Communication etiquette to concept mapping, were just some of the wide range of topics discussed in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Cultural Center last month on September 12th for “Classroom Secrets Untold.” Sponsored by the Faculty & Staff for Student Excellence Mentoring Program (FASE)—a division of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs—the event hosted a panel discussion of esteemed faculty members of Indiana University Bloomington on how to succeed academically and professionally in college. The event hosted a diverse audience of students all in anticipation of what the panelists had to say.
The discussion was guided by faculty members from multiple departments on campus. Panelists included Professor Arthur Lopez from the Kelley School of Business, Dr. Rasul Mowatt of American Studies, Dr. Phoebe Wakhungu from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Dr. Candis Smith from African American & African Diaspora Studies, and Dr. Cate Reck from the Department of Chemistry. Nicholas Lazaroae, a senior FASE Peer Mentor, also sat in to provide an experienced student perspective. The goal of the discussion was to guide students on how to be a successful student, stay motivated in college, and to stand out and get ahead of your peers.
Patrick Smith, the Executive Director for Mentoring Services and Leadership Development, described how it was always important to have a diverse panel each year since the inception of the event.
“There are important considerations. The first is diversity, and diversity is varied. There’s gender-based diversity, ethnicity/race, and also discipline. There’s a wide range of content that faculty members can share from different perspectives,” Smith shared. “It’s really important from a diversity standpoint because say you have a student who’s African American, Latinx, or Asian American - they can see that there are faculty members who look like them who are doing research that is contributing to the diversity of this campus and to their field and are doing great work. It’s also good for white, majority students to see that there are diverse faculty members doing important work on campus because they may never see a faculty member of color who are doing these things.”
Around the panel, advice ranged from specific study tips to more well-rounded approaches to becoming a better student. Dr. Cate Reck spoke on how students needed a more comprehensive approach to their studies to prepare them for the future.
“A lot of students will take some kind of assessment, like a quiz or an exam, and then they’ll go away and look at the grade. Afterwards, they’ll either cry or be elated or have some sort of emotional response. But oftentimes, students won’t look at that assessment after they’ve taken it,” she explained. “It’s equally important for you to look at the assessment you get back and understand what you’ve learned from that as well as what you’ve learned in class. What you gain from this is trying to make strategies for the future.”
Faculty members also gave insight into the professional and academic experience, especially regarding the importance of establishing a connection with one’s professor early in the semester; remarking on how often students forget that professors are people too, and want students to succeed. They also discussed the importance of being respectful of the professor and other students in the classroom by getting to class on time and how looking prepared can help one feel prepared.
Many students said that the event offered a reminder on what they needed to do and how they shouldn’t take for granted the professional and academic opportunities they had on campus.
Shefali Prabhakar, a freshman currently undecided from West Lafayette, described how she came to the event wanting to hear from the other side of the classroom.
“It’s nice to be able to hear from our faculty, unfiltered, and ready to give advice and help you,” Prabhakar said. “It’s nice because as a freshman, I’m not from Bloomington, so I’m not really familiar with the campus at all. I’d only been here twice before I moved here, so it’s really nice to be able to see that people in my community who have the same values as I do; who I can go to and learn from.”
As the event came to a close, it was clear to see the impact of the panel as students began connecting over what they learned with each other and also with the professors.