Hard Class? Think you won’t Pass?

Hard Class? Think you won’t Pass?

By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer


Professor Timothy Breton teaching BIO 150, a class of 80 students. (Photo by Grace McIntosh

 As the semester quickly rolls by, some students may feel like they are struggling to keep up. Whether it is a seemingly impossible class, difficult professor, or lack of motivation, failing a course can be avoided. Professors and high-achieving students give their best advice on how to escape common mistakes and study efficiently to those who feel overwhelmed with the thought of not passing a class.

     Professor of Biology Timothy Breton said that the biggest mistake he sees when students study for exams is lack of active involvement. “Studying for several hours late at night and just glossing over the material is often not as effective as less time spent that involves quizzing yourself or pushing each other to succeed in an active study group,” said Breton. According to Breton, focusing on learning the material, versus how much time is spent on studying, increases the chance of successful outcomes.

     Alyssa Morin, a sophomore who is currently in Professor Breton’s class, said that it is critical to dedicate enough time to make sure the content of a course is understood. Morin also emphasizes the importance of finding the right place to study. “Find a quiet place with no one around,” said Morin. “I always find myself in the library or my dorm room.”

   Morin’s phone can also be a distraction to her, so she uses an app to lock it for a certain period of time. “It does not allow me to access anything and I just bust out the work that needs to be done,” she said.

    Abigayle Weston, also a sophomore at UMF,  stays motivated by thinking about her career goals. Weston’s advice to those falling behind is to make one giant list of everything that needs to get done and color-code it by priority. “My favorite way to study is by rewriting my notes,” Weston said. Rewriting notes allows for the content to be refreshed into Weston’s mind and helps her retain information.

     Morin encourages students who aren’t able to figure out course material to seek out help from professors. “Go to your professor’s office hours and make sure to set up tutor sessions in the learning commons,” Morin said.

   Morin also stated that a key factor to success is putting school before anything else. However, she also points out the importance of taking breaks and making time for leisure activities.

     Professor of Mathematics, Michael Molinsky, said that procrastination can be a sure way to do poorly. “By waiting until the very last possible minute to do homework or study for exams, students put themselves in a position where they cannot ask any questions about the parts the material that they don’t understand,” said Molinsky. Another problem that Molinsky sees often is students will memorize methods but not how to utilize them.

     For students who feel that a class is just absolutely impossible, Professor Breton said, “Be strategic, break things down, and spend the most time on very important topics you know will appear on an exam.” Allocating time to focus on material that needs to be understood as well as asking questions outside and inside class can be the difference of passing or failing a course according to Breton.

     “While trying obviously doesn’t guarantee success, you can certainly guarantee failure by not even trying from the start of the class,” said Molinsky. As a general rule of thumb for college, “Students should be spending an average of two hours outside of class each week for each credit,” Molinsky said. Students should be dedicating an average of eight hours a week for a four credit course. The weekend can be an effective slot of time to catch up on school work as well.

     Whether it is dedicating more time to studying, working harder in classes, or being more actively involved, utilizing this advice may make a difference in academic performance.

Faculty Share their ‘Rough Drafts’ in UMF Gallery

Faculty Share their ‘Rough Drafts’ in UMF Gallery

By Kristen Hill Contributing Writer


UMF Art faculty are working together to show the art they create outside of the classroom in a show called “Rough Drafts”, which will display their different perspectives about the contemporary world.

‘Scrap and Mire’ Small objects teeter on the edges of their ledges in Katrazyna Randall’s piece. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   Artists in the show include professors Ann Bartges, Tom Jessen, Dawn Nye, Elizabeth Olbert, Jesse Potts, Katrazyna Randall and Barbara Sullivan. A variety of paintings, drawings and sculptures are currently on display in the Emery Community Arts Center as well as the UMF Art Gallery.

   Elizabeth Olbert created a piece called “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Bird to Man.” She says the piece is “a play on Friedrich Engles’ The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, an important Marxist text from 1876.”

   Olbert uses a surrealist technique called soufflage where paint is blown to reveal an image. Rather than using paint, Olbert decided to use coffee on the piece. “You know me, I love coffee, it had to be a part of my piece,” Olbert said. She will be displaying three drawings that include this technique.

   The inspiration for this piece came from fellow artist and professor Katrazyna Randall. “I have been talking with Kate about nature and design for probably two years now,” Olbert said.

   Randall’s piece uses a surrealist perspective on consumerism and its effect on our environment. The piece is made with dull, everyday objects to represent flora and fauna, creating an emphasis on the impact we have on our environment and how a lot of nature is becoming a thing of the past. Randall’s love for painting landscapes and nature shows how nature has become unimportant and is losing meaning to many people. In Randall’s view, nature has to be nurtured and the piece shows neglect along with the rise in consumerism and plastic.

‘Nasty Maine Women Artists’ Barbara Sullivan’s tribute to Maine woman artists. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   Jesse Potts, another member of the Art faculty, combines sculpture and photos in his installation. Potts built the piece inside the gallery, which entailed a lot of labor. Power tools, hammers and many other building supplies were used. Not only were these tools used to put the piece together, they are included as a part of the sculpture.

   Potts wanted to emphasize different perspectives on what home means to people. Potts’ piece is created in a way such that people from different backgrounds can connect to the piece and think about what home means to them.

   Barbara Sullivan gained inspiration for a series of portraits when President Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” Sullivan used oil paints to create portraits of more than fifty Maine women who are “strong and nasty women.” Sullivan knows all of the women personally and wanted to portray how powerful they are, as well as their commitment to their art and writing.

‘Arc’ The aluminum arc by Pott’s towers over viewers. (Photo by Eryn Finnegan)

   All of the artists in this show create art regularly and each installment will add a different feel to the show.  Olbert said, “The artists for this show are well chosen. It is a very eclectic group so there will be a wide variety of pieces. At such a small school you would expect people to be fairly similar, but we are lucky to have such a unique group of artists.”

   Many students only know their teachers through what is taught in their classes.  This exhibition provides students an opportunity to see their teacher’s abilities in a different light.

   The show is located in both the Emery Community Art Center and the UMF art gallery and is open until March 9. It is free and open to the public throughout this time.

Professor Jim Melcher Discusses Dean Danielle Conway’s Upcoming Law Talk

By Darby Murnane Contributing Writer

Dean Danielle Conway of University of Maine School of Law will be coming to UMF to deliver the lecture “Why Law Matters More Than Ever,” which will discuss themes such as equal rights and non-violent social activism in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

   One of UMF’s political science instructors, Professor James Melcher, expressed his excitement for Conway’s upcoming visit. “[Conway]’s amazing… her experiences are amazingly diverse,” Melcher said. “I think she’s doing great work at the University of Maine School of Law so I’m excited that she’s coming back here.”

   Conway became the dean of the University of Maine School of Law back in 2015. Conway was a professor of law with expertise in the areas of entrepreneurship, intellectual property law and public procurement law.

   Conway served 27 years of Active Duty military service in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard. In November 2016, Conway retired from the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

  As a faculty member of UMF’s political science program and the pre-law advisor, Professor Melcher has a deep respect for Conway’s work. Melcher weighs in on the main idea of her lecture: the increasing importance of law in America’s current rocky political climate.

   Melcher pointed out that King called for civil disobedience when laws needed to be questioned, and when citizens needed to examine who those laws best served. “ I think [Conway] will argue that there are times when it’s appropriate to question law, and appropriate to call for a change in law,” Melcher said.

   Melcher believes that the troubled times Americans are currently living in is, to some extent, cyclical, and the discontent among citizens may also be attributed to “incivility rising than flat out disrespect for law.”

   Since America is a nation founded on ideals of religious freedom and ethnic diversity as opposed to ideals of blood, soil and war, there is the question of whether or not American laws have held true to these morals considering the controversies over immigration, a border wall with Mexico, and the recent race riots.

   Melcher states, “We’re more than just the sum of having been born here.” According to Melcher, American society has moved ahead of where the Founders were in such areas as the treatment of minorities and women. In terms of civic engagement and expectations of civility, Melcher asserted that, “I do think we’re falling down on that. We’re starting to see more and more people looking at their political opponents as an enemy, as people who are evil, as opposed to just, ‘I disagree with you.’”

   Melcher is also steadfast in his beliefs that, “There’s too much anger, too much hatred, too much willingness to believe the worst out of people, and I think the biggest piece of it is a lack of empathy.”

   Conway’s talk will take place on February 28th and will be held in the Lincoln Auditorium in Roberts Learning Center during common time.

UMF’s Own Dr. Jamison Conducts Study on Mandatory Office Hours

By Collin Regan – Contributing Writer

A crowd of UMF faculty, students, and community members recently packed Emery Arts Center to listen to professor Rhonda Jamison’s talk about Teacher-Student Relationships.

Jamison, also known as Dr. J around campus, talked about three studies she did, including one on UMF students and the impact of mandatory office hours.

During the 2015-2016 school year, Jamison wanted to see how the relationship between her students and herself impacted the classroom environment. To do this, Jamison conducted an experiment between three of her Child and Adolescent Development classes (PSY 225). In one of her classes, Jamison required two mandatory fifteen minute office hours during the semester, one class had one set of mandatory office hours, and the other had no mandatory office hours.

“The goal of the office hours was to get to know students as individuals,” said Jamison. “This was one avenue for connecting with students outside of the classroom, where I could get to know each student as an individual.” Jamison had a theory that when she got to know students as individuals, they would do better in the classroom.

Lydia McDonald, a junior Elementary Education major, remembers having two required office hours over the course of her second semester of freshman year.

“I really enjoyed going to visit with her and chat. It made me feel very comfortable around her and in class,” said McDonald. “I felt pretty neutral about office hours before this, but now I think they’re great.”

During the office hours, students would have a conversation with Jamison. Sometimes, Jamison used conversation starter questions found online to ignite conversation. “I always made sure that I answered the questions too, so that I got to know them, and they got to know me,” said Jamison. Office hours took place in the second and third weeks of the course, right after students had taken a survey.

Over the course of the 2015-2016 year, Jamison gave the same survey to 159 students who had either one, two or no mandatory office hours. This survey was given once at the beginning of the semester before the office hours and once again at the end of the semester. The results showed that students who came to office hours–whether it was once or twice–showed a significant increase in perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness to concepts in the class.

While Jamison was most interested in the findings of a teacher-student relationship, she was surprised that the experiment showed an increase in autonomy and mastery or competence in the class.

“I didn’t know that coming to office hours for fifteen minutes would change how students felt about the content in the course so dramatically,” said Jamison. Having a relationship with students outside of the classroom improved the content knowledge, confidence, and participation from students in the class.

Daniel Picard, a junior Secondary Education major, remembers his experience in PSY 225. “I remember the class having a lot of participation, more than most of my other classes I’ve had at UMF,” he said. Picard was a member of a class that had one mandatory office hours.

Jamison also made an impact on some future educator’s careers in the process of this study. “One great way to learn how to be a great teacher is by observing great teachers,” said McDonald “Dr. J is definitely one of the professors I enjoyed watching teach because her way of handling the class is excellent.”

Jamison will soon be presenting her research and results at a national level. In January of 2018 Jamison will explain her findings at a conference for the National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP).

“This conference is different because everyone is presenting on teaching psychology, which everyone in the room does,” said Jamison. “I’ll be in a room of people where everyone does it, which is pretty cool.”