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Post-class Meeting and In transit reflections

In class last night we reviewed progress that our groups where having with their projects. Very interesting topics! Here is a brief summary of the different material that is being covered. These are a summary from my brief notes in our class discussion.

Classmates that are reading this. Please feel free to add perspectives/thoughts/corrections etc, to this. You can add information through the comments tag. I have it set up that I initially have to approve the comment in order to keep spam down. After you make a comment, I'll add you to the list that can make comments without being approved. Thanks!

Jackson Mills Group: This group is gathering information about the Jackson Mills conference, which took place in the early 1980’s of 21 professional educators who were brought together to synthesize trends of the future of industrial arts. They will be dividing this into a historical piece, international context and what is happening now.
A part of their presentation will include an interview of one of the original participants of this event.

Drucker Group: The focus of this group will be the contributions of Peter Drucker to the history and philosophy of work. They will be reviewing Drucker’s contribution to the concept of the knowledge worker and are reviewing a videotape of Drucker and Peter Senge.

Internationals: I was a bit fuzzy on taking notes for this group, so I will update this after their presentation. I believe they will be looking at WHRE from a international context, with focus on the use of guilds and mentors through different cultural dynamics.

Softies: They will be studying soft skills and the history of liberal education. Feel free to put in additional thoughts on this.

UHCAT: The group topic is a timeline of relating to legislation that has affected vocational education over the last 150 years. They will be breaking things such as the Smith-Hughes Act, Nation at Risk, GI bill, Land Grant legislation for higher education. Dr. Lewis suggested discussion on paradigm shifts relating to the legislative changes. i.e., major transforming changes in the U.S., quality issues from an international context. Is the footprint big enough to keep in the world.

Eagles: This is our group. We are looking at motivation changes in the workplace. A specific area of concentration will be the changes of individual motivation as it relates to groups. How individual extrinsic financial benefits affect the contribution and motivation within a group. Some concepts of organizational citizenship and the concept of sacrificial group performance will be reviewed. Along with this, the idea of “social loafing? that can occur within a group performance. Dr. L., discussed a good paper topic: “Will Motivation Hygiene factors shift if focus is from the Individual to the Group.?
Some suggested people to review:Sessions may cancel out if you are not logged in.
Ellemers-Social identity, leadership and group performance.
Barker-Control and motivation.
Amabile-Motivation as it relates to Creativity.
Knippenberg-Social identity.
Tajfel- Social categorization as it relates to intergroup behavior. Motivation as it relates to elements.

Discussion/Reflection on Class from 11/15/2006

We had an interesting follow-up discussion regarding class topics on the ride home yesterday evening.

We reflected on the idea of motivation and creativity that Amabile has written about and shared experiences where co-workers have used creativity to avoid work! One example were the workers in paper mills in eastern Wisconsin who 15 years ago would control new workers on the amount of output they were doing (telling them to do less) because they didn’t want management to expect more from them in the future. Currently with the sporadic amount of work they are doing due to outsourcing of work, they work very hard to maintain their jobs.

Another example was when I worked in a chrome-plating factory in Chicago on the graveyard shift . This was my first labor intensive/factory job and I learned some things about the antithesis to the Protestant work ethic that I was raised on. A small group of people basically shut the plant down for 3 hours (100 workers) at a time, in order to sleep, play card games and basically get paid for doing nothing. When my team (4 of us) started producing more and didn’t stop the work, I was approached by one of the leaders and threatened bodily harm if we continued to work too much. The pay was good, but I only lasted 8 weeks. Thinking back to this event made me realize how workers can be just as creative in avoiding work as they can with doing the work. In both of these cases, the workers controlled the output and the management was at their mercy. Many factors probably contributed to this and longevity of work/pay was probably a significant motivator for both of them. Both groups knew that the work was there for them for the short run and if they stretched it out over time, they knew they were going to get paid longer. Probably, they would also have longer term job stability because they knew future contracts would be signed that would assure another 1-2 year work cycle. However, this changed when outside environmental influences caused them to look at potentially losing their jobs for the long run.

We are probably seeing some of these similar influences in many industries in the US today. A couple that come to mind are the auto and airline industries.

I was also intrigued with Amabile's (via Einstein) concept of "combinational play". This is when you are in the brainstorming phase of a project and you meet to discuss ideas for the project. From Amabile's research of pressure and creative thinking, a suggestion is to do this in small groups (2-3 people) and juggle balls into a pproverbial cognitive place and see what comes up. The discussion relative to time as a resource for creativity was also intriguing.

In addition to this discussion, the review of Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "CHICK-sent-me-high-ee" )and Howard Gardner was interesting.
Here is an interview with Csikszentmihalyi and a website speaking to his concepts of flow.
I would like to explore these more, so again feel free to add any references or material that would be valuable.