Tag Archives: learning

Op-ed: Hybrid Classes at USC: yay or nay?

By Tiffany Hsia

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, USC moved classes to an online format. Online classes have been a bit of a debated topic as some people love online classes and others feel strongly against them. Online classes allowed for flexibility during the pandemic and for students in different time zones to watch recorded lectures. However, on the other side of the coin, students faced Zoom fatigue as well due to little to no peer interaction, which is an integral part of being in school. I personally had mixed feelings about Zoom classes; it was nice to be able to go to school in my pajamas and to be with my family during the pandemic. However, I felt that I did not learn as well and I did not meet anyone new in my classes, and participation in classes was low. 

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Now that USC has moved towards in-person classes with hybrid options, I still have mixed feelings. Some professors have provided flexible options, allowing for students to choose online or in-person, while other professors did not. Personally, I love the idea of hybrid classes being a permanent fixture at USC. This allows for me to have both the peer-to-peer social interaction that I craved during the pandemic as well as the flexibility that I have grown to appreciate. 

One study from the University of Massachusetts showed that hybrid learning increased knowledge retention and that students perform better compared to online and in-person learning models. While hybrid classes have been a blessing, I am surprised USC did not enforce a hybrid option for all the classes during the fall 2021 semester. While it is understandable that some classes need to be in-person such as ceramics or music, I think that classes that are not as hands-on should have the flexibility of a hybrid model. A few of my professors do not even record lectures and require mandatory in-person attendance; however, I feel that this is not feasible as we are still in a pandemic. I was feeling a little under the weather one day and I was unable to pass my Trojan check questionnaire to get on campus, and as a result, I had to miss class. 

Photo by Philippe Bout on Unsplash

Overall, I believe that USC has pushed for in-person classes despite the ongoing pandemic. While USC does a good job of monitoring and requiring students to have their vaccine as well as testing weekly, there are still things USC can improve on. Hybrid options make the most sense to me as a student, as transitioning from a year of online zoom classes back to in-person was extremely difficult. I struggled with losing the independence that I had with online classes as well as waking up earlier to get ready to go to school due to my 20-minute commute to class. While I see the benefits of hybrid learning, I understand it is not for everyone, as it requires strong organizational and time management skills and technological limits. If USC is able to better support students, I think for the most part students would be amenable to a hybrid learning model.  It is truly the best of both worlds as students can go on campus when they want and enjoy in-person interactions but also attend class online if they are busy or unable to physically be in school at the time. 

Featured Image by Dom Fou on Unsplash

Tiffany is a senior studying Health and Human Sciences with a minor in Economics on the pre-physical therapy track. She is originally from San Jose, California, but has lived overseas in Shanghai and Taiwan. She speaks Mandarin and conversational Spanish. On campus, she is a member of Science Outreach and a research assistant at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Tiffany loves traveling, going to the movies, trying new foods, and spending time with friends.

The American Education System: My Experience

by Jackie Truong

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

People sometimes say that a good education is the greatest equalizer of all, and I very much agree with that notion. A good education allows for increased socioeconomic mobility, and it also develops well-rounded critical thinkers, which are beneficial to any society. Although the general goals of schooling are basically the same across most countries, the approach to education differs from country to country. On that note, I want to give my readers (especially those who did not attend school in the US growing up) a glimpse into what it’s like going to school in America, from kindergarten all the way through college. First, a little disclaimer: this is my personal experience with the education system in the U.S., and everyone’s experience is different. My experience will not be the same as every American, but I hope this blog post will give international students a glimpse into what the American educational experience is like.

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I was born in Portland, Oregon, and attended school in the same school district my entire life. First, my educational journey started at Ventura Park Elementary School. At my elementary school, the grade levels went from kindergarten to 5th grade (which I believe is the norm in the U.S.). I had a great time in elementary school because it was mostly play, and very little homework was assigned. Most of the learning began and ended in the classroom. I don’t remember exactly what time my school started and ended, but it was somewhere around 8am – 3pm. After school, I also attended the Boys and Girls Club of America for a number of years, where we basically played a bunch of games every day. It was great. Looking back, I had a very fun and relaxing experience in elementary school. I even remember all my teachers’ names: Mrs. Tiegs for kindergarten, Mrs. Wattanabe for 1st grade, Mr. Dobson for 2nd grade, Mrs. Belgarde for 3rd grade, Mrs. Stapleton for 4th grade, and Mrs. Coye for 5th grade.

Photo by Kuanish Reymbaev on Unsplash

Next up, we have middle school (also known as junior high in the US). I went to Floyd Light Middle School, and the grade levels here were 6th to 8th grade. For many, middle school is where the social hierarchy starts to become much more noticeable, and this is the age where various cliques start to form (e.g. the popular kids, the jocks, the geeks/nerds, the nerds, etc.). My middle school experience was also quite nice because I had a great group of friends and I never had to experience bullying. I remember in middle school, there was a huge anti-bullying campaign (especially in health class), and my school had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to bullying. I think historically in the U.S., bullying has always been a big problem in middle schools and high schools across the country, and as a result, schools started implementing anti-bullying campaigns, especially in the past 20 years or so.

After middle school, I entered David Douglas High School, which is also where I graduated from (Class of 2018!). High school is where I really started to take my academics and extracurricular activities seriously because those were important for getting into college. Although I spent a lot of time studying, doing homework, and participating in extracurricular activities, I still had a significant amount of free time left over to hang out with friends after school and do other fun things. High school was probably the most memorable period in my life as I had a lot of fun experiences with great people during this time. High school teachers are also the best (from my experience anyway). Not all of them were great, but most of the ones I had were amazing. In my experience, the high school teachers I had truly cared about their students, wanted them to succeed and took time to get to know them. Senior year was the most memorable because it was my last year of high school, although I did slack off a bit. I had what they call “senioritis.” Don’t get me wrong, I still focused on my grades and extracurricular activities, but I also spent much more time than in previous years on fun things such as prom, skipping school to go to the beach with friends, and skipping my morning classes because I didn’t want to wake up early (I know, a lot of skipping things). At the end of the day, everything still worked out even though I wasn’t the most perfect student.

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Finally, we move on to college, which is where I’m currently at in my educational journey. I began my first year of college at Pacific University. However, after realizing that I didn’t like small-town life, I decided to transfer schools and move to a school located in a lively city. That eventually led me to USC, where I am currently situated, heading into my senior year studying biology at the undergraduate level. This wraps up my journey through the American educational system, a fun ride thus far. Hopefully, graduate school (Physician’s Assistant school specifically) will be just as memorable as all the other levels of education that I’ve experienced so far. I suppose only time will tell.

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Jackie Truong is a current undergraduate student studying Biology. He has worked as an Undergraduate Student Consultant at the USC American Language Institute and is from Portland, Oregon.

My Experience Taking ALI 252

By PinShiuan Lee

Edited by Natalie Grace

[3.5 minute read]

Currently, I am a postdoctoral trainee working on biomedical informative research at USC for the past three months. Prior to this, I received all of my education in Taiwan. My English is in no way perfect and I am not the most talkative person, even when I speak in my native language. When I started my work at USC, I would do research all day without talking unless I had meetings where I needed to discuss aspects of my work. Since I didn’t have many opportunities to improve my fluency, I was urgently searching for a class I could enroll in to improve my pronunciation. This led me to enroll in ALI 252, an advanced pronunciation course.

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I was initially surprised by how interesting advanced pronunciation was. I liked the classmates I met, and class was full of a diversity of perspectives and an abundance of topics to chat about. One topic we always seemed to return to was popular movies and TV shows. I heard of the show The Office, which is a mockumentary sitcom television series, for the first time in this class. I learned a lot of sentences and phrases that depict the everyday work lives of office employees. Although I worked from home, it was funny to imagine having colleagues like these characters. Every class we watched clips from The Office ended in peals of laughter.

Besides having a great time watching and observing characters on shows, our professor also provided us with many innovative tools to help give us more confidence in oral expression such as games, competitions, or playing roles. We tried to create sounds, produce voices, and understand our vocal range and stamina. It is difficult to articulate clarity if you don’t spend time practicing sounds. Using interesting and funny ways to articulate the words you would like to express encourages me to be more talkative. During this time, I could refine my personal speaking style in small groups and classroom settings.

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