Solutions to Problems
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Orienting and Engaging Students in Learning-Centered Education
What student behaviors are most critically related to
learning success? How does
your college promote and support these behaviors?
of the most critical student behaviors for learning success is making
connections with instructors and other students, both inside and outside
the classroom. Students who make these connections become comfortable
within the college environment because they believe they share common
interests and academic abilities with other students and faculty. These
students are more likely to find the academic environment challenging
instead of overwhelming. They are more likely to be aware of and seek
needed support and resources and are more likely to continue their
college has many programs, services and classroom activities to promote
and support student connections in the learning process. Mandatory
assessment and placement in basic skills courses is an important first
step. Ensuring that students begin academic courses at the appropriate
level is critical in helping students become involved in the learning
process. Such placement allows students to connect with other students
with common academic challenges and abilities as well as build the
necessary academic skills to move forward.
student orientation and the required first-semester student success
course (COL-101) promote and support student behaviors critical for
learning success. Both provide students opportunities to learn skills
critical for student success, to connect with faculty and other students
and to learn about campus resources.
practices that allow students to work together and to receive frequent
feedback from instructors promotes and supports learning success.
Full time faculty are required to schedule and post office hours
to provide meeting/conference times for students.
They are also required to provide email addresses, office
location, and phone numbers on the syllabus for each class.
Academic Skills center provides individual tutoring assistance to
students. Faculty and
professional tutors provide assistance with a variety of topics. The center is open 56 hours per week.
What key institutional practices at your college have been
found to be linked to student retention and positive learning outcomes?
assessment, placement, orientation and COL-101.
know that the students most in need of assistance are the least likely
to seek help. If orientation and COL-101 were offered only on a
voluntary basis, few students would choose them. If testing and course
placement were advisory, few students would follow the recommendations.
By being proactive in providing support to students, by requiring course
placement, orientation and COL-101, we make certain that all new
students start at a level where they can be successful and that they
learn about resources available to help them.
results show that COL-101 has a positive impact on student retention.
End of semester and end of year data for new fall 2000 students showed
that students who successfully completed COL-101 had a higher GPA,
completed a higher percentage of the credit hours in which they
enrolled, and were more likely to enroll in the second semester and
second year than students who were unsuccessful in COL-101 or who did
not take COL-101.
What are your college's best practices in student
orientation and first-year experience?
Valley requires that all new full-time students complete placement
testing and orientation prior to first-semester registration.
Orientation introduces college resources, reviews placement testing
results and assists students with educational planning and
first-semester registration. Led by a team of counselors and academic
advisors, and continuously revised for improvement, the orientation
program currently involves a variety of instructional media including
use of an Internet orientation website, lecture, group discussion and
Spring 2000, Moraine Valley requires that in addition to the
pre-semester orientation, all new full-time students complete a one
credit hour student success course, COL-101, during their first
semester. COL-101 helps students make a successful transition to the
college environment by providing the opportunity for them to learn about
campus resources, to develop essential academic skills and to learn
about themselves in relation to the demands of higher education.
Through COL-101, students have the opportunity to connect with
other students and with the faculty member teaching the course. COL-101
includes a module during which all students participate in an
educational planning session with an academic advisor. A completed
educational plan is one requirement for successfully completing the
How can your college effectively assess, benchmark,
monitor, and improve student engagement in learning?
Continue to track the success of COL-101 participants beyond the first
semester. This will allow us to compare the characteristics of students
who continue to experience academic success to those who do not in order
to improve the academic success of all students.
to conduct student focus groups to document students' experiences in
pre- and post- tests in remedial classes to assess what the student has
learned in each course. Create
opportunities for students and faculty to provide feedback regarding
what is and is not working for student learning.
B. Creating Learning-Centered Programs for Underprepared Students
What structures, policies, and processes have proven to be
most critical in promoting the success of underprepared students at your
assessment and placement
counseling for students experiencing academic difficulties
tutoring and academic skills instruction
program for minority students (DREAM program)
advising specifically focused on promoting the achievement of minority
Assessment and Placement-Students registering
for 12 or more credit hours are required to complete placement tests in
reading, writing and mathematics, and participate in an orientation
program prior to their first registration.
Students registering for less than 12 credit hours are required to
complete placement tests in reading, writing and mathematics prior to
registering for composition or math courses, or after attempting eleven
students are assessed they are placed in the appropriate courses.
Students must successfully complete the required course(s) to move
to the next level coursework. Placement
is enforced through the student registration system.
It is also monitored after grades are posted at the end of each
semester. Students who do not
complete required coursework with a grade of C or better are notified and
required to re-register for the course.
Warning Support System (EWSS)-During the third
week of the semester, faculty are asked to identify students who attending
regularly, completing course assignments or achieving academic success.
Students are sent a letter requesting that they meet with a counselor or
the instructor to discuss their progress.
Mentoring Program-Directing Results Through
Educational and Academic Mentoring (DREAM) is a staff/student program
designed to help minority students reach educational and career goals, as
well as provide social and personal direction.
The DREAM program helps students overcome obstacles, share
experiences and make new friends. Students
are paired with two other students who share the same mentor.
This program gives students a chance to foster a relationship with
their mentor and other students of similar backgrounds and interests.
Students are encouraged to interact with their mentor to develop a
relationship conducive to learning about college and themselves.
This interaction provides students with ideas and knowledge about
different college interests and enhances students' abilities to make the
right choices and decisions.
Skills Center-The Academic Skills Center offers
tutoring assistance in reading, communications, math, science, and other
subjects. Tutors complete an eight
hour training program and provide services to all levels of students.
The Center also offers a supplemental instruction program for
faculty interested in providing this service for students.
What are the keys to creating information systems adequate to
the need to track student progress and success at your college?
What performance indicators will help your college know how
effective its approaches actually are?
to information systems to track student progress:
to track and monitor assessment and required placement
to track placement exemptions
to account for numerous student characteristics simultaneously
(multiple test scores, course grades, intended program of study, etc.)
to develop comprehensive database including student needs and
not just abilities and performance data
educational and career goals
needs for support services
to record student involvement in extracurricular activities
to record staff comments regarding student-not all characteristics are
to information about students beyond enrollment at the community
pre- and post- tests for remedial courses
successful completion of departmental final exams
completion of post tests in remedial courses
completion of remedial coursework
rates in remedial coursework
course grades in next level coursework
identification (educational plan-transfer or career)
What diagnostic tools are being used at your college for
effective assessment of student skills upon entry and appropriate
placement in courses?
college has recently begun using COMPASS for assessment and placement.
Individual testing is available to determine learning disabilities.
Formerly, we used the ASSET test for math and communications and
the Nelson Denny test for reading.
In what ways is your college effectively working with middle
and high schools to improve student preparation?
Beginning Fall 2002, we have been awarded an Educational Talent Search
grant which will allow us to provide ongoing support to students at one
high school and four middle schools. We are discussing this issue
currently. We welcome thoughts or
ideas from other colleges.