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Dealing with Conflict in Class and Tips on Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

Erica Seidel, Counseling and Advisement Center

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Presented by Michael Hutmaker, Student Affairs and Erica Seidel, Counseling and Advisement Center on February 22, 2011 and March 30, 2011

What are the signs that a student may be emotionally distressed? Dean Michael Hutmaker and Prof. Erica J. Seidel explored this question in their presentation on identifying at-risk students. Kicking off the newly established Pedagogies for Effective Learning Environments FIG, they detailed academic, psychological, and physiological warning signs that indicate a student might need help. Participants were guided through Kognito's At-Risk, an online, interactive program using avatars to role-play conversations with students identified as psychologically distressed.

Signs a student may be emotionally distressed include frequent absences, decrease in work quality, work containing troubling themes, and changes in ability to concentrate.  Social isolation, expression of concern by peers, and suicidal statements are also of concern.  Attendees were reminded of the well-known slogan, “if you see something, say something.”

The March 30th panel discussion expanded the conversation to address behavioral concerns within the classroom.  Professors Barry Cooper, Accounting; Leonid Khazanov, Mathematics; Jennifer Pastor, Social Sciences; Rochelle Rives, English; and Kerry Ruff, Speech, Communications, and Theatre Arts were invited to offer tips on creating a positive classroom environment.  Setting clear expectations for students and professors, instituting positive and negative consequences, and confronting students privately when there is an issue were all recommended.

All faculty have access to the Kognito software. The "Enrollment Key" code is bmcc88.