Three Principles for Cultivating Excellence – A Comment

It seems like science deadlines always coincide with busy times in your life.  That is certainly true at the moment as I’m working to finish my first draft of a textbook chapter while still getting my ducks in a row for pre-Christmas festivities and complete my holiday gift preparation.  So for now, I’m going to do a quick post – a comment on an interesting article I read in Faculty Focus.  Please follow this link for the original article, “Three Principles for Cultivating Excellence.”

In the article, Dr. Nangia draws parallels between yoga and academic success in undergraduate studies.  I love to see the connections between two seemingly disparate fields, and I feel Dr. Nangia does a great job establishing her three principles.

My only comment is in regard to her “100 Percent” Principle.  I believe she is correct that you achieve the most in an area of your life when you immerse yourself in it and focus your energies.  This can extend to undergraduate coursework, but not always.  I’m the product of a large state school, and while I immersed myself in a research experience, I did not do the same with my classes.  I cut corners where I could and still I earned A grades.  I never felt like I focused on my subjects any more than was required.

The onus is on the student to do the work, but the instructor also bears a responsibility.  Don’t tell the students to give 100% if you’re not putting 100% into course design.  We as teachers have to engage our students in the material.  If we can elicit buy-in, then the students are more likely to give it their all.  Instructors will benefit from student engagement, creating a truly exciting environment of exploration.  The 100% Principle is, in reality, a codependent, mutualistic, relationship.

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