Author Archives: EGareis

Posts: 10 (archived below)
Comments: 2


Much has been said about diversity at Baruch: From that we are the most diverse college in the United States . . . to that we don’t make maximal use of our diversity.

This semester, several students in my classes made poignant comments about integration. The first student (as part of a class presentation) recounted her freshman experience. Prior to the first day of classes, she had been very much looking forward to meeting many new people at Baruch and making friends. But the minute she set foot on campus, she said, she knew that it was not going to happen.

Another students wrote as part of a reflective essay on intercultural friendship: “As a student of Baruch College for the past two years, I have not made many friends. And for the few friends I have made, none of them are outside my own culture, which is a white American. This is not because I do not want friends outside my own culture; actually having friends from other cultures would be exciting for me. I feel that lack of communication and building of friendships between cultural groups at Baruch is absurd. This is a matter that has actually always bothered me since I started attending Baruch College. It seems to be that there is a tendency for students at Baruch to stay within their own cultural boundaries. . . . I would really like to see some change at Baruch regarding this matter. I feel it is of high importance and would make the school itself more appealing to the general public and surrounding communities.”

Finally, a third student commented about being gay at Baruch: “The whole topic of being gay for a young person in these classes is difficult because they have to matriculate through their four years with their fellow students, and if it’s only a small part of their identity, it would be a shame for them to be seen first as gay. . . I would not be comfortable having people gossiping about me for four years. It is odd to me that I even feel this way considering how normal gay is to me in my ‘real’ life and how omnipresent it is the pop culture. . . . I believe that many gay people who are asking for equal rights feel they are on a similar track of where black people were in the 60s.”

He later asked me whether we, as educators at Baruch, are trained at this topic. Maybe we should start thinking about such training? Or a discussion or workshop series of how to assist students in their integration efforts? Any thoughts?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Creating Sustainable Leaders

An interesting article entitled “Multicultural Critical Theory. At B-School” appeared in the New York Times this week. The article reports that, although business schools were found “too vocational” as far back as 1959, they are only now starting to change curricula. “Many of the changes are moving business schools into territory more traditionally associated with the liberal arts: multidisciplinary approaches, an understanding of global and historical context and perspectives, a greater focus on leadership and social responsibility and . . . learning how to think critically.” John J. Fernandes, president of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, predicts that in 10 years, 75 percent of schools will have made changes that focus on “the creation of more sustainable leaders.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Race/Class Interaction

The Princeton Review has once again named Baruch College as one of the best 371 colleges in America. The report also features 62 rankings lists on topics including “Professors Get High Marks,” “Class Discussions Encouraged,” and “Most Beautiful Campus.” Each rankings lists presents the top and the bottom 20 colleges. With Baruch’s status as most diverse college, it would be nice to see it among the top-20 in the category “Race/Class Interactions”: But we are not part of this list.

Maybe it’s a tall order for the most diverse college in the nation to also be one with lots of race and class interaction? But why not?

A 2005 article in The Ticker lamented that students at Baruch are “divided by race” (i.e., that clubs and friendship circles are largely monocultural and that there is too little intercultural/interethnic interaction):

While there is something to be said for the protective comfort that in-groups can provide, we should do better. But how?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Blackboard Tips

The following blog post on may be of interest. It features links to Blackboard tips and tutorials:

Posted in Grading, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Blackboard Tips

Did You Teach to Each?

In a recent article in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Kolb and Joy (2009) investigated whether there are cultural differences in learning styles. Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (LSI) was tested on participants from seven nations. The inventory provides scores for two dimensions: (1) from abstract conceptualization to concrete experience and (2) from active experimentation to reflective observation.

The following cultural factors were found to impact learning styles. Collectivism, future orientation, and gender egalitarianism correlated with a preference for abstract conceptualization over concrete experience. The effect of culture was significant. The seven nations are situated on the scale as follows:


A preference for reflective observation over active experimentation was correlated with the cultural factors of uncertainty avoidance and assertiveness; the effect, however, was only marginal. Age and area of specialization had more impact.

The authors argue that, in the first years of higher education, before discipline-specific conditioning has taken root, culture-based differences may be especially pronounced, and that instructors should make sure to design learning situations that take into account cultural differences in learning styles.

How do you teach to each?


Joy, S., & Kolb, D. A. (2009). Are there cultural differences in learning style? International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 33(1), 69-85.

For descriptions of commonly cited cultural dimensions, see Hofstede and Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner.

Posted in Diversity | 3 Comments

A+ . . . Despite Heavy Accent

Question: A student gives a presentation. He has a heavy foreign accent and is at times incomprehensible. Overall, the speech seems well researched and on target. What do you do?

a. Give him an A.

b. Subtract points for incomprehensibility and give him a B.

c. Tell him that the presentation was unacceptable and that he should improve his oral communication proficiency.

Instructors cite a variety of reasons (often with a kernel of truth) why they let incomprehensibility slide:

1. “Asking a student to reduce his/her accent is embarrassing and discouraging.” — It is true that accents are windows to our identity, and that a student changing his/her accent may experience a tangible sense of loss or feel repercussions from home culture friends and family.


Posted in Assessing Learning, Communication Skills, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Intellectual Challenge Survey

I conducted an informal, anonymous survey on “intellectual challenge” with students in my classes (n = 32). The respondents were mostly Communication minors and Zicklin majors; i.e., represent somewhat of a cross-section of Baruch students. (I checked with Hannah Rothstein, IRB director: Informal surveys with the purpose of program improvement can be conducted without IRB approval and shared with colleagues, including on this teaching blog). Here are the results.

Question 1: On average, how intellectually challenging are courses at Baruch College? (5 = very challenging; 1 = not challenging at all)

Question 2: On average, how satisfied are you with this level of intellectual challenge?

Question 3: What does “intellectual challenge” mean to you?

Question 4: Which wording would you prefer on the course evaluation form?

Selected Comments:

1. Since English is my second language, courses are very challenging for me.

2. The courses at Baruch College are very challenging. The time frame in which professors needed assignments are not enough, due to the fact that we, the students, have other classes.

3. Although some professors manage to make course work challenging, they still keep students interested.

4. i believe the “intellectual challenge” is subjective to the instructor teaching the course. In some cases they do present a real challenge; on the other hand, some are as easy as it can get!!! (more…)

Posted in Student Participation, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A for Content . . . F for Form

It’s term paper time. Actually, it was time last week for term paper drafts in two of my classes. Unfortunately, six students had draft grades below 50 (three below 40). The thing is: Their papers were actually quite good with respect to content. The students had clearly conducted their research and presented interesting information and analyses. But the papers had 50 or more errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, citations, and reference formatting.

The drafts were supposed to be proofread and in decent shape. The students knew that they can gain back only half the subtracted points through revisions. I also encouraged students to show me their drafts before submitting them to catch problems early on. None of the six students did. They also didn’t go to the Writing Center, although I reminded them several times of its existence. (more…)

Posted in Students' Skills and Abilities | 3 Comments

Intellectual Challenge vs. Grade Inflation

What are your thoughts on course evaluations? I find them to be a great motivator for reflecting on course content and delivery. My latest project is to increase my ratings on the item: “The course challenged me intellectually.” I feel I have been too lenient at times, not challenging our students enough and falling victim to grade inflation.

Just yesterday, I looked at a student’s draft of a slideshow for an upcoming presentation. The students are graded on their draft but can gain half the subtracted points back if they revise their drafts and their final slideshow is effective. The student had handed in a draft that was below par and, as a result had lost quite a few points . . . and promptly e-mailed me, saying how disappointed he was. It broke my heart.

I am struggling with a balance between challenging students, motivating them, and grading them effectively. How do you strike that balance?

Posted in Course Evaluations, Grading | 8 Comments

Animated Graphs

It’s football season . . . which reminds me of an interesting study. In it, Guadagno, Sundie, Asher, and Cialdini (2006) presented football statistics to groups of students-some were fans with extensive knowledge of the sport, some were unfamiliar with its intricacies. The premise was for students to act as recruiters and judge which players would be promising prospects for the team. The stats (yards gained, touchdowns, etc.) were presented in three different formats to the “recruiters:” typed lists of numbers, printed graphs, and animated graphs on presentation slides (e.g., bar graphs where individual bars appear consecutively instead of all at once). The researchers found that animated statistics were more persuasive than typed summaries or printed graphs. While the effect was more pronounced for audience members who were unfamiliar with football stats, even the experts found animated graphs most effective for highlighting performance.

I have since incorporated the topic of graph animation into one of my courses in international communication and find it enhances student presentations. The assignment is to compare two countries in an area of interest (e.g., education performance, income distribution, air quality) and investigate the reasons for performance difference. Students start by selecting a topic-either from a list I provide, or by consulting newspapers, almanacs, and statistical Web sites for additional ideas. For instance, last semester, a student, Alena, selected the topic “vacation time” from the example list I provided in class. She checked a statistical Web site,, and other online sources for preliminary information and then decided to compare the United States and Germany. Not to promote European ideas ;-), but Germans are getting an average of three times as many days of paid vacation as U.S. Americans. Alena then conducted research using the library’s databases and interviewing an exchange student from Germany. In the end, Alena determined that the factors contributing to longer vacations in Germany include a higher rate of unionization and a more pronounced value placed on leisure.


Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments