February 22, 2011

January 23, 2011

Design Thinking and Learning

In a seminar course required of students in my doctoral program, we spent a day on problem solving and creativity. Professor John Nash took us through an exercise that originated with the Stanford d.school where we used problem solving and then design thinking to create the perfect wallet for a student partner.

Our exercise included:

  • Interviewing a partner to engage them and gather insights about wallet use
  • Defining and articulating a point of view based on the interview insights
  • Sketching new alternatives based on the point of view
  • Testing ideas with our partner to gather feedback
  • Acting on the feedback and building a wallet prototype from art supplies

This was a fun exercise that I think can be adapted for use with student leaders to encourage bigger picture thinking and processing. You can read more about the exercise and view a student interview at Nash’s blog.

January 1, 2011


Ever wonder if you share too much on Twitter? Andrew Careaga introduced me to a clever little application that creates a cloud of your Tweets. (He knows a lot about music too, you should follow his blog if you are not already.)

Reviewing the most frequent word of my last year in Twitter, student, has me pondering a career in student affairs. Any thoughts on that?

Happy New Year!

Patron saints and appreciation

In student affairs as in many professions, you have your ups and downs. Long hours, short budgets, and late nights are just par for the course. But then when least expected, an appreciation for your efforts appears from nowhere. And although things do not usually end well for patron saints, I love a challenge.

Thank you, Sebastian!

@DebraSanborn So the Vatican is gonna recognize you as Saint Sanborn: The patron saint of college students.less than a minute ago via web

December 16, 2010

'Twas the night before finals

Twas the night before finals, and all through the college,
The students were praying for last minute knowledge...

I passed a blurry eyed student as he was on his way to a final exam this week. He was gripping a Red Bull in each hand. And I was reminded of this final exam diagram shared by one of our peer mentors.

Happy Finals to All and all a Good Test!

November 30, 2010

Type links in student success

I am currently exploring research directed toward identifying if Psychological Type preferences affect student success at a research university. My interest is in determining if there is correlation of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) preferences as a gauge of academic success in college. This idea originates from my work as a type practitioner and instructor of a first-year seminar course. Through my annual lectures introducing the MBTI to link personal preferences and learning styles, I quickly detected that my student population was overrepresented in some type preferences in comparison to national samples. Additionally, I found a higher number of students with specific type preferences demonstrating academic difficulty in the first college year.

My personal experience with type is that early in my career, I began to detect interpersonal roadblocks and miscommunication, particularly in the workplace, related to what I later learned were my type preferences. As I further researched type and my own preferences, I began to see opportunities for enabling students to understand more about themselves in the transition to college. As I was already an experienced first-year seminar instructor, I sought academic training to become a type facilitator to add type education in my course. I began administering the introduction to MBTI in my first-year seminar class and to date have assessed the type preferences of more than 700 students in the seminar course during their first semester of college. My goal is to complete a longitudinal study of the academic success and graduation completion of students administered the MBTI in their first year to determine if students with specific type preferences have more academic difficulty in their path to a degree. Ideally, this information will provide early identification for students who may require enhanced programming to meet their academic needs.

Related to this research, I have found type awareness to be extremely helpful in my own relationships, work, and communications. Type has become a touchstone for me, a frame of reference that allows me to dissect and review difficult relationships, expectations, and communications that may occur with others. My knowledge and use of type has been therapeutic in allowing me to recognize that we don’t all interact, process information or produce decisions in similar manners. And our differences make us stronger.