Hybrid classes in Baruch College – interviews with faculty and students

Professor Linda Friedman from Statistics and Professor Nermin Eyuboglu from Marketing are each teaching a hybrid class in their department’s two core courses this fall.  Karolina Krystyniak, the IT fellow, summarizes the interviews but I also encourage you to watch them.  Both faculty give honest, nuanced, and insightful comments on the pros and cons of teaching a hybrid class.  Bottom line: both faculty are supportive of the online movement, but they admit that no teaching approach (hybrid, online or traditional) fits all the students.

Professor Ted Joyce

Linda Weiser Friedman, Professor of Statistics and Computer Information Systems, has been teaching online and hybrid courses for many years. This semester she is teaching two sections of Business Statistics 2000, one of which is in hybrid format. Based on her vast experience in applying different formats, she believes that the hybrid is the best of both worlds, online and traditional.

She finds that the classes containing online materials are very beneficial to the students, allowing them to work at their own pace. Such flexibility is extremely important given that many Baruch students work, take care of their families and have a lot of other responsibilities. They also appreciate the possibility of working at night.  On the other hand, the students still benefit from the in-class interaction and direct contact with the professor.

Professor Friedman teaches the hybrid Business Statistics 2000 course in a “flipped classroom” format. Traditionally, the student would passively attend a lecture at school and do practice problems at home. In the flipped format students do readings and prep work before the class and the lecture time is allocated to solving problems and discussing application.

The chance of success of hybrid class is, according to Professor Friedman, similar to the traditional format; it all depends on the instructor, how he approaches the students and how he applies the teaching tools. She also stresses that educators should acknowledge that certain people feel better learning in different formats.

Based on observation of this semester’s hybrid class enrollment, Professor Friedman has the impression that it attracted the students capable of more independent work. This section also filled up before the traditional ones. She observes that more gifted students are more likely to enroll to such class; the hybrid course students had slightly better grades on average than the traditional section.

Professor Friedman thinks hybrid courses should be offered as an alternative to traditional ones. She stresses however that the traditional class should be improved based on hybrid experience with increased usage of the online material and application of technology available today.

Andrew De Rosa, a student currently participating in Statistics 2000 class taught by Prof. Friedman is a sophomore, interested in majoring in finance and minoring in economics. This is his first hybrid course and he finds that the format based on increased amount of self-teaching requires getting used to. He thinks that the course is enables students to do well.  Professor Friedman provides a lot of online materials, but the student has to allocate enough time to benefit from the course. Andrew appreciates the freedom and flexibility that comes with a hybrid. He would be interested in taking other courses in a hybrid format, however only those that are not designed for his major or electives.  He is a finance major and as he expects those courses to be harder, he would prefer to have meetings twice a week in a traditional format for them.

Nermin Eyuboglu, Professor of Marketing, is applying the hybrid format to the Principles of Marketing 3000 class for the first time this semester. She decided to try the hybrid because such format requires more student involvement; she was also concerned about the classroom shortage at Baruch.

In a traditional setting, according to Professor Eyuboglu, only a small fraction of students come to class having done all the assigned readings. In the hybrid class on the other hand, they are tested online on the readings and they need to apply the new concepts with real case studies. As a result, students are able to digest and synthesize the material more successfully than has been her experience with a traditional format. Moreover, she observes that the student learning is more evenly distributed throughout the semester, as compared to the learning peaks before  exams that are characteristic of the traditional class.

Based on her experience, the fundamental differences Professor Eyuboglu observes between hybrid and traditional courses are:

  • hybrid is much more regimented, requiring both student and instructor to rigorously follow the schedule in order to achieve the learning objectives;
  • due to less class time in the hybrid format, only essential topics can be covered in class which requires that students master the non-core concepts at home;
  • the hybrid provides more information about each individual student and allows for monitoring of his online activity – this proves beneficial if intervention is needed;
  • the hybrid format provides regular and constructive feedback that enables the professor to focus on the most challenging concepts in class.

Professor Eyuboglu observes that hybrid classes attract two types of students: the capable and self-disciplined types as well as less dedicated students who wrongly assume the course will take less time and effort. As a result, the midterm grades, despite having a similar (if slightly higher) average in the hybrid as compared to the previously taught traditional courses, had a different distribution with both more higher but also more lower scores.

Professor Eyuboglu would be interested in teaching more classes in a hybrid format, especially the higher level specialized courses, such as Channels of distribution. If students learn the basic material by themselves, she can spend more class time on analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.

Videos by Ethan Kinory


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