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.



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

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