Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Shutting Down Microaggressions in the Classroom

College instructors are duty bound to create classrooms in which all students feel they belong and are respected. But sometimes inadvertent mistakes in the form of microaggressionsmay be doing just the opposite.

Microaggressions are “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

Instructors may be guilty of inadvertent microaggressive behaviors such as:

Mispronouncing students’ names. If a student has corrected an instructor’s mispronunciation of his/her name repeatedly and the instructor has made no effort to learn it, the student may feel slighted.

Ignoring female students. Research shows male students are called on more often than female students. Doing so causes female students to feel snubbed.

Singling out students as representatives of their backgrounds. Just as no one professor is a representative of the entire professoriate, neither is one student a representative of his or her entire ethnicity or background. No individual can speak for an entire group.

Making assumptions about students’ backgrounds. Cultural and social identities may not be visible, so making statements about a particular group could end up offending someone from that very group. 

Expressing racially or politically charged political opinions. When instructors voice their opinions, they run the risk of marginalizing students who disagree and will feel silenced.

Allowing student-to-student microaggressions. Instructors must acknowledge and address microaggressions one students makes toward another.

Actions to Prevent Microaggressions

Instructors inherently are in a position of power and as such can lay the groundwork for creating a microaggression-free classroom. A few tips include the following:

  • Establish ground rules and expectations for classroom behavior with discussions early in the semester. Address these rules and expectations in your syllabus.
  • Avoid looking directly at a student who is a member of a group being talked about (LBGTQ, international students, students of color, and the like.)
  • Set high expectations for all students.
  • Use humor without degrading or targeting any group or specific student.
  • Accept criticism from students who have the courage to notify their instructor about their feelings.

Below are some links for more information about how to create a more inclusive classroom that is microaggression free.

Microaggressions: More than Just Race

Microaggressions in the Classroom

Responding to Microaggressions in the Classroom: Taking ACTION

Writing E-mails That Will Be Read… Millennials Uncertain About Career Futures… Tips for Starting Conversations

Writing E-mails That Will Be Read

With employees spending more than one-fourth of their time dealing with e-mail, it’s no wonder some are ignored. To make sure your e-mails are read, follow these tips.

  • Write useful subject lines. Research shows readers are more likely to open e-mails that have two types of subject lines: those that are informative, and those that spark the reader’s interest.
  • Be concise. Readers are busy, so the faster your e-mail gets to the point, the more likely the recipient is to read it. Make every word fight for its life.
  • Limit scope. E-mails that try to deal with too many topics are often ignored. Instead compose an e-mail designed to elicit a response to one question.
  • Add a human touch. Make sure the e-mail goes to the correct person. Directly address that individual and use afriendly tone.


Millennials Uncertain About Career Futures

Younger workers tend to be optimistic about the future of their careers, but not millennials, according to a recent study. While the generation as a whole is willing to put in the most time for professional development compared to Gen-Xers or Boomers, its members voiced uncertainty about the future of their jobs.

The study was conducted by Champlain College in an effort to understand the needs of its student demographic. Julie Quinn, Champlain’s interim president, noted that the study’s results provide a guideline for colleges. She says that since students don’t believe their jobs are secure, they will need to regularly update their skills. Therefore, colleges must teach students how to learn.

From Edsurge

Tips for Starting Conversations

Many people find it difficult to start conversations that can help strangers connect. Experts offer these tips.

Start first. Strike up the conversation yourself instead of waiting for someone else to. A simple “hello” can be all you need. Then ask thoughtful questions and listen to answers before talking about yourself.

Tell stories. Once you’ve started a two-way conversation, be prepared to share well-rehearsed stories that demonstrate characteristics you want people to learn about you. However, make sure your stories don’t come off as bragging.

Look the part. People notice others who appear well-groomed, put together, and nicely dressed. By presenting yourself professionally, you send the message you are someone worth connecting to. It’s also a good idea to wear a piece of clothing or an accessory that is a conversation starter, as long as it’s not outlandish or outrageous.




Should College Instructors Grade Participation?

Millennial and Gen Z students are often characterized by their need to be rewarded for simply “showing up”—think losing teams taking home trophies—and as a generation of learners who expect their grades to reflect the fact that they “tried.” Some say giving credit to students for participation in a college course is a direct result of this expectation but one that nevertheless encourages students to come to class prepared, ask questions, and listen respectively. Others say grading anything beyond tests and written assignments dilutes the meaning of a grade.

The Pro Side

Those who favor giving credit to students for class participation say doing so can increase engagement. Since students are rewarded for listening, commenting, bringing books, and responding—assessed using a rubric the instructor completes after each class session—they are more likely to tune in.

A clearly defined rubric that measures student responsiveness also encourages learners to come to class prepared, according those who favor using this pedagogical approach. They argue grading participation has another benefit; it helps students learn to speak confidently in groups and hone their conversational skills, an important workplace skill. To make sure shy students are not penalized, instructors who grade participation offer a variety of ways students can join in without speaking, such as taking part in online discussion forums or turning in written exercises completed in class.

In some courses, especially those in the humanities where discussions are imperative to guide learning, instructors consider participation a key learning outcome.

The Con Side

However, not all instructors agree that contribution should comprise part of a student’s grade. They claim that a grade is a measure of performance and nothing else. By including non-performance elements such as extra credit for participation taints the purity of grades as a quantifiable measure of mastery over course materials, a prime directive of the professoriate.

The era of outcomes assessment likewise mandates that grades earned in college should exclusively reflect intellectual performance, these instructors point out. Say a professor gives extra credit for attending a lecture on campus. In that scenario, students whose graded work is lacking can jump ahead merely for having sat through the talk, during which they could have been looking at their phones. Giving credit for this type of participation further waters down the meaning of a grade, according to this argument.

The con side of the participation debate also notes that upgrading for participation is fraught with problems. Instructor bias can affect objectivity. The same hand-wavers can up their grades whether what they say merits credit or not.

Finally, those against rewarding students for participation claim to do so ignores the reality that grades are the measure of student performance in our educational system. Grades not only help determine whether a student is admitted to a graduate program, they help employers evaluate new grads. If grades are used to enhance a classroom experience rather than to objectively measure mastery of material, the system begins to fall down.

Both sides make a good argument. Where do you fall on the issue?