Saturday, October 12, 2013

Students’ SOS!!!



Guest Blogger:  Deeawn Roundtree


In undergraduate school, my priority was to graduate as soon as possible; in graduate school my priority was to become an expert in my chosen field.  While pursuing my doctoral degree, my priority was to fully understand what was being taught in order to become a proficient professor.  Like many college students, I needed to take quantitative courses such as math, science, statistics, quantitative analysis and disciplinary inquiry, just to name a few.  Realizing that my strengths lie on the qualitative vs. quantitative side of academia, I desperately sought tutoring since classroom instruction was not sufficient for me.  The reasons I needed to seek additional help were as follows:
1. Classroom instruction did not provide the one-on-one attention that I needed.
2. Classmates were at differing levels of learning and understanding.
3. My college professors did not speak English clearly.
4. I wanted a deeper understanding of the course material.
5. I wanted to pass the course.
Now that I have been teaching college students for more than 10 years, 9 years as an adjunct professor and 1.5 years as a full time professor, my passion is to ensure that my students fully understand what I am teaching.  Over the years, I have listened to students complain particularly about their inability to understand their professors who teach quantitative courses, primarily because of the professors’ foreign accent and/or their teaching style.  What can we do as professors to ensure that our students, who are paying thousands of dollars for an education, graduate with greater knowledge and understanding of the course material being taught in the classroom?
According to Felder (2002), there are differences in learning styles and differences in teaching styles and when there are mismatches, students become bored, discouraged and some even drop out of school.  I have witnessed students being distraught, outraged and frustrated from their inability to understand the course material, not being engaged and not having the support they needed to help them to learn. 
In addition to the various teaching styles of professors and learning styles of students, the language barrier between the professor and student can also be a hindrance for student learning outcomes and their increased dissatisfaction in the classroom.  According to a study by Kavas (2008), 70% of students stated that a professor’s foreign accent and pronunciation affects their ability to learn the course material.  I have listened to many students complain about their inability to understand what a professor is saying.  This consequently results in the students’ inability to understand the course work and to pass the class. From the students’ perspectives, these complaints are not acknowledged.  Some suggestions to help students and teachers to overcome these barriers are as follows by Felder (2002) and Kavas (2008):
* Evaluate professors’ teaching and learning styles to ensure that they are connecting with the students.
* Bring in a student or outside translator to help students understand a professor with a foreign accent.
* Teach students with English as their first language how to listen and understand a professor who has a foreign accent.
* Evaluate the communication barriers that exist in the classroom.

References
Felder, Richard M. (2002).  Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineer Education, 78(7), 674-681.
Kavas, A., & Kavas, A. (2008). An exploratory study of undergraduate college students’ perceptions and attitudes toward foreign accented faculty. College Student Journal, 42(3), 879-890.

16 comments:

  1. Deeawn:

    You ask an important question. To ensure that it is answered well, we should make sure that the question is not slanted and the accompanying argument is sound or valid with true premises.

    It may be helpful for us to do an independent study or survey to verify the main claim, with an open mind without begging the question or assuming that it is true.

    Your main claim is that "Over the years, I have listened to students complain particularly about their inability to understand their professors who teach quantitative courses, primarily because of the professors’ foreign accent and/or their teaching style,"

    In attempting to verify the claim and validate the argument, we should note the following:

    1. If your students are like mine, they are good at coming up with excuses. Hence we need to separate the excuses from genuine reasons.

    2. Many of our students do not understand a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. or Barrack Obama, if it is not a speech they are already familiar with or has been already analyzed or popularized.

    3. Many of the quantitative courses are college level courses and more difficult than the non-quantitative courses some of which are taught in college at pre-college levels.

    4. Much of what I say in class is written on the board or projected on the screen, put up in Dersire2Learn or class website and is also in the textbook with extensive summaries. Further, we have an American-born African American student tutor who speaks the language of students in an American "accent." Yet, if there is not much effort on the part of the students or if their reading or comprehension levels are low, none of this, listed above, makes much difference.

    Safro Kwame

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    1. CONTINUATION

      5. Here are some of the headlines on college admissions. Please, take note of the statistics for majors and minorities:

      Freshmen not ready for college

      College Board: SAT Scores Going Down As GPAs Rise

      The 2013 SAT Report on College & Career Readiness
      SAT Report 2013 - National Press Release, Sept. 26, 2013

      "Stagnant 2013 SAT Results are Call to Action for the College Board: With our country struggling to compete in a global marketplace and millions of skilled jobs left unfilled here at home, it is essential to ensure that our students are prepared for college and careers. However, data released today by the College Board reveals that only 43 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2013 graduated from high school academically prepared for the rigors of college-level course work. This number has remained virtually unchanged during the last five years."

      http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/2013/sat-report-2013-press-release.pdf

      http://media.collegeboard.com/homeOrg/content/pdf/sat-report-college-career-readiness-2013.pdf

      College Board 'Concerned' About Low SAT Scores

      NPR, September 26, 2013 4:44 PM

      "The College Board, sponsor of the SAT, says that roughly 6 in 10 college-bound high school students who took the test were so lacking in their reading, writing and math skills, they were unprepared for college-level work. This year only 15 percent of blacks and 23 percent of Latinos met or exceeded the SAT benchmark for college and career readiness."

      http://www.npr.org/2013/09/26/226530184/college-board-concerned-about-low-sat-scores

      SAT scores continue decline; 57 percent of incoming freshmen not ready for college

      Yahoo! News September 27, 2013 1:13 PM

      "The annual SAT scores have been released to the public and show a continued decline in math and writing scores. Even worse, as CBS's Money Watch reports, more than half of incoming college freshmen are not ready for the academic challenges of college. Interestingly, the College Board also compared the average SAT scores for students based on which degree tracks they were planning to pursue. Those students planning to study the physical sciences rounded out the top, averaging a score of 1,673 on their SATs. The most popular degree tracks - education (1442), psychology (1484) and business management and marketing (1661) fell further down the scale, though not as far as students planning to study construction or hoping to pursue careers in parks and recreation."

      The majority of 2013 high school graduates are not prepared for college

      By Allie Bidwell, U.S.News & World Report, September 26, 2013

      "Fewer than half of all SAT takers who graduated in 2013 are adequately prepared for college, according to new data released Thursday from the College Board. Of the more than 1.6 million students who took the SAT and graduated in 2013, only 43 percent met the SAT benchmark of college and career readiness, a score of 1550 that indicates a student has a 65 percent chance of having a B- average GPA or higher during his or her first year of college."

      http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/09/26/college-board-sees-unchanged-sat-scores-as-a-call-to-action

      Safro Kwame

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    2. CONTINUATION

      6. As for teaching and learning styles, note the following:

      Think You're An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It's Unlikely
      by Patti Neighmond, NPR Morning Edition, August 29, 2011

      "We've all heard the theory that some students are visual learners, while others are auditory learners. And still other kids learn best when lessons involve movement. But should teachers target instruction based on perceptions of students' strengths? Several psychologists say education could use some "evidence-based" teaching techniques, not unlike the way doctors try to use "evidence-based medicine." Psychologist Dan Willingham at the University of Virginia, who studies how our brains learn, says teachers should not tailor instruction to different kinds of learners. He says we're on more equal footing than we may think when it comes to how our brains learn. And it's a mistake to assume students will respond and remember information better depending on how it's presented."

      "In fact, an entire industry has sprouted based on learning styles. There are workshops for teachers, products targeted at different learning styles and some schools that even evaluate students based on this theory. This prompted Doug Rohrer, a psychologist at the University of South Florida, to look more closely at the learning style theory. When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. "We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these," he says, "and until such evidence exists, we don't recommend that they be used."

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08/29/139973743/think-youre-an-auditory-or-visual-learner-scientists-say-its-unlikely

      Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say, December 16, 2009, Association for Psychological Science

      "Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Chances are, you've pegged yourself or your children as either one or the other and rely on study techniques that suit your individual learning needs. And you're not alone- for more than 30 years, the notion that teaching methods should match a student's particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education. The long-standing popularity of the learning styles movement has in turn created a thriving commercial market amongst researchers, educators, and the general public. But does scientific research really support the existence of different learning styles, or the hypothesis that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their own unique style? Unfortunately, the answer is no, according to a major new report published this month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science."

      "The report, authored by a team of eminent researchers in the psychology of learning-Hal Pashler (University of San Diego), Mark McDaniel (Washington University in St. Louis), Doug Rohrer (University of South Florida), and Robert Bjork (University of California, Los Angeles)-reviews the existing literature on learning styles and finds that although numerous studies have purported to show the existence of different kinds of learners (such as "auditory learners" and "visual learners"), those studies have not used the type of randomized research designs that would make their findings credible.

      http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/learning-styles-debunked-there-is-no-evidence-supporting-auditory-and-visual-learning-psychologists-say.html

      Safro Kwame

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  2. What the rain did not fill, the dew cannot!

    Professor Roundtree has made casual observations on practical matters in teaching. She invokes teaching styles vs. learning styles with a strong desire to enter the classroom and police the professors, her own quest for tutoring, student listening skills, communication barriers in the classroom, and her very strong criticism of foreign professors who do not speak the queen’s English language in acceptable American accents.

    Her concerns also touch on whether professors have the appropriate language abilities to teach American students. First, mathematics is a universal language in itself. Perhaps the thousands of dollars that students spend could be invested in College Mathematics 1 and 2 and in textbooks in order to lay the math language foundations for later applications in mathematics and statistics etc.

    As a foreign professor myself, I can say that about five years ago when Professor Roundtree was taking Quantitative Modeling and Methods, she did not indicate to me that she did not understand my Caribbean English language accents—a cross between American and the British Guyanese English, as we shared an office space and talked about quantitative methods topics. Professor Roundtree did not say to me either, that she did not understand my accent over the hour-long telephone conversation in which I encouraged her to apply for the position she currently enjoys at Lincoln University.

    There are real challenges that professors face in teaching students, local or foreign too. This semester, Fall 2013 in my quantitative methods class of 50 students, twenty students had textbooks in an open textbook exam. In other open book classes, four out of twenty students, eight out of nineteen, and three out of seven students were learning from textbooks, power points, and a database of targeted exam questions posted in Desire2Learn plus regular classroom instructions. I had discussed lack of textbook in the classroom with Professor Roundtree and followed her advice regarding the technique of open book exams to get students to buy a book. If students do not have some ‘skins in the deal’, they will experience being ‘distraught, outraged and frustrated.’

    Tutoring requirements vary from student to student. A student who lacks foundation knowledge may rely on tutoring in order to bridge earlier educational gaps quickly. A better way to bridge the gap is to take adequate pre-requisite courses at the undergraduate level.
    On the issue of communications in the classroom, there are many uncontrollable factors. The first is students’ obsession and addiction to cell phone usage instead of note-taking in the classroom. Many students come to class fully wired up with cellphones and no textbook or notebook. Should we have zero tolerance for using cell-phones during the class instruction time? Or should we respect the students’ rights to enter the classroom as they see fit? Or should we recommend what we preach in Gardner and Jeweler book on page 87 of their College Preparation text, stated that ‘the textbook is the notebook’

    Finally, I would hope that we do not rely on tutors to bridge foundation gaps in quantitative analysis and modeling. Becoming an expert in one’s field takes a lot of time and work outside the classroom. Yes, Professor Roundtree is ‘honorable’ in lashing out at foreign professors, yet learning any language and becoming proficient ‘is made of sterner stuff’.

    When I first visited America and looked at the fifth-floor business, computer science, and mathematics bookshelves at Temple and Cornell Universities, I smiled and said to myself—I do not need a teacher! This is a carryover from British Guyana high schools, as poor as we were there, I finished high school and went back to teach in the high schools—Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Spanish in the high schools alongside American Peace Corps with master’s degreesfrom the University of Delaware. Cucullus non facit monachum!

    Ganga Prasad Ramdas, PhD, MS, MA (Ontario, Canada).

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  3. So I learned some Latin from this conversation: "The cowl doesn't make the monk" (i.e., you can't judge a book by its cover.) Thanks, Ganga!

    A lot of interesting issues have been touched on in Deeawn's original posting and in the responses, from language barriers to matches between styles of teaching and learning to student behavior in class to the role of textbooks (and the problems that arise when students don't use them) -- I suspect we could keep a semester-long conversation going just on these alone. A few quick thoughts.

    As far as the language barrier, I don't think the intent was to suggest that all non-native speakers bring language problems into the classroom, just to raise the question about what options there are--for teachers and for students-- if such problems arise. One answer, of course, is a good textbook where students can seek clarification, but then as has been noted students often don't (can't afford to?) buy the texts. That's one of the reasons sites like the Writing Commons (http://writingcommons.org/) have become increasingly popular--open source "textbooks" and class materials that are free and available to all. Is that an answer to the problem? Perhaps partially. It would be interesting to hear from those of you who are building your own textbooks rather than ordering the ready made kind.

    And the issue of teaching/learning preferences, while perhaps not scientifically sound, does help the teacher think about the fact that all students don't benefit equally from the same kind of instruction. I used to naively assume that if someone wasn't understanding my written directions, for instance, it meant that they weren't written clearly. Then I realized that maybe they were quite clear but if I had made a recording of the same words some students might understand them much better because they were more at ease with the spoken than with the written word. So whether scientifically sound or not I think they have good heuristic value helping us to expand our idea of how we might teach a concept. --Linda

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  4. Diversity in learning characteristics impacts learning. The following is an excerpt from a chart I made of diverse learning characteristics:
    1. Cultural Differences
    o Need structured experiences
    o People from different cultures need structured experiences to begin learning in a new environment
    o May need more time to decipher the learning
    o People from different cultures may need extra time to decipher the language and other cultural learning differences.
    o Need diverse learning materials
    o People from different cultures need diverse learning materials. Materials should be examined to make sure it is appropriate for the diverse learning environment. (Lawson, 2009)

    There are diverse languages and accents throughout the U.S. I am constantly asking questions to obtain a thorough understanding! For example, I have a relative who stutters. To overcome this problem, he talks fast. Many times I cannot understand him. All of his words run together. New and emerging technologies, such as learning management systems (LMS), enhance learning and help to overcome language barriers. If the resources are uploaded to the LMS, the students have the opportunity to review the material via articles, podcasts, videos, or slide shows.

    Why can some people understand accents and others cannot? Is it a disability to not be able to understand others’ accents? If so, does Lincoln offer a disability support office that assists students with disabilities?


    References
    Lawson, K. (2009). Understanding today's learner. In The trainer's handbook, updated edition (pp. 75–86). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

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  5. This is very disturbing, especially from a professor who aspires to teach students irrespective of where they come from. What is an accent? Does an accent mean a person cannot speak English? Is it mere ignorance, especially when we live in a multi-ethnic society.

    I am still disturbed by this posting. I hope the writer can search her inner soul and retract what she has said. Foreign professors have contributed significantly to Lincoln University's growth. By the way two noble Lincoln graduates paved independence countries for Ghana and Nigeria.

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  6. Wow! I never thought that my colleagues would feel that I was attacking them. That was and is not my intention!!! My intentions are are as follows:

    1.) To bring forth a dialogue regarding a real issue for our student population.
    2.) To brainstorm on how we as professors can assist our students to improve their learning experience.
    3.) To help our students to embrace diversity, foreign cultures and languages in order to expand their horizons.
    4.) To enable professors to better identify with the cultural background of our students at Lincoln University.
    5.) To give a real voice to our students who have made these issues known to me.

    Recently, a wonderful and excellent foreign exchange student stopped in my office to express the frustration of not understanding the English language. The student expressed that while understanding me when I speak to the class, the student has a difficult time following with when fellow students speak in class. I counseled this student to seek assistance in the Learning Resource Center; I contacted a student mentor so that this particular student has someone to relate to and who can assist in some way; I also suggested that the student seek assistance from our International Department.

    After contemplating my meeting with this student, I am thankful that there are resources for foreign-exchange students to receive to make the student's learning experience worthwhile and to lessen the frustration of the language barrier. I believe that our American students who are experiencing the same frustrations be afforded the same resources that I was able to give to this foreign-exchange student. In addition, I advised my American students who brought this issue to my attention to seek assistance from their professors. Some responded that they have, but more help is needed and others expressed that they are receiving help.

    Diversity is wonderful and needed in every sphere of society. This post was not to discredit any of my colleagues in any way or for any reason. I only wanted to bring forth a teaching issue as I was asked to do to the forefront in order to help our students.

    Lastly, I would like to invite my colleagues, to come to my Leadership class to speak my students. If you are interested, please contact me.

    Thank you,
    Deeawn Roundtree, DBA

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  7. Hello to all I am a current student at The Lincoln University. I am a senior and i believe that this matter is something that should be address. I was apart of a student of a similair situation last year. I attended a Math class and their was a professor who I couldnt understand his speaking. Throughout this course I struggled the next best thing that was needed was to seek help from a different instructor I attended numerous SI sessions and also took the challenge of finding a Tutor which was a classmate of mine. The problem that i am realizing is that we as students are having difficluties understanding and comprehending the Foreign Professors and their accents in no way is this something we want this to come off disrespectful. Speaking to Dr. Roundtree about this we just had a class discussion and she said that she would do everything in her power to help which should be the ultimate goal for all instructors we are the youth and we are here to learn. Dr. Roundtree spoke up and became the voice of the student body because some all of have this problem. All we ask for is more extra help. More SI sessions, Study groups, Also Professor Ramdas has gave us the opportunity to recieve extra help. Every Wednesday in our Quantative Methods class he holds a tutoring group for those who doesnt understand the material or him in general I ask that all instructors please just help us understand and work as one to accomplish the same goal which is success.

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  8. Deeawn:

    1. If you "only wanted to bring forth a teaching issue as I was asked to do to the forefront in order to help our students," the responses suggest that you have failed and, maybe, you need to try again. Your original post had not just questions but an argument whose validity or soundness was called into question.

    2. I do not know how many "excellent foreign exchange students" do "not understanding the English language." It would be contradictory or rare, if they are English-speaking students.

    3. There is a difference between "not understanding the English language" and "not understanding an accent." Those seem to be different problems requiring different solutions.

    4. If, however you believe the problems are similar, as you seem to suggest, then if the Learning Resource Center and International Services -- which are staffed by mainly Americans with non-foreign accents -- can help foreign-exchange students, they should be able to help American students; shouldn't they?

    5. I agree with you here: "I believe that our American students who are experiencing the same frustrations be afforded the same resources that I was able to give to this foreign-exchange student." If you are right, there should be no problem or, if there is, you seem to have the solution:

    "I counseled this student to seek assistance in the Learning Resource Center; I contacted a student mentor so that this particular student has someone to relate to and who can assist in some way; I also suggested that the student seek assistance from our International Department."

    6. Finally, if really "This post was not to discredit any of my colleagues in any way or for any reason," then maybe the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Lincoln University and the Learning Resource Center as well as International Programs or Services and English Fluency Compliance Officer, Dr. Marie Nigro, could help address this issue.

    P. S.: It is apparent that the senior student who posted a response, above, has both math and English problems. That is not to suggest that the student in question has no "difficulties understanding and comprehending the Foreign Professors and their accents." It is important, however, not to confuse the two problems or use one as an excuse for the other.

    One can easily conduct a study to see whether the students with the same kinds of English and math difficulty or deficit do as well or as badly in the math or quantitative studies classes with professors with foreign accents as (compared with) those with professors who do not have foreign accents, all other things being equal. Some adjustment would have to be made for quality, motivation, commitment and approach of professors as well as students; since even all American professors without foreign accents have different effects on students and produce different results (regardless of accent issues).

    Safro Kwame

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  9. Safro,

    Thank you for your perspective. Based on my personal experience, my difficulties stemmed from what was indicated in my original post. While a foreign accent and understanding English may seem different, depending on who is at the receiving end, the result is the same. Students are having difficulties understanding the course material because of language barriers. Students are also having difficulties due to teaching styles. They are both equally important to the students. The validity is based on published studies, my personal experiences and the experiences of LU students. In addition, these results are not unique to this institution only. I am sure that if I was to teach in a foreign country (which I hope to do someday), there would be students who may also have difficulties with understanding me for the said reasons (not speaking the native language clearly or because of my foreign accent).

    Although I had challenges in my classes, I still did very well, but not without seeking outside resources for assistance. I am glad that Dr. Ramdas is actually providing tutoring for his students and I am equally glad that the senior has taken advantage of this resource. Again, this post was intended to address a cry for help from the students who need it.

    Deeawn Roundtree

    P.S.: The suggestion to do a study on this matter is a great one that I hope to pursue among my other academic interests.

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  10. As a junior here at Lincoln, I can speak for myself and more than a few of my classmates when I say that language IS a barrier in our learning! At this point in my college career, I am learning new topics that I will need to use in my actual career. How exactly am I supposed to grasp these often difficult concepts when I am struggling to understand what some of these professors are even saying? Therefore, I am left to either try and teach myself or find extra help outside of the classroom. Now, I do realize that sometimes as a student you have to go that extra mile to find help if you really just don't get what's going on in the class. However, I shouldn't have to find extra help on understanding what the professor is saying, especially when I'm paying almost $20,000 a year for these individuals to teach me. Now, I do understand that the world is diverse and sometimes we come across people who's English is not as good or as clear as my own, my mother and grandmother are both from another country where English is not their first language. It's not that the foreign professors are incapable of teaching, the problem is that they get offended when they're asked to repeat their selves or they feel that since they are "in charge" we the students should accommodate them. Now, again it's our job as the student to question when we don't understand, right? This post is not to discredit anyone though I do see how this will probably ruffle some feather. That's not my main focus, my main focus is to get as much as I can from these classes while I'm here at Lincoln. If that means that the university brings in student teachers or find some other way to accommodate their "customers" as we are often referred to as. In closing, I would be remised if I didn't thank Dr. Roundtree for actually listening to the concerns of her students and going a step above listening and actually taking action to ensure that her students voices didn't fall upon deaf ears and maybe, possibly our needs will be met.

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  11. I am a junior who unfortunately suffers from the issues that Dr. Roundtree has adressed in her post. We as students pay a significant amount of money in order to attend this institution and when we feel as though we are not getting what we paid for we have a right to speak out. We do not mean to offend those who were offended but there is a blatant barrier that exsist between students and professors. This barrier does not only exist with professors with an accent that is difficult to understand but also teaching styles that are hard to learn from. There are professors who teach strictly by lecturing and there are others that are more engaged with the class. Two different styles that affect every student differently and produce different results. The point brought up to solve this solution is by reading the textbook recommended for the class. Now, this brings up the issue of different learning styles. I can say from my own experience that reading a book on how to do calculus is not the most productive option. Also, a good amount of the student body simply cannot afford these books that cost hundreds of dollars. I spend my summers and breaks working in order to pay off my balance just to be able to be on campus, so when I pay off everything I have nothing left. This is not an excuse but a reason for some students not having a book. Even without a book I find myself doing great in my classes because I seek help and tutoring, which I'm sure the majority of my peers also do. We just want to be able to get the full learning experience in the classroom that we paid for.

    Dr. Roundtree thank you for bringing our concerns to the forefront. All professors should strive to provide the best education for the student body just as you do.

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  12. I am a May 2014 graduate in Professor Roundtrees class. This topic, I believe has now derailed. I disagree with the majority of students as well as Professor who believe or “not” that the issues that exist between us two are issues of language, textbooks and or a teaching style dilemma.

    MOST STUDENTS MIGHT DISAGREE BUT I LIKE A HEALTHY WRITTEN DEBATE. As a student, I believe there is no great enough issue that cannot be addressed through my own abilities. Whichever professor said these are excuses “I Agree”. Why? I agree because never has it ever been an issue for me to pass a course with a “B” or better due to the fact that a professor didn’t speak English clearly, my inability to purchase a textbook or ones teaching style.

    Firstly, I studied abroad twice once in Europe and Scotland for a full year. A professor’s ability to speak English clearly is an excuse that doesn’t hold water. Global business is far from English speaking natives. My year abroad has taught me how to adjust and mingle with many different people. Passing a course in my option is 70% the students effort and 30% the professors ability to teach.

    Growing-up I didn’t have Grandparents, a father or for that matter any influential people that did the work for me. All I have is my mother who “no disrespect to her” didn’t finish high school. She unknowingly taught me to do for myself because when you’re a dependent of others, even our professors, most often than not you will fail.

    Secondly, purchasing a textbook has been the least of my worries. We all love technology, right? Sure we do! Just because Hill publishes a new $300 textbook doesn’t mean I need that edition. Accounting, Management, Business and all the other courses that are offered, the information hasn’t changed in YEARS and its available online or somewhere for free in older/cheaper editions. So, it’s our mission to seek out the information. This has been a long-winded debate for years. Not much is going to change in fact; it’s going to get worst as technology moves faster and faster. If those students that find passing courses such as accounting and math super hard don’t actively seek to understand and learn the information by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, they will loss: just as much or worst than our ancestors.

    I pride myself in sitting front row, actively engaging in every course I take and making sure my professor knows me by first and last name. Our professors are human; I’ve noticed that when a student does all that they possibly can to understand, professors do actually help. Even If the grade isn’t a desired one, merely passing is far better worth the time than an “F”.

    Too many students that I know personally don’t want to do the work. I can only speculate that too many students have been helped so much that they think that they’re suppose to be helped. As mentioned above, I’ve done what I needed to without much educated help from family. Either they just didn’t know what I wanted to know or that they just couldn’t help; I HATED that. I reuse to not know more than my mother knew and that is my motivation and passion to be the first EVER to graduate college. I must say it works for me because through the natural circumstances of life I have learned that being a dependent person is much less beneficial to the dependent than the provider.

    My point is that some students need to realize that it is hard work but hard work, long nights, healthy stress and pressure never killed anyone. Read further below this poem sums up my whole response.

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  13. Figure it out for yourself” By George Washington Carver

    Figure it out for yourself, my lad, You've all that the greatest of men have had; Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise,
With this equipment they all began--
So start from the top and say, I CAN.

Look them over, the wise and the great,
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes;
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you've all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will;
You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have arms and legs and a brain to use;
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place.
You must say where you want to go, 
How much you will study the truth to know;
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had;
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say, 'I CAN.'

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  14. Dr. Deeawn RoundtreeOctober 29, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Awesome poem, Harran!!!

    I greatly appreciate your points. They are excellent!!! Students must not use the language barriers or financial barriers or any other barrier as an excuse not to succeed. I also agree that students must do all that they can do and not depend on anyone else.

    We all must do our part. It takes each one of us to take responsibility for getting an education and for providing an education. If we all worked together, a win-win solution can be found. In addition, I wish all of our students were afforded the opportunity to study abroad, as you have, because it does give more of an appreciation for diversity and would help American students who are facing challenges with language barriers. However, many students do not have that opportunity for one reason or another.

    I am in the process of reaching out to others on campus who may be able to provide assistance to the students who are struggling. Stay tuned for more information in the near future.

    Thank you again for sharing your perspective. It is greatly appreciated and valued!

    Dr. Roundtree :)

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