I'm teaching my graduate seminar on adolescent development this semester. I teach it as a survey course, so lots of broad overview. I'm excited this semester because in addition to HDFS students, we have students from psychology, education, and nursing. Here's the syllabus:
I love hearing the students' contemporary issues presentations. It really provides students an opportunity to delve into a topic of interest to them, and exposes all of us to the most recent research in a more controversial topic. I look forward to this year's presentations because the students chose different topics than the usual suspects. Here's the full list of topics:
I'm teaching my grad seminar in adolescent development again this semester. You can find the syllabus here. Here are the topics and readings for my contemporary issues assignment.
It hasn't changed that much from last year. I've updated some readings. The biggest change is I'm trying something new with the final project. The past few times I've taught the course, I've had a big final project, and a manuscript review assignment earlier in the semester. This time, I decided, at the advice of students from last year's class, to have students peer review each others' final projects instead. I struggled with how to do this assignment in a way that would be helpful for everyone. I didn't want to overwhelm students if they received feedback from 2 classmates in addition to feedback from me. So, I'm going to try modeling it on the peer review process. Each student will anonymously review 2 other students' projects. They will submit the reviews to me, and then as part of the grading feedback, I will serve as "editor" providing the student who wrote the final project with feedback that incorporates their classmates' reviews. My goals with this assignment are to provide students with:
1. Process of writing peer reviews
2. Feedback from multiple sources
3. Experience of going through peer review, with feedback from an editor and 2 reviewers
Students who choose to revise their paper for an improved grade will have to also respond to the editor and reviewers' reviews. We will see how it all goes.
I love teaching this course. It provides an opportunity for me to talk about adolescent development, to hear from students with a range of interests and perspectives, and to keep up to date on contemporary work in the area.
“The post Grad Seminar in Adolescent Development 2015 first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on January 14, 2015.”
I became an assistant professor about a month before my 30th birthday. On my first day teaching (a large gen ed class), I was standing at the front of the room somewhat nervous. A student approached me, and I had a moment of excitement – my first official question from a student as a professor! Then the question: “Do you know if he is going to give us the syllabus?” I couldn’t even process the question and asked her to repeat it. When I finally realized what she was asking, I lamely replied “I’M the professor!” and she slithered away.
A week later, at an event for first year honors students, one of my colleagues introduced herself to me, assuming I was a… first year honors student.
Before age 40, I always looked young. I have always been short (no improvement post-40). As a child and teenager everyone assumed I was much younger than my age. In grad school everyone assumed I was an undergrad. I was carded well into my 30’s, and occasionally after 40 in really poor lighting.
So, this recent post about women who look young in academia definitely hit home. She makes a number of excellent points about gender role expectations, how youth is – and isn’t – valued, and issues of status and expectations. I won’t repeat those issues here. What I want to share here are my experiences with this issue, and how I have addressed it.
The experiences didn’t stop at my first couple of weeks as assistant professor. They continued, both in my teaching and research life. At conferences when I presented, people would ask me “Who do you work with?”
As an instructor, I had difficulty getting students to treat me with respect. Students would call me “Eva” and call male assistant professor colleagues “Professor X.” I would receive very informal emails. Students would sometimes interrupt my lectures to make jokes (some of which were inappropriate). I also would get comments in my student evaluations that made it clear students perceived me as young. The one I will never forget: “She expected us to call her Dr., and that’s ridiculous. Dr. is a title you earn, you don’t just get to be called it.” Somehow my 6 years in a doctoral program were wiped away by a student who thought I was too young to be a Dr.
I was (mostly) able to turn it around, especially on the teaching front. Here are some of the things I did, some of which overlap with the advice in the post I linked to above:
Professor: Dr. E. Lefkowitz
Pronunciation: DOK-ter LEF-coe-wits
I’m sure there are other things I did, but it’s been almost a decade since I felt like it was really an issue, so I don’t remember everything I did.
With time (and wrinkles), my work self has evolved closer to “me” and less of a persona of “female professor.” Students can call me by my first name if they choose. I’m a bit more relaxed and casual in the classroom. I have moved away from the librarian look, rarely wear my glasses or my hair back, and wear the clothes I want, though I almost never wear jeans or casual clothing to the office.
Would it be better if we lived in a world where we didn’t have to think about these things? Sure. But was my teaching and professional life easier after I made these changes? Absolutely.
“The post Strategies for young looking academics first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on August 6, 2014.”
If you teach at a university, chances are right around now you are receiving your teaching evaluations. When I started teaching these were hand written forms. Now that our university has moved from handwritten to online teaching evaluations (we call them SRTE’s, Student Ratings of Teacher Effectiveness), I receive all of the feedback electronically. Before tenure, SRTE’s were not only feedback on my teaching, but felt like a determining factor in whether I kept my job or not. That scared me. Now, I no longer live in fear that I could lose my job if I have a bad semester, but I still read each and every comment on my SRTE’s (easy this semester as I had only 9 students in my grad seminar). Responses to feedback from teaching evaluations are as variable as the instructors who receive them. I know people who do not read them at all, or who read them, dismiss them, and are done. I know people who focus on the positive feedback and use it as an ego boost. Once in grad school another student was discussing with me how great her teaching evaluations were. I told her that mine weren’t that good; I had one really unhappy student who said a lot of negative things. She asked me if anyone said anything positive, and I said that everyone else had been neutral or positive. And then she revealed that she had people write negative things, too, but she was only focusing on the positive feedback. And then there are instructors who dwell on the negative responses, even if they are swimming in a sea of positive feedback.
I’m a dweller. I have always had trouble separating myself from negative comments, and tend to take them personally. It could be considered a good trait, I suppose, in that I explore possible reasons for any negative response, and consider ways I might change my course in response. But over the years what I realized is that I would sometimes focus so much on one or two positive responses that I would work too hard to change my class in reaction to those perspectives, even if they disagreed with the majority of the class. I found the most negative ones the most salient and memorable, and would focus my energy and attention there.
Through the years in my roles as professor-in-charge of the undergraduate and now graduate program, I have worked with a number of other faculty trying to summarize written responses to SRTE’s. So, I wanted to share what I find most helpful, particularly in courses with many students.
Basically, I informally and quickly code the responses. Our SRTE’s have 2 open-ended questions: 1) What helped you learn, and 2) What changes would improve your learning. I open up Excel and start reading through the responses. I do a separate tally for the 2 different questions. So starting with the responses to question 1, I start reading each response, and very briefly summarize any main point. For instance, if someone wrote “The articles and 4-pointers really supplemented the lectures nicely” I would create a new row called “articles” and one called “4-pointers” and then each would get 1 tally mark. Then when someone else wrote “the weekly four pointers that were assigned in the course helped relate classroom material to outside world and readings” I would give “4-pointers” a second tally mark. Unhelpful comments (e.g., the TA was hot; I wish she let us meet outside) as well as hostile comments without constructive feedback (e.g., I hate her and wish she had never been born [note: I made that one up!]) don’t make it into the count.
By the end, I have a helpful count of what students liked about the course, and what they wanted to change. I can sort by frequency of responses, allowing a visual way to see which comments occurred frequently and which did not. Often in doing so, I have realized that the comment that stuck with me was a very infrequent perspective, and was salient only because of the emotion attached to it.
The other great thing about this method is that I do not need to sort through the actual responses in the future. When I get ready to teach this course again, I can look at the emotion-free version, and so I don’t get defensive in reading the feedback.
I have used this method both for my own teaching, and in my PIC role for others, and I always find it brings clarity to what went well and did not go well. Here’s an example taken from various pieces of feedback across different classes so you can see what one looks like.
Our last class of the semester. They were a great and engaged group and I will miss meeting with them.
Our student presenter talked about The Forgotten Half and what we now know. She shared this rap about the forgotten half. She discussed improvements over the past couple of decades, but also evidence that there are still major challenges for non-college bound youth, and particularly for undocumented immigrants, who may not have the choice to go to college in the United States.
We talked about the transition to adulthood in different cultures, in particular Italy, Sweden, and Germany based on this paper by Cook and Furstenberg (2002).
We talked about the transition to marriage, and whether women over 40 really are more likely to get shot by a terrorist than married (short answer: No; longer answer: see Rose ).
And we talked about the gender gap in income and in STEM careers. Did you know that women outnumber men now in number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in Science & Engineering (S&E)?
But men still outnumber women in S&E doctoral degrees, and the disparity increases as you go along the pipeline all the way up to full professors. The controversy over statements made by Lawrence Summers when he was president at Harvard, and how accurate (as opposed to prudent) his statement was.
We discussed immigration and the fact that 2012/2013 was the first birth cohort where 0-1 year olds from ethnic minority groups outnumber those from European American backgrounds.
We discussed fertility rates by country, concerns about declining fertility rates in much of Europe, and the silly but entertaining Do it for Denmark campaign.
This year, for only the second time ever, one of my students opted to create a website rather than submit a traditional final paper. Check it out here.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Transition to adulthood first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on May 5, 2014.”
The student presentation this week was on whether HPV vaccination should be mandated in schools. She had some great media examples of the hype around the dangers of HPV vaccination, and information on legislation to mandate HPV vaccination. Did you know that Texas was the first state that tried to require HPV vaccination along with other vaccines? That legislation didn’t pass. But Virginia and DC do have HPV vaccination requirements, and other states are attempting legislation. She presented some interesting data that women who are “decisionally neutral” about accepting HPV vaccination are unlikely to get vaccinated, suggesting that vaccination legislation could convert a number of people who are not actively opposed to vaccination.
We talked about theories and how they do (and don’t) adequately explain sexual behavior.
We talked about one of my major pet peeves – researchers who talk about gender differences in, for instance, age at first sex (boys younger than girls), number of sexual partners (boys more than girls), and condom use (boys use condoms more than girls). The math doesn’t work. Who are these boys having sex with? Most data suggests that boys’ sexual partners are younger than them, so how can they start at earlier ages than girls do? If boys are having sex with younger girls, then, if we match boys and girls on age, shouldn’t the boys actually be having fewer partners, not more? And similarly, if heterosexual boys and girls are having sex with each other, and then reporting differing rates of condom use, how is that possible? There’s a great article by Brown and Sinclair (1999) that demonstrates, by having participants discuss their strategies for estimating lifetime sexual partners, that men and women have different strategies for estimating number of sexual partners. Women are more likely to rely on enumeration (e.g., naming: Bill, Tom, Joe…) and tally retrieval (just “knowing” the number and being able to access that number). Men are more likely to use rough approximation (um, 5-10? So 10). Enumeration in particular has a tendency to lead to undercounting (e.g., if someone forgot about a particular partner). And men might have a tendency to overestimate in rough approximation (round up).
We spent a long time talking about sex education, and what ideally we would want taught, and when.
One exciting aspect of talking about my area of research in class is that the majority of articles that students brought in (independently) were either ones that I have already read, or written by people I know well (or both). This week that list included a paper by one of my collaborators, Derek Kreager that demonstrates that male adolescents with many sexual partners are more accepted by peers, whereas female adolescents with many sexual partners are less accepted by peers, demonstrating the peer context of the sexual double standard; a paper by my former student, Sara Vasilenko, in which they demonstrated latent classes of sexual behavior; a qualitative study with the great title, “When you got nothing to do, you do somebody”: A community’s perception of neighborhood effects on adolescent sexual behaviors; and work from Monique Ward’s research group on communication with parents and peers about sex among Asian Americans.
Finally, we chatted about a recent article by Eric Anderson and colleagues on heterosexual men kissing men. In Britain. If you haven’t read it, you must. And then get others to read it, so you can talk about it.
I had a million more things to say about sexual health in adolescence, but alas, we must move on to new topics next week.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Sex first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on April 29, 2014.”
You know it’s an interesting class when someone announces “I have an orgasm question.” And we’re not even getting to sex until next week.
We spent a long time talking about the measurement of romantic relationships. In particular, how to measure some ideal grouping variable to distinguish those in romantic relationships from those not. One of the papers we read, by Meier and Allen (2009) used Add Health data and these 2 inclusion criteria: whether the participant reported a “special romantic relationship” in the past 18 months, OR, if there was one person with whom they held hands, hugged, and kissed in the past 18 months. 85% of the romantic relationship sample was identified through claiming a specific partner, and the remaining 15% through engaging in the 3 behaviors with the same person. Other suggestions that came up in class as possible relationship status indicators included time/length in relationship, behaviors engaged in with partner, asking friends/peers if the participant was in a relationship, or asking participants something like, “would your friends consider you to be in a romantic relationship?” No one really wanted to tackle the direct question of how to ask whether someone is in relationship, yes or no.
We talked about gender differences in romantic relationship behavior, which is perhaps my only excuse to play this in class. I don’t think I realized before today how perfectly the song fits into a David Buss framework of mate selection.
We talked about unreciprocated love (crushes!) based on a chapter I really like, but it is challenging to link to, by Welsh, Grello, and Harper. The perfect example for talking about crushes/unreciprocated love comes from a blog where the writer posted entries from her early adolescent diary. So awesome. You will have to scroll around to find multiple entries in the month I linked to, but it’s worth it – you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll relate, and you’ll think, wow, just like what research says!
Our student presenter discussed whether non-relationship sex has increased during adolescence, and whether it is unhealthy. She referred to some not-yet-published longitudinal data that suggest that hooking up in college has increased in the past few decades. These data suggest that rates of sexual behavior in the past year haven’t changed much since the 80’s, but that there is a slight increase between the 1988-1996 college cohort compared to the 2002-2010 college cohort in casual sex/hooking up. Specifically, among sexually active students, those in the more recent cohort were more likely to have a casual date/pickup sexual partner in the past year (44% vs. 35%) or a friend as a sexual partner (69% vs. 56%) and less likely to have a serious romantic or marital sexual partner (77% vs. 85%). Her conclusion on the second question, whether it is unhealthy, was mixed, though more likely unhealthy for girls/young women. My research group also has a paper on the short-term consequences of sex that suggests that although sex with dating partners and with non-dating partners are equally associated with positive consequences of vaginal sex, there are more negative consequences when with non-dating partners – though we did not find differences by gender.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Romantic relationships first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on April 22, 2014.”
Substance use is one of my favorite topics in adolescent development (insert punchline here, but only if you didn’t know me as an adolescent). This week was no exception.
Our student presenter talked about vaping, prescription drug misuse, pharm parties, and molly. We discussed increasing and decreasing trends over time for specific drugs, and differences by college vs. non-college, and country (Monitoring the Future is a great resource for substance use prevalence rates. Also, check out vast differences by country across Europe). Here’s one example of a graph I made a couple of years ago from the ESPAD website:
We talked about theories of substance use based on Petratis, Flay, and Miller (1995), and Schulenberg and Maggs (2002). The general consensus was that no one theory was enough to explain everything, but for any empirical article we discussed, more than one theory/framework could be used to explain it.
And we talked about one of the aspects of substance use that interests me most, event specific drinking/prevention. This topic included work that shows that: (1) college students drink more at spring break, but only if they go on trips with friends; (2) if examined on a week by week basis, college students drink more during the times they’re away from school, such as, in addition to spring break, Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years (and also Guavaween); (3) Saint Patrick’s Day only causes a major change in drinking (measured as BAC) if it’s on a normally non-drinking day; if it’s on a Thursday, it’s not that different from other Thursdays. We talked about my research group’s study on State Patty’s Day – a student constructed holiday that led to increased drinking and increased police reported offenses. And different ways to approach college student drinking.
Finally, one student shared an article that used peer network analysis to demonstrate that even after controlling for friends’ alcohol use, friends’ parents’ knowledge/monitoring and discipline were linked to adolescents’ own alcohol use. That is, adolescents’ friends’ parents may have an influence on adolescents’ alcohol use behavior (don’t know how I feel about this finding as a parent. I used to hope that my children would have nerdy friends, but now I also have to think about the friends’ parents!).
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Substance use first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on April 7, 2014.”
To talk about personal fable/optimistic bias, I like to show some data I collected from a large undergraduate class a few years ago. I asked them to compare their likelihood of a range of outcomes to the rest of the class (5 point scale ranging from more likely to less likely). If people were accurate, then the same percent of students should choose more likely as less likely (you can ignore the “equal” ratings). Instead, there is almost always optimistic bias. For instance, averaged across the negative events, 47% of students rate them as less likely to happen to themselves, and only 19% as more likely (biggest biases come from STDs, pregnancy, and alcohol poisoning; reverse, pessimistic bias comes from skin cancer). Averaged across positive events, 41% of students rate them as more likely to happen to themselves, 19% as less likely (biggest biases come from successful marriage and getting the job you want; reverse pessimistic bias from winning the lottery). It’s interesting for thinking about people’s ability to make these judgments, which we now know doesn’t disappear after adolescence.
We chatted about Moffitt’s adolescence limited and life course persistent antisocial behavior model, and the newer Loeber and Burke model of different developmental pathways to externalizing and internalizing outcomes. And recent work by Loeber and colleagues on how cognitive impulsivity and intelligence are associated with the age-crime curve.
We also discussed an article in which the authors predicted age 15 externalizing behavior from exposure to cocaine in utero.
And finally, we tried to think about how to intervene in the different types of externalizing behaviors.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Risk, externalizing behaviors & violence first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on March 31, 2014.”
A student presented on the Common Core standards and how they may impact adolescents’ learning and development more generally. He summarized some of the work by Eccles and colleagues on stage-environment fit, talked about No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, summarized the goals of Common Core, discussed potential benefits and risks of Common Core, brought up the risk of teacher blaming, and mentioned larger-scale issues beyond curricula that affect performance. I then asked students, who were mostly critical of Common Core, to propose solutions to the educational challenges in the US, and they came up with some interesting suggestions, including more vocational training for non-college bound adolescents, more flexibility to individualize curricula, and structural changes.
I talked about some of my favorite cross-cultural studies, by Saxe (1982, 1988), on the importance of context for studying mathematical thinking.
And we talked about neuroscience work coming out of various research groups, including Casey and Steinberg (plus check out work by my colleague, Chuck Geier), that helps to explain increases in risk taking in adolescence.
“The post This week in Adolescent Development: Cognition and Schools first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on March 24, 2014.”
Eva S. Lefkowitz
I write about professional development issues (in HDFS and other areas), and occasionally sexuality research or other work-related topics.
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