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Is telework good or bad? It depends

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Like many of you and your students today (March, 2020) who are working from home. I am doing the same. While I am looking forward to the slew of research that is going to come out of this ABA experiment, this talk by Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom may be a preview of the kind of finds we're going to see. 

Bloom starts talking about his research here at about the 6:30 mark.

Video Link : 2586

After watching this video, ask your students to identify the independent variable and dependent variables. How were participants randomly assigned to conditions? Why was it necessary to use random assignment and not just let participants decide if they wanted to work for home or the office? According to Bloom, what are the “three great enemies of working from home?” Bloom adds that having choice of whether to work from the office or work from home is key. During COVID-19, almost all of us in education in the US and other parts of the world—faculty, staff, and students—have no choice but to work from home. How may this impact our productivity?

To expand the discussion, ask students to explore the pros and cons of teleworking and working onsite. If your students were psychological scientists, how could they go about researching the relative impact of each of those pros/cons. In other words, if students thought that “too many distractions at home” was a reason to work onsite, how could students find out how many workers would identify that as a factor and how big of a factor it was in their decision.

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.