A recent student advising meeting really got me thinking. Although there is hope that we may be turning a corner with Covid (or just getting used to this new normal), there is also a Covid aftermath many are facing right now. An aftermath that is a result of the impact of two years of unexpected life changes, disruption, and anxiety. Like so many, my student started college expecting the “old,” or pre-pandemic normal, but about the time he was feeling somewhat acclimated on campus, March 2020 came along and college became defined by Zoom. It is hard to fully digest this. His college life turned into Zoom...how could that be??? And the impact of this sudden and profound change meant he was changed forever. Class engagement through Zoom was particularly challenging for him. It was harder to concentrate, harder to participate, harder to ask questions, harder to connect with classmates, harder to motivate to do work, harder to study with the ever present distractions of technology, harder, harder, harder. Two years later, this student is doing everything he can to figure out how to change his college habits, to better manage his time, improve his study strategies, pull away from distractions, and also pull up his grades so he can get off academic probation. Before saying more, I do want to acknowledge that colleges did what they could to figure out this new and unchartered territory of fully virtual learning environments. And nuggets of good news emerged, with some students thriving even better in this type of class setting. But I want to focus on the aftermath for those trying to pick up the difficult pieces of an unexpected college life. In this aftermath, there is grief. Grief in what could have been and then the shocking reality of what actually happened. Grief in an expectation of college life that was dashed in merely a few days. Grief in the extended period of disruption that meant months and years of different, not just days and weeks. In the speediness of life, many have not taken a moment to acknowledge, let alone feel, this grief. I hope anyone reading will take some time to reflect on the grief that might still be lingering, maybe with a friend, counselor, mentor, or through journal writing. It’s okay to be angry, sad, and feel frustrated. Sitting in the grief rather than ignoring it can often help us let go of those difficult feelings and truly put the past behind us, or at least provide an opportunity for some healing. Another challenge in the aftermath of Covid is lingering anxiety. College anxiety is already ever present on campuses as students manage new college expectations, challenging coursework, being away from home for the first time, balancing school, work and family life all at the same time, etc. Many of us have to manage underlying levels of anxiety to begin with. Then you add Covid to the mix and anxiety can really invade the mind and body. My anxiety escalated during this period and took me back to my sophomore year of college when anxiety took over and I almost left college. It was an incredibly difficult and lonely time, but thanks to the gentle urging of a college instructor, I found my way to a mental health counselor and a career counselor who became a lifelong mentor. These essential supports made it possible for me to share my struggles with a classmate who was going through a similar experience and felt ashamed that she too couldn’t seem to “handle” college. I found that regular river walks and rehearsals for a singing group (my personal versions of meditation) made a big difference in helping me turn the corner too. Why share this? Well, I recently realized that these very same strategies helped tame my Covid anxiety – consistent mental health support, seeking help from my mentor, honest friendships, walks outside with a new puppy, and joining a church choir. How lucky was I to have a college instructor who could really see what was going on for me? That one compassionate conversation helped me lift the mask I was wearing (that everything was fine) and find my way to essential resources I didn’t know much about and was honestly too proud to seek out. I could then face my anxiety instead of hiding it and recognize that I was suffering and getting low grades, not for lack of effort, but for lack of understanding how I could really help myself. I became open to learning new strategies for coping, which meant I was better able to handle college work. It’s not always easy to know what students need, but honest check-ins can allow them to be more vulnerable and see that they not only deserve the help, but that it is essential to figure out what works given the many resources and options out there. This could mean they too find lifelong strategies that make new challenges, like Covid, easier to manage. And improving health and wellness frees up mental space for college students to focus more fully on what is happening in the present. And so I want to bring us back to the present. By finding ways to stay more present in each moment of our lives, I think it is easier to actually manage what life hands us and remain resilient in the aftermath of difficult situations. And college life in all its excitement and all its challenge hands you so much to manage. The ability to be more present can help with critical thinking, concentration, deep learning, studying, relationships, self-care, and much more – all things that feed into college success and enjoyment. My student has fortunately found a good support system and as a result, he is staying more present to how he can make positive changes for himself. I have told him to take pride in all that he is handling in the aftermath of Covid, and I hope you all do the same.
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Whether you find yourself teaching in-person or online this term, the need to promote social belonging remains a high priority. I say this based on what we know from the extant literature on college student success and retention ,, – that a sense of belonging is associated with improved student well-being, academic engagement, and performance. I also say this based on my own research examining college student adjustment and barriers during COVID-19  – that students struggled with social connections and building relationships early on during COVID and continue to struggle. Moreover, research shows that social belonging is especially important for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds; those who felt more connected to their college reported greater self-worth, social acceptance, scholastic competence, and had fewer depressive symptoms. 
But what exactly is social belonging? A sense of belonging is a subjective perception of inclusion and connectedness to any or all aspects of the learning environment. This can be a connection to peers, faculty, staff, student organizations, an academic department, or the institution as a whole. Many students will question their social belonging. That questioning can be a normal part of the college transition experience as students develop an identity and explore their interests, majors, and careers. However, it should not be a normal experience for a student to feel unwelcome, unsafe, excluded, or disrespected. As faculty, we can help students build connections within and outside of the classroom. We can also keep an eye out for students who may be struggling with a sense of belonging and intervene.
Ideas for Promoting Social Belonging
Connect students with resources to meet their basic needs (so they can then fulfil social needs)
Post links to Financial Aid, Academic Advising, Counseling Services, Student Health, etc.
Provide information about your institution’s COVID policies, testing/reporting protocols, and any emergency aid (e.g., healthcare, housing, food insecurity, transportation)
Identify on-campus resources for accessing broadband and digital services
Take the “temperature” of your class and help normalize student experiences by using a word cloud generating tool (e.g., Poll Everywhere)
Share free online applications that can assist with:
Meditation (Headspace, Insight Timer)
Slow, controlled breathing (ReachOut Breathe, Serenita)
Sleep (iSleep Easy)
Happiness (Happify: For Stress & Worry)
Self-care (SuperBetter is a free video-game style app in which users create a secret identity and progress through the game by completing quests that are self-care activities)
Managing distressing thoughts and feelings (Woebot is an AI-powered chatbot that guides users through managing distressing thoughts and feelings with principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD Coach is for service members who may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD)
Communicate more often and more intentionally
Videotape and post brief, weekly pre-class introductions or post-class summaries
Reach out to students who don’t typically initiate contact to check-in
Find upper class student volunteers to serve as peer mentors to your class
My peer mentor meets with a small group of students twice a month via Zoom
Create a class Facebook Page to broadcast updates, alerts, and college activities
Use Twitter as a class message board to post reminders for assignment due dates or share inspirational quotes and helpful links to practice quizzes or resources
Create a YouTube channel for your class and have student students upload a YouTube “short”
Give students a virtual TikTok tour of your office
Use live and interactive polling tools to engage students (e.g., iClicker, Mentimeter, Kahoot, etc.)
Facilitate student interaction in and out of the classroom
Have students create and deliver a 3-Minute elevator pitch
Assign weekly online discussion posts (via Canvas or Blackboard)
Use Instagram for photo essays and digital storytelling (class-specific Instagram accounts)
Create a class blog and assign blog posts as essays
Initiate a class specific Pinterest board for students to curate a digital bibliography for research projects, papers, or group assignments
Require small groups to use Google Docs to record their discussions and turn in
Ask students to create brief TikTok video clips to explain a concept or theory to the rest of the class; post or watch in class and have classmates provide feedback
Prepare students for their career by having them register for LinkedIn and build professional networks and connections
Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Harper, S. R., & Quaye, S. J. (2015). Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge.
Tinto, V. (1988). Stages of student departure: Reflections on the longitudinal character of student leaving. Journal of Higher Education, 59(4), 438-455.
Hill, K.C., & Metz, A.J. (in preparation). Academic, relational, and socio-emotional factors of adjustment and barriers faced in first-year college students during COVID-19.
Gummadam, P., Pittman, L. D., & Joffe, M. Ioffe (2016) School Belonging, Ethnic Identity, and Psychological Adjustment Among Ethnic Minority College Students, The Journal of Experimental Education, 84:2, 289-306.
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As a recent college graduate, a STEM major, and an introvert, I appreciate that the first step in this chapter to becoming a better communicator is becoming a better listener. In college, I had the chance to practice this listening through different classes, but this skill was never as explicitly explained as in this chapter. Now, I wonder what would have changed if it had been.
On my first day of college and my first class, the professor divided us into two groups--the people who felt comfortable talking in class and the people who generally didn’t. I was in the second group at the time. But, in that conversation between the “quiet” people, we perhaps unexpectedly had a good discussion. I think we weren’t just “quiet,” but rather, we were listeners.
I appreciated that exercise a lot. In the context of STEM classes like computer science, listening as a step of communicating is so important. I’ve only ever taken mathematics courses, not computer science. But, I don’t think you can grow as a scholar in these disciplines without collaboration based on a foundation of listening.
In my first math class in college, we had random seating in each class. So, we worked with a new partner each lesson. At the beginning of each class too, we would answer a warm-up question by working with our partner. If called upon after this time, we would either give an answer or share what we talked about.
Looking back, I appreciate this exercise more now as a practice in gaining emotional intelligence, conflict resolving skills, and multicultural competence, not just about reviewing content and making sure we read the chapter. I had the chance to learn from everyone in the class about mathematics, their lives, and their communication styles.
I wonder what I would have gained if the topics of Chapter 11 were discussed more explicitly in these classroom settings. How would my understanding of listening, communicating, and social belonging changed if it had been? How would my STEM experience specifically have changed as a result?
I can’t answer these questions for sure, but I think I would have maybe declared my STEM major earlier. I could have asserted myself in that major as one who belongs, not just someone who takes all the classes and eventually graduates with the major.
I can’t go back now, but I still appreciate that this kind of chapter exists in a STEM book.
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I graduated from college in spring of 2021, but the last time I discussed finances in a school setting was in the seventh grade. It was Family and Consumer Science class, and I learned how to write a check and sew a pillow. Though, the check memory is fuzzy, and the pillow is long gone.
Now, I wonder how my financial skills might be different had topics like those in “Planning Your Future” been discussed in my college classes. Topics like budgeting, credit cards, and other financial skills were certainly never covered in any of my classes, let alone ones like Computer Science (though the closest I came to this discipline was mathematics).
I never talked with a trusted adult like a professor or classmates outside of my close friends about these kinds of topics. I now realize the limited scope of these kinds of conversations with those already in my circle of friends and family. I wonder what it would have been like to have those conversations with people I wouldn’t have otherwise--what would have happened if I talked about budgeting with my Linear Algebra class, discussed credit cards at the beginning of an Abstract Algebra lecture, or learned about financial health during partner work in Differential Equations?
My recently graduated friends often joke that college never taught them how to be an “adult.” This is a hard concept to pin down, but maybe including a chapter like “Planning Your Future” in all kinds of classes could have helped.
For now, I can only wonder, and take these tips and lessons for myself.
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I have what appears to be a strange situation, although it is fairly common: I am finishing my master’s degree. I’ve been teaching a few classes, and I coach our university’s speech team. And I can’t forget my wife and two children. Sometimes I feel I’m performing on a tightrope while juggling at the circus. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make this all possible. Some of which are my own and some I borrowed from the great teachers of the past. I will share them with you now. Plan everything. For some of us, this seems obvious, but for others, a bit of scheduling will make your day more productive. First, let’s consider the things we have no control over, like your work schedule. I am lucky; it is 6:30 to 4, Monday thru Friday. Your teaching schedules, office hours, and extracurricular obligations will tend to stay the same. I coach and attend speech and debate tournaments of which I know times and dates in advance so that I can schedule them too. Strange as it sounds, schedule times with your family, or at least keep them on your list because they can easily get overlooked. The things that will overwhelm you are the things you forget to schedule. Teaching classes requires a lot of prep time. Don’t forget to schedule preparing lectures, exams, assignments, and grading papers and tests. There is nothing worst for a student to come back to class after they submitted a paper or test and it isn’t graded because you did not schedule the grading. They work hard to submit assignments on time; we should do the same for them and show them we appreciate their hard work. Without this schedule/roadmap, we tend to wander and procrastinate. Do not procrastinate. When I went back to continue my education, there were many things I learned to help me survive. One of the most significant was not to procrastinate. I see too many students writing essays and papers the night before they are due and they wonder why they are stressed out. For many, it is a lack of planning or prioritizing, but for others, it is just a simple case believing that there are more than 24 hours in a day. “I will get to it later.” You have made a plan. Once and a while, things come up, but you can get into the procrastination spiral if you are not careful. Whatever you have on your plan, do not wait; get it done. You will find that you have more extra time than you thought. Get some rest. When I was younger, I was able to survive on little to no sleep. Now, if you do not get at least six hours of sleep on average with an occasional eight hour night, I can’t function. When you are making your daily, weekly, and monthly plans, include sleep and sometimes time away from work and school. Spend time with your family or just once and a while do nothing. Watch TV or whatever you want to do to relieve a little of your stress. Keep everyone informed. When I went back to school, my kids were teenagers. There was nothing worse than hearing that someone scheduled you to an event or committed you to do something when you have a final to write or an event coming up that weekend. I found if everyone knew my plans beforehand, I could avoid scheduling problems. For me, a large monthly planning broad from Staples solved this problem. Everyone could look at my schedule and know what I was doing in the future. This made negotiating possible. Somethings can’t be moved around, but if I knew that I have a baseball or soccer game to attend, I’d have to write that exam sooner than I had planned. It is all about communication. There are many other things that I do to make my school/work/family work, just as there are many time management techniques that work better for some and not for others. But hopefully, this is a good start for you in managing your time regularly. *This article was orginally written in October 2020
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*Note: This blog was originally posted on 9/16/2020 in the Student community
A recent college grad talks to author John Gardner about the effects of COVID-19 on academia and beyond.
I was granted the unique opportunity to chat with an educator, acclaimed author, and change maker, John N. Gardner. John is a university professor and administrator, student retention specialist, and first-year students' advocate at the University of South Carolina. Our conversation was based on the changes the world has faced in the wake of COVID-19. John was able to strategize with me, as a graduating senior, on how to combat the changes in higher education and the job market. He listened to my story: I had come from a small school in south-central Kansas. I had studied exercise science, psychology, and global studies in my time at KU. I had cast a wide net as far as applying for jobs from international education, higher education, strength and conditioning, and, of course, publishing and online learning platforms like Macmillan Learning. He suggested three core things: take care of yourself, advocate for yourself, and prepare yourself as best as you possibly can.
“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” - Michelle Obama
Putting yourself best foot forward starts by putting yourself first. Taking a walk, calling a friend, making a nutritious meal, limiting social media consumption, playing fetch with the dog, are just a few ways to take time for yourself. Implementing self-care techniques allow you to put the best version of yourself forward to your friends, family, and possible employers. John encouraged creating a routine with sleep, exercise, and health as priorities will allow this change of lifestyle to become second nature.
“Fortune favors the bold” - Latin proverb
Being bold means reaching out to those you have built a network with, cold calling a company you would love to join, and show people not only your certifications and degrees but your soft skills. John suggested taking inventory of those you have networked with and reaching out to them in order to move forward with your career. For me, I have a network at KU which can help me find openings in higher education and international education and I have a network of contacts at Macmillan Learning from sales to marketing to publishing to online learning. Those individuals are familiar with my ability to work in a team, to be flexible, to resolve conflict, and to problem solve in a way a resume would not accurately reflect. I can utilize this network to find openings in the fields that interest me.
“Chance favors the prepared mind” - Louis Pasteur
John references this quote multiple times in our chat. Preparing for whatever the next few months will bring is daunting and uncertain. However, it is comforting to know many others are also in a similar position. Preparing yourself with being as educated, as read, as researched as possible can allow for the best possible outcome. ‘Doing your homework’ is vital to making the most out of an interview, an email correspondence, or a call with someone in your network. You can talk about their work and how you may fit into it. Above all else, you can expand your knowledge of a subject by doing this research. So, when the hiring manager reviews two similar resumes, your exceptional knowledge of a relevant subject or the way you were able to carry the conversation in an educated way, will allow what would have been a 50/50 chance, to turn in your favor.
Chatting with John gave me a much more positive outlook on graduating as a college senior amidst COVID-19. His years of experience working with students and honing their potential allowed him to workshop three simple, attainable goals for me to work toward in the coming months. Your present circumstances don't determine your potential, they just determine your starting point. The Class of 2020 may be entering an era of uncertainty, insecurity, and anxiety. However, overcoming this chapter in history will forever change the way we navigate our lives from here forward.
WRITTEN BY Katherine McGaughey University of Kansas
Katie is a senior who is double-majoring in exercise science and psychology at the University of Kansas. Originally from Wichita, she loves exploring new cities and has traveled to eight of the top twenty most influential cities in the world so far. She loves cooking and finding the best vegan eats. You can usually find her in planning her next adventure, enjoying a concert with friends, or late-night studying at the library.
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Thank you to everyone who was able to join the Macmillan Learning FYE Conference activities. 'Improve Student Success in the Age of COVID-19 and Beyond' presentation resources are now available. Download the attached slide deck, or view the conference recording below. For more on our suite of College Success resources (including program assessment and retention surveys), please visit: https://go.macmillanlearning.com/college-success-resources.html
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This event is a series of short workshops designed to provide best practices in teaching the First Year experience course in a virtual or hybrid format. Topics will include Student Engagement, Fostering a Positive Mindset and Diversity & Inclusion and will feature a variety of Macmillan authors and experienced instructors. Please join us for the workshops that interest you most and for our Virtual Happy Hour afterwards with Your College Experience authors John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot.
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By Kimberly Koledoye Of the many challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, arguably few were as impactful as the disruption to education, particularly higher education. As many K-12 and higher education entities realized, they were ill-prepared to convert masses of students to online learning. I am confident that the literature on this topic will be available in abundance in the days to come. Undoubtedly higher education was more prepared, but not enough to go 100% online. In fact, prior to the pandemic only one-third of all U.S. college students had some type of online learning experience (Gallagher & Palmer, 2020). Therefore, most colleges and students had to figure out how to best navigate the world of online learning. An enormity of decisions were made and continue to be made as the needs of this evolving situation are addressed, including joint or isolated decisions of administrators regarding which learning modalities to offer. Regardless of modality, it became evident that there still was a lot of work to be done to help professors prepare to deliver instruction online. There was an enormous learning curve for both students and instructors that many educators underestimated. In the spring when we were abruptly pushed online, everyone was pretty understanding of the technical hiccups. However, in the fall, faculty were met with a higher degree of expectation in our abilities to effectively deliver online instruction. For those instructors who had been previously teaching online, the curve wasn’t as steep. However, for many faculty including myself, synchronous online instruction was a new challenge. Whether teaching synchronously, asynchronously, or in a blended format, a lot of preparation is required. Converting face-to-face courses to be delivered online requires more than just posting problems or exams, and I think many of us quickly realized that this approach was not going to be enough to engage students who never even wanted to take online classes. Research suggests a necessary creative balance between pedagogy and available technology that supports faculty in their efforts to design, deliver, and create course designs and content (Olapiriyakul & Scher, 2006). As such, we made some changes and the outcomes have been promising. Here’s what many practitioners, including my own institution, learned: Although there is arguably merit in lecture, it cannot be the foundation of the course (Gooblar, 2019). Students require opportunities to engage with material in an active way to learn (Gooblar, 2018). Even during face to face class lectures, professors can gauge students’ reactions and pause for questions/comments. It is much more difficult to effectively monitor these reactions online when the slide show encompasses the screen. The challenge is to offer lectures in more condensed formats. Chunking more complex topics makes them more accessible to students. Video is important. Whether delivering a class synchronously or asynchronously, recording what was said and done is helpful. Without diving into socio-economic inequities that present themselves when students are required to be online, focused, and engaged during a certain time period regardless of registering for exactly such a course, the gift of giving students the ability to engage with content at their own pace and at their own time is invaluable. Furthermore, various recording tools allow screen captures, voice overs, demonstrations, lectures with the ability to infuse questions throughout, and the ability to personalize content by incorporating a small window of the professor as they move throughout the lesson. Consider the fact that you are not only teaching students in first year courses, but you are also providing academic acculturation to college (Halonen & Dunn, 2018). Personal touches can go a long way. Preferably these videos should be under 6 minutes; the shorter the video the better (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014). Active learning is still beneficial and can happen in online environments. This is where we must get creative. The good news is that most video-conferencing tools have engagement capabilities. Instructors can encourage active learning by requiring responses using polling, asking for reactions with reaction tools, gaming, assigning discovery tasks to groups and sending them to breakout rooms to engage with one another, and by using the bountiful online websites that engage students in information exchanges. Sharing is caring in online instruction. What most of us have discovered is that teaching online requires a lot of planning, pre-production, and execution. Often times, the more high impact practices (HIPs) utilized in the design, the more effort it takes to create it (Halonen & Dunn, 2018). This can be exhausting for faculty and part of the reason faculty feel they are working more now than in the past. Sharing courses, activities, ideas, problem sets, games, slide shows, and strategies are effective ways to address faculty fatigue. The reality is that educators have always done what needed to be done and this pandemic is no different. We are surviving and thriving and many are even invigorated by a new challenge. The idea that we will simply return to our old course offerings when things return to “normal” is not guaranteed. Instead, it is more likely that this surge in online course delivery will continue. Either way, we will be ready because we always rise to the occasion. References Gallagher, S & J. Palmer. (2020, January 29). The Pandemic Pushed Universities Online. The Change Was Long Overdue. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/09/the-pandemic-pushed-universities-online-the-change-was-long-overdue Gooblar, D. (2018, May 1). Your Students Learn by Doing, Not by Listening. Is it Ever Okay to Lecture? Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/your-students-learn-by-doing-not-by-listening/ Gooblar, D. (2019, January 15). Is it Ever Okay to Lecture? Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/is-it-ever-ok-to-lecture/ Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning @ scale conference: L@S ’14 (pp. 41–50). New York, NY: ACM. Halonen, J. S., & Dunn, D. S. (2018, November 27). Does ‘High-Impact’ Teaching Cause High-Impact Fatigue? Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/does-high-impact-teaching-cause-high-impact-fatigue/ Olapiriyakul, K., & Scher, J.M. (2006). A guide to establishing hybrid learning courses: Employing information technology to create a new learning experience, and a case study. Internet and Higher Education, 9(4), 287-301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.08.001
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NOVEMBER 4th | 3:00 PM ET
Looking for new ways to keep your students engaged in an online learning environment? Learning Solutions Specialist at Macmillan Learning, Heather Halter Kimball, will share some of the best tips and tricks for keeping students engaged and on task in your College Success course via our online platform, LaunchPad. LaunchPad is a resource designed to help students achieve better results by providing a place where they can read, study, practice, complete homework, and more.
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I need some validation. Is it just me, or are the tensions, frustrations, anger, and divisiveness in our society being played out in the classroom? Although my class was held via Zoom this week, I could see it and feel it. And so could the students. In fact, I got an apology e-mail the day after class from one student who labeled her own behavior as disrespectful and dismissive.
I know my students want to talk about what’s happening in the world and how it’s impacting them but these conversations can be difficult dialogues that necessitate empathy, respect, and an acceptance of diverse lived experiences, ideas, values, forms of expression, and ways of being. Are my students ready for that? And an even bigger question, am I? Can I facilitate these conversations without harming anyone?
I’ve been reading, reflecting, and talking to my colleagues about how to create a safe space to address important issues of diversity and multiculturalism. I’ve decided to start small. First, I think it’s important to help students build self-awareness about their own unconscious biases. This can be a springboard for conversations about how biases develop and how they can lead to stereotypes, microaggressions, and discrimination. Second, I think it’s important for students to get to know each other on a deeper level and listen to each other’s stories. This can build empathy and respect and, hopefully, tolerance for differences.
To build self-awareness, I think it can be helpful to introduce the idea that we all have thoughts and feelings outside our conscious awareness and control (hidden biases). Project Implicit is a non-profit organization created by researchers at the University of Washington, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. They provide an online Implicit Association Test with feedback (see https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html ). This can be a great in-class or out-of-class activity to prompt reflection and discussion. After taking the test, you can have students describe their own self-understanding of the attitude or stereotype that the test measures. You can then introduce the concepts of stereotypes, microaggressions, and discrimination.
Another activity to help students think about their stereotypes and biases of others is to complete the “How Comfortable Am I?” worksheet (pgs. 8-9 of the “Diversity Activities Resource Guide” https://www.uh.edu/cdi/diversity_education/resources/activities/pdf/diversity%20activities-resource-guide.pdf ). This guide was compiled by the University of Houston, Center for Diversity and Inclusion and includes activities from the tolerance.org website. I’ve had students complete this worksheet and break into small groups to discuss how comfort level might relate to biases or stereotypes, then brainstorm ways to better understand and challenge those beliefs.
One of my doctoral students who taught a “Strategies for College Success” course for international students designed a really wonderful assignment for helping students get to know each other yet also build empathy and respect for differences. She called it the “Twelve Statements Project” and said she learned about the activity in a book by psychologist Sam Gosling titled Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. For the assignment, students are asked to describe themselves with 12 photographs or images they feel comfortable sharing – each on their own PowerPoint slide. They then present these images to the class in a 10-minute slideshow. Every course evaluation of this instructor reflected the meaningfulness of this particular assignment. So much so, that I encourage all my instructors to incorporate this activity into their courses.
Finally, there is a very popular and powerful TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” ( https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare ) that can be used to validate cultural misunderstandings and our sometimes limited perspectives of other people. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses her own personal experience growing up in Nigeria as well as her experience in America to explain how “the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story the only story.” Adichie is funny, vulnerable, and calls us to action to seek out alternative stories. Following the Ted Talk, students can be encouraged to reflect on examples of “single stories” in their personal life, in their education, or even in the news.
I hope these ideas are helpful or even spark other ideas for how you can create a safe space in your classroom to address diversity and promote tolerance and inclusion.
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A shocking reality: 40% of first-time college students in the U.S. will not return to the same institution for their second year. See the attachment below for five easy-to-implement tips from First Year Experience and Retention and Curriculum expert, Vance Gray, PhD, that College Success/First Year Experience programs can utilize to support student engagement in ways that ultimately help improve student retention.
Note: This blog is reposted from the Institutional Solutions Community
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It was August of 1970, when I was a psychiatric social worker on active duty in the United States Air Force at the height of the carnage of the Vietnam War and, much more importantly, when the whole world was watching thousands of protesters in the streets outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago, the headquarters hotel of the Democratic National Convention. They were chanting “The whole world is watching; the whole world is watching; the whole world is watching.” And now, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the world watches again as we chant: “I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe!” For decades, US higher education had been the envy of the rest of the world, the gold standard for emulation. In my case, I have had the exhilarating experience of being part of a highly respected educational innovation, launched by one American university in 1972, which has been adopted around the globe: the so-called “first-year experience” movement, philosophy and associated practices. Of course, the same cannot be said of our country now. Even before the pandemic, tourism numbers of non-US passport holders coming to the United States were down. And numbers of international students had fallen off a cliff. So, here at this time when the world is once again watching people in the United States fighting for justice, what can we higher educators do in our institutional settings? Since 1636 and throughout American history our higher education institutions have reflected, affirmed, challenged, and helped change the dominant value systems of American society. As educators, we have both encouraged our students to adopt those values and/or to challenge them and stand for something else. Our campuses have stood for maintaining the status quo, modifying the status quo, or outright rejecting it. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, what are we going to do now, especially when ever the students really do return to campus? Our campuses, no surprise, are microcosms of the larger American society. Thus, we manifest most of the inequities of the country. And certainly our “outcomes” – in terms of who is admitted where and to what programs, financially supported and to what extent, retained and graduated, and with what debt levels, offered the best jobs – mirrors the inequitable outcomes of our society. I lead a non-profit organization that has a strong mission to work in pursuit of social justice, but what else can those of us in academia do within our own spheres of influence? What about our admissions policies? And our financial aid practices? Our pedagogies? Our grading practices? Our curricula? Our gateway course outcomes in high failure rate courses? Our opportunities for on-campus employment, internships, study abroad? Our willingness to provide emergency financial aid? How do all of these still manifest race-based, structural inequities and hence serve to perpetuate that historic and well-established system? This year our focus, surely, will just be on getting back in business. But that “business” has always had discriminatory elements. Are these any longer sustainable? The public is speaking; polls are suggesting record numbers of US citizens, including older whites and even some conservatives, are sympathetic with the causes and concerns of protestors. This is the time then for unprecedented change in our policies and practices. So what could you be doing on your campus that the whole world could be watching and applauding? I have a dream that moving forward some of you/us are going to be doing more than we ever have before. The whole world is watching. We can’t breathe!
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Dear College Success Instructor,
As we all try to adjust to the “new normal” of academic life in the age of COVID-19, we understand that your students may struggle with some of the adjustmen ts they need to make in their daily lives. To support them (and you) this Fall, Macmillan Learning has developed a “ COVID-19 Student Toolkit, ” where our authors directly address students and give them advice on how to overcome the challenges COVID-19 may throw their way. The topics covered in this toolkit are:
Summer Orientation/Bridge - Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz
Academic & Financial Planning - John Gardner and Betsey Barefoot
Distance Learning - Jamie Shushan
Wellness - Paul Gore, Wade Leuwerke, and A.J. Metz
Mindfulness - Elizabeth Catanese and Kate Sanchez
Please feel free to share this online resource with your students and any of your fellow instructors: www.c19toolkit.com
We will be supporting this toolkit with an additional unit in our College Success LaunchPads that contains instructor resources, quizzing and an iClicker Slide Deck. The videos can also be found on our YouTube Playlist , where you can upload them directly to your LaunchPad! (Directions for uploading videos to LaunchPad can be found here .)
If you need any additional help preparing your course(s) for fall, please reach out to your rep directly and/or visit our instructor resources page. This page contains content and tools to help you create powerful online learning experiences, schedule a demo with one of our learning solutions specialists, and more.
Stay tuned in the following months for more content directly from our COVID-19 Toolkit Authors on how to work with students to overcome the challenges they are facing this Fall!
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