Three Things Community Colleges Can Do Better

Two weeks ago, I attended the Research-Based Teaching and Counseling Practices at Community Colleges conference at Nassau Community College. It was an interesting meeting and discussion about specific strategies to improve students’ experiences upon entering college. Overall, I felt our work at LaGuardia is moving forward and in line with what has been researched on the field and in concert with strategies that have been proven as effective and with positive results. The keynote speaker Thomas Bailey was expected to come, but due to a personal reason, he wasn’t able to join the conference in the end. Nevertheless, the co-authors of the book Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success Shanna Smith Jaggars and Susan Bickerstaff led the discussion of multiple aspects in community colleges such as developmental education, evaluation, and advisement, to name a few.

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Why is critical thinking so important?

I still remember my critical thinking professor at LaGuardia years ago posing a question to the whole class in the first day of the semester: "why are you all here?" "Because we are registered in this class," we answered. "Why are you registered for this class?" She replied. "Because we are in college and we have to have credits to graduate, we answered." She continued asking "And why are you in college? "Because we want to have a better life and job," we answered. The questioning continued for a good ten minutes and I was surprised of how much we had gotten into by simply answering the question "what are you doing here?"

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Multicultural Education And College Planning

The American education system seems to be rooted in the competition mindset that impedes equality. Referring to multicultural education, James Banks indicates that the emphasis on test preparation has driven attention away from the liberal education that students need in order to live in a diverse society. Especially given the demographics in certain areas. CUNY's LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City NY is, for example, one of the most diverse campuses I know and once I enter a classroom, it is evident that diversity of cultures, languages, traditions and different ways of learning coexist in the same learning environment.

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How Does Language Emerge?

It’s always been thought-provoking to me how children get to learn language and how they adopt our way of communicating with others. That’s why I chose this particular reading for my EDPS712 class at Hunter. Text “Cognitive Functions of Language in Early Childhood” by Katherine Nelson, a distinguished professor at the CUNY Graduate Center develops a framework on the development of language in children and how this process can be better understood in light of what Vygotsky and Piaget offered. The reading points out to what seems to be a tendency for professionals and parents to think that children say simply what they already know. Yet, this seems to be a mere assumption. A further discussion on the relationship of language and the formation of thoughts follows. Yet the central questions in my mind are: What comes first? Language or thoughts? How are the two related?

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A Response to the Only Interview Question That Matters

Just recently, I read an article by Lou Adler about the most important question during a job interview. Yes, there may be a lot of important and hard-to-answer questions, but this one was particularly challenging and one that really got me thinking about my professional background; one that I will try to answer as a reflective exercise in this evolving role I am taking in my current job.

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A Discussion About Computers in the Classroom

A few weeks ago, Dan Rockmore published an article in the New Yorker titled The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom. A computer science professor at Dartmouth College, Rockmore argues that students become disengaged from the class the minute they get their hands on their computers to navigate the web and other sorts of things. Many will argue that the use of computers can certainly be an opportunity for teachers to infuse collaboration among students and for teachers to create an enhanced way of communicating and providing feedback to students during class time. But how do we deal with this reality? In times when laptops are becoming a common gadget in a student’s college journey, below are a few arguments to think about when it comes to using and embracing the use of computers in the classroom.

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Presenting at the CUE Conference in CUNY

Last week was a busy one. I presented at the CUE conference along with two of my colleagues from the Center for Teaching and Learning at LaGuardia, where I work. We spoke about the introduction of the new freshmen seminar with key components that will empower students in succeeding in college: ePortfolios and peer mentors. This is a topic I had written about a while ago too and I was very excited.

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Research Rich in Quality, Not Quantity

One of the main topics and questions in our cohort is: What kind of researcher do I want to become? It is a tough question, I have to say. Our backgrounds vary and most of us have not only different interests but also different perceptions of what research entails. My own attempt to answer this question has been enlightened by the qualitative approach. A qualitative poses a big challenge to the researcher to know when and what direction to take. In this post, I'll explain what the basics of qualitative research are.

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Are You in College? Get Yourself A Mentor

I was timid when I first entered college many years ago. I wasn't one of those who raised his hand every time the teacher asked a question (even if i did know the answer). But my mentor helped me out and it worked. Throughout my college years, I have come to realize that I wouldn't have achieved what I achieved without the help of mentors I had (and still do). From my English 101 professor who seemed to have pressed a button to help me think outside of the box to my mentor, a psychology professor, who helped me move from a community college to a senior college while helping me get involved in the research experience, and then to a graduate program where I currently do my MA in educational psychology, my mentor has played a key role in my education and decision-making process.

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3 Things I Learned While Teaching

This week at LaGuardia, we have started a new project, a big one. The Center for Teaching and Learning has implemented a newly redesigned freshmen seminar for both natural sciences and business majors. This is the culmination of a long process that took a lot of planning and professional development preparation. In it, I was able to engage with faculty and staff from the center and from other departments in the planning process in which, of course, I learned a lot.

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Looking to Excel: An Event Where Students Show Off their Work

What's an ePortfolio showcase? I asked my class. "Students show off work," one of my students replied. Yes, that's exactly what it is and at LaGuardia, the ePortfolio Student Showcase is an special event I get to organize once a year. Since I started working at LaGuardia, I was always (curious and) attracted by the way these kinds of events are organized, and then eventually dragged into how stressful it can get, too. But getting to know new students, and give them an opportunity to showcase their work is the major take-out of all this work.

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For College Students: A Guide to Create Your LinkedIn Account

Social media is more powerful these days. The use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn is growing and more people are finding those online spaces more comfortable when it comes to staying connected and finding a niche. Of course LinkedIn is no exception and gives tons of opportunities specially for students who are coming out of college ready to get a job.

But, before I attempt to layout the reasons why you as a student should have a LinkedIn account, why don't I have you watch this quick video and let it do that job for me.  

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Peers and Mentors

A few months ago, the Center for Teaching and Learning, where I worked at LaGuardia, organized a summer institute, a series of meetings that involved ePortfolio leaders from across the country. The main goal was to highlight the emergent ePortfolio pedagogy within the classroom as a pivotal tool in the current higher education system. Part of this philosophy is to acknowledge the ePortfolio—a website that students build where they post their work while in college—as a catalyst for student learning. An opportunity to use an ePortfolio is an opportunity to deepen student reflection.

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