Being Open to Learning

Any day that I learn something new is a very good day for me, and I have many very good days in my life, especially in my later years. For me, being open to learning is important – the subject matter is almost irrelevant, as is the source of knowledge. Being open to learning means knowing the opportunity to learn can happen anywhere, anytime and from anyone, and often without warning or expectation. In fact, sometimes the stranger or the student can often teach an important lesson.  

Being open to new experiences provides the nexus for learning something new, which leads to personal growth and change; and change is always welcome.  Without change, we stagnate and life offers no opportunities to move forward and become the best that we can be. 

Be open to new opportunities.

Be open to learning.

Be open to change. 

Be the best that you can be!

Keeping Track of Student Satisfaction

Dean of Admissions & Student Services and Faculty Member, Candis Collins

In Higher Education today, a lot of emphasis has been put on student satisfaction and student critiques of a university’s courses and teaching faculty. Student input is certainly a very important part of maintaining an eye on how well a university is doing at meeting its mission, and how well faculty are doing in the mentoring process. Atlantic University has always been very concerned about the kind of experience its students are having. Our faculty members are mentors in the truest sense of the word, guiding students through academic and experiential territory. We hope that we are all giving students not only the context in which they can become expert in the content their mentors provide, but also a context in which they can seek and discover deep truths about themselves and their places in the world.

Every year we provide our accrediting agency with an annual report. They are not only sticklers on how well we are living up to their business and student services standards and policies, but they also care a great deal about well are students are faring under our care. Putting the report together is a great exercise in understanding ourselves as an institution, and in getting in touch in a serious way with what our students need and feel.

Part of the data gathering we do for that report centers on the course evaluations we make available to our students as they complete their courses. In the past we used to give our students a link to a course evaluation form that asks the students to rate aspects of the course they have just finished, from its contents to its overall value. We also ask questions about the promptness of the feedback they obtain from their faculty mentors, about their overall satisfaction with the school, and whether or not their goals are being met. Recently we have started to ask students to estimate how many hours they spend on their courses, including hours in the online classroom, answering discussion posts and reading mentor’s comments, hours watching videos or movies or listening to audios assigned in the course, hours spent reading, and finally time spent writing discussion posts, short essays and longer papers. Because we design our courses to meet the Department of Education’s credit hour rule (135 student activity hours overall per 3 credit course), we are very serious about getting this estimate. Using the estimate we can determine whether a course is “light” and needs to be beefed up to meet the credit hour rule, or whether a class has way too much going on to be a good learning experience.

When we gave our students a link to a course evaluation document, we found that a large number of students didn’t fill out their forms. Getting a good size response rate from college students — even graduate students like ours — can be a difficult task. Similar to what other schools have done, our solution was to put the course evaluation online, and to have faculty emphasize to the students that course requirements could not be considered “done” until they had completed an evaluation form. Faculty also let students know that we are very serious about our course evaluations and that our goal is to really “hear” what the students are saying.

This past Spring semester, most of the students completed the online course evaluation. The rest, after running into one of the rare technological hiccups from our survey site, completed the alternate form of the evaluation, our “old-timey” course evaluation document. We about doubled our overall response rate from previous semesters, and netted a 92% response rate. That was a big “woo hoo” moment for us!

This table shows you the summary stats we are now listing on our consumer disclosure form.


Overall Results Spring 2012 Course Evaluations Ratings
Rating Scale = 1 (least helpful) to 5 (most helpful)
Response Rate 92%
Course Content 4.5
Textbook/Materials 4.3
Audio/Video etc 4.1
Mentor’s Comments 4.8
Value of Course 4.6
Overall Rating 4.6
Hours per week 11.5
Yes I got prompt feedback 94%
Yes I would recommend the course 100%
Yes the course met my goals 99%
Yes I would recommend AU 100%


One of the things we took away from that chart is that we need to do a better job with our audio/visual materials. One of the things we’ve done to help with that is set up some professional development courses for our faculty on using educational technology. Another is that we’re moving to a new learning management system soon that will give us a lot more flexibility in what types of things we can use. We have also started filming lectures developed by close-by faculty mentors for use in their classes.  Another lesson we’ve taken from the summary stats is that we need to rethink some of our textbooks and materials, and as we review our classes, or revamp them for the new learning management system, we’re taking that stat into consideration too.

We were really happy with the satisfaction percentages and also with the rating of our mentor’s comments. Anyone who has taken an online course knows that a great mentor can make the difference in a student’s experience. Many of our students also wrote open-ended comments on the course and their mentor and a lot of them had wonderful things to say about the attentiveness of our faculty and their willingness to be as involved in the student’s experience as the student needed them to be. We think our faculty are really great mentors, of course. Still it’s just wonderful to hear some of the students confirm that.

Our students also had some great suggestions for the courses, for materials, the course structure and so on. And that was really useful feedback too.

Anyhow, I thought I’d pass on these recent results to all of you, not only because I’m proud of the job that Atlantic University does and of the wonderful way in which our students step up to the plate in their classes, giving of themselves, and creating a community of good-hearted, mindful scholars, but also because the stats confirm my impression that Atlantic University is blessed with a terrific faculty. And I would like to say a resounding and public congratulations to all of them on a job well done!

For more information on our Faculty Mentors and Faculty Fellows, you can click here to travel to the Faculty page on the Atlantic University website. Thanks for listening!


New Additions to the Atlantic University Blog Roll

Just a note to let everybody know that Atlantic University has three additional blogs attached to the school besides this blog. You can get to them by clicking on the names on the Blog Roll to the right of this post. All three blogs, Scholar in Residence, Notes from a Dreamer, and Joanne DiMaggio Soul Writer have added new posts recently.

The Scholar in Residence

Carlos S. Alvarado, Atlantic University’s Scholar in Residence, has posted a new blog on the history of mesmerism. Nicely illustrated, he features a group of excellent, recent articles on Mesmerism. Alvarado is well-known as an historian of psychical research, parapsychology with a deep interest in the history of psychology as well. The title has a “1” after it, so I’m sure there will be more great articles on Mesmerism presented in future blogs.

Notes from a Dreamer

AU Faculty Fellow, Bobbie Ann Pimm, has recently added a new blog in which she introduces the International Journal of Dream Research, describing the journal, its editor and its focus. Bobbie Ann Pimm and Bob Van de Castle, PhD, will be co-teaching AU’s new course, Becoming a Teacher of Dream Work/Dream Interpretation this summer. In fact, the summer session starts tomorrow morning, Monday the 14th of May. She’s also very active in the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Soul Writer

Joanne DiMaggio has uploaded a new entry to her new blog called “The Power of Soul Writing.” Joanne is not only a graduate of Atlantic University, she’s the President of the Atlantic University Alumni Association and the head of A.R.E. Charlottesville. Like many of Atlantic University’s graduates, Joanne has a cut a unique path for herself, building not only on her past accomplishments but also on the work she did while a student at AU.

I couldn’t recommend these three AU blogs more! Click on the Blog Roll to the right and enjoy!


APA Style Help

APA ManualEver need a little help with your APA references and citations? Recently, I needed to check on the correct way to reference a book by the Dalai Lama. A little bit of internet research reveals the APA itself offers quick answers and useful information to this and many other style questions. I’m sure you already know about their style guides, but did you know they also offer instructional aids and online courses — for a fee. 

They offer free information, as well.  The APA Style website offers quick answers to questions regarding formatting, references and answers to their most Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, The APA Style blog offers informative posts on a variety of APA style questions.

So how do you cite the Dalai Lama? You can find out for yourself: How to Cite Pseudonyms.

Blogging at AU

Hi Folks! I just wanted to let you all know that we’re adding new blogs to the Atlantic University Blog Roll.

First up: Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, our Scholar in Residence, has been blogging pretty steadily for the Parapsychological Association, the professional society for scholars and scientists interested in psychic functioning. Now he’s going to start blogging for us. The first post he added is a report on our teaching trip to Brazil last August and September. The second one that should be live later today provides resources on Ernesto Bozzano, an Italian researcher from the last century. Carlos has many other ideas waiting to go. Our Scholar in Residence has expertise in spontaneous case research — mainly surveys, questionnaires and case collections — and especially the history of psychical research. The new Atlantic University website will eventually carry a library of freely available articles from our faculty members, but in the meantime you can find many of his publications on Carlos’ and my personal website, It’s a little out of date (we stopped spending lots of time on it when we came to Atlantic University) but it has listings of our publications, especially Carlos’.  Click on Scholar in Residence under the Blog Roll section of links to the right of this post to read Carlos’ new blog.

Second up: Our incomparable Faculty Fellow, Bobbie Ann Pimm, set up her Atlantic University blog over the weekend, Notes from a Dreamer. Bobbie is a font of information about dreams and dreaming, the co-designer of our new-for-summer-semester course, TS6000 Becoming a Teacher of Dream Work/Dream Interpretation, and the author of a very interesting book about her experiences with the same name as her blog. The blog is also visually just stunning and a testiment to Bobbie’s web-expertise. Click on Notes from a Dreamer in the blog roll to take a look.

A couple of words of appreciation for Edublogs: Thanks to the fact that I hang around a lot of technology in education folks online — not to mention a lot of grade school, middle school and high school teachers who are really in the trenches when it comes to teaching techniques and theory — I was introduced last year to Edublogs. This is a fantastic service that is utilized by thousands upon thousands of teachers, students, and scores of universities to provide a safe blogging area for private classroom use, and a very well-designed, fully featured blogging framework. It was a great decision, I think, for us to get involved and I’m looking forward to helping the bloggers among our faculty and staff start exploiting the great tools of the service. So thanks Edublogs!


In January, ARE/AU became an Organization Member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD).  Per their website, IASD is “a non-profit, international, multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the pure and applied investigation of dreams and dreaming. Its purposes are to promote an awareness and appreciation of dreams in both professional and public arenas; to encourage research into the nature, function, and significance of dreaming; to advance the application of the study of dreams; and to provide a forum for the eclectic and interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and information.”

ARE/AU Executive Director and CEO, Kevin Todeschi, said, “Because of the importance of dreams to Cayce and the important work being done by IASD, this is an opportunity to work together to share the significance of dreams in changing the consciousness of humankind.” 

The IASD is holding their 29th Annual conference, Sailing on the Sea of Dreams, in the Doubletree Hotel at the Berkeley Marina, Berkeley, CA, June 22 – 26, 2012.  This year’s conference will be a  memorable four-and-a-half day event with workshops, panels, symposia, a poster session, and a number of special events.  Highlights include three world-renowned Keynote Presenters: Patricia Garfiled, Fred Alan Wof and Tracey Kahan, plus three special Invited Speakers and over 150 presenters from around the globe.   The special events include an Opening Reception, a Dream Art Exhibit and Reception, a Psi Dream Contest, and a costume Dream Ball. Planned outdoor activities include a dream hike along the Bay and a special Dessert Cruise on San Francisco Bay. 

Early Bird Registration ends April 1, 2012.  I hope you can join us!  You can find more details here.

Spring Semester Started / Registering for Summer Semester / Our New Website

From the desk of Nan Zingrone …

Spring Semester Started

Well, it’s a new year, and Atlantic University students have started the Spring 2012 semester. We’ve moved from a 15-week schedule to a 14-week schedule to give students, faculty and staff a little more time between semesters. Beginning this year, there will be three weeks off between the Spring and Summer Semesters, three weeks off between Summer and Fall semesters, and five weeks off between Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Our class week starts on Mondays and ends on Sundays. We’re hoping the new calendars will allow folks to catch their breath between semesters, find time to recharge, and enjoy their lives and families outside of school, returning to school recharged and ready to go as each semester starts.

We’re Registering for Summer Semester Already!!!

Speaking of new semesters, on the 30th of January we opened registration for the Summer Semester. Students can go to the course listing page on our website by clicking here and scroll down. We have a new course being offered for the first time this summer: TS6000 Becoming a Teacher of Dream Work/Dream Interpretation. Dr. Robert Van de Castle, Faculty Mentor, and Ms. BobbieAnn Pimm, Faculty Fellow, are the instructors. Well-known to the dreaming research and dreaming experience communities, they also designed the course. Just scroll down the course listing page to TS6000 to read the description and objectives. The course is offered both for masters credit or as a non-credit course. If you’re not an AU student already, there’s plenty of time to apply to the program, and applicants can take two courses before their admission is complete. To take the course for non-credit, just click on “register” on the course listing page, click “TS6000” (and anything else you might like to try), put in your payment details and you’re ready to go! For more information you can send an inquiry to

Summer registration ends March 23rd, so take a look and get in there early!

Our New Website

We’ve been working for awhile on a new website and we’re hoping to go live with it very soon. It’s getting a whole new look and feel, and eventually will also have an “eStore” through which prospective students can order brochures and catalogs, apply and pay for admission, and current students can do their registration and other things. Our growing adult education and events programs will also be available there. We’re going to have a lot more about our fantastic students, our exceptional faculty, the history of the school, the future of the school, and just all kinds of stuff. Part of our interest in setting up a new website was to be able to keep it up ourselves and add to it on a regular basis. We have a great designer working on the overall look and feel now. Once she’s finished, the staff will be receiving training, and then we’ll go to town! I’ll preview a few screen shots in an upcoming blog.



Three Reasons to Come to “Parapsychology and Consciousness” on October 14th!!

We’re counting down to the “Parapsychology and Consciousness” conference that starts at noon on October 14th! There are three really good reasons to register for this unique conference. And here they are:

1.) We won’t be doing a parapsychology conference every year …

Atlantic University is not going to be doing parapsychology conferences every year. Our Annual Conference series which starts with “Parapsychology and Consciousness” is conceived of as a way to feature aspects of our existing program in a unique setting. Our Masters of Arts in Transpersonal Studies has a number of tracks: Consciousness Studies in which parapsychology lives is only one of them. So if you think you can give our conference a miss this year because there will be another one next year, think again. Next year, our conference will focus on Leadership; the next few years after that it will focus on creative writing, dream studies and dream work, and/or transpersonal arts, among other possible topics. We don’t anticipate being able to return to scientific parapsychology for many years.

2.) October at the Virginia Beach Ocean front is really good value for money and so is our conference!

Because of the economy we have broken out our $395 ($375 for seniors/students) price into day prices and evening prices, so you can choose to attend the evening lectures ($30 each), or just Friday afternoon ($80), or just all Saturday ($160) or all day Sunday ($160) depending on which presentations interest you the most. And because it is off season here in Virginia Beach, rooms in our conference hotels — the Wyndham and the Holiday Inn Express — are less than $100 a night. The Holiday Inn Express also  includes a hot breakfast in the room price in case the Continental breakfast we are serving at the conference is not enough, not to mention an ocean view. Try booking that during the season for less than $200! (Lots of other hotels are arrayed along both sides of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues and some of them are even less expensive this time of year.)

3.) The best reason to come to Virginia Beach for “Parapsychology and Consciousness” from October 14th through 16th is the line up of speakers!

We are featuring in this conference 16 speakers, many of whom are very well-known, cover very unique areas of interest related to psychic functioning from physics and psychology to dreaming and synchronocity, field investigations and mediumship. We have theory and research reports, paper sessions and panel discussions. Here are the details:

Atlantic University Scholar in Residence Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado organized the content of the conference. The speakers are as follows: Dr. Dean Radin (Institute for Noetic Sciences), Dr. Roger Nelson (The Global Consciousness Project), Dr. Edwin C. May (Laboratories for Fundamental Research), Dr. Julie Beischel (The Windbridge Institute), Drs. Jim Carpenter and John Palmer (both of the Rhine Research Center), Loyd Auerbach (Office of Paranormal Investigation and faculty member at both Atlantic University and John F. Kennedy University), Dr. Bob Van de Castle (faculty at both the University of Virginia and Atlantic University), Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore (with appointments at the Rhine Research Center, Atlantic University and the University of West Georgia), Dr. Doug Richards (Atlantic University faculty member), Dr. Frank Pasicuiti (clinical psychologist), Dr. Ginette Nachman (Rhine Research Center), Dr. Henry Reed (Atlantic University), David McMillin (the Meridian Institute) and of course, Carlos and I.

The conference kicks off at noon on Friday October 14th with a reception, registration and opportunities for book-signing in the lobby of the Visitor’s Center at Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) at 6700 Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Kevin Todeschi, an Atlantic University (AU) graduate, and the CEO of both Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. and AU, will convene the conference proper in the Main Auditorium around 2pm with welcoming remarks, followed by comments from Carlos and I. The first speaker on Friday afternoon is Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore, with a presentation called “How do Synesthesias relate to Anomalous Experiences.” Her talk will cover an online survey of synesthesia experiences and a laboratory experiment in which strong synesthetes were compared with matched controls on an ESP task. For abstracts of both this talk and one Christine will give on Saturday click here.

Following the coffee break, Dr. Ed May is the next speaker up, giving an invited address called “Application of Fuzzy Sets to Natural Anomalous Cognition (a.k.a Remote Viewing) Targets.” For abstracts of both this talk and his contribution to a panel discussion later in the program click here.

On the evening of the first day of the conference (Friday, October 14th, from 7pm-9pm) we will hold our fourth quarterly Visiting Scholar Lecture hosted by Dr. Alvarado. Dr. Roger Nelson will update the audience with his invited address on the Global Consciousness Project. For an abstract of his presentation, click here.

On Saturday morning, October 15th, the second day of the conference will start with a continental breakfast, late registration and then an invited address by long-time AU faculty member, Dr. Doug Richards. He will review the way in which scientific parapsychology has been intertwined with the history of Atlantic University and the A.R.E..  For an abstract of both of his talks click   here.  Following Doug’s presentation, James Van Auken, a faculty member at both Atlantic University and the  Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy, will moderate a panel called “What a Masters in Parapsychology Should Look Like.” The panel presentations will be: “Designing a Curriculum for a Masters in Parapsychology” (my talk on our efforts to develop a graduate curriculum in scientific parapsychology); “Atlantic University’s Principles of Parapsychology Course” (by Dr. Richards on the course that has been taught in the Consciousness Studies track since 1985);  History of Parapsychology” (Dr. Alvarado’s presentation) and “Psychology of Psychic Experiences” (Dr. Simmonds-Moore).  Because of the recent ruling from our accrediting agency that makes it impossible for us to pursue the development of a masters degree in parapsychology, both of the last two courses described are back on the drawing board with the hopes that we can find a wider approach to the area that will be acceptable to the powers that be.

On Saturday afternoon in a paper session entitled “Parapsychology and Psychology,” Atlantic University’s own Dr. Henry Reed will talk about “Intimacy and ESP.” Henry is well-known in the International Association for the Study of Dreams and has been serving as a faculty member since before the University was reborn as a graduate school in 1985. (If you’re interested, you can view a powerpoint on the history of the school I put together in 2010 with the help of CEO Kevin Todeschi, in honor of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the school.) The second speaker in the paper session, Dr. John Palmer will tackle a persistent problem for scientific parapsychology, the “Source-of-Psi” problem. Dr. Jim Carpenter will introduce his “First Sight” theory of psychic functioning, and in the final paper of the paper session, Dr. Frank Pasciuti will examine the relationship of his discipline to parapsychology. (For Frank’s biography and abstract click  here.)

Saturday evening, October 15th, from 7:30pm-9:30pm, Atlantic University will present Dr. Dean Radin who will deliver the invited address, “Before the Tipping Point: Reconsidering the Nature of Consciousness.” (For the abstract of Dr. Radin’s presentation click here.)

Sunday, October 16th is the last day of the conference and will begin with a paper detailing research that I conducted with Carlos and our colleague from the University of Virginia, Natasha Agee. The research, funded by the Bial Foundation in Portugal, looked into the relationship of psychic experiences, the psychological state/trait of absorption, and adult memories of childhood imaginary companions. My talk will be followed by a talk by Loyd Auerbach who, in “The Haunting of USS Hornet,” will provide an update on an on-going investigation. (For an abstract of this and Loyd’s other talk click here.) A panel discussion on the future of the field will follow with presentations by Dr. Bob Van de Castle, Dr. Alvarado, Dr. Ginette Nachman, and Dr. May. The talks will be: “The Mutlifaceted Nature of Psi Dreams: Some Suggestions for the Future” (Van de Castle), “Researching Out-of-Body Experiences” (Alvarado), “Biomedical Aspects of Psi” (Nachman), and “The Future of Psi Research: A Physics Perspective” (May). (Again you may have to scroll down the linked PDFs if the paper listed here is not the first presentation of the conference for that speaker.)

After lunch on Sunday, the final session of the conference will include two papers and an invited address. In the papers, David McMillin of the Meridian Institute will present a talk called “Edgar Cayce’s Psychic Process.” This will be followed by Loyd Auerbach’s “The Field Investigators’ Best Tech: Psychics and Mediums as Paranormal Sensing ‘Technology’.” Finally, Dr. Julie Beischel will present her invited address, “Modern Mediumship Research: Experiments, Experiences, and Explanations.”

The conference registration page contains prices for the entire conference ($395 full price, $375 for students and seniors), and for segments of the conference (Dr. Nelson’s Visiting Scholars Lecture and Dr. Radin’s Saturday evening lecture are $30 each, Friday afternoon attendance is priced at $80, and all day Saturday and all day Sunday at $160 each). The conference information page also has click throughs to the hotels, both of which are in the $80-$95 range in October. More information is available on the Atlantic University website. If you download the Media Press Kit you’ll find not only the conference brochure and schedule but also the abstracts booklet.

Come and join us! It’s going to be a unique and exciting conference in a wonderful venue!

Come join us for the 10th Annual IASD PsiberDreaming Conference Online this September

From the desk of Bobbie Ann Pimm:

Everybody is welcome to join us for the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) 10th Annual PsiberDreaming Conference (PDC), September 25th – October 9th, 2011.

The PDC is completely online for two weeks, 24/7, and will feature over 20 papers and workshops, as well as psi dream contests, chats and a dream art gallery.  This year’s theme focuses on Perspectives of Lucid Dreaming and will feature the top experts in the field of lucid dreaming.

Cost of the conference:

  • $45.00 — General Public
  • $40.00 — IASD Members
  • $30.00 — Students (with valid ID)

Become an IASD member between August 16th and October 9th and you can attend the PsiberDreaming Conference FREE!!!

All papers and discussions remain online, read-only for an additional two weeks.

Click here, for more information and to register now.