Most faculty in the community college nowadays do not have time to learn a lot of the scholarship of Teaching and Learning, but are also being pressured to find ways to increase student success and retention.
Find one core piece of proven high bang for the buck Scholarship that is easy to come to grips with but has many ways and means to implement for any context or experience level.
The single biggest starting point that encompasses or supports almost all of the extensive field of Teaching & Learning research is Chickering & Gamson’s 7 Principles for Undergrad Education (1987).
Art Chickering and Zelda Gamson in 1986 did a massive lit review to find common best teaching practices that improved student success. Since they published these in 1987, studies have shown that implementing these, even individually, can improve student success retention at the individual course, program or college levels (even for K-12 as well).
- Encourage Faculty-Student Interaction
WHAT: Find additional ways/ means to promote interaction/communication with students.
BENEFITS: Students that are able to approach faculty easier tend to stick when the going gets tough. And/or they will be more likely to let you know of underlying issues interfering with their performance.
HOW: Structured means for students to contact you — “2 minute papers” at the end of class; online chats, Canvas Inbox, Class Padlet, etc.
- Encourage Student-Student Interaction
WHAT: Find structured ways to promote students meaningfully interacting with other in-person and or online.
BENEFITS: Structured peer teaching opportunities multiplies your efforts and/or can ‘translate’ your explanation such that a classmate gets it; Students who have a stronger connection to classmates tend to have higher retention rates and motivation.
HOW: Jigsaw activities, Fishbowl Activities, Peer Reviews, Group Problem-Solving, Team-based Learning etc.
- Encourage Active Learning
WHAT: Creating a cycle where students have to directly “do” or Observe someone doing or somehow putting the course material into action and then reflect on their experience individually and then as a group.
BENEFITS: Increases student engagement, motivation, attendance etc.
HOW: Move didactic lecture content to outside of class (via lecture recordings, quizzes etc.) to free up classtime, then structure an active application activity and have students reflect on what they saw/ learned etc. individually and then process as a group in person or online.
- Give Prompt Feedback
WHAT: Any way/means to shorten the all-important feedback loop to let students know what they do/do not know.
BENEFITS: Increasing engagement, motivation, retention etc.
HOW: IF-AT forms, KAHOOT clicker quizzes, Canvas Quizzes, etc.
- Emphasize Time on Task
WHAT: Time plus energy = learning; Making students aware of how they utilize/manage their time.
BENEFITS: Students understand their responsibility and or better organize their time to improve the quality of work and or motivation.
HOW: Time Management Calculator Tools, Reflective questions on assessments – “How much time/ reading did you do for this?”, Stated estimates on amount of time required to do credible work on an assessments, weekly “time cards” reflections on how/where students spent their time for the course etc.
- Communicate High Expectations
WHAT: Set the bar high and show and remind students of this often thorugh various ways and means.
BENEFITS: Raises all boats — high performing students respond well – lower performing students push themselves further; builds a positive climate to support motivation, engagement etc.
HOW: Models, Rubrics, specific & supportive feedback
- Respect Diverse Talents & Ways of Learning
WHAT: Not everybody responds the same way and or has different experiences/ ways to engage the material.
BENEFITS: Offer multiple options for demonstrating mastery; Offer content in different modalities/formats;
HOW: Differentiated due dates; Exempt assignments; Different project options/deliverables;
TAKING THE FIRST STEPS
Pick one of the Best Practices above and determine what is one way this could be implemented in your course next week. Implement your change and then ask students and or measure if it improved your desired goal (attendence, engagement, assessment performance, etc.) . Take the feedback data and adjust as needed and repat until you get the full desired result.
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