HELP STUDENTS FIND THEIR STRENGTHS < # 4 from the TLC 11-17-08 > There are three dimensions of higher education. Our mission must be to educate both the mind and heart, to develop both skills and ethics, to cultivate good professionals who are good people. Our purpose must be to help each student grow in intellect and character, to help each learn how to do things right and how to do the right things, to help each learn what is necessary for both a productive livelihood and a productive life. ~ Louis Schmier, in POD Listserv post 11/12/08 (lightly edited) “I will not be able to attend today’s workshop (sorry—I’m overloaded!!) but could really use some assistance in this area.” from faculty email to a Teaching Center regarding a workshop on coping with overload, quoted in Making Time, Making Change: Avoiding Overload in College Teaching ~ Douglas Robertson [BORROW THIS BOOK FROM TLC IF YOU ARE DOWNTOWN] [REQUEST THIS BOOK BY INTEROFFICE MAIL IF YOU ARE ON ANOTHER OAHU CAMPUS] Executive Summary In October’s message, I reflected on Meeting Students Where They Are, instead of where we wish them to be. This month we continue that thread. Among attitudes underpinning college success are persistence and self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to reach a learning outcome or personal goal. These attitudes are learned. Students often reach us bitterly discouraged and disabled in this respect, troubled by doubt of their own competence. Many don’t understand that people learn different content in different ways and at different speeds, and that one can learn to compensate for deficits by working harder or differently. In this message, consider how to show students their strengths and how to encourage them to raise their own personal bar to achievement by attitude shifts. It’s about hope and prompting change by reducing risk and fear of failure. After a brief experiment with Office 2007, which displays badly on some computers, I have returned to formatting this mail in Office 2003. Full-time faculty and selected staff receive this message from distribution lists constructed in the TLC. Adjunct faculty should receive it forwarded from their colleges. Links were tested and active when the message was sent. If you find otherwise or wish to comment or to opt out, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. TIP OF THE MONTH Our colleagues at Honolulu Community College have, over the years, developed one of the most frequently visited faculty development sites on the web. The organizing brainchild behind this is Jerry Cerny. http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/index.htm It is chock-full of links to practically anything you might need, from The Secrets of Study Success to Five Basic Types of Questions, to Ed Nuhfer’s Knowledge Survey, a way of determining what students think they know about your content without giving a test, to Achieving Success with Adult Learners. You can find these things using a search engine, but HCC has collected them for you in a user-friendly format, in the Teaching Tips Index. Browse this fun site on one of those rare rainy days. You can also link to HCC through TLC’s web site: http://tlc.hpu.edu “Resources” Help Students Find Their Strengths [Message #4 from the TLC: November 17, 2008] “Some students are just not cut out for school” In a moving piece on YouTube, Michael Wesch (a professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Kansas State University) reports hearing this often from frustrated faculty colleagues. For one view of higher education’s problems and promise, watch nine minutes of an hour-long video (A Portal to Media Literacy) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yApagnr0s in which Wesch speaks to faculty at the University of Manitoba. Also learn there what Wesch means by “a crisis of significance” in education. [We used the first ten minutes of this video as a discussion kickoff in the new faculty morning segment of Fall Orientation.] Examine your beliefs What are your own beliefs about student competence? Skip Downing, a long-time community college instructor and the founder of oncourseworkshop.com, has made a career of combining faculty development with student success strategies. In the item linked below, “Choices of Successful Students,” one of TLC’s FAQs, you can get the flavor of his program. Oncourse runs an annual conference and nationwide workshops; and Skip tirelessly promotes the exchange of success strategies among faculty: http://faq.hpu.edu/tlc/faq-pro/index_hpu.php?action=article&cat_id=013&id=98&lang=en Explore its web site for more: http://www.oncourseworkshop.com/, including a self-assessment you can also offer to students: http://college.cengage.com/downing_assessment/jsp/questions1- 8.jsp?customizer=pre Teach students to assess and understand their personal academic strengths. The link just above is a free, online self-assessment tool that prompts thinking about the behavior and attitude variables that underlie success. Such an exercise could be a good way to open conversation with students about these variables. From there, students can learn how to determine personal learning preferences. Many simple, free, online, instant-scored instruments are available on the web, and John Collins, a colleague at the University of British Columbia, suggests asking students to do any three, and then triangulate the results: In what ways do the three instruments agree, and how do they disagree? Do the assessments match your self-perceptions? What areas would you like to work on? How can one compensate for areas of relative weakness? http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html (a 44-item questionnaire from North Carolina State University) http://www.ulc.arizona.edu/learning_style.php (a 22-item survey online with immediate feedback VARK is a 16-item questionnaire that provides immediate web feedback: http://www.vark- learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire A Learning Style Survey for College (by Caroline Jester, Diablo Valley State College) is a 32-item instant-feedback instrument at http://www.metamath.com/multiple/multiple_choice_questions.html An overview of learning styles can be found at http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/ By digging into this site you can find another survey. Pedagogy resources from the Teaching and Learning Center, University of Nevada at Las Vegas can be found at http://tlc.unlv.edu/pedagogy/learning.htm. It includes a three-minute “quick assessment” of preferred learning styles in a class, by Leora Baron, the center’s late director. Embed skill instruction in content classes. As you become aware of student skill deficits, you can re-focus on needed skill development without losing content time. One way to do this: offer a mini- workshop on some specific skill in the last five or ten minutes of a class: e.g. tips for learning from a text, skillful navigation of a multiple-choice test. By using time at the end of a class, you allow easy opt-out by students who don’t need this help. If you know the deficit is widespread, use a little class time to build a T-chart, asking students to identify and focus on specific behaviors related to a concept like participation or preparation for class. The T-chart concept, originated by David and Roger Johnson at the University of Minnesota to help develop team skills, is explained at http://www.hydroville.org/system/files/team_strategies.pdf and you can develop simple ways of doing this with a class. I can help in a face-to-face meeting or in a forthcoming workshop. Teach students that attitude is a choice and makes a difference. Students often are stuck in negative or self-defeating attitudes or behaviors. In a newsletter from the online Adjunct Success program, Richard Lyons points to the “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Students.” It is available at http://www.vetrol.com/temp/ASeNews15Oct08.pdf. A sample: Habit 1: Be Proactive • Talk with each of your professors one-to-one before the first exam • Sit in the first three rows of every classroom in which your courses are held • Take the initiative to introduce yourself to two other good students in each class Crawl, walk, run. In “What the Army Taught me about Teaching,” Martha Kinney underscores the importance of scaffolding: building understanding, confidence and competence in small steps. For instance, a professor might identify and assign specific steps of preparing a research paper, instead of assigning the paper and assuming that students know all the steps. The scaffolding concept is neatly explained at http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/webdesign/Scaffolding/ and the Kinney paper, which I’ve used as a workshop tool in précis form, can be found at http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/07/17/kinney Post Script on Skill-Building: Here is a short follow-up to Message #3: Meeting Students Where They Are (about skill-building in the context of content instruction). In a recent newsletter to Seattle Pacific University faculty, my colleague Susan Van Zanten comments: A 2007 survey called “How Should Colleges Prepare Students to Succeed in Today’s Global Economy,” asked 305 top corporate executives what they most wanted to see in a job candidate. The top three choices were “teamwork skills,” “critical thinking and analytic reasoning skills,” and “oral/written communication.” While today’s global economy has changed radically, I think it’s a fair assumption that these three skills are now needed more than ever, in areas ranging from ministry to teaching, public relations to medical care, and performing arts to banking. We certainly can use them in higher education. How do you help students—undergraduates and graduates alike--develop these skills within your discipline? Do you explain to students why you assign group work or oral presentations, what the connection is between their learning activities and their future life? Advance Notice Adjunct Success: Cohort 3 TLC offers no-cost enrollment in AdjunctSuccess, a web-based support program started in September 2006 by Richard Lyons, a long-time student of, consultant to and advocate for adjunct faculty. By subscription paid by HPU, this program is available to all HPU faculty. It provides frequent and topical live web seminars, access to recordings of seminars you want to hear (but could not attend) a chat space, and access to a vast library of teaching resources. To learn more about the program, explore at http://adjunctsuccess.net/index.php and click the Individual Professors link. Or see TLC's FAQ: http://faq.hpu.edu/tlc/faq-pro/index_hpu.php?action=article&cat_id=011&id=44&lang For those who complete an online assessment next spring, we issue a certificate of participation, and we keep a database record of enrollment (which you can request any time for reappointment or promotion). TO ENROLL: contact Sandra Meyer (email@example.com). Please include your name, campus e-mail address, time-zone you will be logging in from (HI, etc), discipline (Bus=Business; ED= Education; HS=Health Sciences; Hum=Humanities; MS=Math/Natural Sciences; SS=Social Sciences; Oth=Other), and number of years of teaching experience. Your enrollment will be acknowledged promptly (except when Sandra is on vacation 11/21-12/5). Our third 2008-2009 faculty cohort will close about January 15, 2009. Soon after that date, enrollees will receive welcome mail, a username and a password, (TLC does not have access to this information), with instructions about how to access program resources. 7th Annual Winter Concert, International Chorale and Vocal Ensemble On Friday, 12/5/08, Hawai'i Pacific University's International Chorale and Vocal Ensemble, along with the HPU Chamber Orchestra will present their 7th Annual Winter Concert, Stille Nacht. The Chamber Orchestra will perform works by Felix Mendelssohn and J. S. Bach, as well as traditional holiday favorites. The International Chorale and Vocal Ensemble will perform pieces honoring King Kalakaua, Queen Lili'uokalani, and Princess Ka'iulani. The vocal groups will also present traditional spirituals, folk songs from around the world, and songs for the holiday season. The concert will culminate with a candlelit, joint performance of Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Admission is free. 7:00pm, Central Union Church. Mike’s editorial comment: Five stars!