Author at district convocation gives strategies for student success
One-minute papers and feedback are recommended to engage students.
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 24, 2012 15:08
Student success does not happen by chance, Dr. Vincent Tinto, distinguished professor for the School of Education at Syracuse University, said at the district’s fall convocation Monday in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.
He said success is reached by intentional, structured and proactive actions in student support, assessment, feedback and engagement.
“It takes a village. … When a student comes to a college, their judgment about what the college is about is shaped by everyone’s actions and how they feel they are included and valued by all members of the campus,” Tinto said.
Tinto’s latest book, “Completing College: Rethinking Institutional Action,” lays out a framework for institutional action and shows how it can be applied to enhance the success of students in two-year and four-year institutions.
Convocation brings together administrators and faculty from all the Alamo Colleges. College offices were closed Monday so all employees could attend.
Earlier, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the district has been on a journey for the last five years to improve student success.
“We still have probably two or three years more work before all of the efforts that we’ve been engaged in are finally going to hold together and really have that dramatic effect on students that we all want, that we all envision,” he said.
Tinto said support to reach high, clear expectations is one of the strategies to student success.
He said support has to be connected to the classroom, such as supplemental instruction, a peer-assisted study session in which students learn how to integrate course content and study skills while working together.
“The ability to form a support group in college is significant for them. They feel like they belong to a community of some sort,” Tinto said.
He said supplemental instruction groups are led by previous students who excelled in the course. They can become mentors who share experiences.
Assessment and feedback are other strategies to improve student success because when feedback is provided people change their behaviors, Tinto said.
“We have to constantly monitor how students are doing so when they make a wrong turn or do less well, we immediately jump in with support,” he said.
Tinto said early warning systems should be given during the first two weeks for students who are falling behind and becoming discouraged.
He said another effective technique is “one-minute papers” because they are anonymous and allow students to ask a question they would not ask during class.
The first question on the one-minute papers asks students if there is something they found useful in class and would like to know more about, Tinto said.
He said the second question is called “the muddiest point” and asks what students found unclear or confusing.
Tinto said at the beginning of the next class he hands out a paper with the three “muddiest” points and spends five minutes discussing the topics.
He said faculty who use the technique have to be consistent and give immediate feedback.
Tinto said engagement is also important to student success because the more people interactions students have, the more likely they will stay enrolled.
He said the amount of time students spend studying and the intensity at which they do so is related to their active engagement in the classroom.
“The more closely students work together in a meaningful way, the more time they’ll put into that activity and the more they will gain out of it,” Tinto said.
In groups, students will ask questions and discuss things they would not have typically because they become more comfortable, he said.