It is coming… exams!

It is that time of the semester again. Yes, our final exams are just around the corner and I can already see people stressing out in the library at night. The biggest change that I had encountered in terms of education when I transferred from my hometown college in Penang, Malaysia was exams. Now I’d … Read more

It is that time of the semester again. Yes, our final exams are just around the corner and I can already see people stressing out in the library at night.

The biggest change that I had encountered in terms of education when I transferred from my hometown college in Penang, Malaysia was exams. Now I’d have to tell you that I came from an Asian country, and you’ve seen the stereotypical Asian parents on TV where results are everything.

Since coming to Mount Union, I have had science classes for general education requirements where students are quizzed every week to make sure we are kept up to speed on class material. These classes often have tests three to four times a semester. To top it all off, there’s that comprehensive final exam at the end of it all. Brilliant, isn’t it?

That is pretty much the norm where I came from. Our academic achievements are based on exams and test scores. Academic excellence is nothing but a number or a grade. That all changed for me when I came to Mount Union.

Being a communication major, I had the opportunity to take classes that go easier on the exams and crank up the practical side of education. I’ve taken print production, advertising, audio production and video production. I believe that classes with a more practical approach helps prepare one for life after academics more than classes with constant examinations.

Since coming here January of last year, I have spent sleepless nights in the 24-hour area trying to work magic with Adobe to create posters for my print class and create advertising campaigns for mock products are clients. In addition, I’m currently hosting my own show on WRMU that shares foreign cultures and music with the public. Talk about being practical.

Education in America really changed me, although I have remained pretty much the same in terms of how lazy I am during final exams season. All through high school and college in Malaysia, I always felt like it was never meant for me. I felt exhausted by constant examinations. Most of all, I was tired that my intelligence was being judged by what I could do on paper. I am happy that education here takes a different approach and with that I can be better prepared for the real world.

Not to freak out and all, but the real world is only a semester away.

Need a minor?

Need a minor?

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I’m not sure if all other schools are like this, but here at Mount, every student is required to have a major and at least one minor. That is unless they have two majors, in which case they are good to go. In addition, a good number of students don’t have just one minor; instead they have two or three. I personally have two minors – intervention specialist and sociology – and am considering adding another in art just to add more depth to my college career. Each minor is obviously different, but beyond those obvious differences, there are also different credit hour requirements; some are 18, while some are only 12.

Today, I’d like to talk about a psychology minor. Now, it’s my major, so I’m slightly biased toward recommending! It’s 15 credit hours, which is 5 courses… not too bad, right?! It also offers A LOT of wiggle room. Every psych minor is required to take Introduction to Psychological Science (PY 100), which also can fulfill a general education requirement, but aside from this, the last 4 courses are completely up to you! The department offers a wide range of courses that can fit almost anyone’s interests and major. Let’s take a look at a major that psychology would fit perfectly into as a supplemental minor.

First, we’ll touch on a popular major at Mount Union: education. Just quickly going through the psychology course offerings, I find 7 courses that would be helpful for a future educator to take… and a psych minor only needs 5 courses so you could take all education-related psychology classes! Being an education major, you learn all the things you’d need to know including real-world experiences and everything you need to know to be a teacher… potentially the day after you receive your diploma! The purpose of Mount Union making a minor a requirement, however, is to broaden horizons and make students have a more well-rounded education. Psychology is helpful in almost all education settings.

Next, instead of basic psychology, let’s talk about cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, which is a part of the Department of Psychology. This minor is a little less open-ended with 17 credit hours; there are 4 required courses and room for one course of choice. These required courses are integral to this minor, so it makes sense to make them mandatory to take. This minor would be perfect for a biology major who was also interested in the biology of the brain.

In the end, any minor offered is going to be helpful and you don’t have to choose just one! This is just me letting you know that psychology is an option and a useful one at that!

Internships… Do ‘em!

Internships… Do ‘em!

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Walking through the Hoover-Price Campus Center (HPCC) sometime in September my freshman year I noticed there were a lot of tables set-up outside the cafeteria and noticed it was a job and internship fair. It didn’t really interest me too much and I was really pretty excited it was nacho bar day at lunch and I wanted to keep my eye on the prize, but ya know what pulled me in? Free pens. I can directly link the best experience of my life thus far to my obsession with deals. What experience is that you ask? No it wasn’t the free pen as I’m sure I lost that the same day. Coming upon the table for autism internships was the most beautiful coincidence of my life. A free pen, a table, an information sheet, an online application and a short email later… I had an interview. And, soon after that, I had an offer to take one of the summer classroom intern positions at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (CCCA).

The CCCA summer internship program was set up due in large part to the work of Dr. Turko of the Department of Psychology and is made up of three separate internships – classroom, research and social spies. Both the classroom and research internships take place at the center in Shaker Heights. The research interns collect and record data for center-wide research. Social spies work as camp counselors at one of two camps for typical kids that kids with Asperger disorder attend and work on their social skills without being separated from their peers. These interns are assigned to one or two campers and help them with anything they need.

The classroom internship, I obviously know a bit more about, since I was able to take part in it. These interns basically are given the opportunity, in most cases, to be taking on a role as a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT), which are easily described as teachers. Each intern is put in one classroom and he or she stay there for the two months of the internship. As an intern in Intermediate 1B, which is students from about 11 to 16 years old, I worked with getting materials ready for the day, recording behavior data, implementing behavior plans, implemented curriculum/working one-on-one or one-on-two with students. It is impossible to describe how amazing an experience it is without experiencing it for yourself, so I urge anyone with an interest to at least apply… this year, next year or three years down the road, just do it sometime. Since the summer after my freshman year (2010), I have been able to volunteer there intermittently. I completed one semester of placement for an education class there, volunteered two days a week last summer and will volunteer one day a week next semester to fulfill my psychology internship requirement. I have made professional connections that will be indispensable in the future and hope that the CCCA will be a future place of employment.

Even if you’re not interested for this coming summer’s program, get familiar with it so you can apply in the future. Below is a flier, much like the one I picked up that fateful day in HPCC, so you can look it over and get to know the program!

Smile as Big as the Moon

Smile as Big as the Moon

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This past Thursday, all students in the Department of Education at Mount Union and students in the Alliance City Schools, had the honor of hearing author Mike Kersejes speak about his book, Smile as Big as the Moon. Mike is a special education teacher who wrote a book on his experiences with his special education class and their adventure to space camp! While discussing special education, Mike talked a lot about how we as future educators need to remember many things when working with these children. One important point that he made right at the beginning of his speech really spoke to me – “We need to start asking what the child does know, instead of what he or she doesn’t know.” Mike emphasized how important it was that we encourage students with special needs and focus strictly on the positives.

Mike told the story of how he wanted to try and teach the kids in his class what it meant to be on a team and the concept of teamwork. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” he said. And, for the kids in his class, he wanted to show them that they could reach their dreams by working together as a team. He had an idea, and a crazy one at that. He wanted to take his special needs class to space camp. Everyone in the school thought he was crazy and no one wanted to help him raise money for them to go. Mike’s class finally did receive a sponsor  (The Burger King Corporation), and from there they ventured off to space camp. At space camp, the kids ended up doing very well. They took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards in different events and really learned how to work through different obstacles and challenges that may have been easier for the other teams at the camp. To me, this showed that nothing is impossible with teamwork. While it may seem that children with special needs have some set backs, we as teachers can teach them to work hard together, so they can do anything they set their minds to.

Mike still takes his special education class to space camp every year and they never place anything less than 3rd in the different events. I was truly inspired by Mike and everything he had to say to us. He truly taught his students how to conquer their fears, by simply just believing in them and pushing them to work together. I highly suggest everyone read his book, Smile as Big as the Moon. I know it’s going to be first on my summer reading list!