Succeed through your failures ABRCMS 2013

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Succeed through your failures: Learning to fail productively
Workshop at the national ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) conference in 2013

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Succeed through your failures ABRCMS 2013

  1. 1. Succeed through your F ailures: Learning to fail productively Steve Lee, PhD Graduate Diversity Officer ABRCMS 2013
  2. 2. #1 Succeed with your Strengths: Assess and apply your unique strengths towards your ideal career Friday 8:15 am, Lincoln C/D/E #2 Succeed through your F ailures: Learning to fail productively Friday 6:45 pm, Jackson A/B Presentation materials in Slideshare.net
  3. 3. What can we learn about failure from: psychologist Carol Dweck? Your response to failure reveals your mindset a sociological study? Scientists often hide our failures an artist’s TED talk? Embrace your limitations to succeed 3
  4. 4. How would you respond? One day, you go to class that is really important to you and that you like a lot. The professor returns midterm tests, and you got a C+. You’re very disappointed. On your way home, you get a parking ticket. Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your day, but are sort of brushed off. 4
  5. 5. How do you respond to challenges? Dweck proposes 2 different responses:  stay in bed  get drunk  I’m a total failure  I wouldn’t bother trying hard next time Fixed mindset  I’d look at what was wrong and resolve to do better.  I’d start thinking about studying in a different way. Growth mindset 5
  6. 6. Carol Dweck’s Mindset Fixed vs Growth ability is static avoids challenges gives up easily sees effort as fruitless ignores useful criticism threatened by others ability is developed embraces challenges persists in obstacles sees effort as necessary learns from criticism inspired by others’ success 6
  7. 7. What are the consequences of the different mindsets? 7
  8. 8. What are the consequences of the different mindsets? Those who were praised for their: to reinforce a: chose to work on: intelligence fixed mindset easier problems. growth mindset more challenging problems. effort 8
  9. 9. What are the benefits of a growth mindset?  Those with a growth mindset:    achieved higher grades in a General Chemistry course had a more accurate sense of their strengths and weaknesses had lower levels of depression 9
  10. 10. What can sociologists tell us about scientists? “Doctoring Uncertainty” Delamont and Atkinson Social Studies of Science, 2001, 87.    as undergrads, they were accustomed to smaller projects with a high chance of success many new grad students face greater difficulties with bigger projects when scientists present or publish research, we marginalize our failures 10
  11. 11. How do scientists approach mistakes and failures? “The importance of stupidity in scientific research” Martin Schwartz, J. Cell Science, 2008, 1771. Let’s read and discuss 11
  12. 12. What can an artist teach us about our limitations? Phil Hansen’s TED talk 12
  13. 13. What can an artist teach us about our limitations?  Hansen proposes:   embracing your limitations can drive more creative approaches don’t be driven by a single approach 13
  14. 14. What can we learn from failures? psychologist Carol Dweck Growth requires putting in effort Professor Martin Schwartz Accept that research makes us feel stupid artist Phil Hansen Embrace your limitations to succeed 14
  15. 15. Resources This workshop’s materials are in Slideshare.net 15
  16. 16. Self-reflection Questions  What’s been a recent failure for you? Describe the events, possible causes, people involved, etc.  How did you respond? Was your response more consistent with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?  Consider similar experiences of failures, obstacles, and limitations. Was your behavior more consistent with a fixed or growth mindset?  Do you believe you need to adjust your response to failures? If so, what aspects of your behavior do you believe you need to adjust? 16
  17. 17. Are you paying attention to your failures, limitations, challenges? What are they trying to teach you? 17
  18. 18. Succeed through your F ailures Learning to Fail Productively Steve Lee, PhD Graduate Diversity Officer at University of California Davis (started November 2013) www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-lee/5/9a1/857 ABRCMS 2013 – Friday, Nov 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm Excerpt from “The importance of stupidity in scientific research ” Martin Schwartz, J. Cell Science, 2008, 1771. I recently saw an old friend for the first time in many years. We had been Ph.D. students at the same time, both studying science, although in different areas. She later dropped out of graduate school, went to Harvard Law School and is now a senior lawyer for a major environmental organization. At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way. Let me explain. For almost all of us, one of the reasons that we liked science in high school and college is that we were good at it. That can’t be the only reason – fascination with understanding the physical world and an emotional need to discover new things has to enter into it too. But high-school and college science means taking courses, and doing well in courses means getting the right answers on tests. If you know those answers, you do well and get to feel smart. A Ph.D., in which you have to do a research project, is a whole different thing. For me, it was a daunting task. How could I possibly frame the questions that would lead to significant discoveries; design and interpret an experiment so that the conclusions were absolutely convincing; foresee difficulties and see ways around them, or, failing that, solve them when they occurred? My Ph.D. project was somewhat interdisciplinary and, for a while, whenever I ran into a problem, I pestered the faculty in my department who were experts in the various disciplines that I needed. I remember the day when Henry Taube (who won the Nobel Prize two years later) told me he didn’t know how to solve the problem I was having in his area. I was a third-year graduate student and I figured that Taube knew about 1000 times more than I did (conservative estimate). If he didn’t have the answer, nobody did. That’s when it hit me: nobody did. That’s why it was a research problem. And being my research problem, it was up to me to solve. Once I faced that fact, I solved the problem in a couple of days. (It wasn’t really very hard; I just had to try a few things.) The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can. Questions:  What does Schwartz point out as some important differences between school coursework and research?  As Schwartz approaches his research, do you think he has a fixed or growth mindset? Explain your reasoning. 1
  19. 19. Carol Dweck’s Mindset Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset ability is static ability is developed avoids challenges embraces challenges gives up easily persists in obstacles sees effort as fruitless sees effort as necessary ignores useful criticism learns from criticism threatened by others inspired by others’ success References:  “Mindset” by Carol Dweck  “Doctoring Uncertainty” Delamont and Atkinson, Social Studies of Science, 2001, 87.  “The importance of stupidity in scientific research” Martin Schwartz, J. Cell Science, 2008, 1771.  Phil Hansen’s TED talk: www.ted.com/talks/phil_hansen_embrace_the_shake.html  “Switch: How to change things when change is hard” Chip and Dan Heath Self-reflection questions:  What has been a recent experience of failure for you? Describe the events, possible causes, people involved, etc.  How did you respond to the failure? Was your response more consistent with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?  Consider similar events where you experienced failures, obstacles, and limitations. Were your patterns of behavior more consistent with a fixed or growth mindset?  Do you believe you need to adjust your response to failures? If so, what aspects of your behavior do you believe you need to adjust? • • • • Thanks for coming to my workshop! I hope that it was helpful. My presentations and handouts for both workshops are available at < www.slideshare.net >. Succeed with your Strengths : Assess and apply your unique strengths toward your ideal career o Friday, Nov 15 at 8:30 am Succeed with your Failures: Learning to fail productively o Friday, Nov 15 at 6:45 pm 2

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