How to Give Constructive Feedback That Works

by South University 28 October 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.

Why Choose Online Learning

by South University 22 October 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.

4 Things to Know About the Criminal Justice Field

by South University 16 October 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!

Don’t miss our upcoming IT webinar series!

by South University 3 October 2014

South University’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Chapter is excited to announce our 2014 fall webinar series. ACM membership is not required to attend but students studying information technology or business are encouraged to consider student membership! Learn more about ACM at

Events Calendar

To register for any or all of these sessions, please visit the Event Calendar in the Campus Common!

Commercial Software Development: Your First Programming or QA Job
Bradley Fordham
South University, Online Programs instructor

Big Data Analytics

Nizar Alsaid
South University, Online Programs instructor

Mobile Games
Bruce Huang
South University, Online Programs instructor

Current Job Disciplines in IT
Cathy White
South University, Online Programs instructor

Benefits of ACM membership & Topic Suggestions
John Lombardi
South University, Online Programs instructor

Not interested in IT? See what other events are on the calendar for October!

South University Faculty Member Shares 5 Facts Every Coffee Drinker Should Know

by South University 29 September 2014

As we celebrate National Coffee Day September 29th, South University faculty member Roseane Santos, Ph.D. is sharing 5 facts you should know about your coffee.

CoffeeSantos is an Associate Professor at South University’s School of Pharmacy and has centered her research on the health benefits of coffee. She is co-author of the 2009 book An Unashamed Defense of Coffee: 101 Reasons to Drink Coffee without Guilt, and will moderate a workshop focused on the impact of coffee on human health at the International Summit on Clinical Pharmacy in San Francisco this December.

1. Turn Off the Tap

Water from the kitchen sink is not ideal for brewing coffee. Santos suggests using bottled or filtered water because the amount of minerals such as chlorine, heavy metals and calcium may alter the flavor of the coffee. Remember, water represents 98% of the cup of coffee.

2. Filter Out Fat

It might be surprising, but coffee contains fat. Santos says using a filter will help trap much of the fat and keep it out of your coffee mug.

3. Medium Roast Is Best

Hard-core coffee drinkers may love a very dark roast, but Santos says mild to medium is the best when you are looking to capitalize on all of the health benefits of coffee. Many of the components in coffee that provide health benefits are broken down by heat. So, a mild or medium roast will yield the most health benefits.

4. The Caffeine Kick

Caffeine is one of the few components in coffee that is not thermo-sensitive, or affected by heat. So, what kind of water you use, and how long the beans were roasted won’t have any effect on the caffeine content of your coffee. If you are caffeine-sensitive, the only solution is decaf.

5. Have a Second Cup, and Third, and a Fourth

Santos says the latest research shows that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is the best amount to help maximize its health benefits.

About South University

Established in 1899, South University ( is a private academic institution dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of a diverse student population. South University offers over 90 degree programs across its 15 campuses located in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. South University, Tampa 4401 North Himes Avenue, Suite 175 Tampa, FL 33614 ©2014 South University. Our email address is

See for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important information.

Media Contact:
Betsy Nolen
Communications Director