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At Delta College, we use a modified SLA Program for the first level Math
and English developmental level courses.  This program requires
attendance for any student who's course gpa is "C" or below.  The
results of this type of intervention has been astounding.  Overall (over
the past six plus years) there is a 70% success rate for students who
actively paticpate in study sessions for the English course (compared
with only 17% for students who do not participate) and a 78% success
rate for students who actively particpate in study sessions for the Math
course (compared with 31% for students who do not particpate).  These
numbers recur each semester. And the students continue to do well in
subsequent courses.

But, no, one cannot force someone else to learn.  However, offering a
strong program designed to meet the academic support needs of students
who are at the highest risk for failure AND maintaing high academic
standards at the same time are not mutually exclusive.  Hiring staff
with a strong educational background, working closely with faculty and
continuously promptng students about developing learning strategies that
will help them to succeed all play a role.

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Susan Jones
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2006 1:16 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Math intervention(s)

 <<Why then the low completion rate?  We could spend a whole day
comtemplating this question ( and perhaps we should) but basically the
success of each individual student is just that. It depends entirely on
their personal motivation and not upon our herculean interventions. You
cannot make a student learn if they do not wish to. You cannot threaten
them, cajole them, humor them, or go to their houses and turn off their
tv's. They must want to learn, and then we can help them.>>

That's a wonderful way to feel better and I'd agree if the word
"entirely" were left out.  In my experience it's more complicated than
that. 
 
Helping them is still a pretty major challenge. What is the success rate
for people who use the services you have available?  And do you see a
connection between these lower and lower level math courses and student
motivation?  
 
I work with students who *are* motivated and their success rate is only
somewhat higher. 
 
<<    And the saga continues two more times. We have added an arithmatic
course that we euphamistically call prealgebra and believe it or not we
have added a course before this one called fundamental math. >>
 
Are you basically trying to say here that  the school is stooping lower
and lower, but the students aren't reaching up to take the hand - and
that it simply must be their attitude that makes them so unskilled?
(Misspelling arithmetic and euphemistically adds a certain irony to the
paragraph.)   
 
In my experience, one of the most common major frustrations for students
- and, very possibly, a contributing factor to that lousy success rate -
is that the teachers really do find it hard to believe that they don't
already understand certain basic stuff.  It's more than the daily
bruising of the ego - the instruction is permeated with incomprehensible
gaps.  No matter how low you go, if the course is only euphemistically
basic, it's not going to reach the students, no matter how motivated
they are.   
 
I have often pondered why people seem so much more psychologically
vulnerable when it comes to mathematics.  Perhaps it's partly that
constant message that "I can't believe I have to *teach* you this," -
and usually it's not taught, it's simply mentioned, because the teacher
doesn't *really* believe the student doesn't know it, and so s/he gives
it a cursory explanation (perhaps dependent on other information the
student doesn't have) and then quickly moves onward and proceeds as if
that explanation had been internalized, digested, and applied to
previous schema.  So, once again, the student gets the message that
s/he's an ignorant, uncivilized outsider looking in, decides to go watch
tv, and the teacher thinks "How *did* you get to college? It can't be my
job to make up for that... must be your attitude..."  
 
Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Academic Development Center
Parkland College
Champaign, IL  61821
[log in to unmask]
Webmastress,
http://www.resourceroom.net


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