Monthly Archives: March 2018

Rote Learning Can Turn Reticent Students into Active Learners

We’re all guilty of it—calling on the willing student with hand raised and eagerly waving rather than waiting for a more reserved student to hesitantly choke out a response. However, doing so most likely favors the student who is a better rote learner rather than a more creative thinker.

The reason has to do with the way people remember information. Students who are quick to respond likely have strong working memories, which allow an individual to hold onto information and store it until it needs to be retrieved. Working memories cause the avid hand-raisers to readily withdraw ideas from their memory banks, making them have what we often refer to as a steel-trap memory. These students can access several ideas as they think, so they can quickly calculate, translate, or call out the right answer.

As any teacher knows, not every student has this ability, especially those with distractibility. These learners tend to not have strong working memories. However, researchers are now saying they are actually more creative. Having a poor working memory, (the non-steel-trap kind) makes ideas flow more freely instead of fitting into the confines of the working memory bank. When ideas bounce around, creativity results.

Consequently, when instructors favor the willing hand waver over the quieter student, they may be acting biased toward a specific type of learner. Therefore, teachers should  integrate practices that help students without high-functioning working memories. Ironically, rote memorization is one of these practices, and it is a learning strategy sorely missing in Americans’ educations today.

By requiring memorization, we actually help students master a subject. Below are strategies you can pass along to help students with lesser working memories become more proficient learners.

  • Chunking. Chunking is memorizing bits of information (chunks) and grouping them into a larger whole that is more easily retrieved. Example: memorizing a few new vocabulary words that are somehow linked instead of attempting to memorize an entire list at once.
  • Mnemonic Mnemonics are an acronym, rhyme, image, phrase, or song that act as a memory trigger. Example: I before E except after C and words that sound A as in neighbor and weigh.
  • Metaphors/Analogies. Metaphors and analogies are the best devices to remember complex subjects because they take previous knowledge and apply it to new information. Example: comparing the direct organizational strategy to an inverted pyramid, with information organized in descending order of importance.

These learning strategies can help even our tightest-lipped students join the conversation and become more active learners.

What strategies to you use to pull in reticent students? Share your ideas!



The Business Card Gets Creative… Here’s Why Workers are Unhappy…

The Business Card Gets Creative

Like wearing gloves to a cocktail party, the standard rectangular business card has had its day, at least in some industries. Instead, odd-shaped cards that stand out are breathing new life into the old business convention.


People who want to make a statement with their cards are getting creative. The owner of a business development firm hands out a version of a Rubik’s cube with his name on it. A security-training firm’s card is metal and contains lock-picking tools. From odd sizes such as trapezoids to surprising materials like plastic, these unusual marketing tools have one thing in common: the attempt to make the recipient remember the person handing them out.

Although some are irritated by smaller than usual cards or cards so thick they won’t fit into a wallet, proponents of the oddball leave-behinds claim that most receiving the cards hold onto them, which is, of course, the point.

Cultures outside of the U.S. and some industries such as law and finance show no signs of giving up the traditional rectangle, and experts warn young job seekers to stick to the standard.

From the Wall Street Journal

Here’s Why Workers are Unhappy

Americans are not happy, at least at work, according to a new survey conducted by Mental Health America. The research found that fewer than one-third of U.S. workers say they are happy in their jobs, costing American businesses billions of dollars in productivity.

The results from the survey, which measured attitudes of over 17,000 employees, found that only 25 percent of workers felt they were adequately paid. Seventy percent were actively seeking new employment. Other reasons for worker misery included insufficient recognition, tight deadlines, cranky colleagues, and demanding bosses.

The key factors that influenced happiness were perks and flexible workplaces. Of those employees who reported being happy at work, 52 percent said they had flexible arrangements, and three-fourths noted a relaxed work environment. In a surprising finding, happy employees preferred professional recognition over salary.

The industries with the worst records for having happy employees included manufacturing, retail, and food and beverage. The industries with the best records were healthcare, financial services, and non-profits.


LinkedIn Profiles à la 2018

With 90 percent of employers using LinkedIn to find and vet new employees, it pays to keep your LinkedIn bio updated. Below are some tips geared to catch an employer’s eye.

Must haves

  • Education details
  • Professional-looking photo
  • Creative headline
  • Compelling 40-word summary statement

Must dos

  • Engage with contacts regularly.
  • Personalize messages to unknown new contacts.
  • Hit the right tone by adding personality to your bio.
  • Avoid rehashing your résumé as a narrative.
  • Update often with examples of work.

    From Business Insider

The Zen of Interviewing

No matter how perfect your résumé is, you won’t land the job without also nailing an interview. Experts offer advice about how to answer some of the most common interview questions you’re likely to encounter.

Tell me about yourself. This interview favorite is open-ended by design to test the interviewee’s ability to communicate well. Career coach Donald Walsh cautions job candidates to avoid the typical answer, I am a hard worker, noting that no organization would want to hire a lazy worker. Nor should you interpret the open-ended question as an invitation to tell your life story or to rehash your résumé. Walsh advises going beyond buzzwords and clichéd answers to instead summarize talents and skills without delving too deeply into your personal life. He suggests using a “listicle” that melds skills related to the job with witty responses: I was the fourth of four children, so I learned early how solve problems.

What are your weaknesses? Experts call this tricky question a landmine. To say you have no weaknesses is ridiculous; to offer up deal-killers (I’m massively disorganized) is also unwise. Still, honesty is the best policy. For example, if you have trouble organizing yourself, talk about the ways you compensate for the issue (adhering to your Google calendar or the like.) However, if you are indeed massively disorganized and a key component of the position requires organizational skills, why are you wasting your time and the interviewer’s? Finally, know that you won’t fool a hiring manager if you take a strength and try to masquerade it as a weakness (I work too hard.)

Where do you see yourself in five years? Job search mavens suggest approaching this question by preparing well thought-out answers while offering up some responses to avoid. Think twice about the wisdom of telling a hiring manager that you want her job. Why would someone hire you to unseat her? In the same vein, no company wants new-hires who just want to learn on the company’s time before starting their own businesses. The best approach, experts suggest, is to use your past experiences to tie into your future with the company: My past jobs have allowed me to progress and grow, and I hope my next role will allow me to do that over the next five years.

Why this company? This one is easy. Discuss the company’s values (which you’ve researched ahead of time!) and how your skill set will add to the organization’s mission. Don’t talk about money, perks, prestige, or the ability to bring your dog to the workplace. Similarly, if you tell a hiring manager you’re unclear about your future want and this job because it caught your eye, you will have killed any chance you had with the firm.

Curveball questions. Sometimes, you’ll get an oddball question such as, Is it better to turn in a project that’s perfect and late, or one that’s good and on time? There’s no wrong answer, says Obed Louissant, the VP of HR for IBM Watson. An organization looking for a team member would need both types of people.


  1. Why do experts tell job seekers to not complain about past jobs or managers?
  2. How could you describe your accomplishments without appearing arrogant?
  3. What can inappropriate attire—either too casual or too formal—say about you to a hiring manager?