Leveraging Technology and Mentors to Refresh Teaching Practices

Q&A with Andrew Burnstine, associate professor of fashion marketing and management at Lynn University

Andrew BurnstineWhat motivated you to complete your ACUE certification?

For the past several years, I had noticed that many of my course lectures, discussions and materials were old and outdated. My course reviews were fine. What got my attention were some of the student comments. They all had a general theme and direction: “Please don’t lecture at us. Lecture to us!” This was my wake up call. I realized that in order to stay relevant in both my on-ground and online classrooms, I needed to revert to becoming a student once again and find out what was lacking in my current teaching style and pedagogy. 

What are some successful practices you have implemented in your classroom related to guided pathways?

I have developed a few new practices in both my on-ground and online courses. They include using video technology for course introductions, announcements, and grading in the online gradebook. I have been using Screencast-o-matic video technology with great success in all of my courses. 

I begin the semester by using a video introduction in Canvas. This is a great icebreaker technique, which also helps create an immediate bond between the students and me. I also create videos for course announcements, introductions for Canvas modules, and grading assignments. Step-by-step videos on “How to do a final oral presentation” and “What to include in your final critical written assignment” help students address the many questions and worries they might have about assignments and projects. Students have also indicated on several course evaluations that they really have gotten a lot out of the video reviews. Many students have asked that other Lynn University faculty do something similar in their own courses as well.

How did the ACUE course help you develop or refine these practices?

My incredible peers and ACUE course facilitator were the ones who really helped me develop and refine my weekly course work. Comments on discussion threads with suggestions and improvements were a great way to refine my own work. In my case, the best practices were the comments and suggestions from the ACUE facilitator. This person always was “dead on” with comments and suggestions that could expand on the work I was doing in my own classroom, as well as commenting on how to change or redo techniques that did not work so well. I like to think of these techniques as “teachable moments” and “best practices”—new tools that I can use to create a safe and enjoyable learning experience for all of my students.

Why do you think students respond well to these practices, and what are they gaining? 

Students respond well to these practices because they perceive that you care for them and their well-being. One of the biggest takeaways from the ACUE course was the importance of listening to my students! That is, listening to who they are, what they want, and what will help them grow. These are the motivators that we all can use as educators to reach out to our students and help them gain the knowledge and experience they will need to succeed in their chosen fields.

Do you recall an “ah-ha!” moment when you realized the changes you were making in the classroom based on the new teaching practices were having a meaningful impact on a specific student or group of students?

My “ah-ha” moment was realized when one of my on-ground students informed me that they had reviewed my video feedback for a case study they had done—ten times! They commented that they watched the video so many times because it helped them identify all of the areas they needed to improve. This student also stated this type of visual feedback was much more helpful to them than including feedback with written comments. This was the “ah-ha” and the “light bulb” all going off in one moment. It was the validation that the techniques I had tried out in my classrooms were indeed making a meaningful impact on students.

What do you look for in alumni or mentors you are bringing into the classroom? 

I look for someone who has the background and experience with the course and subject matter being presented to the students. I have had great success with recent alumni, business professionals, and mentors. The most important qualifications are finding individuals who (1) are good listeners, (2) have an interesting and dynamic story to tell, and (3) are interested in having a continued relationship with our students. Students are most interested in those individuals who take the time to answer questions after the lecture, as well as invite students to call or email with any questions. Recent alumni are also wonderful speakers to bring into your classroom, as they have recently graduated and should have great things to say about their program. In many cases, they are relatively near the student’s age and have relevant experiences to share with the students. Speakers from the Career Services Center are also a valuable asset for our students. They have a wealth of knowledge and can assist students in job preparation, interviewing, and securing their future “dream” job within their career path.

About Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Dr. Andrew Burnstine has been teaching and chairing fashion marketing and design programs for over 25 years. Burnstine was chairperson of the fashion marketing and management program at Berkeley College in NY and also ran a fashion marketing and design program at American Intercontinental University, in Weston, Fla. Burnstine has taught at many universities and colleges around the country, including: New York University, Westchester Community College, SUNY Purchase College, Kent State University, and LIM. He was executive vice president of Martha Inc., an exclusive women’s specialty store chain in New York City and Florida where he acted as buyer, merchandiser, and director of operations. Burnstine has received numerous awards and academic honors, including Teacher of the Year awards, and The University Medallion from Kent State University. He also has written and contributed academic publications for the Academy of Business Research and the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research. He has a B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. from New York University.

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