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Stress Zones, Online Faculty, & PTSD


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Slides for panel presentation at the 2009 Sloan ALN Conference. Presents information regarding the definition and symptoms of PTSD and the potential impact on online educators. Also presents data from a 2009 survey of online faculty capturing information about their experiences and their students' experiences in hig-stress situations.

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Stress Zones, Online Faculty, & PTSD

  1. 1. Stress Zones, Online Faculty, & PTSD<br />Preliminary Survey, 2009 <br />Fred Stielow, Ph.D.<br />John D. Moore, Ph.D.<br />Carol Passman, Ph.D.<br />Philip McNair, U.S. Army (ret)<br />
  2. 2. Meet the Panel<br />Introduction: Dr. Fred Stielow<br />Defining & Exploring PTSD: Dr. John Moore<br />AMU Faculty Survey Results: Dr. Carol Passman<br />Thoughts & Discussion: COL Phil McNair<br />
  3. 3. Professors:<br />I wanted to thank you for your assistance during my enrollment at AMU … You really showed me how great a professor you can be during times when education is taking a back seat. I recently completed, what was once a fast-burning run through life… In Dec 08 as I was diagnosed with PTSD. Since returning from my 8 month tour in Iraq in Dec 07…. Without complaint you stepped in and helped me complete my entire academic plan … I greatly appreciate your extreme display of concern and understanding while enrolled in your class. I did not expect the support I received; yet it has gotten me where I am today. <br />Excerpted Student Comment, 09/2009 <br />
  4. 4. Introduction<br />Memoriam: Andrew Baggs, Ph.D., USN (ret)<br />Frequency study of faculty awareness of students in high stress areas and dangerous events<br />Follow-up/Implications for further study- Can study in online universities while in high stress zones ameliorate the subsequent onset of PTSD?- Or facilitate reintegration into society?- Given onset of GI-Bill students in traditional schools, do online instructors have PTSD practices to share?- How do the frameworks of online and land-based universities differ in terms of students with PTSD? <br />
  5. 5. John D. Moore, Ph.D.<br />Defining and Exploring PTSD<br />in an <br />Online Educational Environment<br />
  6. 6. <ul><li>The Syndrome
  7. 7. Diagnostic Criterion
  8. 8. Impact on the Student
  9. 9. Impact on the Educator</li></ul>A. PTSD in Broader Context<br />
  10. 10. <ul><li>PTSD is the acronym for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  11. 11. PTSD is a qualified psychiatric condition that appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  12. 12. PTSD is different than a person experiencing normal “Stress”</li></ul>What is PTSD?<br />
  13. 13. Irritable <br />Unable to <br />fall asleep<br />Easily <br />Startled <br />Problems <br />With <br />Focus<br />Hyper<br />Increased<br />Substance<br />Use <br />Angry <br />Outbursts<br />PTSD = Increased Agitation<br />
  14. 14. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder<br />DSM IV Diagnostics<br />Criterion A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: <br />1.Person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others <br />Person&apos;s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. <br />
  15. 15. PTSD—DSM IV Diagnostics, Continued, 1<br />Criterion B. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following:<br />recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. <br />recurrent distressing dreams of the event. acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations & dissociative flash-back episodes, including those that occur awakening or intoxicated). <br />intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event <br />physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or externalcues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of traumatic event<br />
  16. 16. PTSD—DSM IV Diagnostics, Continued, 2<br />Criterion C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more):<br />efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma <br />efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma <br />inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma <br />markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities <br />feeling of detachment or estrangement from others <br />restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings) <br />sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)<br />
  17. 17. PTSD—DSM IV Diagnostics, Continued, 3<br />Criterion D: “Hyperarousal responses&quot; (two or more of the following)<br />difficulty falling or staying asleep <br />irritability or outbursts of anger <br />difficulty concentrating <br />Hypervigilance<br />exaggerated startle response<br />Criterion E: Duration of more than one month <br />Criterion F: Distress or impairment to functioning<br />
  18. 18. B. Psychological Pathways<br />1<br />Impact of PTSD<br />2<br />Impact of PTSD on E-Educators<br />3<br />Vicarious Trauma <br />
  19. 19. IMPACT OF <br />PTSD ON LEARNERS<br />Loved Ones<br /><ul><li>Anxiety
  20. 20. Fear
  21. 21. Uncertainty
  22. 22. Anger
  23. 23. Helplessness
  24. 24. Depression
  25. 25. Fidelity Concerns
  26. 26. Financial Worry</li></ul>The PTSD Learner <br /><ul><li>Anxiety
  27. 27. Fear
  28. 28. Guilt
  29. 29. Anger
  30. 30. Helplessness
  31. 31. Depression
  32. 32. Fidelity Concerns
  33. 33. Financial Worry</li></li></ul><li>PTSD WHEEL OF STRESS<br />Worried about Future<br />Feeling Helpless<br />ExtraResponsibilities<br />Lack of Contact<br />Family <br />Experience<br />Title<br />Routines Disrupted<br />New Family Roles<br />
  34. 34. PTSD = FAMILY IN CRISIS<br />PTSD<br />Student<br />Loved<br />Ones<br />Children<br />CRISIS<br />CRISIS<br />CRISIS<br />
  35. 35. How does PTSD Impact E-educators?<br />E-Educators<br />Student Outbursts<br />Confusion/Distraction<br />Vicarious Trauma<br />Online Institution <br />
  36. 36. Student Outbursts<br />Students who may be living with PTSD can sometimes present as irritable, uncooperative or disengaged in the classroom. <br />Using the psychological concept of displacement, students will sometimes “rage” against a faculty member or other student in moments of high stress, anxiety or depression. <br />
  37. 37. Confusion for E-faculty <br />When a students discloses that he or she has been through a traumatic event or perhaps previously diagnosed with PTSD, this can sometimes cause confusion for the e-educator. <br />In brick and mortar institutions, there is often an ability to refer the student to a student counseling center. This is generally not the case for online institutions, leaving the e-educator asking the question:<br />What can I do to help?<br />
  38. 38. Vicarious Trauma <br />Vicarious Trauma (aka: secondary trauma) occurs whenever a person is exposed to a first hand account of a traumatic event by another person. An example of this might be a faculty member being told by a student that he or she was involved in a life threatening incident. Over the course of time, these kinds of repeated exposures to secondary trauma can have a negative impact on the individual. <br />EACH TIME A FACULTY MEMBER IS EXPOSED TO PAINFUL MATERIAL THAT FACULTY MEMBER EXPERIENCES VICARIOUS TRAUMA<br />
  39. 39. Vicarious Trauma<br />Irritable <br />Sleep <br />Problems<br />Fatigue<br />Problems <br />With <br />Focus<br />Burnout<br />Increased<br />Substance<br />Use <br />Feeling<br />Drained<br />Vicarious Trauma<br />
  40. 40. Faculty Awareness of Students in High Stress Situations & Events <br />Survey Overview<br />Carol Passman, Ph.D. <br />
  41. 41. Survey Background<br />Run Dates: Aug 18th – Sep 8th, 2009 <br />Subjects: APUS (American Military University & American Public University) Faculty<br />Response Rate: 465 of 845 = 55% response rate <br />
  42. 42. A. Faculty Demographics<br />Online Teaching Experience<br />
  43. 43. Other Experience/Areas Served*<br />* Multiple responses allowed<br />** Other category included CIA, Civilian Military Employee, DEA, Government Contractor, Homeland Security, Defense Analyst, Military Spouse, TSA…<br />
  44. 44. Involvement in Dangerous Situations<br />
  45. 45. B. Awareness of Students in High Stress Settings <br />
  46. 46. Timing of Awareness<br />
  47. 47. How Did Faculty Become Aware of High Stress Occupational Settings<br />
  48. 48. C. Awareness of Students in Dangerous Encounters<br />
  49. 49. Timing of Awareness of Dangerous Encounters<br />
  50. 50. D. Faculty/Student Interactions<br />Student in-class discussions on such situations<br />Student comment to faculty on dangerous situations<br />
  51. 51. Summary- Phil McNair<br />But first – 2 brief anecdotes<br />What we know:- Some percentage of students have PTSD- PTSD can affect student behavior<br />What we don’t:- Who those students are- What online faculty are supposed to do- The impact of online learning on students with PTSD<br />
  52. 52. Thoughts? Comments?<br />We welcome your input as we think about the implications of this for further study and research. Want to join us?<br />Fred Stielow:<br />Phil McNair:<br />