog.

(a) Go to Create a free account. Train your brains for  5 days. Report your progress and share your experience. You can customize the training based on what you are interested in. Do you think that the daily use of these activities help users to better learners, memorize important facts, increase task speed and accuracy or solve problems?

(b) What do mobile phones, loud radios and DVD players in cars, as well as high traffic, passengers, and other modern elements mean for driver attention to actual driving? If it is available to you, try going into a room that has a radio, TV, and any other distraction you can find. Now try to do your multiplication tables through 12. Talk about your experience. How much cognitive load can a driver handle while remaining effective at his/her task? Now, think about this in terms of the noise of an educational environment. How much noise is useful during learning? How much interferes with attention and consciousness? How should this impact the design of a learning environment? How much should it? Please look up some research to support your arguments.

(c) As a learner, what strategies do you use to pay attention? Please discuss 3 or more strategies and explain from a cognition point of view why these strategies work for you.

The most famous hermits in Literature.
Marcel Proust (France) - wrote the seven volume "In Search of Lost Time" after the untimely deaths of his parents. Proust secluded himself in his apartment and would only go out at night.

Emily Dickinson (United States) - only published seven poems in her lifetime. In 1862 Dickinson broke up with her boyfriend and went into seclusion.

Leo Tolstoy (Russia) -  writer, playwright, activist, and philosopher. 

Thomas Bernhard (Austria) - novelist, poet, and playright.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Psychology Perception

  1. Go to a coffee shop with a notebook, order some coffee and sit down. Find someone in the room to stare at for two minutes or until they look back. Write a one or more page response on how they reacted and how it made you feel to do this.
  2. How do your perceptions compare with those of other people? What does a red apple look like? Do we see the same color of red? What does chicken taste like? What does falling in love feel like? If we both place our hands on a hot stove, will our pains be similar?
  3. Go to Examine the pictures. Write a couple of paragraphs about which theories or neurological functioning explains how seven of these pictures exploit our perception of the world.
For my CECS 5300 class I was instructed to complete one of the above tasks and write a blog about the experience. A friend of mine loves cognitive psychology and told me she wants to be included in any tasks I need to complete this semester. I love her enthusiasm and willingness to assist me. My dad was visiting from out of state when classes began and I mentioned the class to him. I told him one of my optional tasks was to go to a coffee shop and stare at someone until they looked back at me. My dad replied that this is a great way to get shot and seemed as a slightly dangerous task.

Dad is from a small town so I mentioned the task to two of my friends from the Dallas area to see what they thought. Both women, older than me, agreed with my dad and felt the task could be potentially dangerous and questioned what they might do if they found someone staring at them intently. I have to say, I agree with them and the coffee shop option is way too far outside my comfort zone. Flirting is done with small glances and looking away if the other person sees you looking at them, staring seems to be a very aggressive type of body language. I don't mind reaching outside my comfort zone and my dad would agree that I often live outside the comfort zone of most people. I don't mind going out in my pajamas and when traveling I usually prefer pajamas, especially when flying. If I'm going to be stuck in an airport with potential delays then I'm going to be comfortable and I don't care if other people do stare at me since they'll be wishing for pajamas if our flight is delayed. 

I do believe that everyone has different perceptions. I grew up in Nebraska and went to college there. Once I moved away from Nebraska I discovered that most people do not wear bright red all the time, and many people never red at all. In Nebraska red and white are the college colors for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, also known as the Huskers. Many people, especially those living in Lincoln, have a large amount of red in their wardrobe and we were it year round. When I was married I had to separate our laundry into three piles: whites, colors, and always a load of red colors. I made the mistake of washing white undergarments with a red tshirt and my husband did not appreciate pink underwear.

My idea of a red apple is likely to be based upon my ideal of the color and shade of red compared to Husker red. Other teams also wear red but their colors are more burgundy than bright red. It is a subtle difference but college football fans notice the difference.

The taste of chicken is also likely to be different although many different foods are said to taste like chicken. I don't notice the taste of chicken so much but I did notice the taste of tomatoes after living in Dallas for a summer and then moving to northern Michigan (aka the Upper Peninsula). Tomatoes in Texas always taste fresh to me and taste more home-grown. After being in Michigan a few months I could really taste the difference of the imported tomatoes, they were not ripe even though the red coloring looked the same. They were not as juicy and the tasted very bland when compared to the taste of Texas tomatoes. Living closer to where the fruit is grown made a huge difference. Guacamole also tastes quite different in more northern states. The avocado is not fresh and is often overly mashed so the guacamole has a texture of pea soup or runny mashed potatoes. In Texas there are still small lumps of avocado in the guacamole so the texture is thicker.

Pain tolerance is very difficult to measure, even when one person is trying to describe their own pain and compare the differences within their own body. I have chronic pain in my lower back and right hip due to a car accident several years ago (someone turned in front of me and when I hit them it caused my car to roll over and slide about 100 meters, I was able to get out of the car by myself and did not appear hurt right after the accident). The nerve endings were damaged and I have since learned that the body only feels the pain in the area where the pain is most concentrated. In other words, I do not feel pain in other areas of my body unless that pain is greater than the usual pain I always feel in my lower back. My lower back pain will often change depending on my level of activity, the weather, and how much sleep I have had.

This past summer I had a very serve sunburn on my arm that eventually had blisters, probably a second degree burn. However, I could barely feel the burn even though a few blisters were popped when I scratched the area since I had a very active weekend due to my younger sister's outdoor wedding, a very long drive, and very little rest that weekend. My back pain was still worse than the sunburn so most of my pain was still focused on my back. My own pain is difficult to compare, from one area of the body to another but trying to compare my pain to another person's pain seems impossible. Everyone deals with pain differently and all of us have a very different pain tolerance, partially dependent on how much pain a person has known throughout their life. My pain tolerance used to be average but now my pain tolerance is much higher than it used to be before my car accident.

I also looked at the link in the third option for this class. I like optical illusions, probably because I can't draw and find it interesting how people learn to draw these illusions. Many of them are based on shading within the picture and perceptions that our eyes see. I often find the same type of shading can be done with fabric when people make quilts. I used to quilt when I had more time to devote to the hobby and still have a collection of fabric I hope to use one day when I am finished with school.

I've seen the same quilt pattern used throughout many quilts but the overall look and appearance of movement changes depending on the color of fabric and the gradients of shading seen in the fabric. One very popular quilt pattern is called Log Cabin, it involves a small square in the middle and rows added around the square in a circular pattern. However, once all of the quilt squares are sewn together many different looks can be achieved depending on the layout of the squares.

I did an Internet search for "Log Cabin quilts" and found the two following images. They use the same pattern, one quilt has red squares in the center, the other uses yellow, but the placement of light colors and dark colors results in very different overall images when the quilt is complete. The pattern can also be done with leftover fabric so there is no overall pattern with the planned shades creating another shape when finished. No optical illusions are created but the small patterns create bigger patterns depending on the placement of the pattern, color shades, and placement of the blocks next to one another. I could use the same quilt pattern over and over again and never create the same quilt twice but they could look very different.