Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Follow the Bouncing Schedule
Original study (if you have a Science subscription):
As reported in the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/29/poverty-mental-capacity-complex-tasks):
Poor people spend so much mental energy on the immediate problems of paying bills and cutting costs that they are left with less capacity to deal with other complex but important tasks, including education, training or managing their time, suggests research published on Thursday.
The cognitive deficit of being preoccupied with money problems was equivalent to a loss of 13 IQ points, losing an entire night's sleep or being a chronic alcoholic, according to the study. The authors say this could explain why poorer people are more likely to make mistakes or bad decisions that exacerbate their financial difficulties.
Anandi Mani, a research fellow at the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick, one of the four authors of the study, said the findings also suggest how small interventions or "nudges" at appropriate moments to help poor people access services and resources could help them break out of the poverty trap. Writing in the journal Science, Mani said previous research has found that poor people use less preventive health care, do not stick to drug regimens, are tardier and less likely to keep appointments, are less productive workers, less attentive parents, and worse managers of their finances. "The question we therefore wanted to address is, is that a cause of poverty or a consequence of poverty?"
She said the team of researchers, which included economists and psychologists in the UK and the US, wanted to test a hypothesis: "The state of worrying where your next meal is going to come from – you have uncertain income or you have more expenses than you can manage and you have to juggle all these things and constantly being pre-occupied about putting out these fires – takes up so much of your mental bandwidth, that you have less in terms of cognitive capacity to deal with things which may not be as urgent as your immediate emergency, but which are, nevertheless, important for your benefit in the medium or longer term."
And on the BBC:
Day-to-day is more like it. Many of my students (back when I was working) had part-time jobs, and which hours of the day they worked were rarely the same, even when scheduled in advance, and often varied with little advance notice ("Oh, by the way, we need you from 9 AM to 3 PM tomorrow, not 3 PM to 9 PM...", as you are leaving for the day...).
This is true, incidentally, of a large number of non-minimum wage jobs as well.
My kids have worked in big box stores with volatile scheduling. They find the hours a much bigger burden than the pay, although the pay is not great even when it's not minimum wage.
UPS warehouse facilities, on the other hand, promise set hours and even advertises for college students who can manage the 5-hour shifts. This may be because the warehouse facilities are union, at least in our area.
Adopt the same holidays and breaks as the local K-12 schools. Your students, staff, and faculty will all thank you for that. It does mean that Monday classes get the shaft but there's nothing worse than having a mandatory lab on President’s Day when your daycare and kid’s school are closed. My college lumped all the Monday holidays into the winter break and never had 3-day weekends during the semester to make the schedule more coherent. It sucked for anyone with kids.
Have a “student friendly” job fair for local employers who offer jobs with good pay and regular work hours.
Have food carts or food trucks visit the campus at night. One of the hardest things about taking night classes is getting dinner. At my college, walking around downtown at night was pretty dangerous. A food truck or coffee cart would have made a killing from 6:30-7:30 when busy people were rushing from work to their night class.
Have one night a week two weeks before and after the semester start when student services are open. This would suck for scheduling and staff but for students who work during the day it would be a godsend.
Convert as much of the student services functions as you can to on-line. Add live chat with a service agent for those who can’t get the help they need from the website alone. This might actually help with throughput in your physical student services areas.
This isn't just about students. As an adjunct who never knows if I'll be teaching from term to term, or where, or when, scheduling plays havoc with my life (and my child's life) too.
Thank you for the comment that it isn't just about the students. I always find it interesting that administration sometimes forgets that even faculty can have small children with daycare/school schedules which need to be met.
Ivory--I teach science at a CC and we pretty much avoid Monday labs. It's interesting when we're scheduling, but we manage to make it work.
I do better actually going to class (and I suspect that's true for lots of students) but this week I had to miss class, so I posted in the online discussion instead. Syllabuses, materials presented in class, assignments (and assignment submissions) are all online, as are tests.
I would bet the teachers enjoy not having to listen to students reasons for not making it to class, too.