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- Teaching cynicism
Research published in the International Journal of Management in Education has sought to ascertain whether there is a relationship between the psychological characteristics of cynicism, autonomy, and job satisfaction in teachers. Navaneethakrishnan Kengatharan of the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka has integrated the theories of conservation of resources, reasoned action and affective events to see whether this is a valid hypothesis.
The research collected data from more than 700 teachers working in state schools across Sri Lanka. A statistical analysis then revealed a positive relationship between cognitive cynicism and affective cynicism. Further, it confirmed a mediating relationship between cognitive cynicism and teacher job satisfaction through affective cynicism. In other words, feeling cynical and being actively cynical feed on each other and lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace for teachers so affected.
Such findings can be used to guide management style and have the aim of avoiding complacency and failures at that level that lead to frustration, irritation, and cynicism in teachers. Conversely, mentoring or counselling of teachers would also improve autonomy and their perception of their work given such improved management and thus lead to better teaching standards and students in their charge who are ultimately more academically successful.
Kengatharan, N. (2020) 'Cynicism, autonomy and job satisfaction: evidence from teaching profession', Int. J. Management in Education, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp.471–493.
- Growing plastic waste
Humanity is facing many serious problems at the moment, notwithstanding the global viral pandemic that is Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2. Global warming and congener climate change are still with us, water and food security are increasingly problematic for millions of people, and the amount of plastic waste we are generating simply grows and grows.
Kwami Adanu of the Department of Economics at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, in Accra, writing in the International Journal of Green Economics, considers this latter problem. He looks at the lessons policymakers and others might learn in terms of environmental economics.
The research looks at how an environmental solutions decision-making tree might be used together with a plastic waste market to reverse this problem. Some obvious advice for policymakers emerges from the approach such as banning non-recyclable plastic bags, employing centres in that "market" that are both producer- and consumer-run would be more successful, the introduction of taxation to fiscally control the physical problem is also suggested. A putatively controversial finding from the study is that burning plastic waste may well be the only way to dispose of accumulated waste. Although such burning generates pollution, there are ways to remediate that to an extent and the heat generated can be put to good use in powering the plant or heating local homes in colder regions.
Given that common economic policy tools have so far failed us in reducing plastic waste, it is time for radical new thinking, the research suggests.
Adanu, K. (2020) 'The growing global plastic waste problem – lessons for environmental economics policy design and choice', Int. J. Green Economics, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.121–134.
- What drives a musical revolution?
Art takes twists and turns. It finds new ways for humanity to express itself through sound and vision and all of our other senses and sensibilities. When the avant-garde sharpens a new cutting edge buy discovering a new way to work with new materials, and new equipment we see that expression expand beyond the realms of imagination of the earlier generation of creators.
This applies to all artistic media whether we are considering paintings, sculpture, dance, theatre, novels and novellas, poetry, perhaps even food and drink, but nowhere more so than in the realm of music. Some composers hone their art way beyond what is considered normal, they deliberately deviate from the norm, some more than others. Music in the abstract is often atonal in what one might think of as analogous manner to a work by drip paint modern artist Pollock is visually atonal.
Writing in the International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, Alexi Harkiolakis of The American College of Greece, in Paraskevi, has considered the music of Arnold Schoenberg and how the composer embraced atonality. Harkiolakis is a student at the college but previously studied music composition with Greek composer Spiros Mazis and electric jazz guitar at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory with Yiannis Giannakos. He also studied piano at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.
Harkiolakis is keen to understand what is needed to start a revolution in art, specifically a musical revolution. A revolution, he suggests, begins with an idea. Schoenberg had several big ideas…first the free atonal style and then the 12-tone method of composition, and others. Schoenberg's earlier works sound surprisingly tonal, albeit highly chromatic, explains Harkiolakis. Chromatic meaning not adhering to conventional scales and musical modes, but using all the tones and semitones across the musical scale without necessarily considering a strict key signature. In other words, in the scale of C major one would use only the piano's white keys to progress through the scale C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, the conventional "Doh-Rae-Me". Whereas a chromatic scale would utilise the black notes too, the sharps and flats and so we might progress C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F# and so on. Mixing notes out of conventional key signatures is often described as having atonality whereas conventional melodies might be thought of as being more natural and tonal.
In a case study of Schoenberg's work, the Second String Quartet Op. 10 for string quartet and solo soprano, Harkiolakis examines and analyses the musical, personal, and socio-political factors that may have influenced Schoenberg to abandon his late romantic style in favour of this kind of free atonality. In exploring the musical, personal, and societal motives that could have played a part in driving Schoenberg towards this revolutionary style, Harkiolakis finds that it is rather unlikely that a single factor was the spark for this particular revolution, rather several disparate factors fed the musical revolutionary flames.
Whatever the spark, kindling or tinder might have been, a quote from Schoenberg writing in 1937 offers us an insight that suggests that it was an inner drive that pushed him to new places:
I knew I had to fulfil a task, I had to express what was necessary to be expressed and I knew I had the duty of developing my ideas for the sake of progress in music, whether I liked it or not.
Harkiolakis, A. (2020) 'Arnold Schoenberg's embrace of atonality: a brief case study for music educators', Int. J. Teaching and Case Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.95–104.
- Making biodiesel with green solvents
Green solvents for making biodiesel would reduce the environmental impact of such fuels still further. Writing in the World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, a team from India discusses the potential of ionic liquids in this field.
Biodiesel is a sustainable alternative to conventional oil-derived biodiesel in that it can be manufactured from resources such as waste organic matter from agriculture, the food industry, or even household refuse. It can also be made from crops grown especially for its production. There is, however, a need for volatile organic solvents at various stages of the manufacturing process and these liquids usually come with their own environmental impact. Biodiesel is usually made by trans esterifying vegetable oil or animal fat feedstock with the help of organic and inorganic solvents.
As such, "greener" alternatives are keenly sought. A. Anitha and D. Jini of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science in Chennai, explain how ionic liquids might represent such an alternative.
Ionic liquids are non-volatile and non-flammable. They also have low toxicity. This is in sharp contrast with highly volatile, flammable, and toxic organic solvents currently used. Such green credentials have made them a focus for a number of research teams around the world in a wide range of chemical disciplines. Intriguingly, they are nothing more than ionic salts that happen to be liquid at or close to room temperature. However, this character endows them with some unique solvating properties that make them ideal for many applications.
"Energy utilisation across the world has been increasing at a steady rate from 1971 and the demand for energy is projected to increase by 55% at the end of 2030. Fossil fuels are not renewable and would be exhausted within 40–60 years even if the rate of consumption remains constant," the team writes. So, not only are alternatives more environmentally friendly they will ultimately be essential to keep up with energy demand. Ionic fluids can support the enzymatic conversion of feedstock to biodiesel as well as being useful in product purification. They can even be the catalyst themselves for carrying out the necessary reactions. Despite their current high price when compared to organic solvents, they are much more readily reusable, which would reduce environmental impact still further and ultimately costs.
Anitha, A. and Jini, D. (2020) 'Ionic liquids as solvents in biodiesel production', World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.122–140.
- India adopting shared ride-hailing in India
India is the third most polluted nation much of it derived from vehicle exhaust gases. As such, there is an urgent need to address this problem through improved transport infrastructure and technology. One possible way of reducing the number of vehicles on the roads and so lower pollution somewhat is through car-sharing on the daily commute. However, a parallel concept of shared taxi rides might offer a similar reduction in pollution by reducing the need for personal car ownership.
Writing in the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets, Pooja Goel of the University of Delhi and Piali Haldar of Sharda University, discuss the potential and acceptance of shared ride-hailing in India. Projections suggest that shared hail-riding will account for more than a third of all car miles travelled. This estimate was made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may well curtail the adoption of shared transport in the short term and push this date further into the future.
The present study focuses on the perceived benefits of shared ride-hailing services and shows how educating the public in the benefits of such an approach to transport might nudge them to abandon car ownership or to aspiring to car ownership. Future studies may well highlight the effects of perceived risks and trust on intention to participate in sharing mobility.
Goel, P. and Haldar, P. (2020) 'Shared ride-hailing service in India: an analysis of consumers' intention to adopt', Int. J. Business and Emerging Markets, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.336–353.
- The limits on speed reading by RSVP
Lots of people can read quickly and then there are readers who have learned techniques known as speed reading. This allows a reader to get through printed text at a much higher than normal rate, sometimes as fast as several hundred words per minute. A collaboration between researchers in Italy and Spain has demonstrated that one particular speed-reading technique has a tradeoff in comprehension at that kind of reading rate when it is sustained at more than 250 words per minute for five minutes or more.
Francesco Di Nocera of the Department of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy and colleagues there and in Spain have looked at Spritz an app that allows one to speed read by offering rapid serial visual presentation. They tested readers' comprehension of a short piece of text when they used Spritz to read at rates of 250, 350, and 450 words per minute.
Given that comprehension is the main goal of reading not simply the need to scan through a stream of words, the team suggests that users should be made aware that speed reading for five minutes or more even at just 250 words per minute for most users will lead to a deficit in their understanding of what they have "read". Such an insight might also be worth noting among those people using Spritz and similar software on their smartphone or other mobile device who have dyslexia, visual impairment, and other problems so that those people are fully aware of the limitations they might face in understanding a piece of text. Given that the app has been used to address several reading difficulty issues by educators, this work could provide a foundation for improving its use by lots of disparate readers.
Ricciardi, O., Calvani, G., Palmero, F., Juola, J.F. and Di Nocera, F. (2020) 'Speed reading using Spritz has a cost: limits when reading a short text', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.161–173.
- The cardboard crash helmet
In the age of plastic waste, the environmentally conscious are hoping to replace many of the common materials, such as expanded polystyrene in everyday objects with sustainable and recyclable materials. Now, researchers in China report successful crash tests of a new bicycle safety helmet that uses honeycombed and corrugated cardboard instead of polymer foam to provide protection.
The team describes details of the design, its environmental benefits and the positive results from crash-test simulations. Bei Li, Haiyan Li, Shihai Cui, Lijuan He, and Shijie Ruan of the Centre for Injury Biomechanics and Vehicle Safety, at Tianjin University of Science and Technology in Tianjin provide details in the International Journal of Vehicle Safety.
For youngsters on cycles, accidents often end with a blow to the head, which can be fatal or even lead to life-changing injuries and disability. As such all cyclists, young and old are encouraged to wear a safety helmet that will offer some degree of protection should they fall from their bicycle in any kind of accident and risk an impact to the head. Indeed, children's head injury and loss of consciousness has been shown to be 63 and 86 percent less, respectively, when helmets are worn.
The team has now demonstrated that the same safety profile might be possible with cardboard crash helmets that have the added benefit of being fabricated from sustainable resources and precluding the addition of yet more plastic waste to the environment.
Li, B., Li, H., Cui, S., He, L. and Ruan, S. (2020) 'Biomechanical performance of a bicycle helmet design on a six-year-old head impact protection', Int. J. Vehicle Safety, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.197–213.
- Covid and commercial research decline
Inevitably, the rapid spread of an emergent and potentially lethal virus around the world has led to huge disruption of normal life. With talk of a new-normal in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we do not yet have any way of knowing what that might be. Work published in the International Journal of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation has looked at the effect of the pandemic on the phenomenon of research innovation and commercialization.
Alberto Boretti of the College of Engineering at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, explains that the economic downturn we are experiencing as the pandemic circulates will have a detrimental effect on almost all research and development budgets. He suggests that the pharmaceutical industry may well receive special funds given its unique position in being an essential part of the fight against the current pandemic and the need for vigilance and preparedness for the next emergent pathogen. He also suggests that the health sector as well as surveillance and defense, communications, digital markets, and distance education may also see some relief from governments and funding bodies. Investment in almost every other area of R&D is expected to plummet.
With no vaccine expected to be available until at least 2021 and no targeted antiviral drugs, it has been necessary to attempt to control the disease through political and legal controls, such as curfews, halting sports and entertainment, massively reduced air travel, social lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures. However, the so-called "second wave" is becoming apparent in the UK at the time of writing.
Many other nations have not achieved real control of the virus where strict lockdowns were entirely unfeasible for geographical and sociological reasons such as population density, a lack of protective infrastructure, and poor water and food security. Natural disasters, such as forest fires and civil unrest following episodes of police brutality, and the ongoing climate crisis have also been part of the undercurrent of 2020. What impact these have had on the ease with which the virus spreads is for future retrospective studies to determine.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has anticipated international commerce to fall by 13% to 32% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disturbs normal economic activity and life around the globe, Boretti says. Regarding these predictions proposed only a few weeks ago, it is likely the impact will be even worse than the worst-case scenario considered, he adds. The sharp decline in gross domestic product (GDP) will have a negative impact on R&D expenditure, as it always does. The opportunity to innovate and commercialize new products will decline enormously. "The future for research in 2020 does not look bright at all," Boretti concludes.
Boretti, A. (2020) 'COVID-19 effect on the research-innovation-commercialisation phenomena', Int. J. Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.73–82.
- A right to water
Access to drinking water is a fundamental human right, argues research published in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies. Jaroslaw Kowalski of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, in Lublin, Poland, suggests that climate change, population growth, and burgeoning industrial and agricultural complexes with their growing demands for water mean increasingly that a lack of access to drinking water is an increasingly serious problem for millions of people.
The protection of human rights has been an important problem in the modern world and it is addressed by governments, international organisations, non-governmental organizations, and ordinary people," explains Kowalski. "Changes in the world trigger changes in the way we think and perceive human rights. The challenges of the 1950s and 1960s are sometimes still relevant, but there are many new issues that we must face today.
Kowalski suggests that we need to enshrine in international and local law the concept of access to drinking water as a fundamental human right. Once it is accepted as a human right, the rules and regulations that affect our response to climate change and how we regulate water usage in industry and agriculture with respect to water supply can be more effectively implemented to ensure that nobody dies of thirst.
Kowalski, J. (2020) 'The right to water as a fundamental human right in Poland and worldwide', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.233-246.
- Collaborative algorithms at the movies
Friends' movie recommendations are welcomed by a lot of film buffs, but sometimes you might want to catch a movie that fits your taste better, based on particular criteria so that you get something that you will almost certainly enjoy. Enter the movie recommendation engine.
Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, researchers from Nigeria have turned to a statistical tool known as Pearson's correlation coefficient to help them build a new type of movie recommendation engine. Bolanle Adefowoke Ojokoh of the Department of Computer Science at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria, and colleagues explain that their approach brings artificial intelligence to personal recommendations. The coefficient allowing collaborative filtering of data based not only on numerical analysis of the data but also the determination of linear relationships among users.
The team tested their approach on datasets assimilate from hundreds of local video shops and information extracted from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and ratings by those who have already seen the hundreds of movies analysed. They also added a parental control function to make it child friendly. When they had volunteers test the recommendations the system generated they found that almost 96 percent of users found the recommendations agreeable.
"The system allows new users to be given more personalised recommendations. It also allows users with similar rating patterns to influence the prediction of items," the team writes. "Our approach offers a more efficient way of managing the cold-start problem in movie recommendation," they conclude.
Ojokoh, B.A., Aboluje, O.O. and Igbe, T. (2020) 'A collaborative content-based movie recommender system', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.298–320.
New Editor for International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance
Dr. Matteo Rossi from the University of Sannio in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance.
New Editor for Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development
Prof. Zafar U. Ahmed from the Academy for Global Business Advancement in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.
New Editor for International Journal of Creative Computing
Associate Prof. Andy Connor from the Aukland University of Technology in New Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Creative Computing.
New Editor for International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering
Associate Prof. Jianxin Li from Deakin University in Australia has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering.
New Editor for International Journal of Nuclear Law
Associate Prof. Jakub Handrlica from Charles University in the Czech Republic has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Law.