William Hedgepeth’s Paper Proposal

Student Success: A gap to the road not taken

What is a successful student? What makes Humberto or Mary or Berry happy to be in a class, whether in a community college classroom or at home logged into an online university class? So, let’s explore a cybernetic way of thinking toward student success. We begin with the concept of how we “see ourselves through other people’s eyes” (Howowitz & Gulsuszka, p. i, 1998). I see myself through the eyes of my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. We as teachers and academics like to think we know what makes a student successful. So, let’s see if we know what student success means from some other viewpoint than Fact Books.
Let’s define student success as student happiness. To do that, first look at yourself in the mirror or from the eyes of your wife or husband or children or someone else who defines who you are. Look at the person next to you. What defines your happiness from those eyes? I asked some of those very people to see what they would say. The terms or attributes that came back were respect, accomplishment, recognition, praise, no left overs, joy, trying something different, constructive feedback, positive energy, seeing others in your space, planting new ideas and seeing at least two of them grow, sharing with others. That is a lot to make us happy.
Now take these attributes and try to measure them. Compare all that data being collected on student activity in the classroom and contrast the results. Or, better yet, identify the gaps where data is not being collected. Or, even better, identify the gaps where you cannot collect such data, or not easily collect it.
Start with the term respect. How do you collect data on a student feeling they have respect from someone, from you, from any faculty, from their husband, their wife, their boss, their children, and their mom? Do we collect data on respect from just their time in the classroom and the interaction with one faculty member per course, a dozen to 25 students in a class, those in the library, or Administration? How far do we go to find out if they are happy in the respect department they feel from all these other people’s eyes? Oh, and what is the metric for that attribute respect? Is it a number from 1 to 10? Is it a yes or no answer?
If we just measure what is happening to that student in the classroom, are we forgetting that the classroom is just one small piece of the daily relationships that bring that respect to that person, that student?
How far are you willing to go to find how to measure those different aspects of happiness gaps that defines your student? How can we build into this relationship of how the student sees herself, himself?
Reference: Horowitz, H., Galuszka, F. (1998, April 3). Communication and Anti-Communication. , American Society for Cybernetics. Washington, DC.

Cybernetic traditions:

  • 5) Education and conversation
  • 9) Social sciences

2 thoughts on “William Hedgepeth’s Paper Proposal

  1. Candy

    this is a thought- provoking abstract – i understand that it is aimed at the impossibility of measuring student success, understood as happiness? The abstract seems a reply to an earlier question or situation but I don’t really know which one. Can you give more context?

  2. Ranulph Glanville

    You might be interested in papers in 2 books. The first is Fred Steier’s Research and Reflexivity (which includes Foerster’s Through the Eyes of the Other, and the second is Jasia Reichart’s book Cybernetics Art and Ideas, which has a strange but charming paper by Ali Irtem called Happiness, Amplified Cybernetically—based on Ashby’s intelligence amplifier.

    It’s the other who is all too often left out of (second order) cybernetic accounts: your reminder of the eyes of the other is timely, though it may be a little tricky for some of our psychotherapeutic colleagues.


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