Allness Case

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Allness | Allness Case Analysis | Practice with Abstracting and Awareness
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Instructions for Case Analysis

We can use hypothetical cases to study characters who are unaware of their allness behaviors. The cases that follow were developed by students who were familiar with the contributing factors of allness, and they created characters with such faulty language habits.

After reading the Allness Sample Case below, explore how Georgina and Chris were exhibiting allness behaviors: abstracting different details and unawareness of abstraction. You can find the contributing factors defined and explained in the second column of Table 2.1. Similarly, you can see how each character can use an allness corrective.

Allness Sample Case:  Phonathon

Georgina, a senior business major, started working as a supervisor for the college phonathon team at the beginning of fall semester. After being a team member for 2 years, she looked forward to her new role. Her duties included creating mailing labels, training new callers, and ensuring that experienced callers stay on task.

On her first day at work, Georgina’s boss, Chris, told her to train callers how to properly fill out the pledge cards. Alumni received these pledge cards after agreeing to donate. Georgina’s speech included directions to “always add an ID number” and “never turn in a pledge card without a note on the back.”  That night, she showed callers how to fill out a pledge card and asked them to start calling.

Alice, a new team member, worked that first Monday night. After hearing Georgina’s instructions, Alice promptly began calling. On the first pledge card, Alice felt confident that it was filled out correctly. Unfortunately, she forgot a vital section of the pledge card: the ID number. Alice continued this way for every pledge that she received that night. The next day, Chris had to locate every ID number for Alice’s pledge, and he was frustrated that he had to add this tedious task to his normal workload.

Confident that Wednesday evening would go better, Chris reminded Georgina to instruct callers about the correct way to complete pledge cards. That night, after Georgina gave her training speech, callers asked a number of questions.  Phil, a second-year team member, called Georgina over to ask questions about each pledge card; other experienced callers asked a number of questions as well. Consequently, the team members did not make many calls. The following day, Chris wondered if Georgina was having difficulty explaining the pledge-card procedure when he saw how few calls had been completed.

Thursday night was the end of the calling week for the team. When Georgina asked if there were any questions, no one raised a hand. She felt that Thursday night went smoothly because callers remained on task and did not ask any questions. She did not realize, however, that the room was full of new callers who were afraid to ask questions. When Chris saw the pledge cards the next day, he was livid, as they had even more missing ID numbers than on Monday night. He needed to get to the bottom of this right away and scheduled a meeting with Georgina for later that afternoon.

Character Analysis

The following format will help you identify, define, and explain contributing factors for each character as well as to define and demonstrate correctives.

Character: Georgina

Contributing Factors

Definition: Abstract different details — I assume that what I know is what you know.

Explanation: When Georgina uses always and never, she assumes that callers will then use IDs and include notes, like she does.


Definition: Develop a genuine humility — I am aware that I omit details because of my nervous system.

Explanation: Georgina recognizes that she might leave out information, so she asks individuals to restate her directions and encourages them to ask questions.

Character: Chris

Contributing Factors

Explanation: Chris is unaware that he has limited details about Georgina and the callers. Many things are happening outside the detection of his nervous system (e.g., callers not listening and cards not printed clearly).

Definition: Adding ecetera—I will add an “etc.” when I hear or see a “period.”

Explanation: Chris recognizes that there is much to be discovered about
phonathon activities, so he brainstorms with Georgina about other factors, the ecetera that may be affecting the callers (e.g., fatigue, long calls with alumni, and why IDs are needed).

Allness Case Assignment Instructions

Now it is your turn to analyze allness behaviors of characters in three different case. Carefully read these three cases. After each case, discuss the following four considerations from the different perspectives of each pair of characters noted:

  1. a contributing factor to each character’s allness behavior;
  2. an explanation as to how each character exhibited the contributing factor;
  3. a corrective action specific to that character;
  4. an explanation regarding how the character could use the corrective when interacting with other characters in the case.

Allness Case 2.1:  Exams (Sue, Professor Smith)

Sue walked into Professor Smith’s classroom looking like she just rolled out of bed. She moped over to her seat wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. Sue, a senior English major and good student, did not have a good morning. She stayed up late finishing a paper, overslept, and nearly missed Professor Smith’s Colonial History class that morning.

Similarly, Professor Smith could not contain his foul mood.  During his previous class, students whispered throughout the lecture and then asked questions about material that he just had covered.  Not only did they not pay attention to his lecture but they got angry when he handed back an examination. He did not feel like dealing with difficult students today, especially when they wanted to argue about the exams that he spent hours developing and grading. If the students just paid attention, they would not get bad grades, he thought to himself.

As he returned the exams, he explained, “If you feel you have a right answer and I marked it wrong, you may explain your answer to receive partial credit.”

Sue raised her hand because even though she only missed one question, she was sure that she had the right answer.  When Professor Smith called on her, she asked, “Could we discuss question 5?”

“Sure. How can I help?”

“The question is ‘What shape is the Earth?’ I answered that it is ‘flat’ and you marked it wrong.”

“That is the wrong answer.”

“To me, the question did not give enough detail, so I thought you wanted the answer from the colonist’s point of view because this is a Colonial History class.”

“I provided feedback about why you missed points.  Please read those comments and come see me during office hours.”

Having already read the feedback, Sue was angry that they could not finish their discussion.  She slammed her paper down and stormed out of the room.

Later that day, Sue had another class where the professor returned exams and asked if anyone had questions regarding exam scores.  Sue had a question, but remembering how Professor Smith had embarrassed her the class period before, she decided not to ask it.  She returned her exam and decided that she needed to go for a run immediately following class as running always helped her feel less stressed.

Allness Case 2.2: Student IDs (Officer Jones, Shane)

It was 1:00 am on a crisp fall morning. Nearly 20 students were studying in a library computer lab when Officer Jones, a new campus security officer, was finishing his late night rounds. He first approached a group of four students who were working on a project for their small group communication class; he requested that the students present their university IDs. He knew that the student handbook stated that students should have their university IDs with them at all times, so he was sure his checking for IDs would be no problem.

“I need to see each person’s ID, please” Officer Jones said calmly.

“Excuse me?” Shane asked. “I have gone to this school for 4 years, and I have never had to show my ID in a computer lab.”

“I’m sorry,” Officer Jones explained. “I’m going to need to see your ID, or I will have to escort you from the premises.”

“Let’s just listen to him,” said Jessica, a freshman, who nervously tried to convince the others to obey the request. She had heard a lot of stories about how campus security was very strict when enforcing the rules, even going so far as to escort students off campus in handcuffs.

“I don’t understand this!” exclaimed Eli, a sophomore international student. “Why do campus employees think that they have the right to take away student privileges?” Eli had a “run-in” with the registrar’s office earlier that day. They told him that it would take an extra year for him to finish his degree because he was missing several requirements.

“This policy is clearly stated in the student handbook. Please get your IDs out now,” Officer Jones said. He was tired of the students disrespecting his authority. Earlier in the week, he and the other security officers had to endure criticism from students who had been drinking at a party. Because another officer had just quit, Officer Jones had to pick up extra shifts around the campus, so he knew that his reputation was growing as the “new guy.”

“I live off campus, so I don’t have my ID. I have not had a reason to carry it,” Molly, a junior student, explained. “It’s really late and we are just trying to finish our project. Can’t you let it go this one time?”

“I am afraid not,” Officer Jones stated. He was tired of students disobeying the rules, so he sounded annoyed. “Those of you who cannot show me your ID need to exit the library now. If you would read the student handbook, this would not be such an ordeal.”

“I hate that students can’t get anything done without adult interference!” Eli protested angrily.

“Let’s all leave,” Jessica stammered. “I will finish the project from my room and e-mail it you.”

Shane rolled his eyes and muttered, “As a senior, I need to be in the library late to finish my senior projects. This seems unfair because we are not bothering anyone.”

“I’ll remember my ID the next time,” Molly apologized as the three of them left the computer lab.

Officer Jones watched as the students exited the lab, and scanned the room for a friendly face to begin the next ID check.

Allness Case 2.3: Paperless Policy (Amber, Agatha)

After surviving two difficult lectures, Amber made a beeline to the campus store where students retrieved packages because she had a package waiting for her.  As a college junior, she stills gets excited when there is a package waiting because it means that somebody cares. She walked up to the counter and smiled as she requested her package.

Agatha, an experienced employee, explained, “Did you read the e-mail we just sent? You cannot pick up your package until 11:00 am.”

“But I have class at 11:00, and its 10:50, so may I have the package a little early? We used to get packages whenever the campus store was open, so why did that that policy have to change?”

Agatha tried again, “You should have received an e-mail telling you this. Policies change.”

Beth, a new supervisor, overheard the conversation and intervened, “What seems to be the problem here?”

“I cannot get my package and I have class in 10 minutes!” exclaimed Amber.

“I told her the same thing that I tell all students: no one claims packages until 11:00,” Agatha emphasized, aggravated by college students who do not read e-mail.

Beth sensed the frustration and explained, “I created this paperless policy. Do you know how long it took us to create all those yellow slips of paper? Now we send you an e-mail in the morning and you retrieve your package at lunch time.”

Amber, clearly taken aback by how much trouble a mere package was causing, sadly thought to herself how much she will miss receiving the golden slips of paper in the mail, which reminded her of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie.  On a more practical note, she wished that the policy would not have to change because some students did not have time for lunch.  Unfortunately, she did not have time to discuss this matter any further today or she would be late to class.

Module 2 Pages

Allness | Allness Case Analysis | Practice with Abstracting and Awareness
Assignments, Discussions and Quizzes | References and Resources