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THE ISSUE:

Our 21st Century Community College Students face many competing distractions and obstacles to perform at their best academically. Several factors can make them ‘disappear’ or drop our classes.

DISCLAIMER:

There are some factors simply beyond our control as instructors and in some cases, beyond the control of the students, even with the best of intentions.

THE FIX:

HOWEVER we have a duty to our students, community and the college to do all we can to maximize the “stickiness” of our courses to retain as many students as possible. We do this by the best practice techniques and strategies, leveraged by tools that will best allow us to implement these strategies.

  1. INTERACTION -Faculty-Student
    “Frequent student – instructor contact in and out of classes is an important factor in student motivation… Instructor concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working… “
    -Chickering & Gamson, 7 Best Practices
    Classes where the instructor is aloof or not engaged with students are easier to “drop” or walk away from. We need to actively cultivate engagement of our students.
    HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN:

    • Engage students as individuals and pay attention to how they are doing/ feeling.
    • Make it a point to know students by name.
    • Extend 1on1 accessibility/ communication via Canvas Inbox / Announcements etc.
    • Offer opportunities for 1on1 check-ins/office hours.
    • Offer informal “back channels” [PDF] with   a class Twitter hashtag in and out of class to offer micro interactions.
  2. INTERACTION – Student-Student
    “…student-student relationships may be more important determinants of educational success.”
    -Johnson, “Student-Student Interaction: The Neglected Variable in Education”
    Passive learning experiences where students do not have to interact with classmates are easier to “drop” or walk away from. We need to intentionally create a learning community to give students a sense of belonging and support.
    HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN:

  3. ASSESSMENT- Frequent, Flexible & Mastery Oriented
    We can use Fink’s FIDeL(ity) Feedback – Feedback that is:
    FREQUENT,
    IMMEDIATE (where possible)
    DISCRIMINATING (Based on clear standards)
    LOVINGLY — or Supportively if you prefer — Delivered
    As a framework to keep students aware of where they are in the course as well as encouraged to stick with it. Likewise, we can leverage technology to offer flexibility to our assessments in those instances where work or other valid issues interfere with class. Likewise, our assessment strategies should be aimed to offer
    HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN:

  4. GRIT – Collaboratively Build Grit & Tenacity
    “Grit is a better indicator of GPA and graduation rates.”Davis
    Grit has become a current area of study and research to foster retention, resilience and long term “21st century skills” to allow students to be adaptable for the changing new economy.
    HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN:

TAKING THE FIRST STEPS:

Develop an Action plan of what your ultimate realistic goal for “Stickiness” for your classes is. Work backwards to make obtainable goals for next year-Next term-next month-this month-this week… See RETAINING BORDERLINE STUDENTS –ACTION PLAN (PDF)

Utilize our shared 24/7 NC State backchannel padlet to dialog/ share questions/ resources as you make this journey.

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