Author Archives: awaltrip

Learning from online vs campus

Recently I have been wondering how most college switching to online classes would affect students learning. The Brookings Institution suggest that online classes can be very beneficial to students by helping target the causes of learning problems and helping traitor questions to help the student excel. However, they also say that students that do not highly excel in the traditional classroom tend to fall remarkably in learning when given online classes, which leads to more withdraws and dropouts. Therefore, most students benefit greatly from the traditional classroom. This is different from what University of the Potomac says which is “70% of all students claim online instruction to be as good as or better than in a traditional classroom;” along with on standardized test average score of classroom learners was 50th percentile, while average score of online learners was 59th percentile. Salt Lake Community College states that “Arguments can be made for both sides, but what it ultimately comes down to, is an individual’s preference in receiving their education,” which brings up an exceedingly good point. After the many articles I have read, many more than are referenced, have brought me to a similar conclusion. Whether you think that on campus classes are better for you cause you believe that hands-on activities or more conversation style lectures work better; or that online classes are better for you cause you believe the looser time limits or videos lectures that you can rewatch are better, it is all up to your personal preference. Just remember that you can get it into your memory one way or another, and in a time where we do not have an option, use the internet to your advantage, watch more videos or do more worksheets to help yourself understand. The internet has many resources to help you through this.

Brookings Institution, Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb:

University of the Potomac:

Salt Lake Community College:


Dyslexia and Language


For the past few months I have been trying to think of what to do about the UMW language requirement; and before you ask, yes I had thought about it before picking my freshman year classes. I know what you are thinking, “just pick the language you are interested in or that you think will be easiest for you and take the class,” but it is not that simple. I can learn any language I want this is true, and I may go on to do so when I have spare time in adulthood; however, right now when I am juggling other classes, looking for a job, looking for future internships and grad schools, caring for rapidly ageing grandparents, and trying to get enough sleep and stay healthy, then throw dyslexia on top of it and learning a language seems like an impossibility. At the beginning of freshman year, I had thought that learning Latin would be my way out, because of the class mostly lacking a verbal communication part. However, with my second semester of Latin coming to a close, the thought of taking even one of the two more classes I would have to take of it seems like a death sentence for my other classes and my sanity. According to IDA (International Dyslexia Association), the definition of dyslexia is:

“a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

With that definition, the issue seems to be getting the sound of the phone/phoneme to store both the sound and its designated letter correctly. When I had talked to friends, they had said that sign language was not affected by dyslexia, but I was skeptical about that statement. Now that class picking time is upon us, I wanted to know if I should use ASL as a way to not have to take any more Latin.

Minna Moffatt-Feldman from University of Bolton, conducted research about the Impact of dyslexia on learning sign language. After the tremendous experiment was over, the conclusion was that “overall dyslexia does not appear to pose a disadvantage to learning SL given the majority of participants citing a positive emotional response from SL” (Side note this is a great paper and I would suggest you take a look at it: second link below). The participants showed that the fingerspelling comprehension was a clear disadvantage; however, the positivity that the people felt counteracted it completely. To me this shows that phonology can be intertwined with any language even when the language has a sound component. All of these adults had already connected sound and language; however, this most certainly could not be the case for people who have never heard. This would prompt the idea that children who learn a normal verbal language and sign language would not have this established connection. Therefore, children with dyslexia that learn sign language as well as their given language could possibly not have this disadvantage with the fingerspelling comprehension. This thought is supported by Krashen’s 1987 study about “principals and practice in second language acquisition” that was cited in the Moffatt paper.

I have unfortunately passed this time of language without sound period; however, with the very positive feedback for the participants of the study, I will hopefully start taking ASL classes to fill the language requirement starting this summer.

Stroke and Memory

About two years ago my grandmother had a stroke due to diabetes complications. The first time I saw her after, she had no idea who anyone was. A short time after that when I was alone with her, she called me by my aunt’s name, and if I was with her and my mother, she would call me by my sister’s name. Immediately after calling me the wrong name she would say, “I know that’s not your name.” I was curious about why this was and so was the rest of my family, so we asked the nurse and she said something like this:

The stroke has shuffled up her memories, think about her brain as a filing cabinet. Things will slowly be put back in order where they were to begin with. When she first came in here she had no idea that he was her husband, and now she knows exactly who he is. A lot of the cabinets are filed under big groups, so in the case of you [that’s me]; she has you filed under youngest daughter most of the time, so she will call you her youngest daughter’s name. And when you are with your mother you are filed under the daughter of your mother, so she will call you by your sister’s name.

This helped all of my family understand the way that Grandmother was thinking when she was talking to us.

According to Alberto Maud, memory loss commonly occurs after a loss of nerve cells in the brain. People that have dementia have such severe memory loss that they can have difficulty learning new things or remembering names of people they just met. They may also get lost in places that were previously very familiar or have trouble finding words. A common type of dementia is vascular dementia, which is caused by brain damage due to strokes. Knowing this now is scary, I had no idea that my grandmother was close to having dementia; however, it does make perfect sense. She was lost a lot of the time and struggled to find words in the middle of sentences, which made her very upset. Also impairments dealing with cognition can occure after a stroke, this means mental actions and operations cannot be fully sorted out by the brain. This comes from a “lack of communication when it comes to gaining information and understanding through vital pathways—thoughts, experiences, and the senses” according to Henry Hoffman. Also Hoffman said:

“Depending on which side of the brain is most affected by a stroke, different symptoms can occur. For example, someone with a right-brain stroke can exhibit complications with problem solving. In addition, they may confuse information or muddle up the order of details of an event. For those who are left-brain impacted, there may be a significant change to their short-term memory. In this case, a survivor may have a hard time learning new things and will most likely have to be reminded of something many times.”

In the case of my grandmother, her stoke was on the left side. She had a hard time remembering what question she had already asked and so would ask multiple times; even hours after she had stopped asking she would ask again, showing that very few things got processed properly in her short-term memory. At the beginning, she could not remember who had come to see her the day before. Currently, there is no specific medical treatment that can help reverse the memory loss that occurs after a stroke. So, all my family could do was hope for the best. My grandmother had worked hard almost all of her life to stay healthy and in shape, this fact might have saved her life and mind, because the stroke only knocked her down. If she would have been in bad shape to begin with I can only imagine how hard it would have been for her to try to return to her former self. She has regained most of the files in her cabinet drawers, but there are still some bad days every once in a while. Please everyone, try to stay healthy throughout your life, so when life knocks you down, which it will, you will be ready for it.


Alberto Maud:

Henry Hoffman: : this is the picture url, it would not post normally.

The strange condition of lie vomiting in “Knives Out”

In the 2019 movie “Knives Out,” is a comedic who done it, with a character even saying the deceased man “practically lives in a Clue board.” The movie was over all very entertaining and the comedy kept the audience engaged; however, it talked in depth about a disorder I had never heard of before. The main character, Marta Cabrera, is said to not be able to lie without vomiting. This fact is completely vital to the plot; but my first thought was is that real?

Now, I have seen tells when a person lies; for instance on “Brain Games” season 2 episode 12, the segment “Tells” shows a woman who when she lies she purses her lips. There are many different types of tells and not everyone has a tell; but the main question is, can vomiting be a tell? Dr. David A. Johnson, a professor of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and a past president of the American College of Gastroenterology, said that vomiting has never “been brought up that it was specifically around a lie, but emotional upset sometimes can be a trigger.”

How could lying bring about such a strong reaction? The brain is only doing one more thing, right? Actually, lying is an action involving at least 3 parts. First, there is suppressing the truth. Second, they must come up with the lie. Finally, the person must convince the other person that the lie is true, by not letting nervousness, tells, or anything else that might get in the way. According to Emma J. Williams et. al.’s research, lying takes take longer and sometimes much longer than telling the truth. Williams’s “results demonstrate several distinct mechanisms that contribute to additional processing requirements when individuals tell a lie.” At the time of their study in 2013, not much seems to be known about the process of lying, but based on Williams’s data I would say that lying is most likely going to be a serial process due to the time differences between lying and telling the truth.

In conclusion, Gastroenterologists, David A. Johnson and Kara G. Margolis, say they have never seen a case of chronic vomiting after lying, but that it is feasible. I would recommend that you look at Williams’s study, the link is below.


Knives Out:

Brain Games, Liar Liar episode:

Marissa Martinelli:

Bill Sullivan Ph.D.:

Emma J. Williams: