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

    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.



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


    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

Why are well-designed learning objectives so important? The answers may seem self-evident; they provide a roadmap for students to follow, and they enable the measurement of student learning. But what are the secrets to creating powerful and effective objectives? This encore post presents our 7 Steps to Develop Well-Designed Course Objectives in an easy-to-read slide deck.


    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
AUBG Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Instructor

“Teaching is my job. Being a student is your job,” Lynn Mann said to me in a recent phone conversation. “You come to work every day; you make sure you’re doing your job the best you can.”Mrs Mann.jpg


Clearly, times were different when I was coming up because Mrs. Mann, as she will always be known to me, was my third-grade teacher. I looked her up during Women’s History Month when I was thinking about the women who influenced who I am as a teacher.


It may seem like a leap to connect my university-level teaching to lessons from grammar school. But after finding Mrs. Mann in the Southwestern community where she retired to talk about teaching, I realized there were more similarities than differences.


With quiet authority, she set clear expectations about how I should comport myself and the high quality of work I should deliver in her class. This is the dynamic I strive to achieve with my students. But until we spoke, I didn’t realize how long ago this attitude was instilled.


I recall being conscious of wanting to reach Mrs. Mann’s standards and the upset I felt for failing to do so consistently. She somehow impressed upon me that not only was the work my responsibility but being able to manage my feelings was also mine to address. As a teacher, I’ve yet to master that boundary. When my students are distressed, I still take on their emotional burden as my own on occasion.


The 34-year teaching veteran set equally high standards for herself. “My goal was to ensure that ‘my children,’” as she called students throughout our conversation, “would remember the school year as the best year they ever had in school.”


Doing What Comes Naturally

A lifetime before “flipped classrooms” became part of the pedagogical lexicon, Mrs. Mann engaged us in the process of learning through doing. We didn’t just read about social studies; she used real-life stories about people in other lands that made the world knowable. And, using techniques that were unusual at the time, she taught us about science with a classroom
snake and brought in fertilized eggs, so we could watch chicks emerge from their shells.


In the university programs in which I teach, the ability to draw on my professional experience to connect course lessons to careers is valued. From the other side of the desk, I know those personal examples do, in fact, make learning memorable. Mrs. Mann was the first person I knew who traveled internationally. She shared pictures and objects and stories from her
trips that exposed me to cultures from Ancient Mayans to contemporary Europeans.


Etched into my mind is her tale about being scrutinized by Checkpoint Charlie in East Berlin and how the guard studied her face to ensure it matched the passport image. She was asked to pull her hair back to ensure that it was her travel document. Twenty years later I was given the third degree the first time I traveled abroad. I volunteered to pull my hair back in silent homage to my former teacher.


Having an active classroom, which is what I strive for, also allowed learning to be fun and creative. I remember acting in my first play as a lady ghost in her class and meeting her Great Dane during a lesson on Switzerland. No other teacher engaged our imagination as she did with high-quality children’s literature like Roald Dah’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.


In my courses some active sessions are successful. To illustrate a project developing a PR fundraising campaign for Syrian refugees, I brought in quotes from a relevant New York Times article. I had the students read the lines aloud to construct a “found poem.” (The American Academy of Poets describes this form as: “Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems.” The result of this exercise was breathtaking.


Don’t Ever Say “I Can’t”

I learned during our recent conversation that I was in Lynn Mann’s first class. That year she recalls being unnerved by a pair of boisterous boys, but her path took a darker turn several years later. She was in a car accident that left her permanently paralyzed on one side of her body. After two years of physical therapy, she returned to the classroom. Doing everything
with only one hand was just one of her difficulties.


“I had a head injury. So I forgot a lot of things and had to re-learn teaching materials,” she explained.


Mrs. Mann embodied what she taught. She repeated to her children the life lesson learned from an inspiring woman in her life, an occupational therapist. “My therapist told me, ‘Don’t ever say I can’t. Say I’ll try. No matter how tough it is, you find a way to do it. Work at it until you succeed.’ Those words became our classroom motto every year.”


“An able-bodied person can do things without thinking, like putting papers into a filing cabinet. But I had to hold the papers in my mouth and open up the file. [My children] saw me struggle to do things, but I found a way to do them.”


Think of a Woman

Conjuring up an important teacher from one’s early days will often evoke a female. “When I think of a teacher I think of a woman,” Lynn Mann
says. She’s right. Nearly 8 out of 10 public school teachers are women.


In future Women’s History Months perhaps someone will reflect on my courses. I hope I have as big an impact on my students as Mrs. Mann had on me. What she left with me is the importance of hard work, discipline, and excellence. In short, she helped foster a positive attitude for learning that stays with me to this day.


Photo credit: Lynn and Paul Mann

    Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson
Lecturer, Clemson University





How we communicate has evolved since the 80’s and, while it is great to connect easily, it can be difficult to connect effectively. I find that e-mail and text communications are inefficient for myself and my students.


My syllabus for each class includes the statement:


I provide office hours on campus and expanded phone/virtual office time 5 days a week. In all cases, if you have questions, ask me before or after class or call me during my available times.   E-mail & texts are your last resort for communication provided you have contacted me during my scheduled office times. E-mails & texts sent outside of my scheduled availability will be deleted. They only create additional work and are ineffective and inefficient.


Face-to-face (F2F) office hours are on Monday/Wednesday between 1:30pm and 2:30pm or you can call my cell phone between 9:00am and 1:00pm on Tues, 9:00am and 4:30pm on Thurs or between 1:30pm and 4:30pm on Mon/Weds/Friday. If I am unable to take the call, text me your name & brief question and I will call you back as soon as possible!


Please respect these times, contacting me outside of these times is unproductive, creates extra work, and I will not respond.


Course Questions should be posted in the Q&A Forum after checking the Course Announcements. I will not respond to course questions via text or e-mail that 1: should be posted in the Q&A forum, 2: have already been answered in the Q&A forum, or 3: have already been answered in the Course Announcements.


As a last resort after trying above, you can e-mail me directly for personal questions. NOTE: I do not use Canvas Inbox.


You must include "202" in the subject line, your name & phone number in the body of the e-mail and a brief description of your question. Failure to include this information will result in a  delay in response.


In the vast majority of the cases I will call you by phone to answer your question rather than respond via e-mail.


birds-high-fly-flying-migrating-62667.jpgI realize this might seem harsh, but I provide availability to students via face-to-face meetings, telephone, and/or virtual office just as if I ran a business for 20.5 hours per week.


In my first semester of teaching, I averaged 15 to 50 e-mails a day from approximately 250 students. They were sent 24/7. The majority of the questions had already been answered in class or covered in my course announcements posted in the LMS (Learning Management System). Today I receive one to five e-mails a day from my 300 students and most of those are returned with a copy of my communication policy. There are several concerns we hear from our students’ employers that have led me to this change in policy and its strict enforcement.


First, allowing students to contact us anytime via e-mail is detrimental to developing their ability to effectively communicate in the workplace. Sending an e-mail or text at 3 AM or on a Sunday may be convenient, but allowing it fails to teach the student how to effectively communicate with a supervisor or team. The consistent feedback is that students go on to have poor communication skills at work.


Second, this system does not hold students responsible for checking for available information before asking their questions when most of their questions have already been answered in the course materials. In the workplace there are systems for workflow, and employees must be able to utilize those systems before expecting their supervisors to repeat the information.


Third, it is important that students learn to communicate orally via the phone or in person. I am amazed when a student sends me an e-mail stating they are uncomfortable talking in person or by phone and prefer to correspond via writing. I’ve encountered those same types of people in the workplace and it takes much longer to accomplish tasks trading multiple e-mails when a single phone call would suffice.


Fourth, it is not an efficient means of communication compared to other options.


But enough complaining. Here are alternative options I use to resolve these issues:


1. Talk with students by phone. As a CPA, I learned I could respond to clients quickly by phone and that doing so created good will. With students, I establish set phone times to answer questions. This helps my students learn how to communicate in the workplace. It makes no sense to call when I am in class or after hours and expect a reply. None of us expect our banker, lawyer, mechanic, or drug store to take calls after hours.


2. Establish a Q & A discussion board that is available 24/7. This is the game changer. I require all course-related questions to be posted after students have looked for prior posts with the same question. Often other students answer the questions! This is also a way to foster communication between students about homework assignments. This requires that you clearly state that students must use the forum rather than send e-mails or texts. Workplaces commonly utilize community forums, Q&A videos and so on. We need to teach our students that this is the first place to look for answers or post a question.


3. Use Google Docs, Dropbox, or Box cloud-shared files to create collaboration among students. Many companies create workspaces where teams contribute and comment on work being completed. I use Dropbox-shared files to review questions and exercises and share my comments. This allows my team members to see the changes and share their comments as well.


4. Use Virtual Office Hours: Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting, Skype, Hangout, and Facetime are great ways to meet with students without going into the office. I use Adobe Connect since it is part of the university’s system and allows me to use the video camera, talk through the computer, share both my screen and the student’s screen, and record the session. It also reduces the confusion that can arise using several applications. This also means students do not have to get another program, but can simply click on the link in my Canvas course. It is important to have F2F meetings, but virtual meetings save travel costs and time.


5. Yes, use e-mail and text. E-mail or texting is efficient when used properly. My course announcements are automatically e-mailed to students (unless they opt out) and are a great way to keep students on task with reminders. E-mail makes it easy to send documents regarding personal issues or to communicate with the hearing impaired, for example. E-mail is also a means to document communication when important questions or issues arise. When using e-mail or texts, require students to use proper etiquette, grammar, and spelling. This includes informative subject lines, writing in complete sentences, clearly stating the purpose and identification of the sender, and providing the sender’s phone number.


It is beneficial for students to learn effective communication skills and each faculty member contributes their own communication framework in their classes. Exposure to this variety not only allows students to adapt to different requirements, but to form coping skills to communicate in the workplace regardless of their employer’s preferred communication system.


How do you best communicate with students? Share your tips in the comments below.


Image credit: pexels.com/pixabay.com

    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
AUBG Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Faculty

“Do you know any Chinese people?” I asked in a sarcastic stage-voice.


I was play-acting, pretending to talk to an imaginary American colleague who had trouble differentiating one Chinese student from another.


Hamming it up got a laugh from my Chinese students: one is an excitable world traveler; another a demure bon vivant; and the third, an exuberant woman, bursting with warmth and kindness. My comment was amusing to the four of us because of the marked differences between these women. The trio is worlds apart in behavior, personality, skill levels, and style.


But this type of confusion happens. Further, the phenomenon is not restricted to teachers. A young woman of color in another course declined to be the session’s comments-keeper. (This task requires tracking class participation, so volunteers need to identify classmates to record involvement). She struggled to tell her peers apart.



Why You Might be Struggling 

I was play-acting with my students for dramatic effect. In reality, it’s unremarkable that Chinese students get lumped together. A scan of the peer-reviewed literature reveals stacks of studies about “own race preference,” or “cross race effect” (and other synonyms). Research shows we’re more likely to recognize people of our own race than of others from the earliest ages. In one study, “3-month-old infants demonstrated a significant preference for faces from their own-ethnic group.”


Fold in a meta-analysis documenting it’s easier to recognize someone of our own age, and there might be mayhem, especially when experienced professionals teach in majors or schools with lots of young Chinese students. Male instructors face an even greater challenge. Research on gender difference in facial recognition documents they’re less likely than females to remember faces.


Actions to Take

But the conversation needn’t end there. I’m no cross-cultural genius, but I’ve been reasonably successful in getting to know students as individuals. This is due, in no small part, to working for well-resourced institutions with manageable class sizes that facilitate relationships. I’ve also been able to learn who’s who using tips borrowed from pedagogy pros. In fact, these strategies help me master names and personalities regardless of race or ethnicity, which becomes more important the longer I teach and as the number of courses I’ve taught grows.


  • Use tent-cards that students set up on their desks every session. I chop off the tabbed edge of recycled folders and pass them around with a magic marker. I ask everyone to write down the name they want me to use. Nothing could be simpler to reinforce my learning. I know who I’m talking to from that moment forward. Asking for a preferred name is key because many Chinese students choose American nicknames. This is handy for memorization because unfamiliar words, even simple ones, are difficult to pronounce and remember.


  • Avoid relying on the pictures in the learning management system. Chinese students in particular often post generic-looking portraits with neutral expressions. theory, student photos are intended to help, but often don’t when they are generic. Ask for a short narrative profile with a selfie cut and pasted into the text before the first class. No one uses standard-issue pictures for this task. Consequently, the image looks like the person you’ll see in class.


  • Students bring me hard copies of their bios I can review between classes. I’d even brought the profiles as cheat sheets to review discretely if I didn’t have everyone’s name “down.” The added benefit of the profiles is I can ask questions to assess subject-matter knowledge as well as acquire bits of quirky, interesting, even touching information.
  • I recently tried something new: in-class one-on-one conversations while the rest do project work. I found this technique to be rewarding and helpful for providing feedback, answering questions, and getting to know everyone.


  • I use short icebreaker questions at the beginning of every class if time permits. I ask about nonacademic issues to get participation juiced a la: What’s your go-to relaxation technique? What are you really good at? This provides unique info to help me learn about people and gives the class regular practice in impromptu public speaking.


  • I also provide students opportunities to get to know each other. On the first day, everyone interviews someone they don’t know with a short list of questions. They then introduce their partner to everyone else.

I take advantage of in-class group exercises or pair-and-shares, directing students to partner with those they haven’t worked with yet. They report in evaluations that they appreciate hearing other people’s perspectives.


Building Mutual Understanding

Being recognized as an individual is better for everyone involved. As a life-long learner, I certainly want to be recognized by a teacher as being different from the rest of the students. As a teacher, the more I know about a class—regardless of ethnic makeup—the more equipped I am to address problems, teach to specific interests, and, on my end, learn from their experience and contributions.


Thanks to NYU’s Elizabeth Izaki, Shuaxian “Phoebe” Li, Craig Mills, and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, American University of Bulgaria’s Jesse Scinto, and Laurie Tvedt for their insights and thoughtfulness.


Image credit: pexels.com/Manuel Joseph


    Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson
Lecturer, Clemson University

To get started, several rules for Faculty:


  1. Stop answering questions
  2. Stop lecturing in class
  3. Provide meaningful tasks for students to complete in class


Stop answering questions!


As I traveled through 12 states over several summers conducting 8-hour continuing education seminars for CPAs in public and private practice on Accounting, Auditing, and Data Protection & Privacy, I was often asked questions I had no clue how to answer—or more often, questions that had many logical options that could be the correct answer. My response was to turn it over to the group by asking “What do you think?” or “What would you do in this situation?”


This approach turned my 8-hour day into an engaged learning session where I not only learned from the knowledge of my attendees, they learned from each other, and the day passed quickly with conversations continuing through the breaks. The collective knowledge of the group was fun to tap into, and even though the material for each seminar was the same, each day was different.


I started each session with a group discussion of the concerns, issues or questions the attendees had regarding the topic. Then, after covering the materials, we had a conversation about what changes they would make in their CPA practice or workplace as a result of our discussion.


I continue to use this model in my classroom by briefly introducing the concept for the day and then presenting a question or problem the students need to solve. They are asked to discuss this for around 5-10 minutes, and then each group presents one aspect of their discussion to the class.


Most important for this process to work effectively is that when the groups or individuals ask for my answer or opinion, I ask them, “What do you think?” or “What does your group think?” The result is that the students begin to learn from each other and form friendships in class that extend outside of class.


Stop lecturing in class.


An unfortunate problem we all face today are distractions in our lives. I am just as guilty as my students of losing focus from time to time, and I understand it takes effort to stay on task along with activities that encourage engagement. So, my advice is to stop lecturing in class unless you are really good at it and it works for you and your students. I personally find it boring and it just does not work for me.


I deliver my Concept Lectures via KyleTV videos to cover the key topics that students should learn prior to attending class. There is a concept video for each chapter that is available 24/7 and can be watched on any device. They range from 15 to 35 minutes and cover five to seven learning objectives in the chapter. I make sure these videos contain not only learning objectives, but changes in scenery (i.e., not just a power-point with voice) and myself either in full screen or in a box in the video. I do not advocate breaking the chapter content up into separate short videos for each learning objective. The students need to learn to use the pause button if they lose focus during the video.


In class, I introduce the topic or concept for five to eight minutes and then have students form groups of three to five to complete a discussion or online assignment related to the topic. The toughest part of this process is that I need to refrain from assisting the students and instead encourage them to use each other to answer questions during the process. The next toughest part is that I need be sure to allow them enough time to discuss the assignment, but not so much time that it degrades into just talking or searching the web on their phone. Finally, I make sure that I have each group present their idea, solution, and/or questions to the entire class and hold all groups accountable for contributing to the class discussion.


Give meaningful tasks for students to complete.


Discussions and assignments should carry a reward for each student. Although my course is based on 1,000 points, the one to two points they can earn completing an in-class discussion and/or assignment is important to them and adds up to approximately 40 points a semester.


Relate the assignment to students’ everyday lives.


Managerial Accounting courses lend themselves to practical applications such as calculating the cost of various activities, quantifying purchasing decision options, creating budgets, analyzing trends, and covering the qualitative aspects of every decision. A fun assignment involves students learning how businesses create budgets by creating their own personal budgets that focus them on preparing for graduation by calculating expected salaries and costs of living for their first job and by creating a five-year timeline of income, expenses, capital purchases, and borrowing.


Utilize discussion boards in your LMS (Learning Management System). 


In a class discussion, I have each group post their comments into the discussion board so everyone can read and learn from each other. This does require grading but is easy to complete if you grade based on effort and remember it is just one or two points.


Utilize online assignments.


These are great because they are automatically graded and they give you a starting point for teaching your students how to go beyond the “answer” and think critically about the assignment. I use Excel in class and I completely copy the online assignment into Excel to avoid flipping back and forth between sites. This also eliminates students having to type in data, provides an example of different layouts for calculating the answer with support for the result, and provides a ready-to-present report. Yes, calculators are banned in my class (and are referred to as the student’s worst enemy).


The answer required in the online assignment makes up approximately 20% to 40% of what I want the student to learn from the task. This is a great opportunity to add prior tools or analysis or introduce new tools into the problem. For instance, when we use the Contribution Margin statement to analyze various change options, the online homework requires the students to input an answer of the final result for the new Contribution Margin statement. I require the students to add Vertical and Horizontal analysis, Margin of Safety, and Degree of Operating Leverage. This ensures they have the tools for each group to argue which option is best based on a broad view incorporating risk and qualitative factors. As each chapter adds new tools, we incorporate those into our analysis to reinforce learning, understanding and retention.


In conclusion, always have fun in class, take your students out of their comfort zone with the new tools and topics from your course, and hold them accountable for contributing to discussions and problem-solving. I really enjoy walking around the room and talking with each group about their ideas and results. It is very rewarding to observe their improving ability to think critically and express themselves using the new tools they learned during the semester. These same students often tell me how the course helped them be successful in other courses!


    Laura Goldsberry
Laura Goldsberry
Marketing Manager, Wiley

Creating an engaging classroom where students are motivated and excited to learn is important to all instructors. Here are six strategies—each submitted by an instructor in our WileyPLUS community—to strengthen student engagement in your classroom.


The Art of Making Mistakes

Posted Feb 14, 2018
    Justin Meyer
Justin Meyer
Senior Lecturer of Chemistry, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I'm prone to mistakes. We've all been there. You're going over your notes for class, once, twice, perhaps even three times, trying to avoid any chance of making a blunder in class. Despite your best efforts, it still happens. Maybe it was just a misspoken word, perhaps it was a flawed instruction, but we've all committed missteps in the classroom. Some gaffes are embarrassing. I've had clothing mishaps before, such as misbuttoning my shirt for example. Some flubs can be technical, like not having saved the PowerPoint slides you were working on. I've even gone as far as giving the wrong exam to a large class, or not making enough copies of an exam on numerous occasions.


For those of us that consider ourselves experienced in the classroom we've learned that it isn't so much about not making mistakes, but instead it’s how you handle them. As instructors, we can quickly put ourselves in a very uncomfortable position. I watched a segment of the show Adam Ruins Everything and learned that when someone points out an error, your fight or flight instinct kicks in. As crazy as it sounds, this is often true. As instructors, we need to be able to control the instinct to fight back when a student calls out an error we've made. So, take a breath before responding.




Instead of focusing on avoiding in-class bungles, I've discovered the pedagogical power of embracing my mistakes. I teach classes that have a lot of math and example problems, and this can lead to many different types of simple errors. I make it a habit of inserting mistakes on purpose during class as I work through examples. I'll forget a sign on a value or to square a value, for example.  When I wittingly introduce errors, I hope that someone in the class spots the mistake and speaks up.  My goal is for the students to learn from the error and then avoid it when they do the problem on their own.


The encouragement of in-class responses and discussion are significant benefits to this approach. I make sure to pause after I intentionally inserting an error within a problem. In some cases, I ask the class if everything looks correct. Also, by making mistakes, students see you're human and become more willing to ask more questions.


Another benefit of the approach is this: When I do make a genuine mistake, I can turn it into a learning point.  If I, as the expert, am capable of error on a particular problem, students will probably stumble as well. But, of course, I then remind the class that my mistake was intentional--as are all such errors.


So, don't be afraid to use the mistakes you make in class to your advantage. Students will learn from your witting and unwitting errors, as well as from their own.


    Diane Rubino
Diane Rubino
AUBG Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Instructor

Though I didn’t say them, a few choice words erupted from a primitive lobe of my brain. My annoyance was a reaction to a harmless request to participate in a name-recall exercise with other teachers. I was fine once the activity started. But my initial response was odd, even to me.


Still, it wasn’t the first time I was aware that learning translated into irritation. I originally noticed it a few months ago during yoga with a tough-guy instructor. He pushed hard while letting us know he was “going easy” on us, a drop-in class of ever-changing novices.


I grew more exasperated and determined to tell the instructor, after the course was over, that I was dissatisfied. I wanted him to know he was driving us too hard. I wanted him to know I was furious.


I noticed anger was a common emotion despite the range of effort required, from the very idea of learning to actual, complex physical exertion. It struck me that the desire to express myself in a surly retort was ridiculous. My annoyance had to do with me, not the yoga instructor. In a flash, I realized that the gulf between my skills and his expertise was no one’s fault. Nor was it a problem. His desire to hold us to high standards was the definition of learning. Then came the second wham of consciousness: The feeling I experienced was perhaps the same my students channel at me.


Whose Problem Is It Anyway?

I noticed some of my student evaluations reflected outright fury. I also occasionally registered student irritability at other points via eye rolls and glares.


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I never gave the why behind this dynamic much consideration. It was easy to blame myself, feeling guilty for every negative reaction. I also vaguely attributed student annoyance to various factors without knowing what I was talking about. Perhaps, I imagined in my haughtier moments, it was my uncompromising standards or grading. Maybe the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves. Personality—mine and/or theirs—was the source of trouble.


All of that might be true. But when I became aware of being the disgruntled student, I realized something else was happening. Surely, I’d experienced this before, but somehow just became cognizant that learning itself was ire producing.


It seems like conscious learners on both sides of the desk know anger is “a thing,” though not something that necessarily requires action. “Oh sure,” said a friend with teaching experience, “that happens.” I mentioned my insight to a teacher of mine who noted with a laugh, “So now I know. During the first part of the class Diane hates me.”


Evidence Of Anger

In fact, researchers of emotions in education documented that anger occurs “frequently” in students and used it as one of the “major emotion categories” to craft educational psychology assessments.


While I’m late to the party, those who study learning have been aware of this phenomenon for decades. “Significant learning and critical thinking inevitably induces an ambivalent mix of feelings and emotions, in which anger and confusion are as prominent as pleasure and clarity.


Now it all began to make sense…


What Now?

In the ideal world, this awareness about my irrational irritability should’ve triggered a change. No such luck. Now I noticed this trend any time I was in a learning environment, as if I was powerless to turn it around. I was peeved when my new yoga instructor started with Down Dog rather than an easier pose. The musical theater class where I had no background knowledge? Forget it. (My capable instructor somehow managed to teach me a few tricks. But with a lot of growling from me.)


Without the ability to adjust my own behavior I struggled to help students avoid the hurdle of annoyance that negatively impacts learning. The only idea I had was honesty. This past semester I emailed a class a few weeks into the semester:


Dear all:


I recently began studying yoga. Sometimes learning is great. But sometimes it stinks. I feel frustrated and embarrassed--especially when it seems EVERYONE knows more than I do. I wonder if I will ever do yoga right. I get bored or annoyed with trying--and failing anyway. I get mad at the teacher. Instead of acknowledging my own limited knowledge, I blame him.


“He’s working us too hard. What a jerk!”


Why am I lashing out at others? It’s hard to say. But I think that's just how learning works at times. It's difficult. It can be irritating or even painful.


When it feels like too much and you hit a breaking point, STOP. Stop working. Stop thinking. Do something else. Relax. Walk around the block. Ask for help. 


At some point you may have to come back to the same place and start again. But knowing your limits is a key part of professional development.


Best wishes,



Honesty Is A Policy—Though Perhaps Not The Best One

It’s unclear if honesty made a difference to my class. I had a pair of back-of-the-room grimacers much of the term. One reported on her evaluation: “I feel really uncomfortable and stressful in professor Rubino class [sic].


Going forward I could promote further reflection through writing and in-class discussion rather than communicating this concept via email. This may influence some borderline students. It could also be a lackluster endeavor since, as Brookfield states, “student resistance is socially and politically sculpted.” In any case, much further effort is needed to change the hearts and minds of someone like me—the angriest learner around.


Thanks to Asana Soul Practice’s James Calleo and Columbia University’s Christine Bean for their insights.


Image Credit: pixabay


    Sharifah Sharomsah
Sharifah Sharomsah
Publicity & Content Marketing, Knowledge & Learning Asia

New technologies are driving companies across industries to digitize their operations and processes. According to recent research by Cognizant, organizations find that the digital skills gap has prevented them from achieving their objectives. To meet this growing demand for digital literacy, many universities in Asia have begun to expand their digital learning curriculum to boost employability and improve student experience.


The rise of digital connectivity is also transforming how students learn in the classroom. Students in this digital era are generally familiar with communications, media, and digital technologies; and by incorporating technology into every aspect of campus life, students will learn the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the digitally integrated workplace.


When it comes to online learning, it is not surprising that the traditional offering of a legacy Learning Management System (LMS): downloadable PowerPoints, links to static text and long form recorded lectures is driving poor student engagement, low retention and unsatisfactory student outcomes.


A recent survey of higher education student needs conducted by Navitas highlighted this need to focus on the ‘basic expectations’ of digital learners.


Fortunately, higher education innovators have responded by building deep and engaging learning experiences that deliver on the expectations of digitally sophisticated learners.


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Figure 1. Infographic illustration of what the new generation of digitally-savvy learners expect from their digital learning experiences.


A unique challenge for Asian institutions will be to serve a population that is quickly becoming one of the world’s most digitally-savvy. The rapid growth of online, mobile and social across the region will impact both businesses and educational institutions alike.


Learn more about the leading examples of how Asian faculties and institutions are seeking to engage and delight a new generation of students through a bold and sophisticated digital vision from the white paper, ‘The Rise of the Digitally Sophisticated Learners’. To download the white paper, click here.


    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

I recently spoke with Professor Kyle Anderson of Clemson University. Professor Anderson is a unique intersection between accountancy and technology, and, between practitioner and academic. In this podcast he discusses his approach to use technology to move his students beyond the mechanics of accounting and to develop a  bigger system-level understanding. He includes practical ideas for implementing such an approach in other courses.



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

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    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

There are legitimate excuses, and then there are questionable ones. Some, while honest and candid, still fall into the unacceptable bucket. We recently asked over one thousand instructors for the most common and dramatic excuses they have heard from students who fail an exam or miss turning in an assignment. Here are some of their responses.



Excuses For Not Passing An Exam:

  1. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
  2. “I studied everything you didn’t ask on the exam.”
  3. “The exam was nothing like the homework.”
  4. “I didn’t expect Chapter (X) on the test.”
  5. “I don’t consider myself good at time management.”
  6. “I was set up to fail.”
  7. “I expected the study guide to tell me exactly what would be on the test.”
  8. “I thought it was going to be easy.”
  9. “The questions were worded differently than the homework problems.”
  10. “I don’t do well on exams.”


Excuses For Not Completing or Handing In An Assignment:

  1. “The WiFi stopped working.”
  2. “It seemed easy when we did it in class.”
  3. “I was on social media.”
  4. “I had a date last night.”
  5. “I have other classes.”
  6. “It’s not you, it’s me.”
  7. “I left my sunroof open and a raccoon stole the assignment from my car.”
  8. “I was at the carwash and the bumper fell off my car. I had to deal with insurance, etc.”
  9. “I was arrested for selling tee shirts on the interstate.”
  10. “I made the Olympic national team.”


While course management systems and e-learning environments may not completely eradicate the need for students to supply excuses, they can certainly help.  After all, it would take a crafty raccoon to steal a laptop and log in to an LMS.


Learn more about the next generation of Wiley’s courseware here.


What excuses have you heard to add to the above? Let us know in the comments below.


Image credit: Pexels.com/pixabay.com


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