Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback


Grading with shorthand allows me to grade papers quickly. This is great for me, of course, but —more importantly — it’s great for students. Using grading shorthand means that students get prompt, consistent, and constructive feedback.

I’ve included the key to my grading shorthand below. I’ve also included the printer-friendly, PDF version of the key that I give to students. You are welcome to use and adapt the shorthand, including the PDF, however you see fit — it’s in the public domain. And you are more than welcome to share your own shorthand with me in the comments, on social media, or by contacting me directly. Happy grading!  Continue reading Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Plans for 2017


Now that I’ve been admitted to candidacy for my PhD, I’ll be focusing my energy on writing a dissertation and on publishing hitherto unpublished projects. I will regularly post bits and pieces of that on the blog.1

I’ve also become more interested in how my reasoning research relates to politics — ergo the recent posts “Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?” and “Third Party Voting: A Wasted Vote?” So I might also write about how my research relates to US and international politics.

So if you’re interested in this stuff, then stay tuned. More specifically,

  • subscribe to the blog (in the menu) to find out when new posts are published.
  • follow me on social media to find out what I’m reading, thinking, and doing.

Here’s to the best possible 2017 — whatever that would be.


  1. I share my research on the blog for two reasons: First, to get your thoughts on it; Second, to make academic research available to more people.

Visual Brainstorming on Whiteboards for Posters, Slides, and More


A whiteboard is pretty versatile. It can be used many times for many purposes. I use it during meetings and while working alone. In this post, I’ll explain how I use a whiteboard for creating visual aids.

1. Visual Brainstorming

I am very committed to the digital workspace. My library, papers, notes, handouts, etc. are in the cloud (more about that in this post). I do all of my reading and writing on a computer or a smartphone. But very occasionally a physical workspace trumps my digital workspace.

Visual brainstorming is one task for which a physical workspace outshines the digital counterpart. By ‘visual brainstorming’ I just mean  Continue reading Visual Brainstorming on Whiteboards for Posters, Slides, and More

The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!


From September 5 to September 30, there is an exciting, free, online conference about the philosophy and science of mind: the (second annual) Minds Online conference! Loads of wonderful scholars are sharing and commenting on each other’s research — and you can access and participate in all of it!

Here are a few things to note for those who are new to online conferences.

  • Sessions: There are four sessions, each with a different topic and its own keynote.
  • Timeline: Each session lasts one week. (So the conference lasts four weeks).
  • Participating: You can read papers starting the weekend before their session. And you you can comment on papers on Monday through Friday of their session.

So head on over and enjoy the wonder that is conferencing from the comfort of your home, office, favorite coffee shop, etc.

Here’s the program: http://mindsonline.philosophyofbrains.com/minds-online-2016-program/

Continue reading The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!

How I Learned To Love Academic Reading


When I read visually, I tend to read very slowly. Like really, really slow! A 30-50 page text can take an afternoon if I’m not terribly motivated and also distracted. Of course, my job requires me to do hundreds of pages a week. So I cannot do all of my academic reading visually. Fortunately, there are other ways of reading. I’ll discuss them below.

1. Visual Reading

When I have a text in front of my eyes, I am very tempted to take my time, read very carefully, and look for ways to appreciate the sections that would otherwise strike me as unimportant. Giving in to these temptations can be foolish. To explain consider a few questions.

  1. Can I finish all of my reading if I take my time?
  2. Does this allegedly important text deserve a careful reading?
  3. Is this allegedly important text actually important?

For much of my academic reading, the answer to at least one of these questions is “no.” In other words, usually…

  • I cannot finish all of my reading if I take my time…
  • it’s not clear that a text merits a careful reading, or…
  • it’s not clear that a text is important.†

Don’t get me wrong, the visual reading method is sometimes crucial for academic reading. If you really want to (try to) understand the nuances of a text (or a series of texts), then careful visual reading, with intermittent breaks for note-taking is probably worthwhile.

But visual reading is not well-suited for every situation. For instance,  Continue reading How I Learned To Love Academic Reading

My Sit-stand Desk


I am often thinking of ways to improve my desk setup. But I’m cheap, so I have held off on buying anything. Instead, I’ve MacGyvered a few desk setups mostly with redundant university stuff (see “Office Space: Desk Setup“). But I recently gave in and bought something to upgrade my desk setup: an adjustable sit-stand desk attachment.

SIT-STAND DESKS

I can’t afford an entirely new adjustable sit-stand desk. Fortunately, there are sit-stand desk attachments. They are made to be used with traditional sitting desks. And some of them are affordable.

Sit-stand workstation

Sit-stand desk attachments are affixed to or just placed on top of your desk. The attachment allows you to work in either sitting and standing positions. Sit-stand desk attachments come in many forms. They vary in size, versatility, cost, etc. I looked through LOTS of sit-stand desk attachments before Continue reading My Sit-stand Desk

Workflow: Week-To-Week Time Data


Last summer I accomplished less than I hoped to accomplish. I want to do better this summer, so I am looking for opportunities to improve productivity. In the last post, I discussed my daily routine. This week, I’m sharing data about my weekly workflow.

1.  Tracking Workflow

I use the Hours app to track my hours. Once I start working on something, I clock-in to that project. I clock-out and switch to other tasks throughout the day as needed. Clocking in and out is quick and easy, so I can even log the momentary work-related stuff I do outside of my typical 8-to-5 schedule.

I like the app. Whenever you start, switch, or end a task, the app gives auditory and visual feedback …it’s weirdly satisfying. Even more satisfying is seeing how much I accomplished at the end of the day.

What I like most is the fact that procrastination feels very different when I am tracking my time. It feels like I am being timed …cuz I am being timed! I find myself more worried about how long I’ve been procrastinating. So I usually procrastinate only for a few minutes at a time.

2.  Workflow Data

Once I log hours, I can look at reports within the app or export the data for my own analysis and visualization. So far I have logged data for only three weeks, but I am already learning a few things. Check it out: Continue reading Workflow: Week-To-Week Time Data