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  • 1. dbeckerdroid@gmail.comKILLING THE QUIT POINT:SOLVING THE RESEARCHPROBLEM IN A FRESHMAN COMPOSITION COURSEDavid Becker, Jr.Frederick Community College, Session 7.2AFACCT ’12 Conference, Montgomery College –RockvilleJanuary 6, 2012
  • 2. Abstract: There are many things that might stop a freshman student in their academic tracks, but one of the largest is research. In short, this population of students is often weak when it comes to research, and in fact, research is known as a "quit point": something that makes students feel they have no choice but to quit the class, and in some cases, college. Using process-based writing instruction and research-based pedagogy, its possible to not only help your students research better, but also to permanently learn skills that they will be able to use throughout their college career. We will address the research, cover some techniques that have been effective for me over the years, and also address how the new, nationwide Common Core is going to change what your beginning composition students are going to know about research when they walk through your door.
  • 3. 1 Using what you know and what you can find, please effectively write as much as you can on the following topic: Treating sexual assault as a capital crime, punishable by death You have two minutes to write as much as you can.
  • 4. Introduction! David Becker, Jr. College instructor since 1997 Both face to face and online 7-12 English/ELA instructor since 1996 in New York State M.A. English, Rhetoric and Composition M.S. Educational Leadership
  • 5. Writing Exercise 1  Who had the most?  Overachievers  Underachievers  Dear God, when does the weekend start  I just cashed my student loan check ^ Say good-bye to this one, soon!
  • 6. Writing Exercise 1  My philosophy:  I want students to be better prepared for the world around them upon leaving my class. I didn’t say a better writer.  I didn’t say “good at English”
  • 7. What is a Quit Point?
  • 8. What is a Quit Point?  Smoking  What helps you start quitting? What barriers exist?  Pro Football  The New York Jets this week  The Redskins since Daniel Snyder  Student Attrition/Retention
  • 9. What is a Quit Point?  What makes college students dropout?  “theconflict between school and work and family commitments”  Money, Time and Family  “WithTheir Whole Lives Ahead of Them,” Public Agenda, associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • 10. What is a Quit Point?  What makes college students dropout?  Became clinically depressed  Lost financial aid  Had roommate conflicts  Received an unexpected bad grade  Faced a large increase in tuition/living costs  “A Detection Model of College Withdrawal”
  • 11. What is a Quit Point?  What makes college students dropout? - 38% Financial pressure  - 28% Academic disqualification  - 13% Poor social fit  - 4% Distance from home  - 5% Health problem  - 3% Mental / emotional issues  - 9% Family support The
  • 12. What is a Quit Point?  What makes college students dropout?  Dr.Susan Hughes says: Three things that students are weak in that “significantly contribute to attrition”:  Revising  Documentation  Research skills  Research skills were the first item to be tackled when it came to “suggestions” (71)  By the way: they’re coming to us like this.
  • 13. What is a Quit Point? Connecting the Dots:  “What Today’s College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age”:  Research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times.  “students reported being challenged, confused, and frustrated by the research process, despite the convenience, relative ease, or ubiquity of the Internet.…frustrations included the effects of information overload and being inundated with resources, but more. Participants also reported having particular difficulty traversing a vast and ever-changing information landscape” (13)
  • 14. What makes the Quit PointMatter? Research is difficult, so students often do poorly on it for a variety of reasons Individual attention for students is Poor Grades are something lacking considered to be in any one reason college, even if (among many) why only perceived to students drop out be the case
  • 15. 2 Using what you wrote from your first Start Class, please take your writing and create a complete, proper Thesis Statement to use for discussion. Be sure to use the structure we have been given in class You have less than two minutes to complete this.
  • 16. Writing Exercise 2A=Topic A+B+C=B=Your Thesisopinion StatementC=Your proof
  • 17. Writing Exercise 2 We’ll work it out once more… What about high gas prices? A+B+C= What are the benefits of a laptop vs. a desktopA=Topic ThesisB=Your Should juveniles be prosecuted asopinion adults?C=Your proof Statement Should you be allowed to kill an intruder?
  • 18. Class-Level SuggestionsWhat sort of things can you do in your classto help students research better?
  • 19. Class-Level Suggestions  No different than preventing plagiarism:  “Thebest way to prevent plagiarism is to design better assignments.”  Design assignments utilizing unique topics  Scaffold their work using…  Work in class using the writing process (items completed with instructor, in view of instructor)  Keep track of progress
  • 20. Class-Level SuggestionsQuestion:  Keeping Track of Progress, etc.  Program determines what to keep trackHow often ofwill you do  Or…with autonomy, you decide what’sthis? Canyou afford to important, and what needs to bemiss a week  Overall, students clearly feel that this sortaccommodat of individual attention works (Kaufka 26)e this? Two  Even better: 4/5ths of students reportweeks?Early term that the experience that “profoundlyand late changed them” was outside theterm? classroom (Light 8)  One more: working on research together with an instructor encourages “life-long learning” (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2008)
  • 21. Class-Level Suggestions  Keeping Track of Progress, etc.  Two more that really nail it:  “freshmen succeed when they make progress toward fulfilling educational and personal goals” (Upcraft and Gardner 2)  Student perceptions of faculty-student interactions increase retention (O’Gara et al 5)
  • 22. Class-Level Suggestions  Kaufka’s Findings:  Two conferences, made mandatory  First: early in semester  Second: any time during the rest of the semester  “Part of our job as first-year instructors is to put a real human face on our institutions” (33).
  • 23. Student Writing Folder Example
  • 24. Class-Level Suggestions  Online Delivery Ideas:  WizIQ  Skype  Blackboard Collaborate  Adobe Connect  And, of course, any variety of IM programs  HINT: Find something recordable!
  • 25. Class-Level Suggestions  Our friend, Process-Level Writing Instruction  Isthere a need (in other words: did you?) to lecture?  Something to be said for varied instruction  Face-to-face: everyone participates, silently or verbally  Online: Be active early and often  Presence Matters…avoid lines!
  • 26. Class-Level Suggestions No different than preventing plagiarism:  “The best way to prevent plagiarism is to design better assignments”: Autobiographical Work  One example from John Paddison  Two semesters worth of work, sequential  Incorporates a variety of writing assessments  Created either informed positions on self-generated topics or other personal connections (future career, future/current major)  “student retention, attendance, and course evaluations were high, and participants found relevance in relating their research to their own lives” (9)
  • 27. Class-Level Suggestions Paddison (6) also notes:  “the assignment took longer than expected”  “…required a good deal of individual conferencing”  “Yet these finished assignments provided a firm foundation for subsequent assignments”
  • 28. Program-Level ChangeWhat can you do, as a department orcollege, to make research a more positiveexperience, with more positive outcomes?
  • 29. Program-Level Change  Keep track of progress:  This is NOT a portfolio.  It can and should track across mandatory classes.  Yes…it involves paperwork and record-keeping.
  • 30. Program-Level Change  “The general curriculum of the first year composition course and the pedagogical principles…address(es) the retention problem in many ways.”  Degree of student contact and peer involvement correlate with the rate of retention  Conferences and instructor facilitation, and not lectures  Kevin Griffith: “The Neglected Goal”
  • 31. Program-Level Change  Communication  “We don’t talk with each other.”  “We don’t plan with each other.”  “We don’t have a goal as a department/college”  What is the preparation goal?
  • 32. Program-Level Change  Keep track.  What gets written down?  What gets passed from class to class?  What is the mechanism to get material from one instructor to another?
  • 33. Program-Level Change  Supplemental Instruction: The Big One.  Grounded in Constructivist Theory  Study done at a school with open enrollment and high attrition rate  Supplemental Instruction helped “improve writing skills, raise grades, reduce failure and lower attrition” (Osche)
  • 34. Program-Level Change  Supplemental Instruction: The Big One.  The research is clear on this: 400 different institutions have used this in some fashion with success (Osche 2)  Started with students that were in remediation, but benefits were found to students at all ability levels
  • 35. Program-Level Change  Supplemental Instruction: What does this look like:  IEPs?  Individual Education Plan  GIEPs?  Gifted IEP: 12 states use them, including VA and DC…but not MD
  • 36. Program-Level Change  What about everyone else?  Individualize instruction for every student  No tricks, no new technology needed  How do you handle each student individually?  Now: put that in writing.
  • 37. 3 Generate a list of important issues that are associated with your chosen career/major/something you are interested in/a class you enjoyed. Write as many items as you can; the more you come up with, the more choices you will have. You have four minutes to complete this.
  • 38. Writing Exercise 3 IT Thesis Statements! Some samples:  How to write a process essay.A=Topic  How to get the most out of MSB=Your Word.opinion  How to shop for the bestC=Your proof computer, at the best price.  How to make a computer.  How to create a website that takes credit cards.
  • 39. What the Common Core will mean foryou…
  • 40. Common Core  Who’s using it?  Almost everyone…  Theonly close state regionally that has not is Virginia. Others are Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Alaska
  • 41.
  • 42. Common Core  What is it supposed to do:  Prepare students for the workforce and for college (no matter what that means) better than they have been in the past  Writing is the key to everything
  • 43. Common Core  What is it supposed to do:  Help all students be at an age- appropriate place each year  Or…understand why they are not, and provide direction.
  • 44. Common Core  What it is NOT:  No Child Left Behind!  NCLB was a set of expectations for students and their progress as they aged, traveling through K-12 education
  • 45. Common Core  What it IS:  Progress monitoring four times a year  National curriculum with no more than 10% local (meaning state-level) variance  Recursive instruction:  Identifyindividual weaknesses using test data, assessments, and instruction  Attack weaknesses  Rinse, lather, repeat
  • 46. Common Core  What it means for K-12 teachers:  Combined with other initiatives, tenure is at least being “adjusted”  There are no places to hide! No gaps.  Significant curricular work to be sure outcomes are planned for and met  ONE BIG THING: if you know what you’re doing, your life does not change very much!
  • 47. Common Core  What it means for post-secondary instructors and colleges:  At some point, students should be coming to you better prepared.  If you become familiar with the Core Standards, you will know what the students have been expected to do  It may mean NOTHING for remediation students, and will do nothing to change the non-traditional student’s toolbox
  • 48. Common Core  I Believe…this is what’s next:  Remember what for-profit schools have had to do? I Believe we will need to do some of the same things.  Adjustment of tenure? I Believe the same will hold true for us.  Notethat the chosen method for compliance is withholding money, whether straight funding or student loan disbursement
  • 49. Common Core  I Believe…this is what’s BIG:  Will PK-12 Take the lead, then?  Pedagogy will become your best friend, at some point:  No more will professors be around to fund-raise and not know how to teach  (Large University problem more than CC’s…but don’t forget about us adjuncts!)
  • 50. References: Griffith, Kevin. “First Year  OGara, Lauren, Melinda Mecher Composition and Student Retention: Karp, and Katherine Hughes. (2009). The Neglected Goal” An exploratory study of student Head, Alison and Michael Eisenberg. perspectives. Community College “What Today’s College Students Say Review, 36 (3), 195-218. about Conducting Research in the  Osche, Roger. Writing Partners: Digital Age” Improving Writing and Learning Hughes, Susan. “A Mixed Method through Supplemental Instruction in Study on Freshman Students’ Writing Freshman Writing Classrooms. Performance as Addressed by  Paddison, John. “Autobiographical Postsecondary Professors” Writing and the Building of a Kaufka, Beth. “Beyond the Freshman Composition Research classroom: a case study of first-year Community” student perceptions of required  Upcraft, M. Lee, John N. Gardner student-faculty conferences.” Journal and Associates. (1989). The of the Scholarship of Teaching and Freshman Year Experience. CA: Learning, Vol. 10, No. 2, June Jossey-Bass. 2010, pp. 25 - 33. Light, Richard. Making the Most out of College.