Andrew Burnstine

Leveraging Technology and Mentors to Refresh Teaching Practices

Q&A with Andrew Burnstine, associate professor of fashion marketing and management at Lynn University

Andrew BurnstineWhat motivated you to complete your ACUE certification?

For the past several years, I had noticed that many of my course lectures, discussions and materials were old and outdated. My course reviews were fine. What got my attention were some of the student comments. They all had a general theme and direction: “Please don’t lecture at us. Lecture to us!” This was my wake up call. I realized that in order to stay relevant in both my on-ground and online classrooms, I needed to revert to becoming a student once again and find out what was lacking in my current teaching style and pedagogy. 

What are some successful practices you have implemented in your classroom related to guided pathways?

I have developed a few new practices in both my on-ground and online courses. They include using video technology for course introductions, announcements, and grading in the online gradebook. I have been using Screencast-o-matic video technology with great success in all of my courses. 

I begin the semester by using a video introduction in Canvas. This is a great icebreaker technique, which also helps create an immediate bond between the students and me. I also create videos for course announcements, introductions for Canvas modules, and grading assignments. Step-by-step videos on “How to do a final oral presentation” and “What to include in your final critical written assignment” help students address the many questions and worries they might have about assignments and projects. Students have also indicated on several course evaluations that they really have gotten a lot out of the video reviews. Many students have asked that other Lynn University faculty do something similar in their own courses as well.

How did the ACUE course help you develop or refine these practices?

My incredible peers and ACUE course facilitator were the ones who really helped me develop and refine my weekly course work. Comments on discussion threads with suggestions and improvements were a great way to refine my own work. In my case, the best practices were the comments and suggestions from the ACUE facilitator. This person always was “dead on” with comments and suggestions that could expand on the work I was doing in my own classroom, as well as commenting on how to change or redo techniques that did not work so well. I like to think of these techniques as “teachable moments” and “best practices”—new tools that I can use to create a safe and enjoyable learning experience for all of my students.

Why do you think students respond well to these practices, and what are they gaining? 

Students respond well to these practices because they perceive that you care for them and their well-being. One of the biggest takeaways from the ACUE course was the importance of listening to my students! That is, listening to who they are, what they want, and what will help them grow. These are the motivators that we all can use as educators to reach out to our students and help them gain the knowledge and experience they will need to succeed in their chosen fields.

Do you recall an “ah-ha!” moment when you realized the changes you were making in the classroom based on the new teaching practices were having a meaningful impact on a specific student or group of students?

My “ah-ha” moment was realized when one of my on-ground students informed me that they had reviewed my video feedback for a case study they had done—ten times! They commented that they watched the video so many times because it helped them identify all of the areas they needed to improve. This student also stated this type of visual feedback was much more helpful to them than including feedback with written comments. This was the “ah-ha” and the “light bulb” all going off in one moment. It was the validation that the techniques I had tried out in my classrooms were indeed making a meaningful impact on students.

What do you look for in alumni or mentors you are bringing into the classroom? 

I look for someone who has the background and experience with the course and subject matter being presented to the students. I have had great success with recent alumni, business professionals, and mentors. The most important qualifications are finding individuals who (1) are good listeners, (2) have an interesting and dynamic story to tell, and (3) are interested in having a continued relationship with our students. Students are most interested in those individuals who take the time to answer questions after the lecture, as well as invite students to call or email with any questions. Recent alumni are also wonderful speakers to bring into your classroom, as they have recently graduated and should have great things to say about their program. In many cases, they are relatively near the student’s age and have relevant experiences to share with the students. Speakers from the Career Services Center are also a valuable asset for our students. They have a wealth of knowledge and can assist students in job preparation, interviewing, and securing their future “dream” job within their career path.

About Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Dr. Andrew Burnstine has been teaching and chairing fashion marketing and design programs for over 25 years. Burnstine was chairperson of the fashion marketing and management program at Berkeley College in NY and also ran a fashion marketing and design program at American Intercontinental University, in Weston, Fla. Burnstine has taught at many universities and colleges around the country, including: New York University, Westchester Community College, SUNY Purchase College, Kent State University, and LIM. He was executive vice president of Martha Inc., an exclusive women’s specialty store chain in New York City and Florida where he acted as buyer, merchandiser, and director of operations. Burnstine has received numerous awards and academic honors, including Teacher of the Year awards, and The University Medallion from Kent State University. He also has written and contributed academic publications for the Academy of Business Research and the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research. He has a B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. from New York University.

Cindy Blackwell

From courses to career: Incorporating relevancy, accountability, and connections

By Cindy Blackwell, Ph.D. 

Cindy BlackwellFrom the moment I dropped the first mouse into the snake’s cage, I knew my life was not going quite as I had planned. More than five years after earning my Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, I found myself feeding snakes in order to feed myself as I waited for my graduate school application to be processed.

This experience is one of my many early career experiences that informs how I teach. As an accidental academic, I have always stressed career skills in courses but not always in an intentional manner. 

In recent years, I have learned ways to make career readiness a deliberate undercurrent in the classroom in an effort to better prepare students to succeed in their careers as well as in the professional workplace. Through my experience in the classroom, as well as with ACUE’s program, I learned that by focusing on relevancy, accountability, and connections, I can help students begin their transition by integrating professionalism into the course structure. 


“Relevance wins,” as Jeremy Podany, CEO of Career Leadership Collective, says in the first module of the ACUE Career Guidance and Readiness course. The relevance of coursework needs to be evident on many levels—from assignment application to career connections—to help students better engage with content. 

While relevancy is more obvious in specialized or major-related courses, instructors can make clear the relevance of other courses, including and especially general education courses. Several of my public relations students struggle through algebra and statistics, but I repeatedly remind them they will need to understand algebra when negotiating contracts and statistics when analyzing data to identify key audiences. Without this knowledge, they will struggle as public relations professionals. 

I also offer relevancy with expectations of classroom conduct. Drawing parallels between classroom behavior and the workplace demonstrates to students how similar actions will be perceived in the workplace. 

When students ask me questions that they can easily find on the syllabus or another obvious place, I respectfully tell them not to waste their supervisor’s time by asking questions they can easily answer on their own. Packing up early? You are sending a signal to your supervisor that your time is more important than hers. Many of these teachable moments emphasize specific career skills, which are focused on interpersonal relationships or emotional intelligence.


Many college courses have late work policies that take a percentage off of the final grade if an assignment is submitted after the due date; however, such late work policies do not translate well to the professional world. On the first day of a course, I tell students I do not accept late work, explaining that in the workplace, your supervisor will not accept late work. This is transparent on the syllabus: if there is a deadline, you must meet it. Similarly, when asked if I offer extra credit, I tell students that I have never had a supervisor offer me extra credit. 

Of course, I also buffer these points by letting students know that life does happen. If a significant life event prevents a student from coming to class or from submitting an assignment, I expect him or her to contact me, just as one would contact a supervisor. If an assignment was given several days ago, I will ask questions about its status, and I might also ask to have the assignment be sent in its current form. 


On the first day of class, I have students complete a student survey similar to the one offered in Module 2c, “Connecting with Your Students,” in ACUE’s Career Guidance and Readiness Course. I read through their answers and organize the surveys according to career areas of interest. When colleagues are looking for a volunteer for a day or an intern for the next semester, these surveys allow me to quickly refer specific students to such opportunities. This demonstrates to students the value of networking and making connections well beyond the classroom. Connections are also made through professional guest speakers as well as reviewing job postings with students that offer insight into what will be expected of them in the future. 

By emphasizing and building upon important professionalism elements regarding and highlighting relevancy, practicing accountability, and modeling connections, students can practice daily what will be expected of them in the professional workplace. With small changes, instructors can prepare self-actualized professionals who are ready to meet the challenges of the workforce—including feeding snakes.      

Cindy Blackwell is an ACUE Academic Director and earned her ACUE Certificate in Effective College Instruction in 2017 at The University of Southern Mississippi.