October 26th, 2011 | Faculty News
Parents use smartphones as high-tech pacifiers for toddlers; ‘Yeah, but we had a nice dinner’: Wake Forest University psychology professor Deborah Best, who specializes in early childhood, agrees that children can benefit from programs that are age-appropriate and designed for learning. But “interacting with devices certainly does not replace one-on-one, face-to-face interaction between children and parents, or children and peers,” Best says. Those interactions, she says, help children learn such skills as reading emotions from facial expressions and taking turns in conversations.
October 26th, 2011 | Faculty News
Muppet make-over: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy reintroduced this fall: The decisions to hike up the Muppets cool factor is troublesome for Marina Krcmar, a specialist in the developmental effects of television on children at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. She says children’s tastes have not changed from the early days of both “Sesame Street” and the Muppets, but their handlers have acquiesced to trends mainly because they fear looking outmoded.
“I don’t think any research shows trendier Muppets are bad for kids, but I do question, socially and culturally, what we lose when we don’t want children to be unhip,” Ms. Krcmar says. “There should be a period in your life when you’re allowed to not be trendy and edgy and that should be early childhood.”
October 11th, 2011 | Faculty News
Bully-proofing your kids: Look in the mirror. Become aware of your own behavior, because your children will copy you.… “Parents whose default response is one of intimidation may inadvertently model bullying behavior for their children,” says Donna Henderson, a professor of counseling at Wake Forest University. “Or, if parents are the targets of bullying behavior from other adults and they don’t address it directly, kids will assume that’s the way to respond to bullies.”
October 10th, 2011 | Faculty News
Big birds behaving badly: The ocean-going seabirds called Nazca boobies live in colonies on the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Dave Anderson, a biology professor at Wake Forest University, has been studying them for more than 25 years. He hopes that one day his findings will provide valuable insight into human behavior, including the cycle of violence that often occurs among people who are abused as children. His study on the birds will appear in this month’s ornithology journal, The Auk.
October 7th, 2011 | Academics
Steve Jobs: what can we learn from how he lived: How do we grow more “mad thinkers” like Steve Jobs? This is where many in higher-education circles have paid close attention, says Polly Black, director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Wake Forest’s entrepreneurship program, she says, flows from Jobs’s extreme and passionate focus on “making meaning, not money.”
The program is a minor, housed inside the liberal-arts curriculum, “for a reason,” Ms. Black says. “We want people to see the larger connections between ideas and disciplines.”
She is quick to add that the wedding of the practical and the visionary is inextricably tied to lessons from Jobs’s life. “Jobs remained remarkably aligned with consumers, insisting their point of view came first,” she says, adding that his focus on consumer needs helped him create products that slid into the right place, just before consumers realized they needed that product.
Jobs surrounded himself with savvy people, says Black. “Jobs had the vision but needed a team to help build it out,” she says, noting that he believed strongly in the team function at Apple and considered everyone an integral part of the company’s success. His final email, she says, started out: “Team …”
The Wake Forest program encourages students to work in teams made up of people whose strengths differ from one another, Black says. The university seeds start-ups on campus, she notes, which gives students an opportunity to safely experience another important life lesson from the Jobs narrative – how to learn from failure.
“Jobs was fired from his own company,” Black says with a laugh, yet he never lost his focus or his passion and came back bigger than ever.
October 7th, 2011 | Faculty News
Americans Recall Personal Impacts of Jobs’ Vision: For Paul Pauca, admiration for Apple innovations goes beyond technology. They enabled him to help his disabled son. Pauca, a computer science professor at Wake Forest University, and some of his students developed a $10 app for the iPad and iPhone last year called VerbalVictor. It helps his young son, Victor, and others with severe disabilities communicate. The program was designed after the Paucas had a series of disappointments with specialized devices intended for people with disabilities. Pauca’s son, Victor, was born with a rare genetic disease shared only by about 50 other people in the U.S. It delays speech, among other skills. The app allows his parents to snap pictures and record phrases to go with them, which in turn become “buttons” on the touch screen. An example would be a picture of a playground paired with the phrase “I want to go out and play,”If it wasn’t for Steve Jobs, this wouldn’t be possible,” Pauca said. “For people with disabilities, the iPad, the iPhone, the App Store — it was really a revolution.” His son now brings an iPod Touch and iPad to school every day so he can communicate with the teachers and fellow students at his school.
October 6th, 2011 | Staff News
Bringing Career Planning into Liberal Arts Classrooms: Life after college has gotten harder in the recession’s wake, and colleges are not doing enough to prepare students for an anxiety-inducing job market. As a result, there is increasing skepticism about the value of college. The debate over higher education, however, is about far more than the return-on-investment for a degree. Indeed, America’s future economic competitiveness is at stake. Colleges and universities are seabeds of innovation, idealism and civic renewal. But, in many ways, higher education’s relentless pursuit of specialization and competitive achievement has muffled those ideals. Too often neglected is an understanding of why students are attending college in the first place, and what they will do with their degrees.…
October 4th, 2011 | Faculty News, Staff News
Are you ready for National Boss Day?: Evelyn Williams, a professor and associate vice president of leadership development at Wake Forest University Schools of Business, noted that, from a pragmatic standpoint, people should strive to get along with the folks who sign their paychecks. And while you can’t control how your boss behaves, you can alter the way you frame the relationship. “If you have a positive mental orientation about someone, if you look at them as someone who might actually be an ally and not an enemy, your body language is going to be different; you’re going to have different phrasing and communication styles,” Williams said. “I realize that can be hard, and I don’t mean to sound Pollyanna-ish. I just think no matter what you get as a boss, it’s a dependent relationship. And you need to figure out how to make the most out of that relationship.” …”Try to understand the preferences your boss has when it comes to decision making and how they like to get information,” Williams said. “These are things that are easy for you to do. You’re not compromising your integrity by conforming to some of your boss’ work-style preference. You want to know how you can be productive with them and understand them better.”