An example of what “critical mind” means

I found this interesting article on Euromonitor blog today. http://blog.euromonitor.com/2016/09/reconcile-conflicting-market-research-sources.html

It’s a good example of what “critical mind” means. I’m amazed at how easily my students can be lured by so called market reports they never check by themselves. I think most marketing professionals do the same. They see some data report or infography published on any website and take it as granted.

Read this article. it’s short, practical, to the point ! Thanks to  for writing this. 

A lot of operators feed us with content today but careful about the content you read. It may be reliable, it may be shit !

Be inspired.

Final theses presentations: viewpoint of the prof !

Last week was full of final theses presentations. Heavy stress for students. What about profs ?
Well, I always find it a very rich experience.  So much human. Smiles or tears. Joy or despair.   This is the final step, the end of student life, the entry into adulthood. What a feeling… this moment stays imprinted in a person mind for life. In the old times, before becoming a “master” a journeyman (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/journeyman) had to accomplish a “masterpiece” that would demonstrate that he’s mastering the skills and knowledge needed to get the highest recognition. Our system of master thesis is the heritage of this practice and I like students who ambition to create a “masterpiece”!

Some students now choose not to present their final work. Solvay Brussels decided to make it optional. It’s one of the most stupid decision a faculty can make. The students who are not presenting their work also make a big mistake. First of all it’s a sign of disrespect for those who directed or helped them. Not even having the courage to come and stand out to defend your own output: what a pity ! Secondly they miss the opportunity to show an essential part of their person, to answer questions that might be useful to the understanding of their paper. Finally, maybe more important, they miss a learning experience and a “moment of truth” of their life.

I must say that we lost a bit of formality over the years. A jury chairman should remind to some of  our colleagues that some formal attire is adequate as a sign of respect for the student and for the institution. I’ve once seen a young colleague coming in t-shirt and bermuda to a presentation. This is not acceptable !
Students often ask how we can read so many pages without being bored. Well, sometimes it’s boring. The challenge for the writer is to raise our interest.
I use quick reading techniques. I learned them when I was studying at Harvard. Go to the essential, get a general feeling, then go deeper on selected pages.
Students would like jury members  who judge objectively. We try but it’s never objective. Should we judge the effort or the end result ? How can we forget about our empathy or our antipathy for some students. So difficult. I think giving a mark is the most difficult sometimes. How can a number reflect the complexity of my opinion ?

So, dear young people, be just sure that profs do not act “à la légère” (lightly). When listening to their comments, listen and learn to accept that you always have to make progress and we cannot make progress without examining our own short comes !

Be inspired !phd032205s.gif

Marks, grades, honors, distinctions,…next

My last post was about how students consider marks and grades. Well, I just graded students assignments recently, so it’s time to tell you about how we, profs, consider this difficult task !
I’ve always been unconfortable to give a mark because I know how important it is for students and I don’t want to mistake. For a prof’, there are always a number of unanswered questions. One is: should you grade the effort or the performance ? Some are doing lots of efforts, they work much, they spend nights studying and…the end result can be “not so good”. We should take that into account but how do we know ? Other students don’t study much but for whatever reason (they’re smart, intelligent or just lucky), they perform in top category. So, what should we do ?
Also, judging a performance is sometimes hard. I envy accounting profs who can have a  clear appreciation of what is right or wrong. In marketing, it’s much more difficult ! we tried to be fair, we have objective criteria but it doesn’t mean we can not make mistakes.phd012014s.gif

So, faced with these dilemmas, I’m always keeping some principles in mind:
1) Is the delivery “professional” ? i.e. rigorous, deep enough for the essentials, impeccable in terms of oral or written delivery. I cannot accept a “middle of the road” performance when a great one is expected.
2) Does it bring value to the class ? This is when the assignment is presented to the whole group. Is stimulating curiosity, bringing new ideas, offering relevant sources of information…
3) Is there some intellectual honesty behind it ? No manipulation, no willingness to appear better than it is in reality, hide weaknesses or to tell some lies about the amount of work that was provided. I hate hypocrites and I prefer a student telling honestly “I don’t know because I didn’t study enough” to the one who will cheat in some way. We have our secrets to detect this…

I hate written exams. I don’t like multiple choice questionnaires. I like to have people in front of me. It’s human. It’s like in business. It’s a true interaction.
And a last thing: I believe exams should be part of the learning process. So I always try to find evaluation systems that bring new knowledge or experience to my students.

Be inspired !

Marks, grades, honors, distinctions,etc.

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Exam time is here and, if there is one student concern I found in every region of the world, it’s grading !
So much to say about that. Today, I will reflect my experience with students, next time, I will speak about how profs see it.
It’s strange to see how much importance students generally give to marks and grades. Even in adult education, when I’m teaching to professionals way above 20 yr old, it seems that students (we call them “class participants”…) are getting to “back to school” time: they even care about grades…
Why is that ? Where does it come from ?
People prefer to be graded than evaluated. They feel reassured. They need to compare to peers. At the same time, they’re anxious, sometimes overanxious. They don’t think about what they learn, they think about what they think they are and they think about what other people think about them.
This is all bullshit ! Marks are per se a wrong estimation of a person value. You can study for days and fail that exam day. You can be a brilliant debater and a bad writer. Or just the opposite. The questions of the exam may be wrongly addressed by the prof, etc.
Of course the extremes of the Gauss curve (top 15% and low 15%) reflect some reality: hard working smart students consistently score high and those who never work enough or are for some reason demotivated are always in the low. But for the 70% in between, what’s the deal….?

I ‘ll tell you more about it in another post, but for now, if you happen to be in exams now, just think about one thing: yourself ! You’re studying for YOURSELF, not for the prof, not for the others ! It’s just a deal between you and you !
Bye for now

Be inspired !