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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by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz Amid COVID-19 closures and delays, college administrators and student-facing staff are turning their attention toward transitioning to virtual orientations and summer bridge programs. What can colleges do to provide a smooth transition for their incoming students? How can they help new students visualize their lives on campus and prepare for a memorable and informed home-to-college transition in these unprecedented times? To address the challenges of transitioning to college, only exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, we wrote How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There) —the first student-facing practical guide for incoming students to prepare for the college transition through exercises and conversations before they arrive. It is a flexible and comprehensive supplement for your online summer programs. In writing How to College, we drew on our experiences teaching and working with thousands of first-year college students over decades. The comprehensive guide offers invaluable advice from college administrators, faculty, student-facing staff, and current college students, demystifying the college transition experience and emphasizing the student’s ultimate self-reliance in the transition to college during this challenging time. How to College sets the foundation for college success with accessible information and simple online lessons and activities that address the kind of challenges students will be facing this summer and fall, including: interacting online with peers to gain a sense of belonging connecting with campus resources such as tutoring and writing centers, career services, counseling services, and disability support to have the necessary support for college success using campus technology resources such as learning management systems, library databases, and college email to be prepared for virtual learning maintaining physical and mental health, wellness, and safety, especially during this stressful time budgeting and financial literacy to cope with the uncertainty of today’s economy selecting co-curricular and civic-engagement experiences to get involved, even in a distance-learning environment understanding college-level academic standards: study skills, time management, writing, professionalism, reading, and academic integrity examining the importance of finding supportive mentors in this life transition How to College also includes exercises and tasks that orientation and summer bridge administrators can easily translate into a distance-learning curriculum: Know before you go - research tasks such as learning about the demographic makeup of the school’s incoming class, and practicing writing a professional email; Do before you go - exercises such as preparing a simple budget, downloading the college’s safety apps, and researching campus clubs and organizations of interest; Discuss before you go : conversation prompts for incoming students and their families on such topics as how to handle emergencies, responsibly using financial resources, and how families will communicate.' Finally, as part of Macmillan Learning's COVID-19 Student Toolkit, we also put together a set of free web resources with some brief videos and our best tips for students this summer. These resources, combined with How to College, can help colleges prepare students for a memorable and informal transition to college during this unprecedented time. You can view our Orientation & Summer Bridge Resources at: c19tookit.com/orientation.html. For more information, including how to order How to College for your program or to receive a free examination copy, please visit the Macmillan Academic website or contact email@example.com .
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by Andrea Brenner and Lara Schwartz The transition from high school—and life at home—to college can be stressful for students and their families, and nothing in the college admissions process prepares students for it. Colleges are reporting an increase in underprepared first-year students at startling rates. H ow to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There) is here to help. Authors Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Schwartz guide first-year students to thrive in the transition process, in high school, during the summer after high school graduation, and throughout their first year on campus. How to College is the first student-facing practical guide of its kind on the market. It draws on the authors’ experiences teaching and working with thousands of first-year college students over decades. The comprehensive guide offers invaluable advice from college insiders to college-bound students, emphasizing the student’s ultimate self-reliance. The book is filled with important resources needed to set the foundation of success at the collegiate level including lessons and activities on money; time and self-management; co-curricular and civic-engagement experiences; navigating relationships with family and friends back at home and roommates and peers on campus; exploring new college identities; finding one's voice inside and outside of the classroom; health, wellness and safety; and the importance of finding mentors for support in this life transition. Colleges can use this book during the first year of college as… ...the basis for a first-year experience course . How to College addresses the full college experience, including college academic standards; maintaining physical and mental health and wellness; financial literacy and budgeting; moving to a new community; and engaging in college life in and out of the classroom. ...a guide for peer leaders and resident assistants . Research shows that peer leaders are among the best mentors for first-year students. These successful college students become adept at using college resources and mastering college-level skills, but by definition they do not have decades of experience dealing with the full range of challenges and pitfalls that are common to the first-year experience. They can benefit from a text that includes simple descriptions of these challenges and straightforward advice from experts that they can use to demystify the college experience in language that their student mentees will understand. ...a resource for residence life, counseling center, and orientation staff . Staff will find useful approaches to common first-year pitfalls and challenges. At most campuses, these staff do not have extensive contact with faculty. Written by two professors, How to College provides staff with the faculty point of view on matters such as study skills, writing, professionalism, reading, and academic integrity. The book creates a bridge between faculty and the student-facing staff who are charged with supporting students. This book can also benefit students before college starts in the following ways: Advising programs . Many colleges connect incoming students with an academic adviser, increasingly a first-year adviser, in the spring of their senior year of high school. This first contact is an excellent time to introduce How to College - including by sending it with other materials. Advisers can direct students to these exercises: Setting up and getting comfortable with the school’s technology systems, including email, library research tools, and learning management systems like Blackboard and Canvas; Making good use of academic support services such as supplemental tutoring, writing centers, and resources for international students and students with disabilities; and Sending professional emails. Residence and campus life staff are in contact with incoming college students during the summer following high school graduation. Residence life programs pair roommates and suite-mates and build living and learning communities long before students arrive on campus. Students are “meeting” and interacting on social media and through email before orientation, and without the college professionals’ support. How to Colleg e has great tools to help students build these new relationships from the start, including: Advice about how to have a first conversation with your new roommate(s); Tips to prepare for a successful, low-conflict move-in day; Activities to prepare students to live and learn in a diverse community. For example, we encourage students to learn about the student body’s backgrounds, demographics, and circumstances; to read books or articles by authors who have different points of view than their own; to attend an event that exposes them to a new idea or culture; and to reflect upon their own listening and communication skills and habits. Summer bridge programs for particular cohorts of college students . How to College is a pre-made “bridge” program that can form the basis of in-person programming. It includes materials of particular interest to the college cohorts that summer bridge programs most often serve: international students, first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. Admissions and orientation programs can suggest How to College as a pre-orientation read or send it to incoming students with welcome materials. Tutoring centers working with high school seniors on academic high school transitions can use How to College as a textbook, assigning activities from the book to their students. Of particular interest would be the information presented on: How to read an academic journal Reading without technology distractions Writing a persuasive college paper Using sticky notes for higher-level note-taking Common reads programs expose the entire incoming class to one common text. How to College can be a unique common read in that it exposes students to a series of shared summer experiences, not only a shared book. Students read the text and also engage with a wide variety of useful learning experiences in preparation for their college transition. Common Reads programs can assign students to complete particular activities- for example, setting personal goals as a communicator, participating in a new cultural activity, or taking a financial literacy course-- over the summer. Once on campus, they can then engage students in conversations about the experiences, making college preparation collaborative. For more information on How to College , go to our trade website at us.macmillan.com/books .
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The semester is almost over, and it’s time to start wrapping up your college success course. Which means that now is the perfect time for your students to complete the ACES Progress Report found in most of our LaunchPad products. Students will take the same inventory that they did at the start of the semester, and can provide a great insight into their growth and the effectiveness of your course. There are three different reports you can view: Progress Report: The second time students take ACES, at the end of the semester Comparison (new this fall): See Initial and Progress report scores side by side Change (new this fall): Looks at change in raw numbers Note that only students who have completed BOTH the Initial AND the Progress Inventory will show up in the end-of-semester report. The Progress Report will look similar to the Initial Report you’re already familiar with, but with new scores, on both the Class Report, Roster Report, and Institutional Report. The Comparison Report compares how your students scored on the ACES Initial Report at the beginning of the term with how they scored on the Progress Report at the end of the term on a side-by-side chart. On the Change tab, you can view reports showing how students’ raw scores (their scores before they are run through the national norm table) have changed from the ACES Initial to the ACES Progress self-assessment. This is a more precise method of calculating change. For more information on using the reports, you can read our knowledge base article or sign up for a session with your Learning Solutions Specialist.
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“I am passionate about study skills, and I bet you’re wondering how that’s possible…”
I always start my classes this way and most students either laugh out loud or look at me in disbelief. Then I explain that I am passionate about study skills because they saved me. I struggled mightily my first and second years of college, especially in Economics, and I was close to failing. I was struggling in other classes, too, including a Science requirement. It was the first time I had ever seen my grades so low and I hid by not telling a soul. But a teaching assistant who really cared noticed that my tireless efforts didn’t mesh with my grades. He told me that I wasn’t stupid, I just hadn’t been taught how to manage college level work. I needed study skills support.
He was right, and I got help from my college’s academic resource center. I learned how to change my old habits, which ultimately changed my life. I finally felt like I could “do” college; that I wasn’t the mistake. Over time I learned there were “college ways” to becoming a true critical thinker that meant I studied more deeply, wrote papers more analytically, debated more effectively, and simply learned a whole lot more.
So yes, I am passionate about study skills, but it can be difficult to instill this passion in students. And I get it. Study skills topics like time management, setting goals, critical thinking, taking notes, test taking, etc., are simply not thrilling. Many students think they already have study skills so they don’t see the point in a class dedicated to them. On top of it, study skills are very personal in that we all have individual learning styles and preferences so there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach.
Which gets me to the real reason I’m writing this blog post: to share a number of approaches that instructors can take when teaching study skills. I believe there are opportunities to meaningfully engage students in study skills topics if self-reflection and personalization are built into the curriculum. When the topics start mattering to students, they are more likely to walk away interested, willing, and able participants. But, it is very hard to “teach” study skills because they are so personal and individual.
And this is how the Instructor’s Manual for Pocket Guide to College Success came about. It was developed as a way to offer very specific tools for instructors to consider as they plan for each class, with the goal of actually engaging students and helping them find their own “passion” for the topics. You’ll see that the Instructor’s Manual is filled with ideas focused on individuself-reflection through journal writing, small and large group discussions (starting with small group discussion channels, which can be more meaningful than large group discussions), relevant guest speakers, hands-on activities, and online videos and discussion boards.
In reality, there are probably too many ideas in this manual. It’s not possible to use every activity or suggestion and I honestly have not been able to use every single one in my own teaching. But, I always revisit the manual when I am preparing for each class because I know I must use a variety of strategies to keep the students engaged in the topic at hand. I have a pattern of always including time for written self-reflection, asking students to share with one or two others about their personal experiences, and providing opportunities for those willing to open up to the larger group. I try to talk less and listen more. And ideally, I dedicate at least ten or more minutes for students to apply the study skills to the academic work they are currently engaged in. It’s a lot to fit in, but I hope it means I am making the material accessible to all students given the variety of learning preferences represented in each class.
Authenticity also matters. It’s important to be real about your own experiences if they are relevant. If that’s not possible, I try to bring in “experts” who can speak more deeply about the focus of class and personalize the material, especially experienced peers who have truly been there. I don’t sugarcoat the often challenging and difficult parts of college, especially since my students come from academically disadvantaged backgrounds. The more honest I can be, the more likely students will be honest about their own struggles. And that is such an important opening because the information now matters to them. They then become more willing to make the effort to try out new study skills strategies that can really help them tackle and overcome their college obstacles.
I don’t ever promise that students will suddenly become passionate about study skills. But I do promise that if they actually take study skills seriously, they will increase their chances of true learning and engagement in those college subjects they are passionate about! And that means more personal growth and college success!
The Pocket Guide to College Success provides straightforward and easily consumable coverage on all the topics typically found in a full-size College Success text in a handy, affordable, highly-customizable format. For more information on the Pocket Guide, please go to www.macmillanlearning.com.
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The ACES that you know and love got some amazing updates last week to make it more user friendly and more useful for both your course and your institution. Now available in the LaunchPads for Connections, 1st and 2nd editions, Connections Essentials, Step by Step and LaunchPad Solo for ACES, we have new unit organization, a new instructor dashboard, and new reports. Before we dive into the details, it’s important to note that to avoid issues and to make sure all of these awesome updates show up in your course, you will want to create a new course from scratch, rather than copying a course from a previous semester. Directions for how to do so can be found here: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/article/LaunchPad-Create-a-new-course When students take ACES at the start of the semester, the inventory is now called the “Initial Report.” Everything with the inventory itself is the same, with the same scales, still norm referenced, though the norm group has been updated and now represents over 42,000 college students, and there are 3 new demographic questions. The Inventory is in its own unit folder, along with the Student Guide. All LaunchPads also now contain a unit folder at the bottom of the chapter listing for students to take ACES a second time, at the end of the semester. This folder is called the “Progress Report and Activity.” Depending on which LaunchPad you used previously, this may be a new name, and we’ve removed the Likert Scale quiz you may have had. It’s been replaced with a Reflection Activity, which has students look back at their Initial and Progress scores to observe and explain any differences. The biggest changes come in how instructors review student results. Rather than having a dashboard in the activity itself, all instructor facing resources live in a unit folder called “ACES Instructor Resources and Reports,” seen in the screenshot below. As before, instructors have access to a guide, the inventory questions, and feedback, though they are now more easily accessible. The ACES Instructor Report Dashboard is where things get even more interesting. All reports and scores that you need are all in one place, in a well organized, symmetrical pattern. There are 4 types of reports: Initial Report: The first time students take ACES, at the start of semester Progress Report: The second time students take ACES, at the end of the semester Comparison (NEW!): See Initial and Progress report scores side by side Change (NEW!): Looks at change in raw numbers, not on the national normed scale. Then, each of these reports break down into three different ways to review data: Class Report: What you’re used to seeing, all student scores on all 12 scales Roster Report: Previously, this was in another window. View each student’s score on an individual topic Institutional Report (NEW!): Normed results for ALL students at your school who have taken it, including your class, to see how your class compares to the average course at your school If you’d like more detail on these new reports, you can read more in our Knowledge Base, we’ll be hosting webinars throughout the summer, and you can always sign up for a one-on-one session with your Learning Solutions Specialist. Hope to hear from you! Instructor Reports Knowledge Base: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/article/LaunchPad-ACES-Using-ACES-Instructor-Reports Webinar sign up: https://go.macmillanlearning.com/Register-for-Comm-Webinar.html?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWm1Oak5ESTBOVGxoT1dVMyIsInQiOiJVWjJ5M1M1MW5NVkhQK1pMZWp3UG5HeGh3emxhNzVqc05DRUN0bGhEMjJFcmJpclE3V3QrTE1TUytmQTBUOTZxNnREdU1hQzRuOWYwdml3eHNPSmZzdz09In0%3D One-on-one meeting: http://www.macmillanhighered.com/Catalog/support.aspx
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As a Learning Solutions Specialist at Macmillan, it’s my job to help instructors get their LaunchPad courses set up, offer advice on which activities to assign, and make sure they’re comfortable using the technology with their students. I often begin or end my LaunchPad demo and training sessions with the idea that students WILL be using tech at some point through college, why not start them off with it right away? While they’re prepping for and/or adjusting to college? That’s all we did at my old teaching gig. Before coming to Macmillan, I taught, and was an adjunct for my school’s college success program. All online students took the exact same class during their first 4 weeks of school. We had a prescriptive course because we wanted each student on equal footing. And, because their programs were totally online, we wanted to make sure they knew how to use the technology they would be using the rest of their college careers. We offered “remedial” activities for students who may not be very familiar with laptops. Their very first assignment was to download AOL Instant Messenger (this was many years ago…) and send their instructor an IM, as all instructors on campus were constantly logged in during office hours, and that’s the best way to reach them “live.” We also worked through applications and websites that may be helpful in their other courses, and spent a fair amount of time on conducting research on the Internet. All that being said, of course it is important to teach study skills, time management, etc. But make sure you’re focusing on the little things too. The little things that will also make their time in college a little easier. If you’d like a personal tour of LaunchPad, sign up for a session with me, your Learning Solutions Specialist: https://www.macmillanlearning.com/Catalog/support.aspx
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Matthew L. Sanders is an Associate Professor of communication studies and an Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Science at Utah State University. He holds a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Matt conducts research in the areas of nonprofit organizations and student empowerment and his work has been published in acad emic journals in communication, business, and public administration. He is the author of the book Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education, which is used in First Year Experience programs at several universities. Tell us about one initiative you are currently working on that you are really excited about. I’m working on a project to infuse the idea of becoming an educated person into our general education curriculum so students will hear that important message more times than just their FYE course. I think general education reform is the next step in improve the first year of college. What motivates you to work in college success? College can be a transformative experience. It was for me; I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I want to do what I can to help it be a great experience for all students. What advice would you have given to your younger self as you embarked on your first year in college? To remember that the overall goal is to become an educated person and to worry less about what major I might choose. And I would take more classes that would really challenge me and stretch my abilities. What are some trends and developments you are currently seeing in the college success/First-Year Experience course? There is a trend toward focusing on helping students understand the “why” behind everything. It’s just starting, but people get it. Our textbooks of the future won’t just have a short chapter on it or treat it as self-evident. The premise of our work will be to infuse meaning into how students view college. What did you enjoy the most about writing Becoming a Learner? Writing in my teacher voice. Rather than write as an academic writes to other academics, I was able to write and in a way speak directly to the reader in the same way I do in my classroom. That made the writing exciting and meaningful. And I think that’s why so many students respond well to it. And on a personal note... What book has influenced you the most? Parker Palmer’s book, The Courage to Teach, had a big impact on me as a brand new teacher. It made me realize that teaching is about connection. What is something you want to learn in the next year (related to higher education or otherwise)? I want to learn how to lead change among my peers at my university. If you hadn't pursued your current career, what do you think you would have done? I would have worked in training and development. What is your ideal vacation? A guided fly fishing trip to Alaska. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people may know. I speak Spanish.
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John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot were some of the early innovators of the college success course. In keeping with that theme, the LaunchPad which accompanies the 13 th edition of their text, Your College Experience, we include innovative ways to engage your students with the course content. As your Learning Solutions Specialist, let me take you on a tour of what’s available. Each chapter contains a n interactive self-assessment quiz, which gives students an opportunity to reflect and learn more about themselves and the chapter topics, providing targeted advice to help them develop a personalized learning plan. Multiple-choice Case Study Quizzes ask students to apply practical strategies and concepts discussed in each chapter. Students receive instant, helpful feedback after each response to help them contemplate the scenarios further. My personal favorite resource is our student voices videos, which shows real college students sharing their experiences. Accompanied by a set of open-response questions, two Video Activities per unit allow students to reflect on course topics and deepen their thinking, as well as encourages application of helpful strategies discussed to their own lives. You can talk and talk and talk about how important time management is, but it might not really hit home until they hear it from their peers! All of these live alongside an interactive ebook, instructor resources, and LearningCurve Adaptive Quizzing. If you’d like to learn more about how LaunchPad can help enhance your course, sign up for a one-on-one session with your Learning Solutions Specialist: https://macmillanlearning.com/Catalog/event/training-demos/LaunchPad/Demos
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ACES, the Academic Career Excellent System, is the flagship feature of our College Success list. Though it is a student inventory, it also has benefits for instructors. As the Learning Solutions Specialist for College Success, it is my job to help get instructors up and running with all of our digital resources, including ACES. And, as a and a former instructor myself, I'm personally invested in making sure your classes are using the resources in the best way possible. We’ll explore its many uses throughout the semester, but, today, we’ll just start with the basics for those not familiar with it, or as a refresher if you haven’t checked it out in a while. Specifically we’ll focus on the Initial Report and its use as a Pre-Test. It is found within several of our LaunchPad online platforms, including the Connections Franchise and LaunchPad Solo. Typically assigned during the first few weeks of class, the inventory looks at how prepared students are for college in 12 key areas: Critical Thinking and Goal Setting, Motivation and Decision Making, Learning Preferences, Organization and Time Management, Reading, Note Taking, Memory and Studying, Test Taking, Information Literacy and Communication, Connecting with Others, Personal and Financial Health, and Academic and Career Planning. Students rate their level of agreement with statements such as “My notes are legible and well organized”, on a 6 point scale from “Strongly Agree” to Strongly disagree.” It consists of 80 statements and takes about 20 minutes to complete. Once completed, students see how their scores compare to our national norm based on college students across the country. They are also provided with information on what their scores means, and how they can improve upon certain areas. As an instructor, you see the aggregate of your class on that same national norm. Scales with green bars indicate a high skill level, consistent with the highest 25 percent of the national sample. Scales with yellow bars indicate a moderate skill level, consistent with the middle 50 percent of the national sample. Scales with red bars indicate a low skill level, consistent with the lowest 25 percent of the national sample. When given as a pre-test at the start of the semester, you get a glance of what you should focus your time on throughout the semester. Spend more time covering the areas in red, and maybe less time in the green areas. And of course, you can also work individually with students as well. We’ll look at more ways to use ACES in your course in future “Tech Tuesdays.” If you’d like to learn more right away, or get assistance setting up your LaunchPad course space, sign up for a demo with your LSS Specialist. http://www.macmillanhighered.com/Catalog/support.aspx
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The morning after the 2016 election I found myself driving—bleary-eyed after a restless night—to the English department at Florida Atlantic University to host a book fair. Weeks earlier, when I had scheduled the event, I overlooked the fact that it was the day after the election, though I could not have predicted the dramatic turn of events and the resulting atmosphere of charged emotion. At the time, I was the Macmillan Learning sales rep for South Florida, before coming in-house as an editor, and I never felt closer to my virtue as a Macmillan rep than when hosting a book fair. I think that in all of the talk about learning and course objectives, people can forget the tremendous power that books have to simply help us understand one another. On that particular morning, instructors stumbled in, grabbed a hot cup of coffee and sat with me and the books for a long moment or two, before heading on to the rest of their day. We shared some laughs, and some cries, but above all—despite the confusion we were feeling—we felt connected to all of the humanity I had spread out across the table. The textbooks and the readers, but also the Macmillan trade titles I had brought—George Packer’s The Unwinding , Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones , the essay collection This I Believe ... While moving slowly in South Florida traffic on the way home, in my mind I began writing my own This I Believe essay. I helped Broward College select This I Believe II for their College Read program, and I had been meaning to write one. A week or so later, after sharing my essay with a few professors, I was invited by Broward to read my essay and lead a discussion on a documentary, Glen’s Village , they were showing in conjunction with College Read. After the screening of the documentary, I led an open-forum discussion about the film. In one of the most striking parts of the film, Glen and his community fight to keep his public high school from being closed and demolished due to budget cuts. When they lose the fight to keep the school open, Glen then fights to preserve at least "the culture of the school." I asked the attendees to talk about the culture of their school, Broward College. What is it, what should it be, what role does it play as a part of your community? We had some really heartfelt discussion. One student said that the school "is like a piece of you, and when you lose the school, a little piece of you dies." A professor said that so many of us as individuals come from broken places, and he saw Broward as a place of healing, and that all of us need to be part of that feeling for ourselves and each other. I then talked a little about the College Read program, and the idea that everyone reading the same book and sharing their stories can help strengthen their community. I read a selection from This I Believe II—a quote from Edward R. Murrow about why the “This I Believe” project was founded. I asked if his words resonated with them, particularly after the election—lots of nods and yesses. Then I read my This I Believe essay, and invited students to read their own essays—or to read ones from the book they wanted to share. One student picked "Living with Integrity" by Bob Barrett. In closing, one of the professors read "The Right to Be Fully American" by Yasir Billoo, from This I Believe II. It opens: "I am an American and like almost everyone here, I am also something else. I was raised to believe that America embraces all people from all faiths, but recently, that long-standing belief--along with both parts of my identity--have come under attack. And as an American Muslim of Pakistani descent, this attack is tearing me apart." Before reading the essay, she gave a very moving speech to students: "In light of the recent election, I just hope and pray that we as individuals and we as a community can still hold on to our integrity and our values and to understand that each and every single one of us, regardless of our background, of our heritage, of our religious beliefs, of our height, our weight, our color, our anything, that we all treat each other as human beings. And nobody--nobody--is better than you. Nobody. And nobody on this planet is worse than you. And please always, always remember that. Take that with you in every walk of life." As an editor, I believe my job is helping build communities. Because that’s exactly what a good book is--textbook or trade--a means for helping us understand one another, heal us from the broken places we’ve been, and reveal to us our enduring, common humanity. Allen is the Program Manager for College Success & Human Communication at Macmillan Learning. He is an advocate for College Read programs as a way to foster social belonging on campus and in our larger communities. You can read his This I Believe essay, Crying in Baseball , here.
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Since we first launched the ACES self-assessment back in 2016, we’ve seen program after program make the simple decision to give each one of their students, on their first days of college, one of the most powerful gifts--self-knowledge. It all starts with the simple, 20-minute ACES activity: a set of survey questions expertly designed by three counseling psychologists, through which students create a quantitative self-portrait of their strengths and growth areas--the ACES Initial Report . Over 30,000 students have now taken ACES in their first weeks of college, so many of them for the first time discovering the power of a growth mindset, goal setting, and how to cultivate their inner assets to overcome adversity and be their best selves. Over the past year or so, we’ve been beta-testing an ACES “post-test,” so that students could take the assessment again and reflect on their progress. An impetus for developing the post-test was that instructors could now have a powerful tool to help quantify the progress students were making in their FYE course. But the real driver behind this second instance of ACES is a pedagogical reason--its metacognitive benefits. Having a second ACES report, at the end of the term, provides students with an important opportunity to reflect on their progress, practice gratitude, and gain valuable positive reinforcement. It also gives them an updated version of their quantitative self-portrait. By seeing change in their skills, abilities, and attitudes, the end-of-term ACES report provides them with real, first-hand experience with growth-mindset, neuroplasticity, and above all, the power to change oneself for the better. To emphasize these powerful benefits, the beta post-test will be replaced in early Summer 2019 in all ACES LaunchPads with a new, permanent, second instance of ACES to be taken at the end of the semester. The report students will receive from this second instance of ACES will be called “ The ACES Progress Report .” Instructors will also have a new “ Comparison Report ” in their report dashboard so they themselves can reflect on the impact their course has had on their students. In addition, there will be a brief guide added to all ACES LaunchPads to help students compare their Progress Report with their Initial Report from the beginning of the semester. Connections, Second Edition --the new edition of the textbook program developed in conjunction with ACES by the same team of counseling psychologists--gets an even more powerful end-of-semester feature: an assignable Capstone LaunchPad activity that automatically pulls in students’ ACES results from the entire term, and leads them through a metacognitive reflection to set them up for long term success. These new features--the ACES Progress Report , the ACES Comparison Report , and the ACES Capstone Activity --are truly the product of the collaborative spirit at Macmillan Learning. I’m so inspired by how our wonderful authors, our senior editor Christina Lembo, our senior media editor Tom Kane, our technology team, and our faculty and student partners across the country, came together to bring you these new products, fostered by our spirit that together we can achieve more. With these new features, our hope is that you will now be able to give your students something as powerful as the self-knowledge you offer them when they walk into your class--self growth, as they walk out.
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It’s #TechTuesday! Here are 10 useful and free apps we love for both instructors and students to live informed, balanced, simplified, and successful lifestyles: Alarmy Some of us just aren’t morning people, but sometimes life throws us 8 a.m. classes anyway. Whether you’re waking up just to be at class or you have to teach it, attendance and punctuality are important. Alarmy is one way to ensure that you get out of bed -- your alarm will be set with tasks that must be completed to turn off the dreaded noise. Morning Brew Who has time to watch or read the news everyday? Morning Brew delivers a newsletter of major updates to your email inbox every morning. Designed for millennials, the app provides quick and quality news coverage of diverse topics including a stock market recap, business news, and a short lifestyle section. SelfControl Whether you tend to procrastinate a little or a lot, physically blocking out distractions can be helpful in completing assignments in a timely manner. SelfControl lets you block your access from certain sites and apps for a predetermined period of time. Even if you restart your computer or delete the app, you won’t have access to blacklisted sites until the timer is up. Slack In need of a professional, direct means of communication between organization members, students, and instructors? Slack is a cloud-based messaging and collaboration app that offers organized instant communication, file sharing, screen sharing, and calling through its free and secure service. It’s the perfect real-time alternative to email. Venmo Find yourself without your wallet and with a growing list of IOUs? Venmo makes it simple to pay back your friends for split meals, Uber rides, concert tickets, rent, and much more. The app securely connects to your bank account or credit card to send or request money to friends, family, colleagues, and now even many businesses . Google Keep If you’re a big list person like me, you’ll love Google Keep , one of the lesser known apps in the Google Suite. You can take notes, make checklists with tick boxes, create drawings, insert photos, change colors, and set reminders. Quizlet This mobile and web based app allows students to study content through flashcards, quizzing, and a variety of study games. Quizlet is extremely popular with students because it can be used on the go and study sets can easily be shared. Instructors can use it as a tool to review course information, track progress, and engage students. EasyBib While writing a halfway decent essay is a prerequisite of college admission, properly citing one is not. EasyBib makes it easy for students to correctly cite their sources and avoid plagiarism. All you have to do is plug in the link to the article you’d like to cite and the app picks out and formats the necessary information. My Fitness Pal Students and instructors alike can fall prey to bad eating habits under the stress and time constraints of school. My Fitness Pal is a free app by Under Armour that keeps track of daily exercise and diet habits, allowing you to set attainable personal fitness goals. Users simply enter their current and goal weight, then input their meals and daily exercise to track their progress against the recommended calorie intake suggested to achieve their goal. Mint College is often the first time young adults manage their own money, usually with little guidance on how to do so responsibly. Try Mint to proactively (or counter-actively) save money. It’s an all-in-one app for budgeting, investments, bills, security, and credit.
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Last summer, we looked at schools with Common Reading Programs, where institutions assign or recommend titles for students and instructors to read over the summer, so that they can come together to discuss the book as a community in the fall. Believe it or not (I don't), but summer is here again, and so are these reading programs. While several schools have already announced their picks, there's still no way to tell which books will be the most common (pun intended) choice. While some common reading programs include the entire student body, many of them are aimed specifically at students entering their first year of college. This gives incoming students the opportunity to share something with their instructors and peers before they step on campus, and provides them with a taste of what they can expect from their institution over the course (pun not intended) of their studies. So, for those of you still deliberating on your common reading choices, or those of you who simply want more reading recommendations, take a look at the Macmillan catalog on Books for the First-Year Experience. These critically-acclaimed books are ideal for the first-year experience: they're accessible and challenging, timely and classic, broadly appealing, stimulating, and moving. They foster individual growth while also inviting campus-wide discussion. Overall, a perfect summer reading for an incoming student who wants to start their first year on the right page (last pun, promise!). Here are some examples of books featured on Macmillan's Books for the First-Year Experience Catalog: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin Oprah's Book Club Choice for June 2018! In 1985, Anthony Rae Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free. But with an incompetent defense attorney and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in despairing silence—angry and full of hatred for all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but to find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy , Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015. With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy. Anthony Ray Hinton spent nearly thirty years on death row for crimes he did not commit. Released in April 2015, Hinton now speaks widely on prison reform and the power of faith and forgiveness. He lives in Alabama. Check out his chat with Oprah about his book on her Facebook page here. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end. Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications ; Better ; and The Checklist Manifesto . He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker , and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin , was just fourteen years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family. In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with bestselling author Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families like Guerrero’s and on a system that fails them over and over. Diane Guerrero is an actress on the hit shows Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin . She volunteers with the nonprofit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, as well as with Mi Familia Vota, an organization that promotes civic involvement. She has been named an Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization by the White House. She lives in New York City. Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time by Andrew Forsthoefel At twenty-three, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to being his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided he’d walk. And listen. It would be a cross-country quest for guidance, and everyone he met would be his guide. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself. Ultimately, it’s the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself on the most human level. Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, radio producer, and public speaker. After graduating from Middlebury College in 2011, he spent nearly a year walking across the United States. He first recounted part of that journey in a radio story featured on This American Life . He now facilitates workshops on walking and listening as practices in personal transformation, interconnection, and conflict resolution, and is currently based in Northampton, Massachusetts. This post was adapted from an entry in A Word from Macmillan tagged 2017, A Word from Macmillan on 10/19/2017.
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