Student Reflections: “See Mistakes as Opportunities for Growth” featuring Devorka Zulj with Writing Specialist Yasmine Alwan

by on October 21, 2010 in 2009-2011 with 2 Comments »


Measuring Student Behavior and Learning in an Online Environment by Lisa Bauer

by on July 23, 2010 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »


Student Reflections: A video essay

by on May 14, 2010 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »

Greetings and welcome to the summer 2010 semester! We are pleased to announce that the first video in what will hopefully be a diverse series has been published to our Vimeo channel.

Stay tuned to the LECblog for more videos and written content throughout the summer, and have a great semester!


Fresh Perspectives: Harnessing Learning Challenges for Deeper Learning

by on March 13, 2010 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »

On November 11, 2009, The LEC hosted “Fresh Perspectives: Harnessing Learning Challenges for Deeper Learning,” a symposium featuring student and faculty panels. MCNY Students (Hans Aguila, Palmer Ashe, Robert Burch, Jilian St. Hill and Tanya Thomas) presented their fears and blocks and described how working to overcome them has helped to formulate new priorities in their learning, making it more relevant, more personal and connected to their projects beyond MCNY. Faculty (Andrew Brown, Lynne Dolle, Richard Grallo, Jaya Kannan, Jinx Roosevelt, and Judith Simonsen) shared what they’ve learned watching students struggle, and in some cases, the similarities they’ve seen to their own experiences as learners.

Via downloadable iTunes podcasts, we are able to provide audio recordings from the symposium.

Student Panel

Faculty Panel


Smoke Break

by on January 29, 2010 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »

By Brandon Melendez

The revolving door spins with a satisfyingly smooth lack of resistance as he makes his way out of the building. Push. Slide. Turn. Release. He always gives the door an extra jolt on release because he figured revolving doors should rotate on their axis when empty like a cowboy’s six-shooter—freshly loaded. Inhaling from his nostrils he takes a lungful of crisp grey autumn.

Autumn in a city of dusty oxygen is different than that of the Tide-With-Wrinkle-Release ‘burbs. Suburban fall smells of fresh textbooks and crunchy orange leaves. The city has those smells for sure, but adds its own flavor to it: the savory blends of cab driver’s armpit, dirty hot dog water, bus exhaust, and a million other wonderful scents and oppressive odors native to urban foliage. He reaches into his pocket and emancipates a slightly flattened menthol 100 cigarette from its slightly flattened box. The green box of twenty Grade-A cigarettes is ripped in the flaps, frayed in the lid, and exploded on the sides—but it is intact and, as advertised, crush-proof. The cigarette, though still mostly round, is almost a half circle, as if someone had kicked the letter “D” on its side—except for its long 100’s filter which is reasonably unscathed.

This is a New York State cigarette. As all dutiful New York smokers are aware, New York State cigarettes have lines around the circumference of the white paper and along the length. These lines resemble the strata of the dearly departed Twin Towers. They are actually layers of chemicals designed to stop the cigarette from burning if one should happen to fall asleep smoking one. They provide for that distinctive taste of a New York cigarette that cheapens the quality of a New Jersey cigarette right along with the cost. The addition of the carcinogenic chemicals to create that flavor is really a tear drop in the ocean and doesn’t require much attention.

He sparks the cigarette. In a fluid motion that both blocks the wind and lights the flame he pulls the fire into the cigarette causing the tobacco to transmogrify dusty city oxygen into cigarette smoke.

At first there us nothing else to focus on except the cancer poised between lips and fingers. The unlit cigarette is as infinite as the horizons of the universe. Unlit it can last forever and provide the nicotine fix all the time at anytime. The fire that burns the cigarette, however, is just like the grains of sand in an hour glass. The cigarette is no longer immortal; it is doomed.

Like any infatuation, the relationship between man and bogey decreases intensity proportionally to the progression of time. The mind wanders. The eye drifts. Smoking which was second nature—an all encompassing affair—all but thirty seconds ago is now old hat. Behold as tiny dog walks by; his every step is blurred by the speed required to keep up the pace with its master. An airplane soars overhead while a train roars underfoot.

“Look at that dog. What’s that smell? Is it me? No it isn’t! I want to see that movie…” thoughts run into each other.

The cigarette has now reached its mid-point. It is burning quickly as he smokes harder. Nicotine breaths become deep cavernous fogs in pinked lungs changing to yellow, brown, and black like the leaves of the season. He holds the swirling grey air-born debris in his chest and lets his head swim; his brain thinks he’s drowning. Exhaling through his nose he closes his eyes and the cool smoke’s exit leaves in momentary euphoria.
The moment is over.

Other smokers are congregated outside the building at scattered outposts by the building and varying points smoking affair’s timeline. They pace, talk on the phone, stare into space. The other smokers look uninterested, calm, anxious, or distracted.

He looks at his nail-bitten fingers and cracks his knuckles. He checks his Facebook on the phone; then he checks the time, cigarette balanced in his mouth. He looks at his cigarette mournfully—it is almost done. It is almost ready to die as all mortals must. His chest becomes heavy as he unleashes a sigh. He is craving another cigarette before this cigarette is over—he is ready to move on from this dead-end affair.

Alas, there is no time for such indulgences as his watch has horrifically confirmed. In three sequential drags he bids farewell to the lost love of cigarette number seven from this pack. He holds the smoke inside while he positions the finished vice between his thumb and middle finger. Flick. It flies in a spiral and swirls down the open grate to the subterranean hell below. He turns and faces the revolving door again.

He coughs.

Brandon Melendez is a writer, filmmaker, musician, and artist from Far Rockaway, New York City. Born to American parents, Brandon Melendez can claim both a Jewish and Puerto Rican heritage as well as a New Yorker’s perspective. He graduated from the Metropolitan College of New York with a Bachelor’s Degree in American Urban Studies in December 2009. For more information on Brandon’s writing or his other creative endeavors, please visit his website at


Critical Thinking Skills Series – Confirmation Bias

by on January 22, 2010 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »

By Larry Lutsky, PhD.

Your friend from out of town tells you that he has a ticket for a ball game tonight, but he is worried because there is rain in the forecast. If there is any rain at all the game will be canceled. The next day you hear on the radio that the game was canceled. Can you conclude that it rained the night before at the ball park? It may seem so, but a moment’s reflection will suggest there may be other reasons why a game can be canceled e.g., hurricane, lightening, electrical blackout, etc. For the same reason, it can’t be concluded that the game will be played even if it doesn’t rain. You can conclude with certainty, however, that if the game was played it did not rain. Mathematicians would say that statements of the form

(1) if A then B

must have the same truth value as

(2) If not B then not A

That is, if (1) is true then (2) must be true as well. Studies have shown that people have an easier time looking for evidence in the form of (1) to confirm an hypothesis, than looking for evidence in the form of (2) to disconfirm an hypothesis. This has been called the confirmation bias. Good critical thinking skills require one to be aware of the trap of confirmation bias by seeking evidence that would possibly disconfirm an hypothesis as well as evidence that would confirm it.

Further Reading:

Klayman, J., & Young-Won, H. (1987) Confirmation, Disconfirmation and Information in Hypothesis Testing. Psychological Review 94(2) pp. 211-28

Confirmation Bias: The Skeptic’s Dictionary


Welcome to the Spring 2010 Semester!

by on January 12, 2010 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off on Welcome to the Spring 2010 Semester!

Greetings and welcome to the Spring 2010 semester at MCNY!

Last semester, the LEC blog showcased everything from information about events (SDL, Critical Thinking), poetry, reflections (Muhammad, Aguila, & Ariza) and research articles (LEC research, LEC goals part 1, part 2). This semester we will continue with more of the same great content, as well as articles covering new areas of student learning, teaching and creativity (including media).

I invite you all to subscribe to the blog via it’s RSS feed, so that the latest blog postings are delivered directly to your browser. If you’re interested in submitting content to the blog (you must be a student, alumni, staff or faculty member of Metropolitan College of New York), please write to

Have a great semester!Â



Reflection on Free Writing

by on January 7, 2010 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off on Reflection on Free Writing

“I have gone through a lot this semester, losing one of my step brothers to suicide and having two of my sisters and their children living with me. Freewriting is something that has given me patience: I am not as argumentative as I used to be and I am always writing now. It pulls a lot of stress off my chest. Freewrites have become a way of talking without speaking. Sometimes I write and throw the paper away just as a way to never have to look back on it. I hope one day to turn my freewrites into a book, the ones I don’t throw away. Thank you for this tool and for reading them with no judgment.”

By Tasliym Muhammad
American Urban Studies Bachelor’s Degree Program at M.C.N.Y.

Freewriting by Yasmine Alwan,

Freewriting is an exercise in which you write without stopping for ten minutes during which you release yourself from the worries of grammar, spelling or correct punctuation. The point is to let your thoughts freely spill out, associate and develop, and by freeing yourself from the pressure of the “right words,” you will liberate yourself to find and follow what fascinates you. Freewriting is not the same as writing a quick first draft; it works to develop the thinking aspects of writing, and thusly, its aim is to improve your writing process. Peter Elbow, a fervent champion of freewriting, sets forth its many benefits in his book, Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, excerpted below:

Freewriting makes writing easier by helping you with the root psychological or existential difficulty in writing: finding words in your head and putting them down on a blank piece of paper. So much writing time and energy is spent not writing: wondering, worrying, crossing out, having second, third, and fourth thoughts…Frequent freewriting exercises help you learn simply to get on with it and not be held back by worries about whether these words are good words or the right words.

Thus, freewriting is the best way to learn–in practice, not just in theory–to separate the producing process from the revising process. Freewriting exercises are push-ups in withholding judgment as you produce so that afterwards you can judge better.

  • Freewriting helps you learn to write when you don’t feel like writing. It is practice in setting deadlines for yourself, taking charge of yourself, and learning gradually to get that special energy you get when you work fast under pressure.
  • Freewriting is a useful outlet. We have lots in our heads that makes it hard to think straight and write clearly (pg. 14-15)

Elbow, Peter (1988). Writing with power: Techniques for mastering the writing process. Oxford University Press.


Reflections on Writing a CA By Hans Aguila

by on December 4, 2009 in 2009-2011 with No Comments »

Reflections on Writing a CA

By Hans Aguila

The first semester was a very fulfilling experience. The course consisted of doing various papers in which I learned about myself, in which I had the chance to look back on my life and bring back all my past life experiences, such as poverty, injustice, etc. This gave me the opportunity to have an introspective look at myself and really understand why I chose to study human services and to discover what it really means to take the responsibility of becoming a professional in this field which deals with problems that affect society, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, poverty, social injustice and racism.

During the construction of my C.A., I was able to use and put into practice the knowledge that I acquired from the other Dimensions. One that I found very important was Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I personally believe affects the people of that part of society that a human services professional has to attend to and who for the most part come for help because they have unsatisfied needs.

Upon completing my C.A., I used the method described in A Discourse in Method by Rene Descartes. In this work, Descartes states that he would start from the simplest logical task (which, for him, was mathematics), and then gradually move on to the more difficult ones in order to achieve a full understanding of his objective.

By doing this C.A. assignment, I learned that if you set your mind to it, and you do the necessary research, you can achieve what you want. Researching a specific problem that you have is very important because it gives you the necessary knowledge to approach the problem with the right perspective. Also, I must say that it lifted my personal spirit and confidence. I also learned a lot about myself regarding who I really am, why I chose to study Human Services in reviewing my personal experience, as well as my life experiences, in this short life of mine. It was a very fulfilling assignment, the Self Assessment.

I think that my Plan of Action was overall realistic. It was a short-term Plan of Action that kept very strict time limits. I made it very simple with steps based on a time frame that I could really keep, taking into account the busy schedule that I have, as I work and come to college. Most of all, I think it was realistic because I actually did the plan of action in the time I was supposed to finish it. So, yes, it was realistic.

If I were to do this C.A. again, I would do it by implementing the plan of action I did in order to have all my assignments done in time. In that way, I could go over them and revise them properly before handing in the final papers. I would also do it in order to have it pretty much complete by the time I had to hand in the final version of my C.A. paper.

The other classes were useful for this C.A. because they gave me a background knowledge or peripheral knowledge. I was able to extract information from some of the reading and to implement them on the plan of action.

This was a very helpful assignment. Doing it was a bit difficult, mostly because of the time issue, which is very important when it comes to finishing a paper. This was our first Purpose and this was the kind of assignment which I honestly had never done before. The simple fact of doing it and finishing it has given me a lot of confidence for my upcoming C.A. It also helped me to learn how to properly use a computer and to do research. Also, thanks to the professor and to Bernadette from the LEC, it gave me the opportunity to improve my grammar skills, although I have a long way to go in this area, but it was something that I was probably not going to do on my own.

In conclusion, it was a very fulfilling course of study, and I am very grateful for all the help I received. It was a great learning experience.


Poetry Corner

by on December 1, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off on Poetry Corner

Sometimes you can’t see things because of strings

By Theodor Damian

That’s how we go through life
like through an over-layered picture
or through the old warehouse
in Omaha, Nebraska
with shoes in shop windows
and shop windows in shoes –
only American Express, Visa and Discover
everything in the warehouse
hangs on strings
Tom Blackwell paints business front signs
left to right
or right to left
or upside down
because now to show a front
you have to be backwards
everything reflects in everything else
the bus in the shoe
the shoes in the bus
those walking above
in those walking below
and the other way round
stars hang from the warehouse’s dome
in the old town in Nebraska
left to right
and right to left
until no one knows
who illuminates what
and who whom
the lights reflect
has separated from florsheim
and wanders among shoppers
you don’t know if you’ll be tagged with a price
and if you will ever be able to distinguish
between virtue and vice.

Theodor Damian, born in Romania, currently lives in New York, USA. Since 1992 he has been a professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the Metropolitan College of New York, Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education, president of the Romanian Institute of Orthodox Theology and Spirituality. He is a poet and director of “Lumina Lina/ Gracious Light” trimestrial magazine and has published over 15 books in the fields of theology, philosophy, and poetry.




academia advice Bilingual books College college decisions communication confidence education ESL failure goals grammar inspiration interviews Junot Diaz Language learning learning strategies lifelong learning Luminaria math MCNY moocs new york times plagiarism prewriting racism reading science specialist hours student student bio student profile student recognition ceremony students study skills success sucess teaching the new yorker time management writer's block writing writing process

Copyright © 2017, | The Specialist is proudly powered by WordPress All rights Reserved | Theme by Ryan McNair