Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Avoiding Gender Bias in Writing

[Instructors: Use this Classroom Exercise as a quick change-of-page in your classrooms. Used the exercise and key PDFS at the end of the post.]

Let’s take a look at gender bias. Many people are unaware of their biases and mean no harm, but they may call unnecessary attention to gender, invoke gender stereotypes, or use expressions that can be offensive. In the sentences below, change the word that is gender insensitive to one that is gender neutral.

  1. After a long discussion about the merits of the candidates, the board appointed Sofia Merced (as) chairwoman.
  2. The instructor asked a student to show his work to the class.
  3. Manmade chemicals sometimes mimic the composition of substances found in nature.
  4. Our nation’s forefathers experienced great hardships before and during the Revolutionary War.
  5. The tourists asked the policeman on Madison Avenue for directions to the Metropolitan Museum.
  6. The university offers many resources to help freshmen adapt to their new situation.
  7. After the discussion devolved into a free-for-all, it was clear a middleman was needed to help both sides come to a compromise.
  8. Many of the students spoke their mother tongue before they spoke English.
  9. Ask the speaker if he has completed the PowerPoint slides to accompany his talk .
  10. The roommates encountered many problems with their landlord.


Avoiding Gender Bias Key

How to (and not to) Cope with Covid’s Impact

Reports of anxiety, stress, and fear stretch from sea to shining sea as we enter the seventh month since the coronavirus was declared a global threat. It’s normal for mental health to take a blow under the circumstances, experts say, but there are good and bad ways to cope.

Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara notes that people find many different ways to deal with a pandemic. Some accept the situation, called acceptance-based coping, and make plans and look for distractions—think hobbies or work. This strategy also includes seeking emotional support from loved ones to mitigate loneliness and generate feelings of wellbeing.

Others practice positive framing, or looking for the small bits of good in a bad situation. People who use this tactic seem to have less depression and stress, the research found. Self-compassion is another positive way of dealing with the stress and frustrations facing Americans. This strategy is not easy for many people to adopt because it requires them to be as kind and understanding to themselves as they are to friends or family.

What doesn’t work? Venting—spouting negative or painful emotionsto others–was found to be an unhelpful strategy to deal with the impact of the pandemic. Behavior disengagement, or just giving up, was also a poor strategy for coping.

The bottom line is to realize that a sense of wellbeing in this challenging time takes work.


  1. What are some small activities or events that can bring you moments of joy?
  2. Why do you think venting negative feelings can be counterproductive?
  3. What strategies can you use to ensure you do not disengage from classwork and other responsibilities?

From The Current

Remote Teaching Tips: Improving Breakout Groups

In large lecture halls or intimate classrooms, college instructors have traditionally broken students into small groups to collaborate. But in the move to remote learning, using this time-tested practice has hit some bumps along the road. Use the following tips to improve breakout groups when you teach online.

  1. Assign students to learning groups of four to five at the beginning of the semester. Allow students to determine how they will reach one another to work together. Alternatively, specify which app you would prefer they use. Have students work in these groups for the entire term, so that anytime groupwork is assigned, they already have a communication channel in place.
  2. Prepare students for group work sessions. Make sure you have laid the groundwork to complete the assigned group work. For example, if the groups are analyzing a poorly written document, they must first understand the characteristics of a well-written document.
  3. Help avoid student confusion by clarifying the purpose of the group session. Remote learning requires more focus than face-to-face, so provide students with clear written and oral instructions. One of the ways to make sure students understand what they are supposed to do during a breakout session is to first explain the outcome of the task to the entire class and then pose the question,Can you each write down the purpose of this task?
  4. Prepare clear instructions for the group work task. Provide students with a written explanation on the course website or in Google Docs that includes an introduction or background (similar to what has been discussed in class synchronously) and specific tasks or discussion questions the group must complete.
  5. Inform students about grading. Tell the class whether the teamwork will be graded individually, as a group, or as homework, while also informing them of when (or whether) it is due at a later date.
  6. Give groups the right amount of time to complete the discussion or task. This is no mean feat. Groups work at different paces, but the death knell to online teamwork is for students to either scurry to finish because not enough time is allotted, or because they have finished and are twiddling their thumbs until the class comes together again.
  7. Monitor groups’ progress. Check in with the groups as you would if you were in a classroom. Many course management systems have this function built in, or, you may prefer using Slack of MS Teams. Similarly, if you assign students to work collaboratively on a document you’ve created in Google Docs, you can look at what the students have written by opening the shared document.
  8. Prepare yourself for the technological side of remote group work. Be sure you understand how to use Zoom’s screen sharing, group messaging, and whiteboard functions. Importantly, learn how to secure your Zoom session from Zoom-bombing. Set a new password for each meeting and use the waiting room feature.

Perhaps the best benefit of remote groupwork is that students have time to talk to one another while learning. Such moments can build bonds and connections that enhance their education during these difficult times.