Why does learning matter?

Well, I can think of at least 3 reasons:

1) Learning leads to progress. Everything we encounter in life could be thought of as result of someone learning something. e.g. As I sit here in front of my computer, I can see a lamp, a phone and a book. Someone learned to construct the lamp, someone learned to design the lamp, and someone learned to market the lamp so that someone else could purchase it.

2) Learning leads to empowerment. The more people learn things, the more we can better serve as checks and balances towards each other. That way, no one person, or group of people, can exert an inordinate amount of power over the others due to their monopoly over a certain amount of knowledge.

3) Learning is a joy! Personally, I derive such great joy whenever I know I’m going from being a less aware person, to a more aware person. I find that I can appreciate things, life, and myself better this way. And I know I’m not alone in this. I believe that everyone is naturally curious about at least something. 

So my challenge for all of you right now is to pick up a book that’s in your vicinity that’s about something you’re not very aware of (e.g. for me, it would be a book about birds, or Feng Shui), open it to a random page. (Or, you can search for new topic online.) Read it, and enjoy the process of learning, motivated by nothing else but the love of learning!

Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom

“The weight of evidence at the present time is that inelligence is multidimensional, and that the fulll range of these dimensions is not completely captured by any single general ability” (Sternberg, 1996).

In 1983, development psychologist Howard Gardner first proposed his theory about multiple intelligences, where there are at least 7 different forms of intelligence. While everyone has at least a measure of each of the intelligences, each person has a particular blend of them. So, for instance, Sarah may have a more develop musical intelligence, but Fred might have a stronger visual spatial intelligence, etc.

Gardner proposed that these intelligences do not have high correlations between them. This was in stark contrast to the prevailing notions of the standard IQ scale, which dominated throughout the 20th century. Most especially Charles Spearman’s notion of the g factor, which posits that all forms of intelligence are highly correlated.

What if we revised our classes according to the multiple intelligences? What if students took classes called, ”Bodily-Kinesthetic Education,” “Linguistic Education”, etc?

1. Well, at first glance, not much! Many of our class subjects would not need be changed much. e.g. Math would still be covered in “logical-mathematical education” class, and music will still be taught in a “musical intelligence” class.

2. But this theory does show us what kind of class our schools are currently lacking: interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence. We could have classes which explores human emotions, and shows students how to deal with them. For interpersonal education, we could extend our English class to include lessons about how to communicate in a variety of real-life settings, and through a variety of means (e.g verbally, through email, etc.) We could present students with tools on how to network, manage complex sets of relationships, and to deal with people tactfully.

As for naturalist education, I think the reason why this intelligence is largely neglected, is because our understanding and concern about protecting the environment is relatively new. Anyways, with this class, could teach students how to garden, appreciate nature, and survive in anture. Furthermore, Gardner’s naturalist intelligence includes more than just what we consider to be “nature.” It also includes being able to scanning and utilizing one’s environment, even in urban or man-made settings. We could teach students how to better observe and take note of what goes on around them. We could hone their sense of smell, taste, hearing, and touch.

3. There are two aspects to learning: in any given class (e.g. science class), 1) students learn about the world (e.g. after food is swallowed, it passes through the esophagus, befor entering the stomach), and 2) they learn to do things (e.g. when students write a lab report after they do a science experiment). This change would only affect the doing aspect, leaving courses which focus more on the learning about aspect (e.g. history class) untouched.

4. These new names will (hopefully) shift the classes’ emphasis on developing students’ skills, and helping students grow as human beings, rather than just dolling out the material, and testing students in order to compare them (which we could emphasize more alter on during their tertiary education.) It will help remind everyone of why we’re going to school in the first place.

Maximizing the Potential of Online Classroom Discussions

About a week ago, a group of Twitterers from #stuvoice were discussing the merits and implementation of blogs in the classroom:

 

 

I have a quick point that I’d like to make about this:

Throughout my time in school, I’ve had several teachers assign blogs, discussion boards, or Twitter for a grade, where students would come online and discuss something related to the material we’ve learned in class. Some courses where this has occurred include:

  • English
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Leadership
  • Information Systems
  • Social Context of Business
  • Organizational Behaviour

Sometimes this method has been successful, sometimes not so much. And once in a while, our discussions have been truly amazing!

Different grading schemes have used, including:

  • A) As part of the student’s overall in-class participation grade (worth 15%): each post boosts your grade, but posting online is completely optional
  • B) 5% participation grade, segmented as its own assignment: 1% for posting regularly (at least once weekly), 4% on general effort (marked in a very loose manner)
  • C) 5% participation grade, but on a deductive grading scheme: you must post a “thoughtful and well planned-out” comment every week on a new given topic, and if you don’t you lose a mark

Usually the best discussions have occurred when there was a back and forth between 2 or more students, rather than having student just posting new, unrelated thoughts all of the time. Actually, I’d advocate having both: back-and-forth, and new ideas.

This best occurred in scenario B. In fact, I’ve found online classroom discussions  to work best in general under scenario B. And now I wonder, why? Well, there are two factors at play here, when it comes to how the teacher sets up the classroom discussion with respect to the class syllabus:

1. Whether or not the students are required to participate for their marks/

2. How tightly controlled the rules of the discussion are.

Put the two together, and we get this:

So, the “best” scenario corresponds to scenario B (described earlier),  The bottom left is scenario A, and the top right is scenario C.

Online classroom discussions work best, when the assignment is “structured, but not controlling.”

This structured, but not controlling philosophy is one that I believe in (as you’ll continue to see), and it was inspired by the Self-Determination theory that I described earlier. I believe that the structure “gets people going,” brings people together, and motivates them to work, but the autonomy gives people room to “be themselves,” and to remain intrinsically motivated and authentic as well.

And finally, as for the whole idea of doing online classroom discussions, I think it’s wonderful! These are the mediums that the youth of today understand, the tools that our society will be using in the future, and the “language” that we students speak. It allows for written, student-student interaction, rather than just student-teacher interaction.

Thinking points and possibilities:

1. Imagine if the teacher invited a “guest poster” to join the discussion and interact with the students! For instance, a current politician in a poli sci class, or the actual author of the book in an English class. The possibilities are endless!

2. In my experience, classroom discussions have always been kept within the 1 classroom full of students. Imagine if the 2 classes, from different parts of the country, interacted on the same discussion board. Imagine if students from different grade levels participated in the same discussions. Imagine if students continued their discussions even after the course was over, a year or two later.

 

Some benefits to extrinsic motivation?

Just like how there are many benefits of having a growth mindset over a fixed mindset, there are many benefits of being intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated. And I believe that intrinsic motivation is 10x better, healthier, and long-lasting than extrinsic motivation (along with a with a wide variety of psychological benefits over EM, as I reported in an earlier post.) So before I go any further, don’t get me wrong, intrinsic motivation is definitely the way to go! I think mostly everyone – progressives, traditionalists, and everyone in between – would agree with me here.

However, I would argue that, (unlike fixed mindsets,) there actually are a few benefits to being extrinsically motivated.  (Scandalous!) So, if we were to think of “good” as up, and “bad” as down, I present my IM/EM diagram on a tilt:

It’s like junk food. We all know it’s unhealthy for us, but there’s a reason why we make it, sell it, and eat it. For instance, we eat ice cream because it tastes good! If it didn’t taste good, no one would eat it! And in moderation, it’s okay, and it does provide life’s little pleasures. (hehe)

Anyways, here are some benefits to EM:

1. Fostering extrinsic motivation is often easier, less costly, and less time consuming than fostering intrinsic motivation. Especially if class sizes are huge. And students all used to it, so there’s not much to explain to them.

2. Here’s my theory about intrinsic motivation (IM) and extrinsic motivation (EM). Each person has a certain level of IM and EM, with respect to each task they encounter. IM and EM are 2 separate variables, so you can be “high in both”, “low in both”, “high in one, and low in the other”, or anywhere in between.

Each task also has a level of difficulty (or level of skill required). This determines the amount of total motivation you need to actually get up and do the task (I call it the “action threshold”)!If your combined level of IM and EM are higher than the threshold needed to turn motivation into action, you’ll do the action!

2 Examples

1) Bringing out the recycling bin each Wednesday evening. (TASK C) Your EM and IM could both be low for this (ie, you don’t really care about doing this, and you’re not feeling coerced to do it much either.) But the level of difficulty for that task is also really low, so you’ll most likely do it without much hesitation.

2) Writing an essay. Because (let’s say) the difficulty level is really high, you either need to love the topic (TASK A), feel forced to do it (TASK B), or some combination of the two.

The kicker

Here’s something I find ironic: on one hand, intrinsic motivation (IM) and extrinsic motivation (EM) are in a sense, polarizing. Cognitive evaluation theory says that if you give people external motivators, depending on how they’re perceived, they run the risk of decreasing IM. But on the other hand, it is the sum of IM and EM that determine whether action will be taken or not!

So, in a sense, EM and IM work against each other, and in a sense, they work together.

IM over Time

Like almost any other variable applied to human beings, IM (even for 1 given task) is never completely even and “smooth” over time. There will be variations, slight deviations up and down, as time goes on. For instance, you get a headache, so you don’t feel like working any more on that essay. Or your favourite TV show is on, so you’d rather be watching that instead.

And this is why EM is a “good” thing! Because external motivators get you to work even during those times when you don’t “feel like it,” but when it’s “good for you.” They “bridge the gaps” between those times when IM drops belwo the threshold.

This, of course, does not take away the value of choosing tasks that are IM, and in nurturing IM in students. Because the more IM you have, the less EM you need to “bridge the gaps” and to take action.

Fostering Growth Mindsets in Students

Motivational psychologist Carol Dweck has spent most of her career looking at how a person’s views about intelligence affect their performance in a particular domain. Those who believe that intelligence is fixed, unchangeable, and innate have what’s known as a fixed mindset or fixed theory of intelligence, whereas those who believe that success and intelligence are a product of one’s efforts and hard work have what’s known as a growth mindset.

Applied to Goals

These mindsets influence many other things, such as what kind of goals people set. Those with fixed mindsets tend to set performance goals, where instead of bettering  themselves, they accomplish as task in order to prove how good their (fixed) level of talent/intelligence is. Alternatively, those with growth mindsets tend to set mastery goals, where they try to excel at the task itself, which in turn tends to be correlated with higher levels of intrinsic motivation.

Applied to Education

This paradigm applies very well to the field of education, especially in a system where students are constantly under pressure to succeed. Dweck has written a whole ton of papers about how her theory can help students to achieve in school, such as this one and this one. She has also done studies showing how students who have been taught about the differences between these mindsets, and who have been exposed to some introductory science about brain plasticity, have shown remarkable increases in their academic performance. Her team has even created a computer game called Brainology based on this model, where students can learn and apply this theory in a fun way.

Okay, so that’s the gist of it. (I didn’t want to go on, but check out the links if you’re interested!)
Now here are some of my own thoughts about this!

1. Parallels

It’s amazing to see just how many parallels there are between Dweck’s theory, and several other psychological theories. Check out this shmexy diagram I just made:

I’d definitely endorse the message that Dweck and others are promoting about intelligence. And it doesn’t even have to be through her computer program – anyone who is aware of it can go ahead and just teach it! I would recommend introducing the concept at the beginning of Grade 7 (or whenever high school starts). This would give students a great head start for their high school studies, and empower them to do well and to stay in school.

2. Self-Evaluation Grades

As for our grades, well, they currently give no indications to students one way or another. I admit this would be highly tricky to do.

For instance, I remember in elementary school, the back page of our report cards would always include a “self-evaluation” section. We didn’t know it at the time, but I fathom/hope that this was an attempt to incorporate this message of empowerment.

The problem? Most of us always gave ourselves the best marks possible on that report card, rather than being genuine and thoughtful in our self-evaluation. e.g. 1 1 1 1 1 1. (on a scale from 1-4). Of course, we made sure to bring down a few of the grades, to make others seem like we were being realistic. e.g. 1 1 2 1 2 1

Why? Because we were afraid of not impressing and pleasing our parents and teachers. Back then, we lived in a world where we had to constantly try to impress them with our work, day in and day out. We had what’s known as a contingent self-esteem. A sense of self that depended on how well we did in schools. This is especially bad in certain cultures, as this 60 minutes Australia report shows. So even when this new set of grades came out, we students were still stuck in the mindset of our regular grades because they were not explained properly.

So what needs to be done here? I say, let’s beexplicit with our students about what we’re actually trying to do here. Like Dweck and her team are doing. And in the process, we can show students a neat lesson in psychology.

4. There’s this unfortunate prevailing notion in our culture that endorses a fixed mindset. For some reason, students always like to say, “oh, he’s so smart” or, “I’m not smart enough for this class,” etc. Now I’m not sure if this is a natural human thing, or a product of our educational system, but I’m guessing that it’s a combination of the two.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually do think that some people have certain innate qualities about them that give them advantages or disadvantages over others in many domains. But in most cases, I believe these differences can be overcome (or at least mitigated). I picture it like a running race, but where each runner starts off at a different distance away from the finish line. While you may be place farther back than someone else, the “race” isn’t over. Okay, so that’s my position… there’s actually a huge debate in the field of psychology about this, if you’re interested.

5. One way of changing at least one of the outcomes – whether or not students opt to challenge themselves – is by implementing yet another psychological concept – approach vs. avoidance. But I’ll get to that later! (Please nag me if I don’t get that post done soon!)

Follow-Up to the Introduction/Conclusion Post

After having read my previous post about the legitimacy of the five-paragraph essay, one of my readers (and good friends) had a rebuttal: while the 5-paragraph essay may not the most applicable writing format for students to learn, it does have its own strengths. For instance, it teaches students to focus their attention on a single topic, and to remain steadfast on that topic as their text progresses. It gets them to outline their arguments, and to be fully aware of what they plan on writing before they go and write it. (In other words, to see the forest through the trees.)

When she brought up this point, I then brought up some counter-points of mine own. But it turns out that we’re actually in full agreement on this issue, and on each others’ points. You see, the 5-paragraph essay actually does provide some valuable lessons for our students. And let’s face it: especially given some of our large class sizes, these essays are the easiest and simplest to correct and teach. (But that hints at a whole ‘nother issue!) But this is the not the only way of teaching those lessons. And this is in no way the only way in which people write. So it would be best to teach this format at the beginning of high school, but only for a few months. Once the students “get the message” about the importance of structure and flow, we can then diversify, show them the other formats for the rest of their years in high school.

In other (but related) news, I just saw this post on answers.yahoo.com:

Notice how whatisan...’s second paragraph about school runs counter to her first paragraph about how “good writers” act! I find this striking (no less because of the juxtaposition of these arguments!) This, to me, shows how there’s this organizational culture at school that emphasizes following the rules, and getting a good grade, over doing the right thing.

Learning Cells for a Month

You know, about 3 years ago, I had a vision for a school program that would expose students to all sorts of different topics and engaging learning opportunities. Held in the month of September, it would (hopefully) get them excited to start the new school year. It was like a month long “conference”, where a whole bunch of learning opportunities (I called each of them “Learning Cells”) were presented to students all throughout the day: workshops, group projects, field trips, guest speakers, silent reading areas, round table discussions, even meditation rooms.

While some cells were come-and-go-as-you-please (such as the silent reading area), most of them had schedules, in order to bring students of common interests together at the same time and location. e.g. “Indian cooking class today, from 1:00-2:30 PM!” Many of the cells would have longer term schedules e.g. “The physics of bridges: each Monday this fall, from 10:00-11:00 AM”

Students were free to roam around, and partake in whichever learning cells they choose. They could visit several cells, and leave if they didn’t find it was relevant to them. And they could take breaks from time to time, whenever they wanted, as long as they did not do it excessively. In other words, no pre-scheduled 15-min recess blocks.

But there were certain restrictions. I feel like people work best with autonomy and structure. For instance, for the structure part, at the end of the day, students would write a journal (or a blog or forum post) in order to reflect on what they learned that day. And each student was placed in a “homeroom” group (I never chose a name for this though), where they would share their experiences, and get to know one of their teachers the best… their Learning Mentor, who could give them more personalized attention. Students stay with their Mentor for several years at a time in order for their relationship to grow. Pretty much like they do in the Danish “Folkeskole” system.

And as is the case in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters foundation, the matching between student and mentor would be done with great care and planning. And if the relationship was no longer working, the student would be paired with a new mentor. Students would also be required to complete a Personal Project of sorts, like they do in the International Baccalaureate program. A long-term project of their choosing where they really develop their skills in order to accomplish something worthwhile to them (and then share their results with their peers).

Throughout the month, teachers and peers would give the students feedback on their projects (and the work they created in the learning cells), but the emphasis would remain on discovery, rather than evaluating the students. That evaluation part could come later, once the regular term starts.

At the time, I thought my idea was “radical” as well, and I thought I was the only one thinking this way. But little did I know, people are actually making this a reality! As the Innovative Educator blog reports, there are already several schools in existence that are creating these more natural learning environment for students. And finally, there’s a movement called unschooling/deschooling where students do this kind of learning year-round in even more flexible and personalized environments. I’m definitely going to have to research them further.

Developing Our Multiple “Faculties of Knowing”

Last year, I took a course called “Cognition,” where we learned about the different “faculties of knowing.” (e.g. imagery, problem-solving, language, etc.) It was an introductory/survey course, so each week covered a different faculty. Each chapter of our textbook also covers 1 faculty, so we pretty much read 1 chapter / week, and the course flowed quite nicely.

Here are the topics we learned about:

Cognitive Neuroscience
Perception
Attention
Memory
Imagery
Language
Problem-Solving
Reasoning, Judgement, and Choice
Intelligence and Creativity
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Autism (as a “bonus” topic for the last week of class, after our class voted on it)

The kicker? We learned all about of these different, and amazing ways of thinking, and yet the only way we were tested was through our memory.  All we did were multiple choice questions based on the lectures and the textbook. So even though we learned how to improve our perception, imagery, and memory, the only skill we developed in practice was our memory. I see this as a huge missed opportunity.

 

The point of this post is not to criticize this course in particular. In fact, I’m very grateful to have taken this course, as it has opened my eyes to the many ways in which people think. Many of which we could develop in our students (of all ages!)

How necessary is an introduction and a conclusion, really?

As I woke up this morning, I looked through the instructions of a philosophy essay. I read the following: “In addition, do not waste space on general introductory or concluding paragraphs which do not contribute to your argument or interpretation.” Mind blowing!

The professor and the course were obviously quite traditionalist, and yet in even in such a context, she disobeyed one of the biggest assumptions we’ve all acquired in high school English class: that you always need a introduction which explains what you are going to write about, and that you always need a conclusion that summarizes what you have just written about. In other words, the “say what you’ll say, say it, say what you said” model.

Thank goodness for idiosyncratic credits

It reminded me of the time in CÉGEP when I wrote a humanities essay, and I was debating as to whether I should include an introductory thesis or not, as per the instructions. I decided to omit it, because I felt like (and still believe) that doing so gives the reader a better and more engaging reading experience. You see, my paper starts off with a general, yet organized and flowing analysis. And then, near the end of it, BAM!, a new realization is made. All of the arguments fall into a neworder, proving my initial point. (In a brilliant fashion, if I might add!) It keeps the reader in suspense, and then leaves with an exciting “ah ha!” moment.

In the end, the teacher decided not to penalize me for not sticking to the instructions, but only because some of the other aspects of the essay were “so good” that she had those marks spillover” o the organization criteria. And she gave me a fair warning about it.

When “real life” rolls in

These two experiences have got me thinking: is it really necessary to have an introduction and a conclusion? Do we actually do this in real life? In what contexts do we do this, and in which contexts do we not? And every time I think of a context – e.g. writing a script for a play, writing an instruction manual, etc. – I’ve noticed that it only requires a the “say what you’ll say, say it, say what you said” model if it’s in the world of academia.

e.g.
writing emails –> no
writing lab reports –> yes
writing advertisements –> no
writing an information pamphlet –> no etc.

The only nonacademic one I could think of was newspaper articles, but even then, often only the title and subtitle are summarizing; the article goes off on its own track. For example, some newspaper articles go as follows:
- What happened
- How does person A react to this event
- How does person B rebut person A’s opinion
- The implications: where do we go from here?

In the newspaper articles’ first paragraph, the writer usually spends the entire paragraph just describing what happened. Other arguments are brought in naturally and sequentially, not hijacked into the first paragraph. So there’s no 5-paragraph prescription following; no obligation to “say what you’ll say.”

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe I just haven’t thought up of any contradictory examples yet. That where you all come in. Any thoughts?

Coherence, or summarizing?

I think it’s important to for students to understand the difference between having a beginning, middle, and end vs having an introduction and a conclusion. Because the former happens way more often than the latter. And even when a writer uses an intro and conclusion, there are a multitude of ways to going about doing it. The 5-paragraph essay version is just one of them.

At the moment, the value of a beginning, middle, and end is only taught implicitly in English class, under the guise of the 5-paragraph essay. I say, let’s make it more explicit to students, and essentially “pull it out from underneath the rug.”  Let’s have students learn communication skills for all aspects of life. Or at the very least, more. As many as we reasonably can.

For me, the 5-paragraph essay is an example of the world of academia carving out a little world of its own, with its own set of rules and norms, and then self-reinforcing its ways of behaving. I hate to say it, but I find it’s an example of the ivory tower mentality. Let’s break down that mentality, and have our English classes reconnect with reality. Let’s have it be, more multidimensional!

Further reading

Here’s an article that takes a critical look at the 5-paragraph essay format, if you’re interested in seeing a teacher’s perspective: www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino/2012/05/if-you-teach-or-write-5-paragraph-essays-stop-it/

And here’s another article that was Tweeted to me today, about a slightly less relevant, but interesting topic nonetheless: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/07/blogging-is-the-new-persuasive-essay/

Update:

Looking back on my post here, I notice that I “came to a conclusion” but I didn’t “write the conclusion.” I didn’t restate the arguments I made in the rest of the article. Also, I didn’t reveal this last argument in either the introductory paragraph, nor in the paragraph where I wrote my main argument/”thesis.” I hope it didn’t detract from your reading experience! ;)

On another note, this article was in no way meant to poo-poo on English teachers themselves. I personally have had amazing English teachers throughout my time in high school and CEGEP! I’m pretty sure that they’re only doing this because they’ve been forced to by their higher-ups, who often don’t know any better, and who never had this cross their minds. I don’t want want to play the blame game here, but just in case you thought I was, just to make it clear, I’m not here to blame the teachers!)

The Organizational Culture at Desautels

This was an article that I wrote for a class a few years ago. It applies the concept of organizational culture to the school and faculty and that I am currently attending. Just a warning, it was originally intended as an academic paper, so that style of writing I used is way different than the style I normally use here on this blog.

Organizational culture is the set of all the shared values, beliefs, norms, and assumptions within an organization. It provides individuals with a shared frame of reference that applies to the capacity with which they expect to interact. While it often has both a physical and a non-physical aspect, the latter is its sine qua non. In other words, even when it manifests itself through observable artifacts, it must have some sort of meaning to be considered culture.

Indeed, organizational culture a very fluid, subjective concept. It influences people’s cognitions, emotions, and behaviour, but it itself is socially defined. It underscores the reciprocal influence between individuals and the institutions and situations where they interact.

Only the assumptions that help an organization to deal with its internal and external threats tend to persist. As the organization ages, the successful assumptions become increasingly taken for granted as natural and obvious. This has negative and positive effects. On one hand, it allows the individuals to transfer their mental energy from processing the assumptions to fulfilling the organization’s goals. On the other hand, it can lead to stagnation and make the organization vulnerable if the threats to its survival change.

There are several underlying dimensions of organizational culture. Each of them highlights specific examples of how culture manifests itself. For instance, the dimension of the nature of human activity prescribes expectations on the behaviour of individuals, especially those within the organization. Whichever behaviours are in line with the values of the organization are promoted and/or rewarded, and those that are not are discouraged and/or punished.

No two people are alike, but some people are more different to each other than others. Thus, you will find that some groups of people are more diverse than others. Furthermore, a group of people may be more diverse in some aspects, and less diverse with others. The degree to which each aspect of diversity is promoted or discouraged is known as the homogeneity vs. diversity dimension.

Another dimension of culture is the nature of human relationships. This describes how a culture rewards the way people treat other people in the organization, and whose interests each of them is looking out for. It also describes the culture’s views with respect to competition between individuals.

In order to understand the culture of the Desautels BCom experience, it is important to understand its social context. The Faculty of Management is mostly run like any other North American undergraduate school: students attend classes, study the material, and try to get good grades. Thus, much of its culture imbedded in this educational system, and by the time students have entered it, they have well socialized into it during their time in grade school.

However, there are some things which set it apart. (From my personal experience, I can only compare it with the McGill Faculty of Arts.) Compared to Arts, Desautels emphasizes an interesting combination of group work and competitiveness. The competitive aspect is manifest through the 65-75% class average rule. This shows a concern to integrate students into the competitive management culture, where one’s financial gain often comes at the expense of a competitor. This also shows a high value on fairness, in the sense that it rewards professors for challenging their students at a standard level. The cooperative aspect is made manifest through the emphasis on group projects, which is in stark contrast with the individual assignments typically given in Arts. This is possibly done to mediate the highly competitive organizational culture, and possibly to reiterate the assumption of preparation for the management culture. The dimension of the nature of human relationships shows how the culture at Desautels is a unique blend of management and undergraduate education culture.

Desautels has a high percentage of international students and faculty. The school’s website, agenda, and promotional material all emphasize the international nature of the school. Alternatively, only those with the highest grades are admitted into the program, while extracurricular activities are not taken into account. Thus, the Desautels application procedure operates on geographic diversity, but not intellectual or lifestyle diversity. Diversity with respect to field of studies is encouraged, as can be seen with the flexibility of the program and the wide range of majors and concentrations to choose from. All undergraduates are expected to take courses outside of the faculty, which indicates a value in being a well-rounded person.

McGill expects its students to be proactive in many respects. Much of the students’ focus is expected to be on achieving high grades and getting involved in the school community. These two things are verbally emphasized during Orientation week, the mandatory Career Prep 101 and other workshops, and during class.

On the other hand, students are not encouraged to be active with respect to the grading system of the class. Whether they will complete an assignment, a quiz, or an oral presentation has been predetermined by the professor, and it is never publicly debated or questioned in class. And in contrast to other faculties, students generally cannot “drop” their lowest mark, and they cannot decide when listen to a lecture, as there are no recordings available online. Students are expected to be more passive in this respect.