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How to Give Constructive Feedback That Works

by South University, Online Programs
October 28, 2014

Are you currently a manager or working your way toward that much coveted office? A big part of being a leader and manager is providing feedback that helps those around you to grow and succeed. Yet offering constructive feedback that proves productive is a fine art—and one that takes practice. No one likes to feel attacked or criticized, and yet workplaces are environments that require constant feedback and evaluation. Whether you’re conducting performance reviews or general assessments, it's vital to practice positive delivery techniques that motivate rather than discourage.

thumbs up and thumbs down

Don't Negate Praise with the Word "But"

You might use the most reassuring compliments before this dangerous word, but the person will only hear the words following it. In order to make feedback more effective, separate praise from criticism. If someone is doing something well, state that wholeheartedly, not as a precursor to criticism. Doing so will allow for the complimentary words to carry more weight and will make the overall conversation feel more balanced.

Prepare Your Words

Solid preparation can prove the difference between a so-so conversation and one that inspires change and growth. Prior to vocalizing any concerns or suggestions, take the time to brainstorm a general outline of important points. Positive wording is the ideal way to avoid alienating an employee. "There's opportunity for you to grow as an excellent public speaker" is a far better statement than, "You need to work on your public speaking skills."

A surefire way to incite defensiveness from an employee is to use generalizations. Rather than saying someone is always late or never available, focus on specific incidents, and set encouraging goals to remedy problem behaviors. For instance, if an employee is routinely reporting back from lunch ten minutes late, focus on the dates of these incidents, ask for feedback from the employee on this issue and brainstorm ideas together that might help with time management.

Create a Conversation, Not a Lecture

Sometimes during evaluations or meetings, the conversation can become unintentionally one-sided. Allow the person(s) on the receiving end of the feedback to participate in the conversation as more than just an idle listener. Invite him or her to pose questions, clarify given examples and express any hesitations or barriers that might exist. Asking questions to the receiver also encourages a dialogue and makes the overall experience feel more equal.

Cater to Individual Motivational Styles

Each person is motivated in different ways. Some love praise, while others won't change unless they're given a form of competition. Instead of guessing what someone's individual preference is, ask him or her for feedback. Several assessments measure motivation style preference, and the results are often surprising. Understanding and utilizing motivational techniques is a highly constructive way of getting desired results.

When these guidelines are followed, feedback discussions and formal performance reviews can be a much smoother, productive process.

by South University, Online Programs
October 28, 2014
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Why Choose Online Learning

by South University, Online Programs
October 22, 2014

When it comes to advancing your career, broadening your skill set, or creating a specialty in a certain niche, online classes can provide the perfect platform for continuing your education. Adult learners face unique challenges in education, and one ideal way to remedy many of these obstacles is through online learning.

Man on computer

1. Increased Flexibility

Adults are more likely to encounter the challenge of balancing their studies with demanding work schedules. With online options, students don't have to inquire about changing their work hours or leaving early to attend lectures. Instead, they can focus on their classes at the times most convenient to them, thus establishing a less stressful environment and a timetable that is more conducive to learning. This reason alone is enough for many people to explore what the online environment has to offer.

2. No Commute

While traditional students often reside on or near campus, adult learners are typically established in an off-site residence. Rather than waste time sitting in heavy traffic to get from the office to a night class, consider the benefits of driving home, fixing a cup of hot tea and not having to face the drive back home after class is dismissed. The money you'll save on fuel also sweetens the deal.

3. Fewer Costly Books

As the cost of textbooks continues to rise, online learners have the opportunity to avoid incurring this large expense. Most online classes are supported with readily available materials accessible through your home computer. Instead of searching through a 500-page textbook for a specific entry (and lugging your books and materials across campus), students can simply open a PDF or e-book that specifically relates to the subject matter at hand -- one more way online learning provides students with unbeatable convenience.

4. More Interaction

One of the biggest concerns most people have about online education is the notion that there's less interaction available with the class instructor and fellow students. Luckily, this is a major misconception. While on-site classes do offer the opportunity to interact with others in-person, online classes can also provide enriching, one-on-one experiences. Campus classes often consist of a lecture and perhaps a brief question and answer session. With online formats, students are encouraged (and often required) to post feedback on lectures, readings and ideologies. Because everyone in the class gets to weigh in, the conversation is varied and diverse. The instructor also gets to receive input from every student individually. Plus, you can word your responses exactly as you want them, which beats the feeling of dread associated with holding your hand up in a crowded lecture hall.

5. Improved Technology Skills

Another common fear that adults have regarding online formats is the amount of technological know-how involved in the process. Have no fear -- instructors understand that students come to online learning with varied technology skills. Most assignments involve clicking on files, posting comments, and attaching documents. Instructors and technical support personnel are easily accessible through emails and phone calls to address any tech concerns you might have, thus alleviating unnecessary apprehension. As a bonus, you'll become more familiar and comfortable with technology as a whole. Adult learners will likely find that the overall benefits of online learning make exploring the growing range of classes and programs offered in this format well worth their time and consideration.

by South University, Online Programs
October 22, 2014
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4 Things to Know About the Criminal Justice Field

by South University, Online Programs
October 15, 2014

What field is exciting, offers a broad array of career opportunities and is evolving rapidly? If you answered criminal justice, you're correct. If you’re considering a criminal justice career, here are 4 things you should know about the field.

Criminal justice scales

1. It's not all CSI

Some people hear the words criminal justice and think CSI. Although a job in a crime lab is one option for a graduate with a degree in criminal justice, it's far from the only one. In fact, the criminal justice field is among the most diverse career paths available and it's largely about helping people. Graduates with a criminal justice degree may find work in police departments, courts, airports, military bases, correctional facilities or even research institutions! From bodyguards to witness protection agents, detectives to drug enforcement agents, career opportunities in the criminal justice field are broad and inclusive.

2. From communication to critical thinking, you'll need a wide array of skills

Criminal justice isn't just about the law. In fact, it includes things like public speaking, ethical decision-making, multitasking and critical thinking. Unlike other specialized fields, like the hard sciences or languages, a criminal justice education doesn't have a single standardized test or explicit skill set. At its best, a criminal justice education equips you to solve problems and be able to step back and understand the way the pieces fit together.

3. It's changing along with the world around us

Factors like globalization, increased concerns of terrorist attacks, and even technological advances in tracking and preventing shoplifting and online crime continue to open up the field in new directions. In today's world, you can make a difference in your community in more ways than ever!

4. It may be different than you expect—but in a good way!

Still don't know what career a typical criminal justice student goes on to pursue? That's because there is no typical student—and no typical criminal justice job. If you're expecting high-speed chases and intense jailhouse scenes, you may not find what you're looking for unless you pursue a job in the highway patrol or high-security correctional facilities. But if you're open to a career that plays to your strengths, allows you to serve others and opens up opportunities everywhere you look, an education in criminal justice might just be for you.

Get more information today about South University bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminal justice!

by South University, Online Programs
October 15, 2014
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Best Apps for Business Students

by South University, Online Programs
October 14, 2014

Students enrolled in business programs have unique needs for study and recreational apps. These days, it's no secret that your smart phone can be your best friend when it comes to note-taking, studying, staying on top of your finances and generally keeping you informed about the wider world of business. The following mobile apps are great tools for any business student.

Using appsEvernote

This app gives note-taking a modern touch. Capture websites, paragraphs, voice-recorded messages and more, and sort through them easily while studying. Evernote and LinkedIn are working together to replace the Card Munch application, allowing you to scan business cards and add new contacts to your LinkedIn profile.


Successful business students know that accounting and financial management are a huge part of their education. BillMinder offers an easy way to track your accounts. View your statements online, set reminders for payments and see all the data compiled in comprehensive charts. You can even sync your accounts with the rest of your household to keep everyone on track.

QFinance Dictionary

Need a little help to keep the financial jargon straight? QFinance Dictionary has compiled more than 9,000 international business, finance and commerce terms for quick reference and study.

Associated Press

The AP is always quick to report on new business, international, political and economic developments. Not only does the AP app make for good reading on the subway or on your lunch break, it will also help you keep in touch with the business world you'll be officially entering come internship or graduation.

Open Table

Whether you need a break from studying or you want to schedule lunch, brunch or dinners for networking purposes, Open Table has you covered. Choose the restaurant, make a reservation and off you go! Book ahead for the weekend or break up the weeklong tedium with a trip to your favorite sushi joint or steak house. Open Table offers the best way to make sure you can eat where and when you like, whether you're rubbing elbows with those in the industry or checking out of the business world for awhile.

Explore South University's College of Business programs today!

by South University, Online Programs
October 14, 2014
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3 Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid in Academic Writing

by South University, Online Programs
October 9, 2014

Over the course of your studies, there’s no way to avoid writing academic and research papers, but avoiding some of the most common writing pitfalls is easier than you might think. Developing your writing skills as a student is essential, as these skills will allow you to clearly convey your ideas and opinions and will go a long way in helping you throughout your professional career. Here are 3 mistakes you should be sure to avoid, so that you can compose essays that are clear, concise and persuasive.

papers in the trash

1. Ambiguity

Ambiguous writing muddles your argument, making it difficult for your reader to understand what you're trying to say. Ambiguity in writing comes in many forms, but two areas are particularly susceptible to vagueness. First, ambiguous pronouns can make an otherwise clear sentence downright confusing. Using pronouns to represent previously introduced subjects varies your writing and allows you to avoid sounding repetitive. However, pronouns such as it, they, this, and these risk being ambiguous. To avoid being vague, define these pronouns. For example, instead of saying, "This was successful," write, "This study was successful."

Similarly, a modifier, which is a short phrase that describes another word or phrase in a sentence, can be ambiguous when it is improperly placed in the sentence. To avoid ambiguous modifiers, keep them immediately before or after the words they describe.

2. Lack of Credible Sources

Sources can bolster your argument and connect your research to the writers and researchers who came before you. However, while the Internet has simplified the research process, it has also exposed students to many unverifiable sources.

Knowing how to conduct research can help you avoid using questionable sources. For starters, anonymous sources should not be trusted. The credibility of authors can be verified by researching their background to determine whether they are a subject matter expert or simply an opinionated blogger. Questionable sources can further be avoided by searching on reputable websites, especially those that end in .edu, .org or .gov.

We recommend beginning your research through the Online Library, accessible in the Campus Common via the My Academics menu. The Online Library staff also regularly hosts webinars that can help you to enhance your research skills, and staff members are available to assist you at or 1-866-874-0730. To see our webinar schedule, check our events calendar!

3. Improper Style

Style guides might seem like burdensome rules that frustrate and confuse students, but they also help create cohesive, easy-to-understand papers that are consistent from start to finish. Many students overlook style guide formatting or fail to apply rules consistently, which can result in a paper that is challenging to read. Moreover, failing to follow proper style risks unintentional plagiarism.

Adhering to your program- or course-specific style guide, whether that is APA, MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style, among others, is essential. In addition to ensuring that your academic paper adheres to basic formatting guidelines, you should also ensure you cite sources properly throughout. Whether you use parenthetical citations within the text or footnotes at the bottom of the page, your in-text citations should line up with a complete and correctly formatted works-cited page at the end of your paper.

Don’t forget that South University offers a Writing Center where someone will review your papers and give you feedback prior to final submission. Just select the Tutoring Service link in your classroom on any assignment page!

by South University, Online Programs
October 9, 2014
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