Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Outliers and PDI

Haley Scholar Reading Groups

Although the title of chapter seven, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes” appears disengaged from the previous ones, as Malcolm Gladwell begins to narrate the activities of a tragic Korean Air flight, readers get a sense of how the interactions between pilots and co-pilots relates to the larger discussion of cultural legacies. Gladwell explains that some airplane crashes can be linked to the modes of communication, and lack thereof, among the officers within the cockpit.

In addition to pointing out that airplane crashes are the result of a combination of several factors, Gladwell identifies Geert Hofstede’s concept “Power Distance Index" (PDI) – a measuring system “concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority” – as a crucial issue for understanding why, for example, pilots from some nations may have been at a cultural disadvantage for effective and essential communication in an airplane cockpit.

For those us concerned with academic failures and achievements and not only airplane crashes, perhaps we should take a closer look at the roles of communication in collegiate education and PDI in our immediate context. What is one important way that PDI or a distinct mode of communication comes into play positively or negatively concerning how students here at SIUE interact with professors or the university in general? What makes the issue you address so important to academic success or failure?

22 comments:

Ashley said...

I think it is very important that students communicate with their professors inside and outside of the classroom. Many students are afraid to ask questions because they are worried they me be the only one but in reality, there is almost always someone else thinking the same thing. However,if that is too embarrassing, talk to the teachers after class. They are much more understanding if you talk to them.

Stephanie M said...

PDI in a college setting can vary greatly. Some professors are very casual and would prefer their students to address them by their first name which lowers the PDI and creates a very comfortable classroom atmosphere. While other professors who insist to be called “professor” or “doctor” reinforce the large PDI gap, which is present in most collegiate settings. Students are often times not willing to ask questions and seek additional help, due to a feeling of inferiority caused by a large PDI gap . Often students may find that difference of PDI from class to class troubling. Also, this problem is not only in the classroom, but with the university staff in general. If a high PDI is present, students will always feel as if they are a subordinate which may cause a lack of a “community” feeling on campus.

Beau Butzirus said...

I believe that the more students respect SIUE faculty, the more the faculty will be willing to work with students towards achieving their goals. If students are disrespectful to SIUE faculty, the staff is not going to be willing to take the time and effort to help those students. But if a student approaches a faculty member with a good attitude and politeness, that faculty member will be willing to help that student. Students that do not respect higher authority will not get the respect back. By having a good relationship with SIUE faculty, students can learn more about their classes and get better grades. Also by having good relationships with SIUE staff, students will have someone to go to, in case they need letters of recommendations for future jobs. Job employers will respect the word of college professors if they have nice things to say about that student.

Martin Garcia said...

I believe that, as students, we view the professors more as a proctor for the course. We view them as someone who is present for the purpose of supervision and prevention of faulty methods. We should view them more as advisers since they are there to aid us in the learning experience. By viewing them as proctors we limit ourselves to what we can do and to our own learning curve, whereas a professor may be able to communicate the materials more comfortable and more casually than the text. The way we view the professors and how we communicate with them may determine the difference in any borderline grade and over time it will show a definite difference in overall GPA.

Robin Huang said...

It is important to communicate with your professor because they can help you better understand the material being taught in class. Also, when applying for graduate school, you will need recommendations and when asking teachers for rec. letters, they will sound better if you have had time to sit down and talk to them so they can get to know you. In the long run, having a good bases of communication with your professors will have a very positive impact on your future.

Charris Wells said...

PDI in a university setting can vary greatly depending on the relationships that students have with professors. Some professors reduce the PDI gap by having their students call them by their first names, one example of this is my Geography 201 professor, Erin. Other professors increase the gap by wanting to be only referred to as Professor or Dr. so and so. Regardless of the PDI gap, it is important for students to develop positive, useful relationships with their professors in order to achieve greater academic success.

Dylan P said...

Being able to communicate effectively is a very important skill to have. In fact, professors utilize this skill by lecturing to students. In return, the students are able to understand specialized topics in specific fields of knowledge. Students, on the other hand, are expected to communicate to their professors by writing detailed papers or reports on specialized topics. By doing so, they are able to prove to the professor that they understand the topic well.

If a man cannot say what he means, then he will never mean what he says.

A benefit to communicating well is that students will be able to have a clear and honest relationship with their professor. In the university, the Professor is the authority and giver of knowledge. The students respectfully accept this knowledge and they reproduce it through assignments and exams. If students can respect the professor as a well rounded individual in his or her respective field, then there is an acknowledgement of a hierarchical structure. Yet, mutual respect is important. The professor gives his or her knowledge, and the student gives his or her reproduction (with problem solving and innovation) of that knowledge.

Cara C. said...

In my opinion communication among students and professors is very necessary to achieve academic success. Communication with professors may also be helpful with future endevors such as reference letters for graduate school or applying for jobs. Despite the high levels of PDI present in most university classrooms, students should be comfortable conversing with professors in order to succeed.

Sandy Pham said...

A certain level of PDI is important. Too little PDI could make a professor appear standoffish or threatening to students; too much could hinder a student from taking their professor too seriously, stripping the professor of their authority.

Students should be able to feel comfortable enough to go into a professor's office hours and ask questions and ask for help. Many students fail to go to these designated office hours and the professors can tell due to the not too impressive exam scores.

Ashley Rosales said...

I believe that communication at SIUe is lacking in some ways. Although almost all professors are "accessible" they are often very intimidating. I know from personal experience that listening to someone in a lecture hall makes them seem so distant and shows a very high PDI. SIUe needs to have a better way of allowing students to get in touch with professors and other faculty members other than just open office hours. Although we have some positive aspects like "take a professor to lunch" and other programs the PDI at SIUe is still very high. It is so imporant to be able to communicate with professors because it could make or break grades.

Charlene Yu said...

It is important for the student to take the initiative and talk to their professors. It is not only beneficial to the student to completely understand the material, but it also helpful to the professor. They will now know what some students are having trouble understanding and then be able to clear up the problems in the future. Being able to go up to your professor will help personalize your education as well.Learning can be more personal and then more helpful when learning and understanding the material. Not only will the teacher know more about you as a person and as a student, the teacher will be able to help one with letter of recommendations.

Megan L. said...

PDI seems to cause more negative effects with the interaction between students and professors. The way most classes are set up, with large numbers of students to one professor, the professor must teach a certain way in order to get the information out to as many students as possible. But these lecture style classes can discourage students from asking questions and challenging the material, which can carry over into other smaller classes. This kind of thinking draws away from class participation. Now, with large lecture classes there is only so much a professor can do, but if in the smaller classes teachers could also encourage more discussions and participation it might offset this thinking. As with the pilots, it’s important for others to speak up when they think something could possibly be wrong. It also helps to be more assertive in life.

Christina Rojas said...

Communication between students and professors is so very important. Without it, how would anyone learn anything or get anything done? We, as students, need to feel comfortable approaching the professor if we have a question or are confused about a certain topic. I believe the faculty are pretty good about lowering the PDI as most professors I've had so far seem willing to answer questions and even encourage them. For this reason, I feel learning has been a very positive experience.

Brenda W said...

The way we value and view our relationships with our professors and the university in general is extremely important. Having a relationship with your professor has countless beneifits. Feeling comfortable to come to them for help, and other benefits in the long run like reccommendation letters. I was so glad that I was able to arrange meetings outside of class to get to know each of my professors last semester. I felt happy that they knew me and it made me a stronger more responsible student. Also, they were so open to writing me exceptional reccomendation letters this semester because of the bonds we formed. The amount of respect and valuing authority(PDI) is also important here on campus because you have to trust your professor's knowledge and intentions to be able to learn effectively. Respect for yourself, your school, and faculty ultimately lead to academic success.

Tiara Y said...

Communication is key when it comes down to a successful relationship between teacher and student. Some students do not communicate with their teachers at all. If, for instance a student was borderline passing or failing and the teacher begins to review their grades, the student who actually took the time to meet with the teacher and ask questions for help is more likely to receive the passing grade because the teacher will remember that this student put in effort.

Zoe Ramirez said...

I think it's important for students to communicate and have a good relationship with their professors. If the students are more comfortable talking to the professors then they won't be afraid to ask questions or go see them when they need help. Talking to professors when you need help is really important because sometimes professors explain things better when they're alone with the student or they can just understand things better. Most professors are okay with being called by their first names and that helps with making the students more comfortable around them.

Grace Figgers said...

In my experience, people who grew up in more privileged homes are more assertive than those who have not. Therefore, they are more likely to have a lower PDI than the under-privileged. They will have an easier time communicating with authority figures, which contributes to their success. This is an essential reason that children are encouraged to be assertive (but not rude). I think it would be realistic to try and convey this message to all students.

RIDGE LIN!!! said...

Communication with professors is very important because the connection you form with them can help propel your career to a new height. Professors can write recommendation letter that are needed by graduate schools. Also, professors can give you insight to the field that your are interested in. They can help you find opportunities to get experience and later on guide you into the right direction for the future.

Rachael Obernuefemann said...

From what I have experienced, it has always been very important that students try to keep good communication with their professors. This can be helful not only inside, but outside of the classroom also. Most students do not ask questions or seek help because they do not want to be the only one in class raising their hand or staying after. Sometimes students will not even email their professor for fear of judgement from the professor. Emailing, staying after class, and if your brave raising a hand in class can help answer any quiestions a student must have. They just need to take the initiative to try.

Minh Nguyen said...

Communication with professors or to anyone is key in developing a relationship. The professor will get to know you 1-on-1 and you will be able ask questions easier than in class. With the high levels of PDI in the classrooms, students need to shorten the gap by taking the initiative by talking to the professors during office hours. By doing this, the professors will be able to get to know you on a personal basis and maybe help you in the future with letters of recommendation to jobs.

Travontae Williams said...

The presence of PDI in the academic has two leading roles. The first, low PDI, comes in the form a proffesor who tries to relate to their students and upholod a causal, yet academic, relationship. Becuase of this, students hold that proffesor in low terms as far as authority goes. However, students also feel much more comfortable communicated with that proffesor. I believe the comfortability overcomes the lack of authority. The second aspect, high PDI, has an inverse effect on the student/teacher relationship. Although students are less willing to communicate with their proffesors due to either fear or choice, they also hold everything their proffesor says to a higher standard. This may result in a better and more conscious academic standing.

Vanessa C. said...

Communication is key for success. Interaction with your professors is a very important. If a professor seems very intimidating in his/her lectures the PDI will be high and that creates a negative outcome for SIUE students. If a professor seems inviting and even respectful then the PDI will be low and that in turn creates a very comfortable setting for the students. Communication with your professor is essential. If you establish a great profession relationship with your professor, it gives you great connections later on. All SIUE staff and their students should form a sort of community.