> Southeast, Central & South American Federation

Southeast, Central & South American Federation


Donald Schoffstall
Johnson & Wales University
School of Hospitality, College of Management
801 W. Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina USA 28202

Join Us in Miami!

There is still time to join your colleagues and fellow members at the SECSA Conference in Miami.  

I hope this finds everyone well and that your spring semester are off to a good start. The SECSA Conference will be held March 9-10, 2017, on the campus of Florida International University. Though the call for papers has closed, there is plenty of time to join us at FIU in Miami.  Registration and schedule information can be found on the SECSA page of the ICHRIE website. Please pre-register by February 19th via email to

Feel free to connect with the SECSA and its members on LinkedIn and Facebook.
LinkedIn group page: SECSA Federation and on Facebook group page: SECSA Federation of ICHRIE (‘Ichrie’ on the site).

Finally, we are looking for hard-working members who are interested in serving on the SECSA Board in the upcoming years. If you are dedicated and willing to jump in to help us continue to move forward, please contact me.

As always, I welcome any SECSA member to feel free to reach out to me ( or 980-598-1536), so that we can chat about our future together.

Don Schoffstall

Reflecting on What We Do: Educators (or Managers) Given Feedback

For the majority as each semester ends, we hurry onto the next one without much thought or reflection; of course, maybe a research project thrown in. Perhaps one thing we all should do is one that is often the toughest, the concept of reflecting on what we just did (in general and complex) and how to adjust moving forward. Every class day or student interaction is a product of what we do as educators, yet each is a unique situation that was handled one of a multitude of ways (hopefully good, but maybe not the best). In industry, working 60-80 hours per week left little time for reflection just reacting to the latest fire (issue) needing attention. As an educator, though still plenty of hours committed, time is probably there for some much-needed reflection.

In restaurants (or other industry operations) customer feedback is received generally through comment received in person, via a survey (usually online), or even a comment card (how ‘old-fashion’); not counting general posts on social media. Both, survey comments or a filled-out comment card, allow the manager an opportunity to be made aware of a situation that had occurred in the restaurant and whether positive or negative, should promote some reflection. In teaching, we often receive customer feedback in the form of student end-of-semester surveys and this too can be both, positive or negative. I read these completed reports often and it took me awhile before I started truly reflecting on them, rather than just considering them another part of the job.

Each comment represents an experience for a student and it is always the students written comments that I value, as the scores for me are just academic. However, it is the comments (positive, negative, or suggestions) where that value is quite similar to the guest that writes about a fabulous meal/experience or an issue with their server that could be an opportunity for continued training if necessary. Now, of course, just like many guest comments I read for years in industry positions, sometimes student comments have little value (I.e. ‘you rock’ or ‘this sucks’) and do little to help with any true reflection or improvement. There are also the misguided comments (I.e. ‘we never used the book we had to buy’ – of course not, as for this class we did not buy one in the first place) or unfortunately the comments that could be good, but are flat and lack helpful detail (I.e. ‘the project was difficult’). However, quite often if we look, there are tons of comments that are useful and should be reflected upon, regardless of it being a positive experience (we all like those) or a negative experience from a student. Unfortunately, just like restaurant customers we cannot always perfectly please everyone.

So, then what and why should you care? Simple, because it is the act of reflection that can drive us to improve for ourselves, our students, our schools, and our industry with better outcome and output. Or simply because it is the right thing to do and we owe it to the next class of students that enters our classrooms.

Some tips on comments:

  • Always reflect with an open mind each positive and negative comment
  • Look for, track, and focus on patterns while ignoring the outliers
  • Strive for balance in teaching (I.e. blend lecture, presentation, discussion and activities all into one class).
  • Provide options if possible for students to choose (daily, weekly, etc.)

For me, it is all about the patterns that may or may not be there. This, of course, comes from teaching classes multiple times and thus having the ability to look for patterns and truly identify the outliers as they are. It is the pattern of a positive comment (awesome reinforcement) or a negative comment (maybe I can adjust this for next time; how could this be presented/required differently), which allows us to continue to evolve as educators. I leave you with a challenge, look at your next student evaluation openly and reflect on the comments provided (what can you do differently? - even if it is only one thing you are willing to consider). If you do not have any recently then go back to last years (or earlier) and check for patterns (can you honestly say the positives are still positive and the negatives are now removed or positives? If they are still negative, then why?). Challenge yourself to identify at least one item you can improve; remember you owe it to your students and yourself.


Federation Overview
Meet the SECSA Board

SECSA bylaws
2018 SECSA Conference Details TBA

2016 Conference Proceedings
2017 SECSA Conference Proceedings

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