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Student “Success”

barclay_barrios
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My latest service burden opportunity is working on an institution-wide task force on student success.  My particular subcommittee had its first meeting yesterday.  Quite revealing Early in the meeting someone raised the obvious question: what do we mean by student “success”? Unfortunately, part of the answer to that question has been predetermined by the state, which has moved to a performance-based funding model in which one of the key measures is 4-6 year graduation rate.  For the state at least, success means graduation.  It’s not the definition we would choose (as a committee, as a task force, as an institution) but we ignore it at the peril of our budget. What was encouraging for me, though, was the fact that we—a diverse group representing staff, faculty, and administrators—all thought to raise the question and all wanted to answer it in a way that didn’t translate to dollars but did translate to students.  I guess what I’m saying is that it was nice to be reminded that people at my school really care about students. Of course, these kinds of meetings have a way of turning me back to my classroom, too.  I’ve been thinking about what student success means to me as well as what it might mean to my students.  I think for many students success in my FYC course means just getting out.  I can live with that though it’s not how I would have it.  For me though student success means that my students end the course different than when they started—perhaps as better writers, hopefully as better thinkers, maybe as savvier readers, but above all as something more than when they started. What does student success look like to you?
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About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.