Faculty Scholarship –Fall 2017– Conference Presentations

February 2, 2018 | Academics, Research

Guttman Community College faculty members presented their research at leading national and international academic conferences this fall. Below is a summary.


Ria Banerjee, Assistant Professor of English, presented “Weddings and Marriages: Mary Butts and English Responses to Stability and Change” at the Modernism Studies Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in August 2017. This paper argues that people in the 1920s and 30s clung to traditional forms like “proper” marriages (e.g., between families from similar classes) out of fear of war and change. Dr. Banerjee uses as exemplar the fiction of the English writer Mary Butts, who reacted to her experience of the First World War by becoming racist and reactionary. This paper maps the conservative threads of her argument and suggests a way to redeem the novels while still holding the novelist accountable for her politics.

In September 2017, Dr. Banerjee presented “Eliot and the Moot Society: Notes towards a Modern Christian Society” at the T. S. Eliot Society Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO. This paper reviews the poet T. S. Eliot’s contribution to a secret discussion group of hoi polloi, the Moot Society. Using their discussions as a starting point, Dr. Banerjee considers the attempt made by religious thinkers to solve problems about local communities and national politics in a secular modern age.

The same month, Dr. Banerjee also presented “Cheating and Learning in Developmental English and Beyond” at the CUNY-Wide Conference on Academic Integrity at Hostos Community College in New York. This paper argues that “cheating” is separate from plagiarism or copying. It presents a pedagogic experiment in which students prepare for an open-book literature exam by writing notes and analytic points inside their text, and are given the essay format exam questions ahead of time, which the students call “cheating”. Dr. Banerjee argues that this leads them to learn the material in more depth and clearly synthesize their thoughts – key skills to carry forward into future classes.

Nicola Blake, Associate Professor of English and Special Assistant to the Provost, presented the keynote address “Lead From Where You Are” at the Student Affairs Leadership Summit at LaGuardia Community College – CUNY.

April Burns, Assistant Professor of Psychology, presented “Bettering Ourselves, Distancing Our Families: Relational Understandings of College for First-Generation College Graduates and Their Families” at the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology Annual Conference, “Qualitative Research Methods.” Burns presents the relational experiences of first generation college graduates related to uneven educational attainment within their family of origin, delving into the psychological ambivalences, or the interior enactments of societal conflicts, that intensely affecting first-generation graduates and their families.

Tracy Daraviras, Associate Professor of English and Writing Area Coordinator, presented “A New First Year Experience: CUNY’s Guttman Community College” at TYFY: Two Year First Year Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Karla S. Fuller, Associate Professor of Biology, presented a professional development workshop called “Experimenting with Summative Assessment in an Exam-Free Undergraduate Biology Course​” at National Association of Biology Teachers Professional Development Conference in St. Louis, MO. This presentation helped high school and college educators create a learning outcomes-based assessment using backwards mapping and Bloom’s revised taxonomy. The goal of the workshop was to create an assessment template that would replace a traditional exam and offer a more robust measure of student learning gains in a science classroom.

Meghan Gilbert-Hickey, Assistant Professor of English, presented “Nostalgia, Colorblindness, and the Idealized Mother in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale ” at The Handmaid’s Tale Symposium in Worcester, UK. This paper considers how, in the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, the move from an all-white society in which motherhood is primary to a colorblind society in which biological desperation purportedly trumps racism might be most significantly read not as a provocative and progressive nod to the future but rather as a reflection of where we are now. The introduction of intentional colorblindness ultimately serves to replicate neoliberal social structures that protect upper- and middle-class, educated white liberals from difficult conversations about racial inequity while simultaneously allowing racism to continue.

 Jiyhun Kim, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, presented “The Effects of the Science Writing Heuristic” at the 218th Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium (2YC3) Conference in Durham, NC.

David O. Monda, Instructor of Political Science, presented “Comparative Perspectives between Kenya and US elections” at the People to People International in Lewes, Delaware. This presentation was the culmination of People to People International’s Peace Week, which centered on a comparative perspective of Kenyan and American elections around the theme of “Circles of Understanding”.

Andrea Morrell, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies & Anthropology, presented “Who Benefits from Prison Expansion? Whiteness, Small Town Elites, and the Rural Imagination in Upstate New York” at the American Studies Association in Chicago, IL. In the small city of Elmira, New York, the site of prison expansion under Cuomo’s massive expansion in the 1980’s, there is a racialized panic that the two state prisons are dramatically expanding the use of welfare benefits and causing crime in the city. Morrell traces this panic ethnographically through the practice of social work and policing in Elmira in order to demonstrate how discursive practice is made evident and creates and recreates a racialized logic of incarceration on the outside of the prison.

Dr. Morrell also presented “Prison Guards and the Political Economy of Whiteness in New York State Prison Expansion” as part of the panel Centering Prisons: Reframing Analysis of the State, Relations of Power and Resistance, at the 2017 meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC. Based on ethnographic and archival work in Elmira, New York, a small city in central New York State, this article explores the labor of prison guards and the uses of their whiteness in the prison and in the prison town. In Morrell’s ethnographic research, one corrections officer referred to the Elmira Correctional Facility as a “hometown prison” – a prison run by people from Elmira who “don’t take any bologna” and mark themselves as culturally distinct from the majority Black and Latino men they are hired to control. Following the formulation of a “hometown prison,” Morell argues that the historically and geographically constructed category of whiteness has functioned as a central mode of punishment in the prison system and constitutes a re-racialization of categories of difference through the carceral state.

Marla A. Sole, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Guttman, and Audrey A. Nasar, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Borough of Manhattan Community College, co-presentedDeveloping Statistical Reasoning through Comparison Games” at the Annual Meeting of the National Numeracy Network at Barnard College and Columbia University in New York. In this presentation, Sole and Nasar shared how teachers can build students’ intuitive understanding of variation, a fundamental concept of statistics. They discussed engaging students in making decisions using data sets. The comparison games introduced in this presentation aim to build on students’ pre-existing knowledge in order to develop the fundamental concepts of variation and probability.

Dr. Sole also presented “Statistical Thinking: What’s Brewing in Authentic Investigations?” at the Annual Meeting of the National Numeracy Network at Barnard College and Columbia University in New York. This presentation focused on how to enhance statistical thinking by engaging students in authentic investigations, modeling the way statisticians work in the real world. In it, Dr. Sole shared a project designed to investigate why iced coffee cost more than hot coffee. The activity and pedagogical practices designed to scaffold and enhance the learning were published in the article Journal of Statistics Education.

Tashana S. Samuel, Assistant Professor of Psychology, presented “Assessing Event Representation with Objects in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” at the Cognitive Development Society Biennial Conference in Portland, OR. This experiment used the elicited imitation paradigm, a methodology only previously used on typically developing children, to assess flexibility of event representation in children with autism.  Contrary to previous research, findings yielded from this method suggest that under some circumstances, children with autism could generalize novel and familiar events just as well as their typically developing counterparts.

Dr. Samuel also co-presented “Deferred Imitation and Generalization of Novel and Familiar Events by 14-month Old Infants Born to Teenage Mothers” at the Cognitive Development Society Biennial Conference in Portland, OR. Ongoing longitudinal research has shown that maternal stress during pregnancy can compromise learning and retention on the conjugate kicking task in 4-month-olds. Using a deferred imitation method, more actions were imitated on day 1 (M = 4.96) and recalled on day 2 (M = 4.98) than at baseline (M = 3.13, p < .001); however, generalized imitation to dissimilar objects was not found (M = 3.31, p = .16).  The flexible learning abilities often found in this age group appears to be developing slowly in these children of teen mothers. Follow-up measures with the same participants at 24-months of age are in progress.