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Student Success Strategies


Tom Hale <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Tue, 27 Jan 2004 10:40:17 -0600





text/plain (330 lines)

This will give You a good idea of what On Course is all about.
By the way, anyone can subscribe to the On Course newsletter--it's free,
with no strings attached.  See the link at the end.

* * * * *

1. TIMELESS WISDOM: The Purpose of Teaching

"Perhaps what is most important is that extraordinary teachers see
their primary task as trying to prepare students for life.  How they
achieve this is by teaching students many skills to go along with
facts and by influencing the way students see the world and their
roles in it.  An ultimate goal of master teachers is that students
develop their full potential to become honorable and productive
members of society." --Fred Stephenson, author of *Extraordinary

                                    * * * * *

2. FEATURE ARTICLE: A Program for Improving Student Academic Success
by Sue Palmer
College-Wide Coordinator, Student Success and
Department Chair, Communication and Foreign Language
Brevard Community College (FL)
Correspond with the author at <[log in to unmask]>

INTRODUCTION: As college-wide coordinator of our student success
program at Brevard Community College in east central Florida, I am
responsible for, among other duties, leading the on-going development
of our 3-credit course, SLS 1101, Success Strategies for College and
Life.  Soon after accepting the coordinator's position in August,
1999, I became acutely aware of an emerging quiet rebellion within our
ranks--faculty members were becoming disenchanted with the program.
After all, we had been operating under similar guidelines for over 15
years, even using the same textbook.

The Success Team, composed of four campus coordinators and myself,
decided that a possible solution was to select a new textbook.
"Perhaps from that move," we conjectured, "we will breathe new life
into the course." We worried that if faculty were bored, there would
most certainly be a trickle down to students which could undermine our
program!  I was commissioned by the team to investigate new student
success texts, and I did that for the following several months.  I
attended several publishers' conferences and a "think-tank" with an
author but the end result was less than stellar.  We even had a
disastrous experience with custom publishing a text!  Just when I
thought all was lost, I registered for and attended an On Course I
Workshop, a 4-day professional development retreat for educators.  The
workshop offered exactly what I thought we were looking for--a new and
different approach to our student success course!  But, how could I
get the team to take ownership of the On Course philosophy of
empowering students and not just stuff the idea down their throats?

The success we had in transforming our student success program
provides a model for what others can do as well.  If you are thinking
of transforming the approach of your existing student success program
or beginning a new program, especially if you're beginning to realize
that study skills alone are insufficient to help struggling students,
you'll find herein a step-by-step process of change that has worked
extraordinarily well for us.


To provide a model for transforming a traditional student success
program focused primarily on study skills into one that empowers
students to become active, responsible learners.


STEP 1.  Attend an On Course I Workshop and, afterwards,
enthusiastically share your experience with colleagues on your campus.

After attending the On Course I Workshop, I shared at our next success
course team meeting as much of the On Course experience as was
possible in an hour.  I also presented a one-hour overview as a
break-out session at a college-wide in-service.  Enthusiasm is
contagious, and yet it can diminish in a vacuum.  At that time I was
the only one with the new vision, so it was vital that as many others
as possible join me to perpetuate my enthusiasm as well as to develop
their own.  It worked, because immediately after my in-service
presentation one of the campus coordinators who tends to be skeptical
about what he perceives as the "warm fuzzy" aspects of student success
courses became very excited about one of the On Course activities we
had done.  "This is great," he exclaimed. "What a neat approach for
motivating students!" I had been most worried about "selling" him, and
now with this tiny bit of effort, he was actually excited!  I was
convinced that we were on the right track.

STEP 2.  Encourage at least two additional team members (other success
course instructors) to attend the On Course I Workshop.

This second step is vital because the enthusiasm for a new approach
must be nurtured and must grow or it will stagnate and die.  One of
the campus coordinators was new to the job and feeling somewhat
insecure, so I suggested that he attend the next available On Course I
Workshop.  When my resident skeptic became aware that his colleague
was attending the workshop, he said, "Hey, what about me?  I want to
go, too!" When both returned from the workshop, there were three of us
with a new vision for our course, and suddenly the whole team was
receptive to adopting "On Course," with its student empowerment
approach, as our text!  Stack the deck...there is power in numbers!

STEP 3.  Design a multi-week professional development training that
helps others learn to implement the student empowerment strategies
that students will be learning in their On Course class.

If possible, attend the On Course II Workshop, which is a
train-the-trainer event and will prepare you well to design and
deliver trainings for your student success instructors.  My attendance
at an On Course II Workshop was sponsored by the staff and program
development office, in collaboration with a Title III project aimed at
building retention.  Once again, I left the workshop revitalized and
skilled.  Along with my two colleagues who had attended the On Course
I Workshop, I was ready to design and present a 15-hour workshop to
train the troops: current student success faculty, prospective faculty,
and interested staff (student advisors, TRIO personnel, and
administrators).  Our design was titled, "On Course: Steering Students
Toward Success." Our models were the On Course I and II
Workshops--experiential, informative, inspirational, and fun--and we
planned our sessions with those characteristics in mind. I provided
the scaffolding for the sessions from my training at the On Course II
Workshop, and, during our weekly planning sessions, we all contributed
activities from our experiences at the On Course workshops and in our
classrooms. A link to our agenda for the 5-session, 15-hour training
can be found below.

STEP 4. Deliver each training session with excitement and enthusiasm.

My colleagues and I were thrilled to learn that pre-enrollment in our
workshop was the largest number EVER recorded by the Staff and Program
Development office!  We had reached full-time and part-time teaching
faculty, advisors, and administrators, which is exactly what we hoped
for.  Obviously, this new empowerment approach to student success had
struck a cord with many of our colleagues.  Our "students"
participated in the activities with enthusiasm and intensity even
after a long morning at work. (We met from 1:30 until 4:30 once a
week for 5 weeks.) Some of the comments we received on the workshop
evaluations included, "I really enjoyed the workshop and picked up
some good ideas.  Thanks to you all," "Thank you all for a great
workshop," "I really enjoyed the workshop.  It provided me with lots
of new material and insights that I will be able to use in the
classroom (and in life!!)," and "Never mind the classroom, this
workshop was good for ME!"

STEP 5. Keep the momentum going with periodic interaction.

Everyone remembers a mountaintop experience and how, without
nurturing, the enthusiasm for it waned and perhaps even died.  In
order to combat this loss of enthusiasm, the four campus coordinators
and I meet monthly to discuss, plan, and troubleshoot.  Additionally,
each campus coordinator meets with his/her faculty several times each
semester to share ideas and discuss concerns.  Each participant in our
five-week workshops plus additional key personnel such as deans and
advisors receive the "On Course Newsletter." We are also coordinating
with the publisher of On Course (Houghton Mifflin) to provide an
on-campus workshop once each year.  (We had one such workshop in
November 2001 prior to our adoption of the text and are planning
another for late Spring, 2004.) Maggi Miller is an excellent resource
at Houghton Mifflin because, as a former college instructor, she has
taught "On Course" as well as led workshops.  We encourage the flow of
new ideas for our course through campus e-mail.  Anyone who has an
"Aha!" is encouraged to immediately share it with us all.


Since transforming our student success course from one that primarily
provided instruction in study skills to one that uses the On Course
text and strategies to empower students to become active, responsible
learners, the outcomes have been many, varied, and victorious: The
student success faculty is energized, our enrollment numbers in
student success courses are growing each semester, and student
feedback and success data are overwhelmingly positive.  We have truly
breathed new life into our course.

Faculty members who were earlier feeling restless about the course are
observed by their campus coordinators as revitalized and enthusiastic.
Several new faculty members became involved with the course after
attending the campus workshops.  Recently, an "old timer" who teaches
in the chemistry department, confided that he is "a better teacher
after having taught Success Strategies." He says, "I am having more
fun teaching than I have in my entire career." Another who is teaching
the class for the first time this semester confides that her personal
benefit is "my own well-being.  In facilitating others, I am enriching
my own life."

In this semester (our second using the "On Course" text), we increased
our course offerings by four sections college-wide, and they ran with
healthy enrollments!  Recent student comments include, "This class is
a big part of my life.  In other words, I actually take what I learn
and use it in my daily life.  I believe this class is designed to help
people like me become successful," "This course is really starting to
help me figure out who I am and how to change the things I don't like
about myself," and "This class is the only class I have that, when I
walk in each morning, students address and talk to me and among
themselves. I actually look forward to coming to this class because I
can share what is going on with me and people genuinely care."

We are gathering data with the idea that our student success course
could become required of all entering freshmen and/or developmental
students.  For example, we have data collected by Title III during our
first semester using *On Course.* These data compare two groups of
students who required preparatory classes: those who took the success
strategies course (SLS 1101) along with or prior to their preparatory
classes compared with those who did not.  Those with SLS 1101 passed
their preparatory classes with significantly higher numbers than those
without SLS, especially in English and Reading.

The Data: Percentages of Passing Scores in Preparatory Classes

ENCV 0010(English prep) with SLS: 83.9%
ENCV 0010(English prep) without SLS: 65.1%
Improvement: 18.8%

REAV 0002(Reading prep) with SLS: 85.4%
REAV 0002(Reading prep) without SLS: 67.4%
Improvement: 18.0%

MATV 0020(Math prep) with SLS: 69.4%
MATV 0020(Math prep) without SLS: 60.1%
Improvement: 9.3%

MATV 0024(Algebra prep) with SLS: 77.4%
MATV 0024(Algebra prep) without SLS: 68.5%
Improvement: 8.9%

A Developmental Education Taskforce at our college has recommended
that SLS 1101 be required of all students needing multiple preparatory
classes and highly recommended to all students needing at least one
preparatory class.


I relearned that there is no substitute for experiential learning and
for enthusiasm.  I learned that if you dream it and build it carefully
and patiently, there is a way to do what seems impossible.  I learned
that with a vision, wise choices, and definitive goals tempered with
skill, knowledge, and structure, exciting and dramatic changes can be
made in a program that will empower students and those who work with


Go to to access

                                    * * * * *

3.  JUST FOR FUN: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy,
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny
iprmoetnt tihng is that frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a
porbelm.  Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by istlef but
the wrod as a wlohe.  Initsereg!!  [submitted by Rocky Walbaum,
Lakeland College, Alberta, CN]

                                    * * * * *

4. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: On Course Workshop Schedule
  Empowering Students to Become Active, Responsible Learners

"The On Course I Workshop renewed my excitement and creativity for
teaching my course.  I liked the rich activities that I had never
heard of before.  I believe this workshop will have an impact on me
professionally and personally for the rest of my life!" --Cindra
Kamphoff, Retention Coordinator, University of North Carolina at
Greensboro, NC

   April 23-26, 2004 (near Los Angeles, CA)
   May 23-26, 2004 (near Baltimore/Washington, DC)
   June 13-16, 2004 (near Baltimore/Washington, DC)
   June 27-30, 2004 (near Asheville, NC)
   July 17-20, 2004 (near Baltimore/Washington, DC)
   August 7-10, 2004 (near Baltimore/Washington, DC)

   October 24-27, 2004 (near Baltimore/Washington, DC)

For workshop information and registration forms, visit

Anyone is welcome to subscribe to the free ON COURSE NEWSLETTER:
  To SUBSCRIBE: send a blank message to mailto:[log in to unmask]

To CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS, send a message from your new address to
  mailto:[log in to unmask]
  and put your old email address as the Subject (leave message blank)

To request GUIDELINES for submitting Newsletter articles, send an e-mail to
  mailto:[log in to unmask]

For an archive of success strategies:

To access the Internet version of the On Course Self-Assessment:

To request an examination copy of the On Course text:

To view compelling student success & retention data from On Course programs:

To unsubscribe, click on the following web page.
[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]

Tom Hale
NEO A&M College
200 I Street NE
Box 3920
Miami, OK 74354

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