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  • drdianehamilton 10:52 am on April 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , emotions, gamification, leaders, ,   

    One Key Word That Impacts Intelligence, Engagement, Sales, Soft Skills, Gamification, and Millennials 

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    There is an emotional component behind most of the things that will make or break employees’ and leaders’ success.  When someone first hears the word emotion, it may suggest emotional intelligence.  Developing emotional intelligence is one important factor that has been demonstrated to lead to success.  However, that is just part of the picture.

    Emotions are a big part of engagement as well. Engagement is the emotional commitment the employee feels toward the organization and its goals.   Emotion creeps up when discussing soft skills, culture, sales skills, and just about anything regarding success at work.  Soft skills include components such as interpersonal skills.  Having strong interpersonal skills are a big part of emotional intelligence.

    Sales skills often require tapping into consumer’s emotions.  Sales skills are a big part of being successful as an entrepreneur as well.  Some of the top emotion-based issues employees, leaders, and entrepreneurs face, involve managing emotions, finding ways to become emotionally committed and having others become emotionally committed, and developing ways to improve emotional awareness in others.  What makes a top salesperson successful?  They find an emotional need or pain.  Sales are based on people’s greed, fear, envy, pride, shame, and a host of other emotions that lead to a feeling of emotional reward.  When creating content for consumers, marketing professionals consider the motions that design, color, and images will have on them.

    Gamification has been added to the workplace to develop employees on an emotional level.   Emotions are powerful and impact learning.  Training programs must have aesthetically pleasing aspects, or negative emotions could result. Gaming has become a strong focus for Millennials as they see it as a form of entertainment.  However, it can also be used to create positive emotions to improve training and productivity.  Plutchik’s psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion explained there are eight primary emotions which include anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy.  These emotions trigger behavior.  He suggested eight primary bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. Up to 90% of purchasing decisions are based on an emotional response.

    People in sales situations, at work, in school, or at home, may have difficulty expressing emotions or even understanding their emotions or those of others.  This difficulty has led to a multitude of problems that impact behaviors.  Most people are hired for their skills and fired for their behaviors.  This problem with behaviors is a big part of what employers call soft skills.  Soft skills can include a multitude of issues including lack of effective interactions with others.  The sooner employers realize that emotions are not just a part of emotional intelligence, but engagement, productivity, sales, and a vast array of outcomes that can be either positive or negative if employers find ways to capitalize understanding their value at work.

    To find out more about emotions, check out some of these authors and speakers.  All but two of them have been on Take the Lead (my nationally-syndicated radio show), and I have been part of events where I heard the other two speak.  I highly recommend looking into the work that these individuals have produced because all of them are very impressive:

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  • drdianehamilton 5:13 am on March 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Will Managers and Leaders be Replaced with AI? 

     AIAs technology becomes more sophisticated, some activities previously completed by employees can be handled by computer programs.  HR professionals have already found that AI can perform candidate searches and determine best matches for jobs.  Using technology can help make candidate reviews more manageable.    AI can even monitor email to determine if employees are engaged at work and notify leaders of those who may be ready to leave the company.  Some companies already offer some AI-related assistance to track candidates or monitor workers. Some examples include SAP, Entelo, Veriato, and Bluvision. It is possible to receive alerts if employees have poor performance or if they are not where they should be at work.

    Why continue to have employees when computers can do all the work?  AI can have its biases.  It may make decisions based on past information.  It has no gut instinct.  There is no way to determine if AI is more effective than the human choice yet because it has been unchartered territory.  However, AI has offered some insight into things managers and leaders may not have time to track.  That is not to say there are no issues.  Privacy is something that jumps to the front of the line as companies track people’s online footprint.  Some argue that AI reports may lead to incorrect assumptions by leaders.  While leaders want to determine the best way to predict success in their employees, the current software options available may not have the level of sophistication required.  There may be important pieces of the puzzle left out in the process.  How can a machine grasp the human emotional aspect of performance?  Instead of using AI as a replacement for employees, it may be more of a tool to use in addition to personal insight, gut instinct, and common sense based on experience.

    If blue and white color jobs are already at stake, will leaders soon be replaced by AI?  Sydney Finkelstein from Dartmouth argued that middle management is already virtually extinct. Frey and Osborne’s (2013) study “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization” predicted that 47% of workers will be replaced by machines.  Accenture (2015) found leaders lack some basic human skills including social networking, people development and coaching, and collaboration.  The Accenture results indicated that “84% of managers believe AI will make their work more effective and interesting. Manpower performed a survey of 18,000 employers in 43 different countries, which found 82% expect to maintain or increase staff levels because of automation.”

    Perhaps it is not a question of if leaders and managers will be impacted, but more a question of how much and when.  Disruption continues, and all levels of management cannot escape some impact.  Leaders and managers will need to keep pace with advances, communicate to keep the human component indispensable, be creative, and design organizations that utilize human and AI talent to take advantage of both.

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  • drdianehamilton 5:18 am on March 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    First IQ, then EQ: Leaders Must Now Also Have CQ 

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    If IQ is a measure of intelligence, EQ a measure of emotional intelligence, then what is CQ? In each of these cases, the Q stands for quotient, which means a measure or degree of that characteristic. The Cultural Intelligence Center defines CQ as, “the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It goes beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness to highlight a theoretically-based set of capabilities needed to successfully and respectfully accomplish your objectives in culturally diverse settings.” Companies are becoming more culturally diverse, and that means leaders must adapt.

    If leaders have positions where they have considerable involvement with foreign cultures, it is critical that they truly understand that culture.  It is not enough to just read about cultures.  It may be challenging to determine a level of CQ. To be a cultural master is different from being culturally competent according to Ricardo Gonzales at Bilingual America.  To develop a level of mastery is a journey.  Leaders continue to develop.

    Some important skills to develop to have true cross-cultural awareness may include things associated with EQ, such as adaptability and empathy.  Just like EQ, CQ can be developed.  One way to do this is through experiential learning.  Immersing oneself into a culture can be challenging.  However, it may be helpful to develop a true understanding of cultural norms.

    Leaders may work with people in foreign cultures and have little appreciation for what is embraced in that society.  It may be important to know about their favorite sports, their appreciation for different artists, musicians, etc.  Some leaders may know historical information, but not truly be mindful of what is popular, or what employees hold dear.  To connect with others at a cultural level, leaders need to dig deeper and strive to have a greater understanding of those things that give the people with whom they connect meaning.  This has been referred to as cultural metacognition or cultural mindfulness.

    It may be important for leaders to work on their cultural mindfulness.  To do this, it may help to consider past successful and unsuccessful interactions.  Echo Yuan Liao of IESE Business School explained that in addition to reflecting, paying attention to other people’s reactions can help as well.  Bilingual America offers cultural training for help with interacting with the Latino culture.  This may be helpful to all levels of leaders and managers who manage Latino workers.

    As organizations grow into emerging markets, increasing their CQ becomes paramount to their success.  The Cultural Intelligence Center found, “Fortune 500 companies expect that their greatest revenue streams over the next decade will come from emerging markets, and top universities are recruiting students from around the world and from groups previously underrepresented on campus. Organizations with culturally intelligent students and staff are more likely to accomplish their mission in today’s multicultural, globalized world.” Those leaders who have the foresight to embrace the importance of CQ will benefit, just as those who have embraced the importance of EQ.

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  • drdianehamilton 4:33 am on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amy Cuddy, , , , , ,   

    How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work 

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    Job listings often describe the skills needed to perform in a position. However, many of the skills required for success fall under the category of soft skills.  Many employees may be hired for their knowledge and yet may end up being fired for their behavior or lack of social skills.  Forbes reported that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  Mitchell Communications Group found that companies lose $37 billion a year in the United States due to miscommunication.  Research from Adecco Staffing considered what the C-suite thinks about the type of skills employees lack. They found that the C-suite believed 44% lacked soft skills including communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  This has led to missed growth opportunity, low productivity, and reduced profits.

    The good news is that we can improve these social or soft skills.  The first step is realizing that there is always room for improvement. It can help to observe others who have strong skills that may need development.  To determine areas that may need improvement, start by considering some questions.

    • Do you listen more than you speak?
    • What verbal and non-verbal cues do others receive from you?
    • Do teams on which you serve have personality conflict issues?
    • Do recognize your emotions as well as those in others?
    • Are you adaptable to change?
    • Do you find problem-solving and decision-making difficult?
    • Do you manage your time well?
    • Are you motivated to go above and beyond at work?
    • Do you rush to judgment before knowing the facts?
    • Do you seek an inordinate amount of attention for your accomplishments?
    • Do you recognize your weaknesses and are you willing to work on them?
    • Do you become upset easily if things do not go your way?
    • Do you blame others when things do not go your way?
    • Do you remain calm in difficult situations?
    • Do you apologize directly if you hurt someone’s feelings?

    It may be critical for people to develop empathy by considering how they would feel in another person’s position.  When making decisions, consider how those decisions will impact others.  Most of the issues that employers deal with are communication-based.  Once you can recognize your own emotions and empathize with how others feel as well, that is a big step to building emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence and emotional commitment to one’s job (aka engagement) are two important pieces of the employee success puzzle.

    There are two fascinating TED talks that may help.  Amy Cuddy’s talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” and Susan Cain’s The Power of Introverts may provide some insight regarding how to truly know your strengths and weaknesses and learn to embrace them.  Personality and preferences play a big role in how we interact at work.  It is important not to under-estimate the impact of interpersonal skills.  Rather than waiting for schools or employers to help, individuals can learn a lot from:

    • Read more about emotional intelligence, listening, problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, adaptability, persuasive techniques, and conflict resolution.
    • Watch TED talks like the ones listed above and others that touch on these important topics.
    • Find a mentor who embodies the skills that require development.
    • Volunteer to help others and learn important lessons about being humble.

    As with any learning, it takes time to develop soft skills. The U.S. Department of Labor created a great workforce readiness soft skills training downloadable PDF for youth ages 14-21. Although that is intended for young adults, older workers could benefit from many of the activities as well.

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  • drdianehamilton 5:52 am on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    What Leaders Need to Know About Engagement 

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    Gallup’s 2016 survey results have shed light on how poor engagement is in the workplace.  If only 13% of workers feel engaged, there are serious consequences for productivity, turnover, and team effectiveness.  Managers may be instrumental in encouraging employees and helping them improve their levels of engagement.  Gallup (2016) focuses on 12 elements that are important to having effective and productive workers, which include:

    • They know their job expectations
    • They have the right materials and equipment
    • They have opportunities to do what they do best
    • They have regular recognition or praise
    • They believe someone at work cares about them
    • Someone at work encourages their development
    • Their opinions count
    • Their job is important to achieving the company’s mission
    • Their co-workers are committed to quality work
    • They have a best friend at work
    • Someone talks to them about their progress
    • They have opportunities to learn and grow

    If managers and leaders had a conversation with their employees about these 12 areas, they could determine where employees lack engagement.  Employees may simply lack clarity regarding what is expected of them.  If leaders understand this, they can create engaging conversations to help improve communication.  It all begins by asking questions and opening a dialogue.

    Because there are so many areas where employees may experience issues with engagement, it may be helpful to take on each area one at a time.  Perhaps begin a conversation about job expectations this week and spend the month working on that if that is problematic.  Next month consider asking questions about their materials or opportunities, etc.  Take some time to get to know each person’s individual needs.  Have a plan to meet with employees and follow up on any information obtained that indicates improvement is required.

    Keep in mind that engagement involves emotional commitment, and people base 70% of how they make decisions on factors that involve emotions.  Leaders must recognize the importance of focusing on feelings and emotions because that impact how employees behave and the choices they make.  By increasing engagement or emotional commitment, organizations found less absenteeism, less turnover, and improved productivity.  The key is to recognize that leaders have the most impact on employee engagement.  Employees do not leave companies; they leave their bosses or leaders.

    Please click on this link: to take a Generational Engagement Survey.

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  • drdianehamilton 3:40 am on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    What John Tamny of Forbes Can Teach Us About Sexy Marketing 

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    On March 7, 2017, Forbes’ Editor John Tamny will speak in San Diego about the fed. What does that have to do with sexy marketing? Tamny has done a great job of utilizing celebrity examples to make his points about economics. Think about his latest book title:  Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America’s Central Bank. If it were just titled Who Needs the Fed? that would not be nearly as intriguing. Taylor Swift is far sexier. What is great about Tamny’s writing is that he discusses important economic subjects, while bringing in celebrity examples to bring his points home. By using timely examples like Taylor Swift’s stance on Apple’s decision to give away music for free, he appeals to the masses. Tamny’s title and content choice demonstrate how even the most challenging topics can be made more appealing if the right picture is painted in consumers’ minds.

    Tamny probably learned many content publishing tips from his work at Forbes. One thing his book’s title demonstrates is how important it is to reach prospective customers with a personalized message. That is what top marketing professionals hope to accomplish. However, many marketing professionals can attest that this may be challenging when creating content at scale. To help improve this process, I wrote and taught some brand publishing courses as part of my work as the MBA Program Chair for the Forbes School of Business and Technology. I was fortunate to interact with many CMOs at last November’s Forbes Summit in Coronado. My interactions with these professionals reinforced how many of them experience the same frustrations involving the difficulty with the process of transitioning from traditional forms of advertising and marketing toward brand publishing. Personalizing content, making it appealing or sexy, can be quite challenging. When creating the brand publishing courses, we used Bruce Rogers’ Publish or Perish Report as a key component. Bruce did an excellent job researching how top companies use the vast number of vendors in the most effective ways.

    Whether marketers want to create a social media campaign or individuals want to write a book, the same thing is true; content is king. That is evident through the work from John Tamny. For those of you in the San Diego area on March 7, I highly recommend reserving your spot for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see John Tamny, top Editor at Forbes, speak for free. I will be there and look forward to interviewing him.

    About the Author:

    Dr. Diane Hamilton is an award-winning speaker, nationally-syndicated radio host, educator, and the co-author of It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality  Dr. Hamilton has spoken for top companies including Forbes about topics including leadership, engagement, emotional intelligence, and generational conflict. She can be reached at DrDianeHamilton.com. If you would like to sign up for her update please click here: Contact Dr. Diane Hamilton.

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  • drdianehamilton 10:57 am on February 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Top Companies and Leaders: Connecting Through Talk Radio 

    Tesla Radio

    Radio remains a leading platform for organizations to advertise and for individuals to learn lessons from inspirational speakers, authors, and leaders.  If an executive’s day is so packed with things to do, the thought of listening to a radio show may seem like a luxury.  However, the reality is, a lot of people are listening.  News Generation shared some important statistics.

    • Radio is the leading reach platform: 93% of us listen to AM/FM radio over the airwaves, which is higher than TV viewership (85%), PC use (50%), smartphone use (74%), and tablet use (29%)
    • 265 million Americans 6+ listen to the radio each week;
    • 66 million Millennials use radio each week;
    • Audio consumers are listening for more than 12 hours each week; and
    • The majority of radio usage comes from employed listeners; nearly three-quarters of Generation X listeners work full-time.

    With so many working people listening, leaders must ensure that their companies are represented well there.  Radio is just one part of the total brand publishing picture. Radio shows seek sponsors with enticing messages.  Business organizations have a variety of goals they want to achieve with their message.  Radio advertising is cost-effective, time-efficient, demonstrates measurable results, and can provide the following opportunities.

    • Shows social responsibility and improve their image
    • Builds brand loyalty and increase their customer base
    • Drives traffic and increase sales
    • Educates consumers in an intimate forum

    Not only can leaders connect to their consumers through radio, but they can also learn from it.  There is no shortage of talk radio shows where leaders can learn from their peers. With the advent of iTunes, IHeartRadio, and other platforms, everyone has the luxury of listening when it is convenient, and they can do it on just about any mobile device.  The more technology changes, it is interesting to witness how the need for connection and edutainment continues to remain popular.

    About the Author:

    Dr. Diane Hamilton is a nationally-syndicated radio host of Take The Lead Radio, an award-winning speaker, educator, and the co-author of It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality.  She developed brand publishing courses for Forbes based on Bruce Rogers’ Publish or Perish Report. Dr. Hamilton has spoken for top companies including Forbes about topics including leadership, engagement, emotional intelligence, and generational conflict.  If you would like to learn more about these issues or be a guest on her radio show, you can go to Dr. Hamilton’s website or contact her through Linkedin.

    Dr. Diane Hamilton Take The Lead Radio

     
  • drdianehamilton 9:14 am on January 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ABSEL, , Burnout, , , , Penn State, ,   

    Avoiding Teacher Burnout: New Research Explains How 

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    A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at Penn State found that Teachers are burning out at an alarming rate.  Around 30-40% will leave their jobs by their fifth year of teaching. There are many reasons for this turnover.  The four main reasons are stress-related and include:

    • School Organizations – Lack a supportive climate and leadership.
    • Job Demands – High-stakes testing and managing students with behavior problems produce chronic stress.
    • Work Resources – Lack of decision-making power. Teachers reported autonomy went from 18% in 2004 to 26% in 2012.
    • Teacher Social and Emotional Competence – High stress and low social-emotional competence training.

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    When teachers are stressed, teachers, students, and schools suffer. High turnover costs schools $7 billion each year.  The research from Penn State found, “the cost per teacher is estimated from over $4,000 in rural areas to over $17,000 in urban districts.” The authors of this study found that there needs to be a way to prevent negative issues that impact teachers.  The authors also found few teachers receive professional development to improve their social and emotional competence.  Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs may improve student behavior and reduce teacher stress.

    In March 2017, I will speak about ways to improve student behavior and teacher stress at the ABSEL Conference in Myrtle Beach.  My research I will present mirrors many of the issues found in this Penn State research, including how behavior problems are the source of teacher burnout and ways to improve behaviors in students to proactively provide teachers a less stressful classroom environment.  To find out more about improving the classroom environment to improve teachers’ stress levels, check out: What other educators are saying; to learn more about the types of training teachers receive, check out: Classroom Management Agenda.

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  • drdianehamilton 8:33 am on November 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Elementary Education, K-12, , , Training   

    Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques 

    I have worked with educators in schools and universities across the United States since 2006.  My experience includes teaching, speaking, mentoring, training, program review, and curriculum design.  My goal is to help educators succeed and make a difference in the lives of students.  As a successful educator, coach, national trainer, and speaker, I promise to motivate and inspire educators through my on-site school training and district keynotes.  I share practical, proven strategies for immediate use in classrooms. This information will help educators feel self-value and proud of their chosen profession as they witness what proven techniques can do to help them succeed.  Please contact me today to find out how I can make a difference for you and your students.  For more information about hiring me for business consulting, speaking, and other training, please click on this link:  https://www.smore.com/ruh68-stop-the-madness

    x

     

     
  • drdianehamilton 6:44 am on November 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Professors’ Expectations: Helpful Writing Tips for College Students 

    Writing

    Students often struggle with writing essays.  Some have difficulty with structure. Others dread dealing with APA formatting. I teach everything from bachelor-level to doctoral-level courses.  The following contains some helpful writing tips that I have found may make writing essays a little easier.

    Citations and References:

    Many of the courses I teach require that students master the use of citations and references.  I have found that students often become confused about how to include these.  One common mistake that students make is to include a reference page without including any citations.  That is not correct. The problem with that is there is no way to determine what part, if any, of the paper was paraphrased or cited from that source.  Students sometimes think that listing a reference is a way to show that they used that information for the paper.  However, there is more that must be done than simply including the source on the reference page. There must also be citations.  Citations may be paraphrased or directly quoted.  If there is a reference, there must be at least one corresponding citation.

    • A paraphrased citation looks something like this: Hamilton (2014) explained the importance of citations.

    Students may also want to include directly quoted material.  I teach some courses where I allow this and other courses where I only allow paraphrased citations.

    • If directly quoted citations are allowed, they look something like this: “Citations may be paraphrased or directly quoted” (Hamilton, 2014, p. 1).

    I prefer that my students paraphrase their citations. This may help demonstrate that they understand the content. However, it is important that if any information is paraphrased or quoted directly from a source, the author and year information must be included (list n.d. if no date is listed).  There may be specific guidelines listed in the APA manual for listing page numbers and other identifying information. Students should be aware of the following:

    • Do not list citations without references.
    • Do not list references without citations.
    • Do not list the author and year information at the end of the paragraph and assume it covers the entire paragraph of content.  Author and year information must be included for any paraphrased sentence or directly quoted block of content.
    • Citations and references must be in APA format (for most courses). Do not include footnotes if APA is required.
    • Do not number the references; list them in APA format.
    • Alphabetize references in APA format.
    • Long direct quotes have unique indentation requirements.  I recommend avoid any long direct quotes. They are usually used by students to fill up space.  Professors may not like that.
    • Be sure the alignment of references is correct on the reference page. The first line of each source should be at the left margin and every line after that indented ½ inch.  See APA guidelines for help.
    • Use peer-reviewed scholarly journals for citing.
    • Double-check with the Owl Purdue Writing Lab for help with how to cite unusual sources.

    It may be a challenge for students to get into the habit of citing correctly.  There are some sources like Perrla that may help.

    Use of Appropriate Sources:

    Another common citing mistake is to use less-than-scholarly sources. Although I enjoy writing blogs and doing research, I do not recommend that students use this or any other similar site as a source in their research papers.  Blogs may sometimes contain news-worthy information. However, usually they contain opinion and other information that has not been peer-reviewed.

    There are many sites that students use that are not considered appropriate sources for research.  Blogs are just one of them.  The following list contains some sources that students should not use:

    • Blogs – Blogs are meant for things other than research. They may be helpful in giving insight into how to do things.  They may be fun to read in terms of content.  However, students need to realize that some blogs may not contain accurate information.
    • Wikipedia – Wikipedia is a common student favorite.  It contains some very good information. However, the content is written on a wiki. A wiki allows more than one person to add or change information.  Any wiki should not be used as a source for citing.  Wikipedia may have some very good sources listed at the bottom of the page.  If students start at Wikipedia to research a topic, they could look at the bottom to find the original source of information. At that point, students can search their school’s library for that source to see if it comes up under peer-reviewed scholarly sources.
    • eHow, Quora, or other Q&A Sites – There are plenty of Q&A sites that allow people to answer questions on the Internet.  Just because there is an answer on these sites, does not mean that the answer is correct or has been reviewed by anyone.  Think of these sites as you would a blog.  They may or may not contain accurate information.  Therefore, they should not be used to cite.
    • Dictionary – This is a source students tend to like to cite.  Although it is accurate and will give a good definition, some professors look at this as a kind of “cop out” source.  It is easy to look up a definition in the dictionary.  It is better to show scholarly research that explains the subject in more detail.
    • Books – Some books should not be used as sources.  If there is a textbook assigned to the course, it is usually a good source to cite.  However, not all books are considered “scholarly”.  It is best to stick to peer-reviewed journals if there is any doubt.

    Some professors will allow just about any source for citations.  Others are extremely picky.  To be safe, it is a good idea to get in the habit of using only peer-reviewed scholarly sources.  For more information, check out:  What is a Peer-Reviewed Journal.

    Schools usually have an online library where students can find appropriate sources.  Near the search bar, there may be a box that can be checked to ensure that the search only delivers peer-reviewed scholarly sources.  The wise students stick to the school’s library for research.  It is as easy to search as Google and the chances of coming up with proper research are enhanced.

    Other Common Mistakes:

    I notice that many students make similar mistakes.  I make comments on their papers to address these issues.  Many of them disregard my comments and continue to submit the papers with the same mistakes.  I thought it might be helpful to create a checklist of some of the most common mistakes that I see and give some guidelines as how to correct them.

    • Tense – Students should stick to third person rather than first or second person unless the paper is specifically about them. In this blog, I write in first person. I use words like I, me, us, and we. Those are fine in this type of setting.  In undergraduate and graduate courses, students must be able to write as if they are an observer.  It is also incorrect to write in second person. Second person includes words like you and your.  Students must learn how to write in third person.  Do not write a paper that begins with something like: I chose to write about this because blah blah blah. There is no need to mention the author (aka the student).  Just write about the topic.
    • Paragraph/Overall Structure – I often include a link in class that directs student to this Youtube Video that explains how to write a well-constructed paper.  It is important not to have an overly long or overly short paragraph.  I have seen students submit entire papers that included only one paragraph.  I prefer to see paragraphs include around 4-8 sentences.  If citing is required, it is better to begin a paragraph with a statement and then follow it with citations.  The citations are there to support any points.  Students must make their points before they can support them.  Students often forget to set up their papers to include an introduction, body and conclusion.  I recommend watching the Youtube video for help with this and many other structural and writing issues.
    • Microsoft Word Issues – Students often have difficulty with formatting issues.  I have created the following videos that  may be helpful with some of these problems:  How to Remove Extra Spaces from in Between Paragraphs, Working with Headers and Page Numbers, How to Change Period Spacing.
    • Using Scholarly Sources – Students may have difficulty distinguishing between the kinds of sources that are allowed for citations. If students’ first inclination is to search for answers on Google or if Wikipedia is their best friend, I recommend that they check out their school’s library search engine instead.
    • Font Issues – Students must be sure that their papers meet APA guidelines.  The font needs to be set at 12 point.  There should not be any special bold, ALL CAPS, or underlined information that does not meet these guidelines.
    • Confusion Between Citations and References – I recommend reading:  What is the Difference Between Citations and References. The reference page must be titled References and not Works Cited.
    • Amount of Citations – Students often do not include enough citations.  They must be able to demonstrate their research and back up any points.  I find that many students like to write in a story-telling fashion.  Others may already know information about a topic and write based on experience. It is important to cite even if you are a subject expert.  Some may be tempted to cite too often.  Every single sentence should not be a citation.  That is called patchworking.  It is important to make a point and then back it up with citations to demonstrate your research.
    • Follow Rubrics and Guidelines – If there are specific requirements for the assignment, it is important that students follow the guidelines.  If five pages are required, then submit at least five complete pages.  The title page and reference pages do not count toward page requirements.  If the professor has posted any additional requirements in class, it is important to go through that checklist to determine that all requirements have been met.

    Graduate-Level Expectations:

    Graduate-level students may be required to have a higher level of writing expertise.  These requirements may cause students to become frustrated. Some of my online students have not taken courses in a very long time.  Many of them have not learned how to write properly in APA format. I have a surprisingly high number of students who have difficulty with sentence and paragraph structure. Graduate students should not use contractions.  For example, words like cannot should not be written as can’t.  Papers should be written in third person unless it specifically states that the assignment should be written in first person. Students should support all major points and information that is not common knowledge with peer-reviewed scholarly sources.  The school’s library should be the main search source. Whenever information is not common knowledge or is paraphrased, it should be cited. 

    I have had some students who get annoyed when I take off points for these issues.  I post my requirements on the first day of class, so that there are no excuses for not following my guidelines.  However, there will always be some students who feel it is their right to write incorrectly.  They may not truly understand the narrative mode issue or how to cite in APA format.

    At the graduate level, it is up to students to learn these things.  It is important to write in a scholarly tone.  I think students should write as if their paper could be printed in a journal.  It is important that students do not write in an informal tone.  Some students like to insert personal anecdotes or other information that is not appropriate for the assignment or this level of work.  Unless the instructor specifically states that papers may be written informally or in some other format, graduate-level students should stick to a scholarly third-person tone that is supported consistently throughout with peer-reviewed research.

    There may come a time when an assigned essay involves something that the student has experienced or already has studied.  For example, an assignment might be to write about a famous entrepreneur.  I have many students that are fans of Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey.  They may know everything there is to know about these people because they have followed their careers.

    Many students make the mistake of writing in a storytelling-fashion, based on their own interpretation of what they think they already know.  If it is a graduate-level assignment, usually citations and research are required.  That means that students will need to find sources to support their writing.

    I commonly I see students write something like this:  I chose Oprah Winfrey because she makes me feel blah blah blah.  There are several problems with this sentence.  First of all, the paper should be about Oprah and not about the student.  There is no need to write in first person.  Unless the professor specifically stated that students should explain their feelings, the assignment should stick to what Oprah has accomplished.

    Students often like to refer to their feelings in their writing.  They also like to include personal anecdotes.  For most of the classes that I teach, this is not appropriate.

    Sometimes a student will drop me a note that states something like this:  “I already know everything about this subject, so I didn’t include citations.”  I understand what they mean. However, even if the student knows everything about a topic, the point of the assignment is to show what they have learned through research.

    Students must get into the habit of finding solid scholarly sources to back up what they have written.  Without citations, they have written opinion and not research.

    There are certain expectations of higher-level students.  They should be able to write in complete paragraphs that include around four to eight sentences.  Students should cite consistently throughout each of those paragraphs to support major points.  A strong introduction and conclusion should be included.

    When students cite, it is a good idea to paraphrase those citations whenever possible.  Some students try to fill space by including many long direct quotations. I have corrected papers where students had about 10% of their own information and the rest was directly quoted from another source. This is not acceptable. Some schools do not allow more than 10% directly quoted material.  It is easy to copy and paste what others have written.  That does not really show that the student has learned anything.  It is far better to paraphrase citations to show that the information has been processed and understood.

     Related Articles:

    Also check out this video for helpful tips I give my students to help them succeed in class:

     
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