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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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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