MetLife Project: Counselor Community of Practice Call 3/30/12Attendees: South Seattle Community College -Keith Marler Portland Community College -Valorie Adler Hennepin Technical College -Matt Gustafson Red Rocks community College -Sarah Goepel Mid-South Community College -Nancy Carlson -Robert OselenCommunity of Practice Topics and DiscussionTopic: Faculty Attitudes -Have you talked with your faculty about the needs of the mature worker? -How do we make modifications in the classroom for the mature worker as a student? -Does your faculty reach out to this student population?Discussion:Typically the feedback from faculty on the mature worker in the classroom is that they are very engagedand excited to be in a learning environment with so many different types of people. The maturestudents generally get energized by the younger students and are viewed as an asset to the classroomby faculty. In South Seattle Community College the average age of a student in technical programs is 38years old with that number steadily rising each year. In most classes the adult student tries the hardest,has the best attendance and most of the time grasps the content with the exception of the technology.Mostly the college partners see an increased commitment from adult student and often see the maturestudent seeking advising time to be more intentional, focused and very prescriptive in planning theireducation. They see that the mature student wants to make the very best use of their time spentgetting educated. It was mentioned that it is increasing important when advising the mature student tohelp them make wise decisions about their education pathway. The college partners have discussionswith students that move them to the more intellectual classes as opposed to the heavily technicalclasses which will likely result in more labor intensive job opportunities. Robert Oselen from Mid-SouthCommunity College said that he helps mature students think long term about their education and notapproach their time in school as a “stop gap” solution.In most cases the faculty reaches out specifically to the mature student when there are opportunities forinternships with local employers as the faculty and employer know that the soft skills will be intact withthis population. When there are cases that the mature worker is deficient in some technical skills, likethe use of technology, some colleges have developed specific programs to mitigate this gap. In SouthSeattle they have created a short term training program called In-Step which is specific to matureworkers with a curriculum of blended computer skills and adult basic education training.Topic: Prior Learning Assessment Policy and Use on Campus -What do your schools do for PLA? -Is there an openness to the concept on campus or in your region?
Discussion:With each college on the line (Mid-South, Hennepin Technical, Red Rocks and Portland) there was noinstitution wide policy for PLA (Prior Learning Assessment). PLA is the process by which students whohave knowledge gained through work and life experiences can document that learning and receivecollege credit validating that learning without having to spend time and money taking the fullcoursework.In Portland there isn’t a policy in place for PLA. The reluctance to develop this type of policy is twofold.There is concern that the 4 year institutions might not accept the credit and therefore if students areusing Portland Community College as a stepping stone this credit would not help them in the long runand secondly that the school would not be receiving tuitions dollars from the students who receivecredit for certain classes. ***CAEL conducted a 48 institution wide study on the effectiveness of PLAand what we found was that students who come into an institutions with some PLA credits are almost50% more likely to graduate as opposed to students who come in with no PLA and only complete at aroughly 15% persistence rate. Essentially students who come in with PLA are more likely to stay inschool, thereby allowing the college to collect more tuition dollars over time.***There is openness at South Seattle to develop a robust PLA policy; however, there is an issue of funding.Mostly this is in regards to helping students pay for services like CAEL’s LearningCounts.org wherestudents get an online class on how to develop portfolios. There are also cost implications to an internalPLA policy for paying faculty to assess each portfolio.At Mid-South Community College the allied health program allows students to get credit for the class ifthey can show they have the competencies; however they are unsure of how this policy of PLA is appliedin other disciplines.At Hennepin Technical there is a strong policy with the testing out piece of PLA (typically this is donethrough CLEP, or College Level Examination Program) but this policy is up to each individual instructor toevoke. Some will accept this credit and some do not, this is not an institutional policy throughout thecollege.Topic: Realistic Approaches to Advising -How do you reality check mature students through advising?Discussion:Each college took the approach that in order to provide a reality check for students when they comeinto the college that it’s necessary to have very in-depth and rich conversations about their skills,interests, needs and abilities. In some cases the counselors would even put the students in touch withsomeone from industry so that they can have an even more realistic idea of what their educationchoices would lead to in terms of employment opportunities. It’s critical to understand from thestudent what their values are, how much energy they have to pursue a given education path and howcommitted they are to putting in all the time and getting the work done. At Red Rocks the process ofdeveloping a students’ resume is very helpful to reveal answers to the interest, skills and commitmentquestions – especially with the older worker, their past is the best indicator of how they will approachnew opportunities.
There were some interesting programs and processes that some of the colleges detailed when it comesto helping with effective advising for students. Some of these examples are listed below:“Dreaming the Dream” - Have students come up with a “bucket list” of jobs or at least 3 things that theywant to do with their lives and then backwards map the education process to those end goals.Encourage the older students to “dream like their 10 years old” as a way to help remove the thoughtthat a student might be too old to follow a specific career/education path.“Strengths Finder” – This is a book that colleges can buy that will help students conduct their owninterest and strength assessments. The cost on this is potentially cheaper than using Myers-Briggsassessment.