{"objectType":14,"id":2013,"valid":true}
    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
Adjunct Instructor, New York University

active.jpg“Never Give Up and You Will Shine” read the t-shirt of the small boy ahead of me. I trailed the boy and his nanny, as he zigzagged over the sidewalk on his training wheels, pairing the slogan to the idea of children who get a trophy for showing up to the race, whether or not they win.

 

By the time little cyclists like this reach my class the “Showing Up Trophy” has been promulgated countless times. Recognizing participation is undoubtedly well-intentioned. Truthfully, fear held me back from valuable childhood experiences. So, maybe I could’ve used some trophies in my early years. Nonetheless, the reality is that this idea makes for confusion and esteem busting in classrooms down the pike.

 

When Working Hard Isn’t Working

 

The Trophy is foreign to me. So, I’ve struggled to manage related, cross-generational conversations. For example, on occasion, a perplexed or annoyed student will comment on a grade that’s lower than desired by noting, “I’ve worked hard on this assignment.” Or “I’ve spent more time on this task than any other.” A colleague recently got an email bearing a familiar refrain from someone in her class: “I’m trying as hard as I can.”

 

The subtext of these comments appears to be that the assessment system is malfunctioning. The evaluation fails to recognize that the student not only showed up but also made an effort. Others seem deflated in the face of the newly realized reality. If effort alone won’t make successful, what will?

 

I stumbled the first time the I’m-trying-hard-and-therefore-should get a better grade idea came my way. It seems patently obvious TO ME that everyone struggles toward goals that don’t materialize. I said as much when I heard it again. I pointed out that persistence is only one ingredient in success. But the argument failed to persuade. 

 

I needed to underscore that working hard does not always equate with success.  I also wanted a more convincing response to affirm the validity of my rubric while acknowledging my student’s effort.

 

Because a defeated student is tough to motivate I also needed to communicate that those who fail are not failures. Ironically, that’s the time where never giving up would come in handy. But it’s also the exact moment when the aphorisms fade.

 

So, I reached out to other instructors for advice. Their collective response addressed my concerns aggregated in these guidelines.

 

1.     Remember the negative consequences of giving an A for effort


A seasoned teacher used to consider effort when calculating the grades of those who started with poor skills. Until he realized this was “unfair—prejudicial, in fact” to others. “…I abandoned elevating grades on the basis of effort. I think students should be graded on what they produce, not on the effort they expend on producing it. I tell that to my students at the beginning of a course,” he said.

 

2.     Provide well-defined expectations at the outset

 

NYU instructor John Deats offered: “Unless I made an egregious error (and I've made several over the years), my answer [to grade challenges] is:  All grading is evaluated against performance and expectations...Then I review the paper and point out its shortcomings.”

“I tell them that a “B” (the usual threshold for a complaint) is reflective of the paper--a good grade (and point the student to the school’s grade scale, which clearly defines what each grade means), and actually what they learned is more important than any letter grade.”

“I also refer students to the syllabus, which is clear in saying that the quality of the outcome is what matters, not just that one worked hard to complete the project.”

“You can't be the 'good cop,'” he concludes, “only a consistent one.”

 

3.     Be honest about the effort required to complete the task--—even for professionals

 

My colleagues and I are professional communicators. So, NYU School of Professional Studies teacher, Don Bates mines his professional experience. “For me, no matter how hard you work, it’s the final product that counts. I can write things in an hour or two, but usually, I spend far more time. And I’m a professional. Ditto for most writers I know. Good writing of any sort takes a lot of concentrated time.”

“Rather than working hard, students should work smart, i.e., instead of winging their assignments, as most students do, they should study samples, review rules, outline, etc., before they plunge into the actual writing. They should try a draft or two, maybe share with other students and a couple of adults to see what they think of the draft as readers, asking: Does it make sense? Is it as clear as can be? As succinct? Helpful? Insightful? Actionable?”

Don found a creative way to demonstrate how writers struggle with words, using poetry to make his point, like Yeats’ Adam’s Curse and A.J. Liebling’s pithy ”I can write faster than anyone who can write better, and I can write better than anyone who can write faster.”

4.     Encourage self-reflection

 

NYU instructor Craig Mills refined my general notion that each of us struggles toward goals that don’t materialize. He suggested a way to help students connect with the reality of their own life experience by asking. “Did you get into every college or secure every job or internship you applied to, even after painstaking effort?”
 

5.     Find humane ways to keep students motivated

 

Only students who feel hopeful about their capacity to improve are likely to endure the struggle of hard work and expend even more effort. Another peer began to give students extra credit projects. “It gives them a way to feel more accomplished.”

Of course, there’s no right answer, though talking with peers yielded smart ideas. Nor is it mine alone to change the course of a river flowing for decades. Instead, my task is to respond thoughtfully. Upon reflection, I reconsidered the Showing Up Trophy’s value. I began to see merit, rather than reflexively dismissing the concept. At least now I can be confident that my imperfect response is carefully considered. In future, similar conversations I’ll undoubtedly stumble and yet continue to move forward, modeling the acceptance I’m preaching.  

 

How do you respond when students object to their grades? Let us know in comments below.

 

Photo credit: pexels/suelynn parker

 

    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
Adjunct Instructor, New York University

In preparing to teach in Eastern Europe I bought a balaclava. I stockpiled the head covering with the long underwear and sock liners I purchased to fend off my anxiety about the region’s blizzards. Just_Visiting (002)-smaller.jpgBut the Ice Age I imagined never arrived. Instead, I enjoyed a mild Bulgarian winter while reading on Facebook about the snowy cold near my Northeastern US home.

 

Before leaving I created fears that didn’t materialize. I channeled my energy into projects like fretting endlessly over my syllabus.

 

I learned that my skills are transferable and what I didn’t know could be learned or improvised. The experience was also a powerful reminder of the essential role of a knowledgeable and patient professional network in helping me succeed.*

 

Welcome…Home??

 

“Why Bulgaria?” people had asked. Simply, I was joining my Fulbright Scholar partner at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG). Fortunately, the school needed my subject expertise. The university’s “American-style” academic model eased the transition with recognizable touchstones, from the learning management system to the cafeteria’s vegan entrees. Though American, I was not entirely “foreign” to my students either. Unbeknownst to me, many spend summers working in resorts like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. And, although Bulgaria is off the radar to many people here in the States, the culture is in many ways familiar. Even still, I would be far from the people and things that mattered.

What I Know Now

 

I had fantasized about working overseas many times. But when the dream became a reality I needed a plan to accommodate the altered work and social contexts. If you've ever thought about teaching abroad, the short answer is that it’s rewarding. But it helps to keep a few key sanity-saving strategies in mind. Here are some ideas I wished I’d understood before I left.

 

1. Keep Moving.

While I was abroad I rarely thought about home. Instead, I worked. It was only after I returned home that I realized the long days were a support mechanism. Focusing on others, an essential component of teaching anyway, anchored me.

 

Being away from daily routines and long-time relationships meant more free time. That, combined with having my own private office—unusual for adjuncts I know in the USA —provided the opportunity and space to connect with students. Individual conversations let me focus on the most enjoyable part of teaching: learning about new people. It’s also the best way to get a read on the class as well as provide individualized instruction.

 

2. Seek Comrades. I like to talk shop. I enjoyed many “Big Ideas” conversations with colleagues, philosophizing about The Academy. The instructors I met there, like peers at home, worried about their own classroom performance and their students. We bonded over concerns about how the demanding students and those who prefer partying to school will fare in the “real world.” We shared techniques to sharpen the next generation’s writing and critical thinking skills. We found commonality in discussing the influence of social media and communication devices in the classroom. These shared interests gave me a starting point that crossed cultural barriers. It may have also signaled my commitment to the students and to the school.

 

As a visiting instructor, I was not only interested in learning faculty perspectives; I was also reliant on their experience in navigating new terrain. Suddenly, all the rules of getting by in the world were different. Learning how to work legally, finding housing, and reviewing the appropriateness of my text, had to be carefully considered with the help of my new colleagues. Having the support of a savvy organization accustomed to managing international staff was incredibly important, which never occurred to me until I was overseas.

 

3. Assume the Best.

It’s difficult to have a grasp of your students’ true capacity until you’re in front of the group. Distance and international boundaries exacerbate that fact.

 

It’s easier to start with high expectations for the classroom and adjust if needed, giving the brightest and hardest working a goal to reach for and strugglers a path to follow. There’s much back and forth everywhere about whether native and non-native speakers should be evaluated with the same standards. At an American university, wherever it’s located, I expect students to do what’s assigned regardless of their mother tongue.

 

Lightening the load by removing tasks allows students time to catch up when needed. I also added ungraded project check-ins, like requiring students to submit a bibliography for review before I read their papers. These changes required fluidity. But the alternative of adding more work if I’d underestimated capabilities is a losing proposition.

 

4. Challenge Convention. “The students here are resigned,” a German exchange student replied when I asked about his experience at the school. It’s unfair to paint the campus with one brush, especially because of its international student body. Yet I too noticed stoicism in my majority-Bulgarian classrooms. In fact the nation’s young people often emigrate in search of opportunities abroad, making it “the fastest-shrinking population in the world.”

 

My class appeared skeptical about their country’s capacity for social change. Bulgaria, for example, placed last on Transparency International’s regional Corruption Perceptions Index. The students were certain this phenomenon was immutable and scoffed at efforts to end corruption. After a classroom discussion about the nation’s media monopoly a Russian—no stranger to media monopolies-- expressed surprise that his Bulgarian classmates reported the situation matter-of-factly. He marveled over their lack of outrage about the situation.

 

As an outsider with a short-term appointment, I felt freer than I do at home to make waves. Supported by likeminded school leaders, I challenged the sense of resignation. I realized the students’ pessimism blinded them to local organizations who were addressing social ills. I made a side project of inviting change-makers to meet with students, hoping that a spotlight on these independent individuals would kindle hope and spark action.

 

The Unknown Unknowns

 

What made my experience abroad the most uncomfortable and the most rewarding were the unknowns. With the support of my AUBG peers, I did things I hadn’t considered before.

 

On the surface, the differences were vast. The reality was closer than I imagined. The experience was at times uncomfortable. But I came back stronger, and even more likely to encourage other teachers to do the same.

 

*Warm waves of gratitude to my American University in Bulgaria colleagues: You made my life better.

 

Photo credit: Diane Rubino

 

For the Love of Teaching

Posted Jul 18, 2018
    Laura Goldsberry
Laura Goldsberry
Marketing Manager, Wiley

We researched why teachers find their careers so fulfilling, what brought them into the field, and how they stay motivated. Tell us why you became an educator, and what keeps you going day to day. If you're looking for more inspiration, as well as practical advice, check out our Education titles here.

 

 

 

T.jpg

 

    Nicole Bogdan
Nicole Bogdan
Student, Stockton University

woman.jpg

“Writing is a skill, not a talent, and this difference is important because a skill can be improved by practice”- Robert Stacy McCain

 

Many students steer clear of writing courses, believing the amount of work required will have little return on investment (ROI). While my peers ran the other way, I chose to jump into the deep end of the pool, knowing the reward of learning to write well would more than justify the effort. In a highly competitive job market, being able to crunch numbers isn’t enough; strong soft skills—particularly in written communication—enable a job candidate to stand out in a crowded field of applicants.

 

Turning our attention to the different business functions: sales, marketing, management, finance, human resources, etc.; all of these require writing, and when it comes to writing for business, one size doesn’t fit all. A blog post like this is far less formal than a sales letter. An executive summary needs to be concise and hit the critical points. Copywriting for marketing campaigns often involves the creative skills of a master storyteller.

 

While there are business-specific writing courses, I took some that weren’t geared just toward business students, and I’m glad I did. Here are the classes I joined along with takeaways from each.

 

A course in argumentation and persuasion revealed to me how a salesperson can use writing to turn a prospect into a customer by creating a well-crafted proposal, or how a job candidate can catch the eye of a potential employer with a compelling cover letter.

 

Another class was not a writing course per se, but writing intensive. The course focused on advertising, fads, and consumer buying behavior. Here, I gained insight into why some ads succeed while others don’t, how fads begin, and what motivates people to open their wallets and spend money.

 

Finally, I took a course far off the beaten track for business majors—creative writing. What makes a good marketing campaign? Think about the ones you remember most. I’ll bet there was a strong story at the center. What’s the secret sauce to storytelling? It’s an appeal to the emotions—getting at those things we connect with the most.

 

As a finance major, in my future job role, apart from working heavily with numbers, I’ll be conducting research, diving deep into the authoritative literature related to my function, documenting findings on paper, and drafting reports. I’m now confident in my abilities to tackle the written-communication aspect of finance work because of the solid foundation I gained.

 

While it seems unlikely that I’ll be creating marketing campaigns or drafting a sales proposal working in finance; my business future may change course. What I've learned from my leap into writing is a valuable understanding of how critical writing is across business functions, making me a well-rounded job candidate-one who stands out in a crowded field—and for where I am right now, that is the ultimate ROI.

 

Do you emphasize the importance of writing with your students? Feel free to share this perspective on the importance of good writing skills with your students.

 

Photo credit: pexels.com/startup stockphotos

    Laura Goldsberry
Laura Goldsberry
Marketing Manager, Wiley

8-things-to-remember-when-sets-get-you-down-1-638.jpg

While the validity of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs) is still up for debate, feedback is intended to help improve instruction. See what fellow instructors have to say about this long-standing practice.

 

Want to dive deeper into the topic of student evaluations? Read how one instructor struggled with and then came to grips with SETs: 5 Strategies To Manage the Hurt of Student Evaluations.

 

    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

 

 

 

 

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a colleague? What have you learned in the trenches that you would share with a new educator? We’ve compiled a list of 11 pointers for new and veteran teachers alike to keep you motivated and grounded.

slide-1.jpg

Feel free to add your best teaching tips in the comments below.
    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

In this latest podcast, Professor Janine Martins-Shannon, of Kean University in New Jersey, practices a student centric learning approach with the objective of students acquiring higher level cognitive reasoning skills. She has practiced this approach in both China and the US. Here she offers us  insights on different learning approaches, evaluation considerations and takeaways for both organizations looking for systems level thinkers and higher education institutions developing systems thinking in students.

bridge.jpeg

 

James Bowen, your host, is an author, professor and CEO of Experiential Simulations, a producer of simulations for teaching entrepreneurship and ethics.

 

Image credit: pexels.com/skitterphoto

 

    Douglas Petrick
Douglas Petrick
Physics Teacher, Pittsburgh, PA

Recently, my high school hosted a Women In Science,Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) event. The day served as a jumping-off point for twenty-four of our female students to engage with six different female professionals in S.T.E.A.M.-related careers.

 

Throughout the day, five points, or, what I’ll call actions, were identified as commonalities between all six presenters.  If I re-purpose the S.T.E.A.M. acronym, each of the five actions fit nicely.rocket-launch-67643_640.jpg

  1. Search
  2. Try
  3. Engage
  4. Anticipate
  5. Meet

 

Let’s look how these actions can be brought into the classroom.

 

1. Search

 

Each speaker at our Women in S.T.E.A.M event described her career journey, painting a picture for those in attendance that success—however one defines it—is often not a linear process. Teachers can provide opportunities for students to seek out their passion in the classroom. Course content will most often be the medium through which students discover something that taps
into their own interests.  During high school, students are trying to find who they are, and where they belong; you are a guide, helping them along their path to self-discovery.  Students will identify a lifelong passion when the teacher implements a variety of activities and instructional strategies.  And, it’s quite alright if the content isn’t the main focus here.

 

2. Try.

 

Over and over, presenters stressed showing up and persistence as a key to empowerment, emphasizing growth as a result of working through a challenge. How can educators structure their
course curriculum to create opportunities for risk-taking and constructive failure?  A safe environment protects students from destructive criticism during discussions and sharing sessions.  Safe spaces permit students the freedom to act creatively and to take chances—they may flop in doing so—and to try again.  As educators, it’s equally important to model academic risk-taking for your students. Try a new activity, a new instructional strategy, or new topic in your class. Your students will follow your lead and become more daring in the classroom.

 

3. Engage.

 

I watched as the students became immersed in conversation with the presenters during the small group Q&A. The dialogue flowed from the sense of community developed within each grouping. As educators, our ability to incorporate small-group work is bound by the number of students in our classrooms.  Whether you teach in a lecture hall, online, or in a laboratory, I encourage you to create a community dynamic. Focus on the creation of purposeful small group opportunities throughout the year, and you’ll see student involvement multiply through a shared sense of
ownership. See my blog post, “E Pluribus Unum: What Social Studies Taught Me About Teaching,” for more tips on creating a sense of community in the classroom.

 

4. Anticipate.

 

Each presenter spoke of adjusting to constant career changes.  Goals, supervisors, job titles—all these things and more will be fluid and should be welcomed as part of the process. If you equip your students to anticipate challenging terrain on the road ahead, then states of flux develop into positive learning experiences.  Teachers who model a positive tone when the unexpected materializes help students develop a growth mindset.  For example: how do you react when the A/V equipment isn’t working properly, the class is interrupted by office announcements, or a student asks a question for which you don’t have an immediate answer? Do you model flexibility and positivity?

 

 

5. Meet.

 

During our S.T.E.A.M. event, as conversations between students and presenters rolled into the lunch portion of the programming, participants engaged in valuable face time with the various
professionals, and suddenly, for many, the future didn’t seem that far away.

 

You can foster a similar dialogue by inviting a guest speaker to your class to discuss a relevant topic. Try a Google Hangout or Skype with an expert if your location or transportation presents a
challenge.  Also, you can share a link to a brief video to prompt your students to think about their next five, ten, or fifteen years.  Inspiration occurs when students connect the dots from the classroom to career.

 

So, what experiences have you had in helping students realize their strengths and think about their future?  Post a comment in the space below, and I will be sure to connect with you.

 

Doug Petrick holds an Architectural Engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from California University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a high school Physics teacher at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh. Doug regularly contributes to a series for educators on the Wiley Network offering practical advice and instructional strategies.

 

Image credit: Pixabay/WikiImages

    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

Terence Houlihan of City University of New York discusses the brain differences associated with various age groups, and offers implications for learning approaches in higher education institutions and professional settings. He discusses how the structuring of motivation, feedback and decision making for younger people can draw upon the brain's ability to focus on real time stimuli. Tune in to the podcast below.

 

 

James Bowen, your host, is an author, professor and CEO of Experiential Simulations, a producer of simulations for teaching entrepreneurship and ethics.

 

 

brain cells.jpg

    H. Kyle Anderson
H. Kyle Anderson
Lecturer, Clemson University

I started using Excel in my computer lab classroom in 1997 and soon banned students from using calculators and cell phones to calculate answers. I understand some schools and majors do not require students purchase a laptop, but most of those schools provide access to computers. No more excuses, it is time to add Excel to your assignments. The bottom line, calculators, are the worst enemy of our students. Here’s why:

 

Calculators allow students to:

  1. Calculate an answer without developing a coherent system of analyzing a problem.computer-device-electronics-884453v2.jpg
  2. Provide no meaningful support to review their work.
  3. Require duplication of work to:
    1. produce a report.
    2. answer a similar problem.
  4. Use outdated technology—My 1983 Texas Instrument BA 55™ basically has the same functions as their 2017 models. As educators, why are we still using technology similar to the Motorola Bag Phone?

                   

Here are five ways to make the transition to Excel in your classroom a success.

  1. Completely copy the exercise into an Excel template.
  2. Keep it simple using simple commands.
  3. Spend brief periods of class time on how to use Excel.
  4. Let Excel take the math out of the exercise,
  5. Do not share your Excel solution with your class.

 

First, select an exercise or problem and completely copy it into an Excel worksheet. This avoids lost time with students inputting data, facilitates focusing on creating a solution, and provides a template for students to learn how to develop an effective approach to solve problems. I use Box cloud storage to save and share files with my students. Be sure to synchronize your Box folders to your computer, so any changes you make to the files are automatically updated in the link you provide your students. Google Docs work, but their version of Excel is cumbersome to use. Also, make sure that you only allow students to download your files to avoid issues with your files being changed or deleted.

 

Second, Excel is easy to use, but your students might be afraid of giving up their calculators, so spend extra time in class with quick tips and techniques for using Excel. Keep it simple, in my introduction classes my students only have to be able to add, subtract, divide, multiply, copy, paste, save, and use absolute references.  My class structure is flipped, so I form groups for students to solve in-class assignments. This allows students to help each other and frees me to walk around and work with groups and individual students. I increase motivation by assigning approximately one point for every in-class assignment. Students transfer their answers to the online homework for automatic grading and posting to my Canvas grade book. This accounts for a total of approximately 50 points in my 1,000 point class or about a half a letter grade.

 

Third, spend brief periods of class time on time on how to use Excel in the In-class assignments. There are short videos in the Excel help menu for anything you want to do, but I also created a KyleTV video on Essential Excel Skills to help students learn the basics of what they need for my class.

Click on the links below to download my video and the Excel file template to use in your class.

Essential Excel Skills Video

Excel File for video

 

Fourth, take the math out of the exercise. I set up my in-class exercises with the key data already input so students can focus on using Excel to work out the solution and we spend the majority of class time discussing what the solution means. Most often, a student is not required to enter any numbers in the in-class assignment, just manipulate data.

I start every semester with a simple math test requiring 30 calculations, and after 5 minutes, I stop the test. At most, 20% of the students have an answer, and the rest are still keying numbers into their phones and calculators. My students then download my Excel template and solve the problem in about 20 seconds using two formulas and copy and paste.

 

 

What is the total of the following?

Data Set

Number

Divided by

Times by

Equals

A

            156.30

               1.00

               5.60

B

            357.20

               2.00

               6.70

C

            678.70

               3.00

               7.80

            412.80

               4.00

               8.90

E

            516.10

               5.00

             10.00

F

            712.50

               6.00

             11.10

G

            898.30

               7.00

             12.20

H

            234.40

               8.00

             13.30

I

         1,342.60

               9.00

             14.40

J

            915.55

             10.00

             15.50

Total

 

 

The ease of calculating many data points with a simple equation allows us to easily incorporate tools such as vertical and horizontal analysis and prior chapter tools in our discussion of what the solution means and the impact on our decision process.

 

Fifth, do not share your Excel solutions with your class nor require them to e-mail their solutions for grading. Students will take your solutions and pass on to the next class, so you have to come up with new in-class assignments every semester.

 

If you have them turn-in the Excel file, they will “save time - cheat” by copying other students’ files and “change the appearance.” I want my students to collaborate, so they all get the same in-class assignment but the end of chapter – EOC’s are algorithmic. This promotes students working homework together and understanding of the results since each student has different numbers.

In conclusion, it is time to toss out that Bag Phone, retire our old ways, and embrace business practices of today. It is a lot of fun, and your students will appreciate it when they get first internship or job!

 

Remember, you are not teaching students how to use Excel but how to think with Excel.

 

If you’d like to learn more, or request the templates I use for Intermediate and Managerial Accounting in-class assignments, put a note in the comments box below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

I recently connected with Carmen Nuesi Peralta, a 19-year-old college student, originally from the Dominican Republic. Carmen has lived in the US since 2015 and is an accounting student at York College in New York City.  I asked Carmen questions that explored her background, her life goals, and most importantly, how she overcame some significant obstacles such as bullying and language issues to break out of her comfort zone and become an inspiration for others.

 

Q. What was one of the toughest things you experienced growing up in the Dominican Republic and what did you learn from it?

 

Carmen_Nuesi_Peralta.pngA. One of the hardest things I had to face was the fact that my father was not able to attend any of the big moments I had as achild. This part of my story may sound familiar to a lot of Hispanic families when one parent goes to the U.S to pursue the famous “American Dream.” I always wanted him to be present and feel proud of my accomplishments, but he was doing what was necessary for us as a family to ensure a bright future in a new country. I didn't understand this at the time, but now I see the sacrifice he made on our behalf.

 

My mother taught me that I had to make things happen. Just like my dad, I needed to do things even if they weren't comfortable. While still living in the Dominican Republic, my mom pushed me to graduate high school; then she encouraged me to go further. "Do you want just a high school diploma?" She would ask. I wanted to be like my mother: an inspiration to others, but I didn’t quite know how. My comfort zone was staying home. Going to school was hard because of bullying.

 

Q. What’s one example of you breaking out of your comfort zone?

 

A. My mother was very good at public speaking. One of my life-goals is the continual development of this skill. My first public speaking experience was in middle school. I had to present the life of Cristobal Colon in front of over 500 people from all over the Dominican Republic. In the beginning, I didn't want to do it.  But, my mother had me practice, practice, practice and by doing so I built up confidence. I continued to practice and work on my presentations, and by the time I was in high school, I was able to participate in the Model United Nations Program and speak in front of the UN Ambassador from the Dominican Republic! Confidence through practice is everything.

 

Q. How did you feel about coming to the United States?

 

A. When I came to the United States, I was both happy and afraid. The happy part was being able to see my father while the bad part was my fear of being bullied. For most of my life, I was bullied because of my weight. While I looked forward to starting a new life, beginning again, and discovering myself, I was afraid the nastiness of others was going to follow me. On top of this, I was entering an entirely different world, a place where I couldn't speak the language. I had to leave my family—my mother and my brothers. How would I find a job? What if the bullying continued? I had to believe in myself. The fears I had about bullying didn't come true, but the result of the pain I experienced is still something I am working to overcome, and part of the healing process involves helping others.

 

Q. Can you tell us about some of the ways you are helping others?

 

A. When I met my first accounting professor, he encouraged me to take on extracurricular activities, something I was reluctant to do because I was afraid of entering a situation where bullying could occur.

 

After trying a few different organizations, I found a home in the Accounting Club and the National Association of Black Accountants Chapter (NABA). My fear went away as my peers encouraged me—something I wasn't used to—and their kindness was amazing. Because of that, I had a desire to give back to the organization. In December 2017, I decided to run for the position of Vice-President of the York College NABA Chapter, and I got it! Now I play a big role supporting an organization that gave me so much.

 

I also became a Student Partner for WileyPLUS after being nominated by one of my professors. As a Student Partner, I help students use the WileyPLUS platform. I learned to speak English just two years ago, and yet at the beginning of each semester, I use my public speaking skills to present in front of a class. It’s such a beautiful feeling when fellow accounting students come to me asking for advice, and I can help them succeed. My time as a student partner has been a double blessing since I have also gotten to know many students who were bullied. I encourage them through my words and experiences, giving them hope and inspiration to not let fear hold them back.

 

    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
Adjunct Instructor, New York University

Long stretches in front of the computer await teachers everywhere as we plunge into grading season. Getting a handle on time and effort spent on this task is essential for any instructor. Alternatively, the angst of boundless exertion feeds into negative patter about teaching. The stress also builds because grading is a moment of reckoning, raising what could be an uncomfortable question: Have I been a good teacher? It’s easy to point blame elsewhere. Education, however, is a team sport. In weak assignments we may confront our own limitations.

 

fabrico_trujillo_pexels-photo-60626.jpegTheoretically, we’d read a student paper and pop dazzling feedback and instructions for improving the assignment into the course management system (CMS), and move on. In that idealized world, students adhere to requirements and rubrics.  Grading is so straightforward that papers seem to mark themselves.

 

This fantasy assumes there is one type of problem to be corrected. But the many permutations of a single assignment create a time-eating struggle requiring vigilance, which goes beyond providing instruction.

 

Instead, I find myself asking myself questions like:

 

  • Is the material I’m reading a struggle or is it just where I am energy-wise?
  • Have the instructions been abandoned or is this a uniquely insightful approach to the work?
  • What is this person trying to say?

Yet I’ve borrowed and stumbled upon some ideas to lighten the load while delivering a high-quality service to the class, shared here:

 

Before it’s due

 

  • Check in. I provide milestones for more complex assignments to check progress. One session I’ll ask for a two-minute oral “presentation” of the topic with three sources. Later I’ll have students CC me on a peer review. Then I’ll have short discussions about their progress and how they’ve implemented their peers’ feedback. The final version of the paper will be stronger and easier to review than if I got it cold.
  • Unless it’s a writing class, I generally do not read a paper twice. Instead, I encourage peer evaluation or a trip to the Writing Center. I find a conversation more helpful in steering a student toward success and far less taxing.
  • Checklist. I used to distribute a checklist that students were supposed to use to ensure they were meeting requirements. This failed—no one used the tool. Now I have them review each other’s work with a checklist, which screens out basic errors, allowing me to focus while grading.

 

First steps 

 

  • Go green. In the past I required a hard and e-copy uploaded on the CMS. I wrote notes in the paper margins and sometimes added additional feedback online. Now I just request an e-version, preventing me from combing over each sentence. I’m more likely to provide holistic, rather than exhaustive remarks--unless there’s a reason to provide detailed commentary, as in a writing class.
  • Is it original? I start by reviewing the originality report (I’m most familiar with TurnItIn), which on a rare occasion may eliminate a paper immediately. Plagiarism used to rattle me more, adding to the burden of grading. Now I see it as a judgment error, not a fatal flaw.  Because academic dishonesty has consequences, I give such work a zero and move forward. What’s ameliorated is my internal drama.

 

It’s about time

       

  • Time limits. When I started, I spent whatever time I thought was needed to critique the work to my satisfaction. This translated into a lengthy commitment. I now set a timer so each student receives an equal amount of attention.
  • Just say no. I set word limits and won’t read papers longer than they should be, sending them back to the author for editing.
  • Crash without burning Every CMS seems to freeze and all my work vanishes when I’m in the thick of grading.   Now I write comments in a word-processing system and paste them into the CMS afterword.


Stay focused

 

  • Avoid the weeds. Every interesting, odd, or vague idea drove me to the Internet. These searches extended evaluation time considerably as I broke from reading to attend to random ideas. Now I jot down a few notes about strengths and weaknesses as I go along. I also keep track of ideas I’d like to to explore at a later time.
  • What did I want? I have the instructions nearby at all times. I’ve been known to lose my way in a thicket of difficult-to-follow, less-than-scintillating papers. It’s possible that after a few rounds of de-coding I find myself asking, “What did I want?” and need to use my own directions as a bracer to return to the question at hand.
  • Recycling. I used to carefully craft individualized responses to each student. This didn’t seem to help.  Though the occasional student craves detailed feedback, most do not, leading to a massive waste. I paste language from the rubric into the CMS to explain the grade, which saves time and reduces grade challenges. Some systems have a mechanism allowing you to easily add regularly used comments. If not, I have a word document open for the “greatest hits” comments, which is less convenient but serves the same function.
  • Multi-tasking. It’s easy to get so engrossed in helping others that one forgets the basics: Not every calorie of energy belongs to students. I alternate personal projects with assignments in timed blocks. I’m consequently able to accumulate multiple accomplishments. I also feel fresher when I return to either task.

 

The longer I teach, the fewer complaints I get from students about grading. The initial anxiety about being challenged made the work unnerving, struggling to create bulletproof critiques. Being held accountable is both beneficial and stressful.

 

I haven’t cracked the code yet—no one I know has. As my capacity and comfort with teaching grows, I’ll undoubtedly continue to improve. Meanwhile I continue to refine my process, staying open to strategies that’ll transform student thinking and give me back some Spring time.
 
What are your best grading tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Image Credit: pexels.com/fabrico trujillo

    Nicole Bogdan
Nicole Bogdan
Student, Stockton University

Finals are a stressful time period for any college student. Many  don’t know where to begin when it comes to preparing for finals.  Many students wait until the last minute to cram weeks worth of material into an all-nighter. What these students do not know is that they are unable to retain all of the information from a late night study session. While some may have a good memory, they don’t have a full understanding of the material; which can result in  poor performance on application-based questions.

 

Here are a few tips to finish the semester strong and prepare for finals: If you’re an instructor, you may want to share these tips with your students.

 

    1.    Do not be afraid to ask for help.notes-macbook-study-conference.jpg

Go to your campus tutoring center for course related questions. If there is not an available tutor in that subject matter, ask your professor to set up a meeting.

 

    2.    Do not procrastinate or cram.

Set aside time every day to write/review notes, read PowerPoints or the textbook. By doing a little each day, the concepts will be reinforced. Do not wait until the eleventh hour to study.

 

    3.    Prepare flashcards.

Use flashcards to reinforce definitions. If the flashcards do not contain important course material, create flashcards for those topics.

 

    4.    Complete practice problems.

If your course contains application-based problems, complete brief exercises and problems. This will boost your confidence when given a problem. You never know if you will see a similar problem on an exam!

 

    5.    Prepare study guides.

Create your own study guide, even if your professor gives you one. By rewriting information, you will remember what you wrote. Be mindful to also review material not on the study guide. It is just a map, not a full review. In my experience, handwritten study guides help me to better retain the information.

 

    6.    Organize a study group.

Sometimes students do not understand a topic when a professor explains it. By developing a study group, another student may be able to explain the course material in a different way.

 

    7.    Get creative with your studying.

When reviewing your notes, create acronyms for important topics or associate a topic with something you are passionate about. For example, if you create an acronym with the first letter of each word, there is a better chance you will remember each component. Relate the course material to personal experiences, which will help you remember the concept.

 

    8.    Stay motivated.

After you study or do homework for a certain amount of time, reward yourself with a snack or break. Food actually helps your brain focus and improve memory. Since the weather is getting nicer, go outside for a short walk to get some fresh air. Also, do not get discouraged! You can do this!

 

    9.    Relax and get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation affects your mind and body. It also affects your learning abilities. Get enough sleep so you can focus and do well on exams! You do not want to be that person who falls asleep during their exam because you stayed up all night studying.

 

    10.    Refocus and get organized.

Go to class. Review deadlines. Make a plan as to what assignments you have to complete and for which exams you need to study.

 

 

Finals are not meant to be intimidating; however, they are meant to be challenging. Preparation is crucial to success. Take the time to prepare for each final and the time spent studying will pay off. Most importantly, do not give up. Remind yourself that you can accomplish this and remain positive. Good luck!

 

Photo credit: pexels.com/startup stockphotos

6 Ways to Counter Plagiarism

Posted May 2, 2018
    Linda Suskie
Linda Suskie
Wiley Author

Wiley author Linda Suskie shares tips for educators on how to identify and root out plagiarism in the classroom.

 

woman-typing-writing-windows.jpg

1. Use detection judiciously.

    • After papers are turned in, ask students to summarize them.
    • Use online search engines to search for similar passages.
    • Interview students or ask them to write reflectively about the process they used to write the paper.

2. Review papers for the following:

    • Out-of-character work
    • Abrupt changes in language, referencing systems, or vocabulary
    • Fully finished works with no evidence of research and writing processes
    • Anachronisms or only dated references

3. Explicitly teach and model academic rules, values, and conventions.

    • Provide plenty of instruction, learning activities, and feedback that help students understand exactly what plagiarism and academic integrity are. Focus on what students should do rather than what they should not do. Test their understanding through realistic test questions and assignments on plagiarism.
    • Model academic integrity in your own examples, lectures, and discussions by citing the sources to which you refer.

4. Provide opportunities for students to learn, practice, and get feedback on research and writing skills.

    • In your discipline.

 

5. Use fair assessment practices.

    • Give clear prompts that are plainly linked to key learning goals.
    • Vary the kinds of assignments you give.
    • Give creative assignments that don't lend themselves to plagiarism. Assign oral or visual presentations rather than written papers; scaffold large assignments or give assignments that ask students to relate concepts learned to personal or local experiences.

 

6. Work with your colleagues to make a concerted and consistent effort to address plagiarism.

    • Develop and implement appropriate and consistent policies for all students and programs.
    • Be consistent in how plagiarism policies are explained, applied, and enforced.
    • Provide timely, transparent, and defensible penalties.

 

List excerpted, with permission, from Linda Suskie's book, Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, 3rd edition. Linda Suskie is an internationally recognized consultant, speaker, writer, and workshop facilitator of higher education assessment and accreditation topics.

 

Image Credit:pexels.com/startupstockphotos

    Veronica P. Hupper
Veronica Hupper
PhD, Statistics Instructor, University of New Hampshire

As we continue to celebrate Mathematics and Statistics Awareness month, Statistics instructor Veronica Hupper shares why she thinks a strong understanding of statistics is so important for all students.

 

Discover.jpeg

It has become increasingly important as consumers of information that we have a clear understanding of not only how to interpret the information presented to us, but also to understand where it comes from and how it is collected.  During election years, we are often given fluctuating percentages of prospective voters who would choose a certain candidate.  When standardized test results come in, the results are often reported to the public with a comparison to previous years.  The average consumer of statistical information may not realize that there are many factors that go into determining if the information they are being presented with actually supports the corresponding conclusions.

 

Statistics for all

Because of the increasingly wide use of statistics in this information age, I am thankful that courses, such as Statistical Discovery for Everyone offered at the university where I teach, are cropping up at colleges and universities across the country. This is an elective that counts towards “quantitative reasoning” that any student who is not required to take statistics for their major can take.  It is literally designed for the average consumer of statistical information. I love teaching this course because it does not focus as much on computation as it does on understanding where data comes from, how to appropriately present it, and how to draw meaningful and legitimate conclusions. To me, it is such a necessary course that I often find myself wondering why this class is an elective and not a requirement for all college students in the information age.  In keeping to the theme of this course, I try to use my own personal experiences or examples right out of popular media to emphasize why it is so important to understand the basics of statistical thinking and how often statistics are misused or misrepresented. 

 

Surveys and Personal Experience

One of the very first things I cover in any statistics course is how much the results of a study can be “off” just because of how the information is gathered.  Data obtained as a result of surveys has always been a thorn in my side, and I like to share my own personal survey experience with my classes to make the point that results obtained from a survey are often not representative of what is really happening.  Typically I start off by telling the class that data gathered from surveys is almost always misleading because not only do people choose whether or not to participate, typically those that do respond have very strong feelings about the topic, either positive or negative.  Those asked to participate who are either indifferent or undecided often don’t bother to respond.

 

The personal story that I typically use involves the birth of my two children and the survey sent to me by the hospital after both occasions. The goal of these surveys was to find out about my experience while I was in their maternity ward.  Unfortunately, during the birth of my first child, my husband and I were treated terribly by the staff and administration of the hospital.  So, our happy, joyous occasion will always be marred by this. After telling my students about how horrible our experience was, I ask them if they think I answered the survey. The class almost always answers unanimously, “OF COURSE!”

 

This alone does not paint the whole picture.  I then follow up with the fact that my sister-in-law also gave birth to her first child in the same hospital six months earlier. She had a mediocre experience.  I then ask the class if they think she responded to the survey.  At this point, I typically have students looking around at each other and back at me not knowing what to say.  Then I tell them that, in fact, she did not participate in the survey.  She did not see any point because her experience was about what she expected.

 

Just so that my students do not think that all surveys elicit only negative responses, I tell them about my experience when I had my second child (of course, at a different hospital).  I share with them how wonderfully my husband and I were treated and how it was practically a stress-free experience.  I ask the question again if they think I responded to the survey to a resounding response of, “OF COURSE!”  

 

I have had many students tell me at the end of the semester how they will never look at surveys the same way again because they will never forget my story.  Mission accomplished!  However, this only addresses the pitfalls of how data is collected.  What about other misuses of statistical tools?

 

The Importance of Careful Analysis

Recently, I saw a report that the result of recent standardized tests indicated that “the statewide average for grades 3 through 8 was 58 percent proficiency in English, down 3 percent; and 49 percent proficient in math, down 2 percent.”  The Commissioner of Education was quoted as saying “We are obviously concerned about the decline of student performance.”

 

When I bring these types of examples to class, usually pulled right from the morning’s news, the students tend to agree that the numbers support the statement.  However, when I ask if these numbers demonstrate a significant decline, the response is almost always, “it depends.” Exactly!  Is a two percent difference really that big?  At this point I introduce the idea of hypothesis testing and how sometimes differences are caused merely by random fluctuations.

 

Exposing my students to these very real examples demonstrates to them how important it is to understand where their information comes from and helps them remember the main ideas of the course.  A personal story not only stands out, it shows students that they encounter statistics every day.  It impresses upon them how important statistical literacy really is. Now, if I could just convince my administrators that ALL students should take statistics….

 

Image Credit:pexels.com/lucas

 

Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: