Published: May 18, 2023 By ,

friends gather around a table to converse and have drinks

By Anthony Mignogna & Jacie Moriyama

On April 3, 2023, ASSETT’s Student Technology Consultants hosted a Student Panel. The goal of this panel was to provide a safe venue for undergraduate students to share their perspectives around technology use and out of the classroom, student success, mental health, inclusivity, and well-being on campus. Panelist included: 

  • Ellianna Campbell, Sophomore, Entrepreneurship
  • Matthew Fishbein, Senior, History & Media Production
  • Jona Hernandez-Pacheco, Junior, Integrative Physiology, w/ minors in Business and Media Studies.

The panelists were asked a series of prepared questions, and then answered questions from audience members. Below is a brief recap of some of the questions the panelists were asked.

When asked, “what is an interesting way that a faculty member has used technology or allowed you to use technology to complete an assignment?” One panelist mentioned he took a class where students were given the creative freedom to create a final project through a variety of methods, such as composing an original poem or song, video, audio clip, or creating a multimedia image, for example. Using a 3D animation software package, he recreated a historical ship to complete his final project. Another panelist took a class that used a business program to simulate the real world challenges of operating a business and how decisions, big or small, would impact the success, or failure of a company. 

Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT have been controversial topics in education. And not surprisingly, the range of the panelists' views about this technology don’t differ much from faculty. The panelists had varying opinions about ChatGPT. One panelist thought that it is an overall bad tool and could potentially create a bad loophole in education because students use it to cheat and write papers for them. Another viewed it as basically a new form of a search engine that is able to pull information together.  The other had a more middle view where it could be helpful if it’s used correctly (to search for foundational or peripheral information about a topic.)  

The panelists were asked to provide examples of class activities that engaged them as learners and examples of activities that hindered their learning. Examples of activities that hindered their learning included an instructor who was less than passionate about teaching a large General Education lecture course and projected a negative attitude/hostility toward students. Another panelist recalled an instructor who used videos and documentaries as a substitute for teaching. The panelists also thought that the use of iClickers tool is not engaging and was only used for attendance purposes, which is ineffective because students can click in from anywhere. However, they did also say that Clickers could be effective if questions were revisited as a study tool or if faculty referred back to these questions during lecture. 

Good examples included a teacher who implemented study group activities in the classroom. Another panelist mentioned how an instructor used real life scenarios to teach statistics and made the concepts of the course relevant and applicable to students’. Another panelist mentioned how an instructor encouraged students to ask and answer questions out loud during class, even though the answers may not have been correct. This but he encouraged students to continually engage with him and the content. 

The term success has so many different meanings and interpretations. When asked what success means to the panelist, they all agreed that it varies from person to person and gave a variety of answers as to what success means to them. One panelist defined success as knowing who you are. They also remarked that success isn’t about the big accomplishments, but the small wins. Another panelist built upon that answer and said for them, sometimes, it was about being able to get out of bed, taking a shower, putting [my] clothes in the hamper, eating a meal, and going to class. They elaborated that it might not sound like a big deal, but when you’re dealing with depression and mental health issues, it’s the small wins that get you through the day.  Graduating from high school, getting into college, and knowing that you are following your dreams - and not one that your family thinks you should be pursuing was another form of success from one of the panelists. They also lamented that there are services on campus that are available to help students succeed in college. Some of the programs they highlighted are the  Miramontes Arts & Sciences Program (MASP), the Student Academic Success Center (SASC), and the Center for Inclusion and Social Change.

The final question of the event was, “if you had the power (authority, money, time), what is  one thing that you would change about higher ed?” One panelist suggested that the General Education requirements be changed and shifted towards more major requirements and more major options. Another panelist suggested that workforce preparation (internships, resumes, job search, for example) be made into mandatory classes, or at the very least made more available and known to students.