You can book a 1-to-1 online session to earn your Awareness Certificates as there are currently, due to Covid-19, no onsite nor group events happening.
You can choose from the 18 topics available, each qualifying for a session certificate. For a bundle of 6 sessions, the school issues a module certificate, and for the completion of the whole program (18 sessions), you are granted the highly distinguishable program-level certificate.
In most of today’s scientific research, I find it still difficult to see how the link between the universe and human psychology is made. It seems like current awareness is not up to seeing the study of the human mind being first and uttermost linked to overarching factors such as
The human soul that is connected to the universal consciousness and cosmic time.
mathias sager (Awareness Intelligence)
As French Henri Poincare described so well “Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.” In the context of understanding life and its signification for human existence overall, some dots undoubtedly remain unconnected. Henri Poincare who died in 1912, is considered the ‘The Last Universalist’ in mathematics since he mastered all the disciplines at once. If today’s specialized scientific fields work in silos and are hindering inter-disciplinary cooperation, it might indeed be the case that
A lot of knowledge is not brought into a more meaningful context and does not result into a house of wisdom that benefits and protects all humanity in a broader sense.
mathias sager (Awareness Intelligence)
Project and productivity management skills to organize business processes are taught everywhere and on all levels of the education system. Surprisingly, the same diligence is not applied to the mental world.
How can we think about our thinking and improve it for our own and others’ well-being?
How can we critically check our awareness to make sure we don’t miss any essential aspects?
The answers to these questions determine how we care for the world, and yet they are not discussed systematically enough in school. To quote the Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” I think it is overdue to build wholesome human attitudes, which is to
Think more and in different ways about how we develop and use awareness.
All courses are based on latest research and consistently assume a cross-cultural and cooperative perspective. The courses aim to equip the participants with practical tools for personal and career success and can be tailored to your needs, on-site and through eLearning.
All the lessons are available as focused lectures or interactive workshop and are complemented with accompanying material, further readings, exercises, group works, and quizzes/tests.
I’m standing with my name for it.
Multi-Disciplinary: Combining knowledge from psychology, art, technology, and business for holistic approaches.
Cross-Cultural: Using cross-cultural competencies and agility to bridge cultural gaps for the benefit of our diverse participants.
Inter-Generational: Empowering to learn, strategize, and develop with tailored solutions according to lifespan development.
To understand the psychological and behavioural processes on which lasting learning results from experience.
In this course, participants will get input about major learning theories and get to understand of how humans do learn, process and remember information. Course participants will also consider and get examples on how practitioners can use these theories to explain behavior in cross-cultural contexts.
To provide participants an understanding of leadership from a psychological perspective, and to examine the impact of culture on leadership success.
In this course, participants will study leadership challenges from a several different psychological perspectives, gaining an understanding of more or less effective leadership styles across different cultures and contexts, and the ethical use of power and influence.
To develop an understanding of the psychological aspects around human capital development, cultural agility, and the impact and effectiveness of different global talent management strategies.
This course explores the interaction between personality, leadership types, and individual learning styles. Course participants will evaluate the psychological concept of talent and study the criteria for attracting, retaining and developing talent globally. Participants will also consider the effectiveness and fairness of global talent management strategies and their impact at individual and organizational levels.
The course ‘Developing Leadership Skills’ is a compelling summary of latest research and good practices that may well become your passport to explore new ways of effective leadership styles, increased levels of motivation, and untapped creativity.
Whether you are an HR practitioner, an aspiring or current leader, an executive coach, or a student, this logically structured course will help you in becoming personally and professionally more effective and efficient. You are offered practical tools for insight and understanding of your possible
roles in team situations,
conflict management style,
successful negotiation strategies,
better decision-making, as well as
unlocking of your innovation capacity.
The goal of this course is to make sure you will find answers to the questions that are relevant for personal growth and a thriving career. Compact, straightforward, and with numerous references to further information, the interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural knowledge and perspectives presented in the twelve short lectures will benefit your well-being and success as a dynamic leader and the common good alike.
Mathias’ transferable skills and experience are in education, business administration, advisory, risk management, and psychology and learning & development to facilitate change from a cross-cultural perspective. He has led quality and complex programs successfully working with diverse teams and collaborating interdisciplinary with stakeholders to achieve innovative solutions. Mathias has worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, he’s a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor for various clients.
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership and Business Administration
Strategic Thinking, ICT, and Risk and Program Management
Visiting Researcher at University of Tokyo (Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies)
Founder of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium
Research collaboration related to the PCJ
Strategy Advisory and Project Management Services for International Technology Companies in Japan and India
Strategy and concept
Branding, Marketing, and P&R
Occasional Instructor Leadership & Organizational Development at J-Globalgroup
Conceptualization of a Learning & Development model
Event facilitator and Instructor
Senior Manager | Financial Services (Advisory) at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC
Global lead and coordination of IT advisory, risk, assurance, and compliance projects for Japanese and International clients in the Financial Services sector
Team leader and counselor in the International IT Risk and Assurance practice
Cross-service line and multidisciplinary team and business development
Senior Manager, Advisory Services | EMEIA Financial Services, Ernst & Young AG
Advisory Services IT Risk and Assurance Insurance Services Team Leader Switzerland
Learning champion for the national IT Advisory practice, including design and deployment of learning maps, including the coordination and delivery of training and recruitment
Design, implementation and lead of project management office services
Trainer/Lecturer at the Akademie der Treuhandkammer (academy of the Institute of Certified Accountants and Tax Consultants)
Conception and realization (train the trainer and lecturer) of the Modules “Audit” and “Professional Judgment: Process oriented audit”
Trainer for Leadership Communication at the Centre for Information and Communication of the Swiss Army (ZIKA)
Leadership communication and conﬂict management trainer for public services personnel
Communications manager of the Center for Information and Communications of the Swiss Army
High School Teacher, Rupperswil
Class tutor, all courses
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership, Business Administration, and Project Management
-Diploma in Psychology (MSc program University of Liverpool), 2016 – 2018
-Executive MBA in ICT Management, University of Fribourg, 2010 – 2014
-Bachelor in Information Management, IFA, 2005 – 2007
-Postgraduate Certificate in Crisis Communication, 2006 – 2006
-Bachelor in Education Science, University of Neuchâtel, Higher Pedagogical Institute, Zofingen, 1995 – 1998
Advancing globalization requires new workplace competencies . Among Global Talent Managers, there is the sobering realization that people working in an increasingly global environment find themselves challenged in acquiring the necessary cultural agility  In today’s world Global talent management, mobility, and cultural agility belong together . “Bridging the global skills gap” through international assignments was rated as a priority for more than 1,200 globally surveyed CEO’s (. p. 19).
The term “cultural agility” was already used before as, for example, by Freedman (2003) who saw cultural agility to be needed in teams working around the world . In Caligiuri’s (2012) book, the same is more specifically defined as a mega “Mega-competency that enables professionals to perform successfully in cross-cultural situations . . . [it is] a combination of natural abilities, motivation to succeed, guided training, coaching, and development over time” ( pp. 4–5). In Caligiuri’s work, one can find a later leaner version that goes as follows: “Cultural agility is the ability to quickly, comfortably and effectively work in different cultures and with people from different cultures” . Other researchers accepted cultural agility to play a role in cross-cultural professional contexts .
As per the analysis of Gibbs and Boyraz (2015), cultural intelligence (CQ), global mindset, and cultural agility are sometimes used interchangeably, and most scholars might agree that these concepts are in minimum inter-related . In the form the cultural agility mega-competency is broken down into four categories that are behavioral, psychological, cross-cultural interactions and decisions, and comprising of a dozen more specific components, cultural agility seems to contain all that is needed to perform successfully in cross-cultural settings . The so-called “jangle fallacy” (Kelley, 1927, as cited in Brenneman, Klafehn, Burrus, Roberts, & Kochert, 2016) exists when a construct is conceptualized differently and, therefore, also named otherwise . This is roughly what was found when analyzing four frameworks related to the field of cross-cultural competency (C3) . A generally agreed-upon definition of C3 is that it is the “knowledge, skills, and affect/motivation that enable individuals to adapt effectively in cross-cultural environments” .
Multinational enterprises (MNEs) today often use the term “cultural agility” to describe their expectations regarding employees’ “flexibility.” The ability to adapt culturally intelligent to local situations, from such a usage perspective, addresses the need to be responsive in a global marketplace . Cognitive complexity refers to the ability to switch between distinct cultural demands  and strikingly illustrates how agility suggests “movement” as an organizing principle . “Cultural adaptiveness” in that sense is only one out of three possible “responding moves” that define cultural agility. The second is “cultural minimization” that is required from an employee when putting a supervisor’s command above a cultural norm, and third, there is “cultural integration” that is the consideration of concurrent cultures as, for example, in a multi-cultural team .
Some authors also distinguish cultural learning and cultural agility as two aspects of 3C (; ), matching the discrimination between “understanding about” and “knowing to use knowledge” as pointed to in Hounsell (2016) . It is the notion of cultural agility that is meant to be required to integrate cultural inclusion respectively to use the knowledge of inclusion to manifest it in a behavior that is producing inclusive organizational results . Therefore, for the further course of this systematic review, the following short definition is used: Cultural agility is “related to the ability … to use your cross-cultural learning effectively” . Training and development are significant for International Human Resources Management (IHRM) . The question to be investigated by this research aims to shed light on how much focus exists in the literature on the “usage” aspect of cultural knowledge. A systematic review shall provide for the answer by analyzing the relative emphasis put on training (i.e., specific knowledge/skills acquisition) as compared to development (i.e., a longer-term gathering of experiences and lessons learned as applicable fur improved cultural agility). Furthermore, developmental approaches shall be studied and reported to potentially support GTM practices in their challenge to extend their repertoire of available approaches and measures.
For Methodology and Results details, see Appendix A.
Similar to this systematic review’s finding that only 20% of the analyzed articles did specify cultural agility in connection with training and development, others found that only one out of four companies do assess cultural intelligence or agility in their international assignment candidates . Although in Lundby and Caligiuri’s (2013) survey cultural agility was rated as the third most important senior leader quality, the results of this review tendentially lean to support existing gaps in delivering brand success in GTM and a related need for not only training technical skills but developing cultural agility competencies , . Foreign culture on-site programs like the Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL)  may be effective solutions to narrow the gap. Interactional experiences with peers from other cultures seem to be an effective path to develop cultural agility .
Implications and future research
The findings and discussion in this article imply that experiential development opportunities should be sought by GTM practices to supplement a learning system towards increased effectiveness in developing cultural agility . A stronger link between organizations GTM function and their international assignee selection should be established. Psychological measures like the Cultural Agility Climate Index (CACI) could be used to support candidate and assignment effectiveness assessments . Measuring the current state would provide for the basis justifying the sustainable investment into cultural agility competencies . Watson (2014) found that diversity and inclusiveness training is standard practice, while the long-term building of cultural agility was found to be a less usual investment .
A facet of cultural agility this study came across too is the motivational component of the construct. While “willingness” had been included already in earlier conceptualizations of cultural agility , the term “agility” does not naturally imply such a component. Interestingly, Caligiuri, Baytalskaya, and Lazarova (2016) came later up with a construct of “cultural humility” and found evidence for its effectiveness in enhancing leadership skills, performance, and engagement . It would be interesting to see how the concepts of cultural agility and cultural humility could be integrated as some scholars still see cultural agility and the will for cultural adaptation as complementary rather than inclusive concepts .
More research should have been done to evaluate the precision of the use of the terms “training” and “development” in the analysis of this systematic review. It can be that the inclusion of synonyms or the more in-depth study and interpretation of the literature analyzed would have led to different results. Also, relying on Google scholar search and only processing around 30% of the results does not represent an as complete study as possible. Also, the result interpretation may be biased as it was not benchmarked against any further industry standards than mentioned in the article.
This study identifies components and evaluates the focus on training and development in the cultural agility literature. This paper found introductory that cultural agility potentially surpasses the scope of cross-cultural competency (C3) as it entails a behaviorally consequential nature that makes it especially practical for GTM considerations . On the other side, possible motivational aspects of cultural agility need to be further clarified.
In any case, for various sectors in a continuously globalizing world, the development of cultural agility through experiential means such as mobility programs  could gain even more popularity as a promising success factor for MNEs’ search and development of talents.
This study assumed a descriptive, quantitative analysis-based approach of a systematic literature review. Systematic reviews help the creation of a scientifically derived summary of available evidence . It is not known to the author of this review that another study did systematically review the research question related to training and development focus on promoting cultural agility.
The systematic review as designed in this article first selected from the University of Liverpool (UOL) discovery database books, e-journals, and theses with the search term “cultural agility.” Second, the Google Scholar search widget on the same (UOL) portal with the same search term was used to retrieve more documents. The UOL discovery database search found 13 documents published in 2012 or later, whose checking resulted in the exclusion of 2 irrelevant and one non-accessible (commercially protected) file, leaving 11 documents for analysis. The Google Scholar search found 424 results, of which 130 were books, e-articles, or theses. Out of the 130, 63 sources were accessible for download. The check for the inclusion criteria of equal or higher than the year 2012 further reduced the population to 47 documents that have been downloaded then and analyzed. The publication date 2012 as an inclusion criterion seemed appropriate considering this is the year of the publication of Paula Caligiuri’s book “Cultural Agility: Building a Pipeline of Successful Global Professionals.”
Data extraction and analysis
The analysis of the available documents included an in-document search for “agility” and “agile” to get to the section where a potential definition or description of cultural agility could be found; the according passages have been examined and studied for finding answers to the research question. In this process, additional 8 documents have been excluded due to irrelevance. The total number of included texts, therefore, was 50 and represents a significant amount of relevant and recent data sources across a broad range of scientific journals and other scholarly resources. The analysis report table documents copied text snippets from pertinent passages of the analyzed files. Due to space limitations, these were kept rather short without providing much further context.
Among the 50 documents derived from the databases and Google Scholar, nine were found to contain a mentioning or elaboration related to “training,” and six instances were found that include developmental aspects. Consequently, only 32% of the analyzed document did prominently refer to training and development in their section about cultural agility. A simultaneous presence of “training” and “development” appeared in five papers. In table 1, the 11 reportable results are outlined. The results indicate that more research articles do mention “training” as compared to “development” with regards to the concept of cultural agility. A couple of interesting operationalizations of cultural agility development were found as will be shown in the discussion section.
Table 1. Training and development in cultural agility related articles
Mukerjee (2014). As universities become increasingly global in their reach and operations, cultural agility is likely to be a competency that will be sought after and reflected in the recruitment, training and development processes 
Dinwoodie, Quinn, and McGuire (2014) Strategic Drivers for Leadership for expansion into international markets: Cultural agility—promote the predisposition to appreciate diversity and develop cultural intelligence to operate successfully in unfamiliar territories. 
Gibbs and Boyraz (2015) These concepts – cultural intelligence, global mindset and cultural agility – have each been extensively studied in terms of leadership, but they have yet to be applied to team level processes. For instance, Caligiuri (2012) regards cultural agility as a necessary skill of global business professionals. These professionals are usually CEOs and top managers responsible for more strategic organizational functions, who generally get more customized training, coaching, and development, rather than lower level virtual team members. / Attracting global team leaders and team members with the important skills needed to manage cultural diversity – cultural agility, global mindset, and CQ – is an issue with significant implications for IHRM, not only for training and development but also for selection of team members. 
Hounsell (2016). The development in students of a global outlook or global mindset generally focuses on the internationalisation of curriculum content within and across disciplines or subject areas. The knowledge gained takes two main forms. The first is a fuller understanding about other nations and cultures, or the use of knowledge and perspectives derived in or from other nations and cultures, leading to what has sometimes been called ‘cultural versatility’ or ‘cultural agility’. In HKU’s overarching goals for four-year degrees, this is referred to as intercultural understanding. 
Vega (2012). The creation of an informative guide that addressed cultural agility in emergency medicine would benefit both the EMS and Vietnamese-American communities. 
 Honnor (2013). Explains how the learning and development function at Infosys supports its global activities by developing competences that offer the organization global and cultural agility.
Synoground (2013). Cross-Cultural Competency (C3) has surfaced as the term to describe cultural ability and adaptability in personnel. Cultural Agility, a term coined by Dr. Paula Caligiuri, is used here to describe a degree of talent that surpasses C3. Using these concepts as a framework, the analysis herein will make suggestions designed to improve cross-cultural talent recognition and recruiting practices and introduce a potential training paradigm to fit the traditional GPF and SOF/IW framework of the services. 
McKinley (2016). Internationalizing the curriculum: explicitly pugng in assessments or program requirements that relate to cultural agility 
Jameson and Goshit (2017). program participants (domestic and international) to develop the intercultural skills, knowledge, and mindsets to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries. For the IPDF this typically includes cultural agility, open mindedness, respect, patience, empathy, leadership, an understanding of intercultural communication styles, willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone, as well as a basic understand- ing of the impact of power and privilege. 
Martin and Zhang (2017). The main goal of the course is to further students’ understanding and knowledge of education and business leaders’ best practices and how they can apply these best practices to their current career, as well as their future career within the education arena. The course objectives are consistent for both the domestic and international trips and are as follows: – Researching emerging global paradigms, best practices, and structures in education and business. – Analyzing international assessment measures -implement, understand drivers, improvement. – Building learning partnerships with global school and business leaders. – Increasing students’ global awareness, perspectives, and cultural agility. – Understanding the transferability of global educational and business systems. – Understanding the external environmental impact on education and business. 
Pace, A. (2012). After detailing each of these competencies, Caligiuri shares how readers can attract, recruit, assess, select, train, and develop culturally agile employees. / As far as workplace learning and development, Caligiuri notes: “A learning system to develop cultural agility needs to include two parts, cross-cultural training and experiential development opportunities.” 
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 Uma, S. N. (2013) Global HR Issues and Challenges for Managers.
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 Caligiuri, P. (2013). Developing culturally agile global business leaders. Organizational Dynamics, 42(3), 175-182. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2013.06.002
 Mukerjee, S. (2014). Agility: a crucial capability for universities in times of disruptive change and innovation. Australian Universities’ Review, The, 56(1), 56.
 Gibbs, J. L., & Boyraz, M. (2015). International HRM’s role in managing global teams. The Routledge companion to international human resource management, 532-551.
 Caligiuri, P., Noe, R., Nolan, R., Ryan, A. M., & Drasgow, F. (2011). Training, developing, and assessing cross-cultural competence in military personnel. Rutgers-The state univ Piscataway NJ.
 Brenneman, M. W., Klafehn, J., Burrus, J., Roberts, R. D., & Kochert, J. (2016). Assessing Cross-Cultural Competence: A Working Framework and Prototype Measures for Use in Military Contexts. In Critical Issues in Cross Cultural Management (pp. 103-131). Springer, Cham.
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 Drews, R., & Lamson, M. (2016). Determining the Organization’s Cultural Fit in the US. In Market Entry into the USA (pp. 55-67). Springer, Cham.
 Stirling, D. (2016). Assessing the Dialectic in the Academic Literature between Culturally-Dependent and Universal Leadership Attributes. Journal of Global Leadership, 79.
 Garvey, D. C. (2015). A causal layered analysis of movement, paralysis and liminality in the contested arena of indigenous mental health (Doctoral dissertation, Curtin University).
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 Hounsell, D. (2016). What Can Students Learn in the Internationalised University?.
 Watson, C. A. (2014). A cultural confluence: Approaches to embedding cultural insights and inclusion throughout the marketing process. Pepperdine University.
 Draghici, A. (2015) The Importance of Cross-Cultural Competencies in the New Context of Human Resources Management. Human Resources Management Challenges: Learning & Development, 63.
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 Dickmann, M., & Hughes, H. (2017). The Ingredients for Corporate Success?.
 Lundby, K., & Caligiuri, P. (2013). Leveraging Organizational Climate to Understand Cultural Agility and Foster Effective Global Leadership. People & Strategy, 36(3), 26-30.
 Dutton, G. (2016). Connecting the Dots for Success. Training, 53(6), 52-55.
 Slack, K., Noe, R., & Weaver, S. (2011). Staying Alive! Training High-Risk Teams for Self Correction.
 Caligiuri, P., Baytalskaya, N., & Lazarova, M. B. (2016). Cultural humility and low ethnocentrism as facilitators of expatriate performance. Journal of Global Mobility, 4(1), 4-17.
 Crawford, M. H., & Campbell, B. C. (Eds.). (2012). Causes and consequences of human migration: An evolutionary perspective. Cambridge University Press.
 Dinwoodie, D. L., Quinn, L., & McGuire, J. B. (2014). Bridging the strategy/performance gap how leadership strategy drives business results. White paper Center for Creative Leadership.
 Vega, J. (2012). Developing Cultural Agility between Emergency Medical Providers and Vietnamese-Americans in Santa Clara County (Doctoral dissertation, San José State University).
 Honnor, B. (2013). Aligning L&D to global business (learning and development). Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, 27(3).
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 McKinley, J. (2016). The integration of local and international students in EMI.
 Jameson, H. P., & Goshit, S. (2017). Building Campus Communities Inclusive of International Students: A Framework for Program Development. New Directions for Student Services, 2017(158), 73-85.
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Psychologists in the past have conceptualized talent as an IQ-like cognitive ability , and practice focused on the view of human achievements to be limited by innate characteristics . Human cognitive processing is indeed universally depending on sensory abilities, often biased and unaware of its own mechanisms, and limited to a relatively bounded range of working memory capacity . However, these innate factors are not directly encoding skills, but the development of human expertise rather relies on whether or not and how experience and training are happening .
Ericsson, Prietula, and Cokely (2007)  describe “deliberate practice” , which is the direction of efforts towards learning something that can’t be done well yet as compared to an already familiar task. Deliberate thinking develops the concentration and accepting consideration of even painful feedback (people tend to over-estimate their skills and performance) to practice new things that are, therefore, more challenging to approach . Learning outside of one’s comfort zone has been found favorable for reaping the benefits from brain plasticity allowing for ongoing cognitive health even in older age .
The development of cognitive abilities needs practice because it is, for example, relying on stored contextual information for improved anticipation and decision-making . The so-called psychological support skills are more domain-general, can respectively have to be learned too though, improve motivation, attention, and anxiety, and comprise of mental abilities such as imagery, self-talk, relaxation skills, goals setting, and organizing . Also, spatial abilities have been found supportive of developing expertise in science, technology, and engineering education .
Self-efficacy and motivation
Performance achievement requires self-confidence in one’s ability to learn. For any learning, it is vital to develop this life-skill of self-efficacy . Self-efficacy helps develop a stronger sense of hope and purpose of life . The attribution of failure to controllable factors (such as one’s development of abilities) causes individuals to think more positively, being more motivated and perseverant, and perform more successfully . While available to all, proactive personalities might access self-efficacy more easily though . The so-called Deep Layer Learning Motivation (i.e., the interest in internal motivation, as opposed to external motivators) is positively related to learning performance and self-efficacy . All this taken together, the possibility of creating an upward spiral for developing human capital exists through the mutually reinforcing effects of positive self-belief, intrinsic motivation, and successful learning achievement.
Creating a supportive environment
How a student, including the gifted , perceives the supportiveness of his/her learning environment, e.g., colleagues, family, and teachers, influences the motivation for self-directed engagement . This demonstrates the importance of a practice-friendly design of learning environments . The Triarchic Model of Grit has been evaluated a valid and reliable tool for measuring talent development self-efﬁcacy and has recently added the dimension of ‘adaptability to situations’ to the already established dimensions of ‘perseverance of effort’ and ‘consistency of interests’ . This could be especially useful to assess a conception of talent (respectively ability) that is seen as a more multi-dimensional function of person-environment interactions ensuring that educational policies and programs are consequently designed and promoted as opportunities for all .
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 Datu, J. D., Yuen, M., & Chen, G. (2017). Development and validation of the Triarchic Model of Grit Scale (TMGS): Evidence from Filipino undergraduate students. Personality And Individual Differences, 114198-205.
 Barab, S. A., & Plucker, J. A. (2002). Smart people or smart contexts? Cognition, ability, and talent development in an age of situated approaches to knowing and learning. Educational Psychologist, 37(3), 165-182. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3703_3
Summary. The transverse patterning (TP) task is a cognitive problem resembling the childhood game of “rock-paper-scissors” requiring decision-making in the process of learning associations between paired stimuli. The TP problem served the assessment of configural learning deficits due to hippocampal damages in animals. In experiments with humans, training has proven to increase test subjects’ TP task performance. This supports the interpretation that even older adults may be able to learn to adapt their cognitive strategies to compensate for age-related working memory deterioration. Furthermore, older adults may disproportionately benefit from visual versions of TP task, which involve semantic knowledge. This was found to support older individuals in the application of cognitive strategies that are activating less age-sensitive working memory and brain areas.
You an try the TP learning memory experiment yourself at opl.apa.org.
Summary. This article describes some metacognitive strategies to learner profiles and then evaluates those strategies for individuals of different ages with intellectual and learning disabilities. In order to do so, different variables that effect those with intellectual and learning disabilities are identified. Social and cultural implications, as well as life span stages and interpersonal communication are discussed.
Learned helplessness and some psychological disorders
Dogs who experienced repeatedly unavoidable electro shocks learned that they have no control over escaping from such painful events , and henceforth developed a cognitive deficit in the form of generalizing the helplessness expectation to other situations . This phenomenon is also considered reduced incentive motivation . Mental patterns of learned helplessness (LH) resemble those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which associate with depression . LH is mentioned as the animal correspondent of depression . Indeed, LH was found to be a primary cause of both PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD) . Depression includes the symptoms of feeling helplessness, but it is not its (sole) source. Non-depressed people can learn helplessness as well. Interestingly, ‘normal’ people may over-optimistically assess their level of control and therefore less likely notice uncontrollability as more realistically reasoning individuals with depressive tendencies do .
For what could appear as inappropriate passivity in refugees who are not seeking help and not filing timely registration from the new government, for example, can be explained by LH theory. Survivors of traumatic persecution have learned that they cannot expect help from their violent or passive government, an uncontrollable fact that caused the learning of helplessness that now is applied to the new country’s government as well . LH is characterized by attributions that are more personalized, constant, and of global nature and is directly associated with more severe PTSD and MDD symptoms. The relative importance of a situation to a person’s identity is further mediating this relationship . This way, LH explains why a persecuted refugee may not display the knowledge of pro-actively managing the required legal administration even in a new context that would, in contrast to the former learned one, offering help to do so .
Related theories and hope
Towards the end of the last century, the finding that hopelessness can lead to depression caused researchers like Seligman to re-focus from helplessness to hopelessness and finally to a hope-promoting view that was intended to prevent helplessness and related pathologies of hopelessness depression . For individuals who assume a performance-oriented motivation, prompts of hope and self-esteem are important to let them believe in their ability and become actively engaged, e.g., in learning and other challenging tasks. In contrast, according to goal achievement theory, subjects with a mastery-(learning-)orientation behave actively regardless of their degree of self-confidence. . Models of regulation posit that learners self-regulate (i.e., manage, monitor, and motivate) their resources either towards process or achievement goals . However pronounced and efficient these strategies may be though; the effects of hope finally beat any deficits in self-regulation .
A more positive outlook on relationships reduced the detrimental correlation between PTSD and dysfunctional goal orientation such as performance-avoidance. While mastery development is achieved through social comparison, performance-avoiding students see peer comparison as a threat. Therefore, motivation to get help and to learn can be increased by the adoption of a social-cognitive framework that is supportive of a positive relational outlook fostering help-seeking experiences .
Photo credit: Pexels (pixabay.com)
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Content. (1) Individual embodiment of increasingly global social contexts, (2) Globally influenced mediation of learning, (3) Extension of the proximate to a collaborative zone of development, (4) Integrating differences for rich and demanding learning opportunities
Human interactions don’t lack technical but rather cooperative communication skills. The good news is that pro-social behavior can be learned. Collective argumentation is one means to scaffold learners’ engagement in group work. Also, the negotiation of values is vital for achieving a shared sense of agency and accountability between teachers and students. In computer-enabled learning, consequential engagement in the form of enabling equitability and showing the benefits beyond single contributions, as well as using game formats are promising pathways to progress cooperation in learning environments.
Egocentrism occurs as part of preschoolers’ development in the so-called pre-operational stage and means the inability of a child to differentiate between its own and other people’s thoughts . In other words, children would not realize the suffering of others as such at all . This poses a quite depressive outlook and may not correspond to own experience and observations. Aren’t there more empathy-promising possibilities than such a radical and moral-disabling egocentrism? Is there potential for interventions? And what does animal research tell us?
The question of animal-human similarity is essential to decide whether animals should be treated alike  and whether animals possess rights . What characteristic determines a human being as distinct from animals? What about people with genetic anomalies or other disabilities on the one hand side, and, for example, especially well trained chimpanzees on the other ?
Proponents of animals’ legal status as private property that can be exploited by humans always find new approaches to legitimate the dissimilarity argument like, for example, further experiments designed to identify differences in the perception of pain, which is stimulating additional painful animal research . Evidence from experimental neurological studies of emotional activities shows that intense brain arousal happens in evolutionary shared neural areas that are still common in all mammals. Emotional states matter to animals. It can be easily observed how animals seek rewards and avoid punishments. Such positive and negative learning experiences indicate the existence of psychological and sensitive behavior in all human and non-human mammals .
Especially when fearing punishment, nonhuman and human animals tend to copy the behavior of others . Social learning is vital for the transmission of culture and learning between subjects of high similarity, the so-called assortative social learning, is preferred . The study of conformity has gained popularity in animal research in recent years . Imitation as a social learning mode of animals and humans was already described by Thorndike a couple of centuries ago. Imitative behavior with its high copying accuracy might be essential in cultivating traditions . The limited richness in chimpanzee culture compared to human culture may lie in the higher reliance of children on social rewards while chimpanzees rely more on their own knowledge . There is growing evidence for close analogies of human and chimpanzee social learning and culture .
Some argue that Konrad Lorenz’ study of adaptiveness, i.e., observing stimuli-response behavior in the context of the specific environment (and life experiences , has not been maintained sufficiently in animal research methodology . However, whatever improved scientific methods will reveal, the scientific communities’ and citizens’ judgment regarding which psychological commonalities are of moral relevance and which not, remains an issue that needs careful consideration. We might still not know how inaccurate our understanding of animals’ minds is. Our historically poor understanding  should, in any case, attune us with a rather humble attitude.
Photo credit: tskirde (pixabay.com)
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Introspection as the scientific method had to give place to behavioral psychology in the nineteenth century , which opposed mentalist approaches to the study of associative mechanisms in learned behavior  with rigorous observable laboratory experiments and animal behavior training as performed by B.F. Skinner  (Figure 1.). Associationists like E. Thorndike believed in biological processes which construe memory in the form of neuronal connections in the brain . Reinforcement, for example in the form of dopamine rewards, was considered necessary feedback for learning enablement . Today there is substantial evidence that learning can happen without this kind of reinforcement though . The classical conditioning (Figure 2.) through basic physical stimulation proven too simplistic, Ivan Pavlov introduced a second system allowing for linguistic inputs too . L.S. Vygotsky considered language as a requirement for the human ability to analyze the world by cognitively separating real-world objects from related conceptualizations . Signs and symbols allow a shared subjectivity, e.g., between teacher and student . Verbal animal behavior is studied to find roots for the development of human language sophistication .
Figure 1. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning Quadrant
Figure 2. Pavlov’s classical conditioning
Cognitive Approach to Learning
Noam Chomsky criticized that animal verbal behavior might follow different principles that wouldn’t allow generalization attempts to human behavior . The lack of real-life conditions in the laboratory environments and the difficulty to repeat animal experiments in wild life , ethical constraints in animal research limiting invasive practices , utterly operant-mathematical approaches, and an over-emphasis on language opened the way towards cognitive approaches beyond the study of language . The negligence of instinct’s role, as proven by Konrad Lorenz to be relevant for imprinting mechanisms in learning (Figure 3.), also brought behaviorism into critique . Vygotsky’s developmental method of research of the human species was re-discovered . Around the same time, after the mid of the twentieth century, Jean Piaget’s schema theory (Figure 4.) introduced the concepts of assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration as the developmental cognitive principles of his influential genetics based philosophy .
Figure 3. Konrad Lorenz’ Imprinting
Figure 4. Piaget’s Schema stages
After 1980, intelligence, especially Howard E. Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Figure 5.) (but also, Robert J. Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence , as well as his personality characteristics related to thinking styles ), were taken into account in education programs . Autonomous learning raised from Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (Figure 6.) noticing that human behavior is about willful and context-dependent mental processes . Innate needs for competence, as described by Skinner , and Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory further contributed to the motivational aspect of learning .
Figure 5. Gardner’s multiple intelligences
Figure 6. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
Piaget and Vygotsky both construct human development holistically from transactional, relational, and situational thinking perspectives . Such a constructivism also implies that education is about active learning rather than teaching , putting the focus on human growth experience instead of economic principles . Vygotsky with his socio-cultural approach to psychological development (Figure 7.) is, in my opinion, best reflecting Plato’s principle of “the meaning of the world is embedded in the experience of the world” (p. 399) reminding us that the theory of learning remains a dynamic and context-sensitive science going forward .
Figure 7. Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural approach
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Summary. The advancement of a genuinely global science beyond Euro-American mainstream, the reduction of international research inequalities, and the mitigation of adverse effects of academic capitalism are important to make progress in understanding and helping humanity worldwide.
Developmental psychology comprises the research of children’s cognitive, societal, and emotive development, and is especially interested in studying how children learn . During the last decades, lifespan developmental psychology became an “independent, interdisciplinary specialization of life sciences” [2, p. 25] that is embracing the developmental stages over a whole lifespan . Lifespan development research seeks insight into the determinants of individuals’ well-being, e.g., ‘successful aging,’ while drawing on traditional developmental psychology’s components of health, cognition, and relationships .
The Role of Culture
The impressive achievements in human collective creation may be seen as essentially the result of social rather than mental capacities . Despite the plethora of cultural psychology research, there remains critique whether culture and context can play the central role in exploring what is influencing social behavior . As a counter-argument some researchers propose the womanist model to overcome the definition of the self as a mere function of culture and societal norms .
Social abilities of children at different development stages have been reported to be comparable . Extending developmental research to life-span theories entailing adulthood and old age, as already proposed by Erikson’s identity development model from 1959 , causes a shift towards increased importance of culture. Developmental neurobiological processes that are more influential in early life stages give way to increased effects from culture and social learning at later life stages . Regarding child development there are increasingly calls for inclusion of, for example, native cultures in research .
Towards Holistic Lifespan Development Psychology Approaches
Jean Piaget’s (1896 – 1994) view that meaning results from physical interaction with the environment could not hinder psychology’s tendential development of an inconsideration of brain and body in mental processes. However, the modern enactivist approach is (again) conceptualizing a close link between organism and environment . Today a more holistic perspective follows earlier research that has focused either internal or exogenic elements in identity development . Contemporary research emphasizes the need to better understand the complex human environment , to examine individual (e.g., gender-specific, but controlled for culture) within-person developmental processes in longitudinal studies , and to capture the more granular day-to-day events’ influence on crucial lifespan factors .
Interdisciplinary Globalization of Lifespan Development Research
Economically developed regions, sometimes referred to as Western countries, make up only 20 percent of the world population while developing economies’ population is even disproportionately continuing to grow. At the same time, economic development in the Non-Western, often collectivist societies are likely to influence the development of related cultures dramatically. Therefore, to understand human developmental, psychology needs to focus more on where the big changes and populations are .
To further integrate all relevant aspects of human development, a closer collaboration between the life course sociology and life span psychology seems to be a promising aspiration . Like the emergence of culture and art marked a new era of Homo sapiens some ten thousand years ago , maybe breakthroughs in understanding human lifespan development related to culture may define next evolutionary steps of humanity.
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Summary. Online learning and team work are ever increasing. This poses new challenges on how to predict successful learning, teaching, and performance in general while being wary about problematic Internet/online usage too. Emotions may be seen as less relevant in an online environment, but studies show that Emotional Intelligence (EI) of online instructors and leaders of virtual teams does predict online success. As online participant want to bring in their personality, especially in the case of attachment to a program or project, empathic behavior plays a major role in the online world. “Mind reading” is happening in face-to-face interactions; interestingly, this is possible with others’ texts too, even in the absence of any other visual cues. EI can be developed online, especially when combined with mindfulness instructions, and the Internet Emotional Intelligence Scale (IEIS) provides a potent tool for evaluation.
Summary. Collaborative learning and teamwork play a significant role in learning and work performance. Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) has positive effects on learning and performance dynamics in learning and collaborating teams, which reinforces EI as a contributing factor to successful organizational behavior. Therefore, the potential of CEI should be harnessed by further integrating it into work-relevant learning curriculums.
Team Learning for Team Performance
Despite or because of the controversy related to how Emotional Intelligence (EI) is positively influencing performance, potential beneficiaries such as Learning & Development and HR functions need to be considerate about what measures they take . Organizational requirements shifted increasingly towards increased requirements for team work . Similarly, in educational settings, collaborative learning is considered playing a decisive role in learning performance . EI is a concept that is associating affect, cognition, and socialization . It is possible to develop, e.g., through cooperative learning as several studies found  . Team based learning becomes most effective if sufficient female participation in teams is created, which brings in the female tendency for increased emotional awareness and male’s heightened appetite to proactively guide the team . Researchers suggests that emotional intelligence can culturally differ, following the logic that the social environment, as it is the topic of social cognitive theories, determines how for what emotions awareness and regulations are created .
Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) as a Team Ability
Studies confirm the correlation between the gender ratio and collective intelligence . They define Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) as a group’s ability to create a collectively normed management and expression of emotions and emphasize its importance for teamwork quality . It becomes evident that there is an interrelationship between the positive effect that EI can have on aspects of dynamics in learning teams , which reinforces EI as a contributing factor to successful organizational behavior . Individual EI without integration into the group context is not a guarantee for teamwork as emotionally intelligent individuals may situationally choose competition over cooperation, depending on their strategic benefit assessment .
Reported decreases in empathy over time in medical school were successfully addressed by implementing further team based learning . And another example represents the reported need for and success of EI as an integral part of work-relevant learning curriculums . It will be interesting how evidenced-based research and organizational needs will stimulate each other.
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 Goreyshi, M. K., kargar, F. R., Noohi, S., & Ajilchi, B. (2013). Effect of Combined Mastery-Cooperative Learning on Emotional Intelligence, Self-esteem and Academic Achievement in Grade Skipping. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 84(The 3rd World Conference on Psychology, Counseling and Guidance, WCPCG-2012), 470-474. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.586
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