Preface This committee has investigated the situation in Janine’s developmental writing course. The committee has identified numerous individual factors that have contributed to the problem, but has chosen to present the most critical factors at this time. Similarly, the committee is presenting the solutions that we believe are the most achievable and will have the most positive impact on the situation.
Problem Problem: the Committee has isolated the problem that students are not persisting in the developmental courses.
Why is this a problem?
23% of freshman at 2-year public institutions enroll in remedial writing courses. (NCES, 2003)
Janine’s developmental writing course the attrition is 50-60% , which is comparable to adult basic education (ABE) attrition rates which can be as high as 60-70% (Quigley, 1995).
Most students who drop out of their remedial class will not have been successful in their educational goals, because 66.4% of community college students intend to earn either a certificate or degree or transfer to a four-year institution. (Voorhees and Zhou, 2000)
Janine has seen a change occur with retention in her course and has began to question the very efficacy of developmental education and her own work. Research has shown “a positive impact of remedial course work in terms of better grades in college-level courses and greater persistence in college.” (Russell, 2008) “The evidence that students who successfully pass through remedial course work gain momentum toward degrees is beginning to build.” (Adelman, 2006)
Relevant Facts Course goal/background The college has open enrollment, and the goal of the class is to increase their writing ability so they can successfully complete academic writing assignments. Students who are tested for developmental classes either lack a high school diploma, have a high school GPA ≤ 2.0, have ACT scores < 16 Students cannot take course (towards their degree) for which the developmental skill is a requirement until they complete the developmental course. Instructor background Janine is teaching developmental writing at a community college. She's been teaching at this level for about 12 years. Diversity of students The students have a mixed socio-economic background: some lower and working class, most working part-time, some full-time workers. Student are often juggling work and childcare with school work. Commuting and parking are often a struggle of students. Many of the students are struggling financially, and there is a lack of federal funding for occupational programs (nursing). Students often did poorly in high school as they preferred the social aspect of school rather than the academic. Life obligations or limitations Students range in age: some right out of high school, some in their 20s-30s, and some older. The students’ educational goals range from four-year college, occupational programs at the community college, and “career surfers” (1/4 of the students are "pre-nursing“). Minority students are over-represented in the student population in comparison with the overall population. Many students belong to lower socio-economic groups.
The Committee found 3 primary types of contributing factors… Situational barriers are “influences more or less external to the individual or least beyond the individual’s control.” (Johnstone and Rivera, 1965) Institutional barriers are those practices or procedures that exclude or discourage adults from participating in activities. Dispositional barriersreflect personal attitudes; such as thinking on is too old to learn. (Johnstone and Rivera, 1965)
Situational Factors Relevant Facts from the Case Many students in the developmental education are affected by situational barriers such as work conflicts, absence of childcare, lack of transportation and time. Students stop out to deal with personal problems Adult students who drop out are often actually “stopping out” – that is, interrupting their studies but planning to return. (Frank and Gaye, 1997) Key Identified Issue Lack of time and lack of money are the main reasons for nonparticipation as revealed by UNESCO and Johnstone and Rivera’s (1965) national study of participation . (Merriam, Caffarella and Baumgartner 2007)
Situational Factors Action Plan for the Lack of Time and Money Key Issue Provide financial assistance to students in need Need based grants Student loans Flexible payment options Provide convenient course offerings Larger selection of evening courses and offer courses over the weekend Provide support services – connecting students to appropriate advisers and counselors Adequate support can improve attrition; students like to be listened to and have their problems acknowledged (Cullen, 1994). These services need to be offered at times that are convenient for students (i.e. before/after class or online via chat/email or by phone). Provide students with opportunity to test out of developmental courses – this can save on tuition costs and help students enroll into their program of study Make material accessible to students – create a website where students can access course related material and work on outside of class and provide an opportunity to turn in assignments via email Provide low cost childcare services on campus It can alienate problems for working parents Research has demonstrated that black student transfer rates are higher at larger schools when day care facilities are provided (Bryant, 82).
Situational Factors Obstacles to the Lack of Time and Money Action Plan
Institutional factors Relevant Facts from the Case Voorhees and Zhou (2002) found only one factor significantly related to changes in intentions: cumulative credit hours. Further, the authors suggest that there is a positive relationship between number of credits completed and number of intention shifts, and a negative relationship between number of credits completed and perception of goal attainment. Forming social networks benefit. Jorgensen finds that successful students manage cultural conflict through subtle non-political forms of cultural resistance. Strategies with help them cope in post secondary educations environments:. Subordinating, creating and redefining.
Social integration affects retention in ABE as well. Vann and Hinton (1994) found that 84% of completers of a work-site GED program belonged to a class. 70% of dropouts are socially isolated.
Attrition as resistance. Tierney and Quigley (1985) -“Individual advancement and selection while appearing to develop individual is actually a selective process carefully monitored by the system itself. Another function offering second chance and legitimization-also promotes the dominant culture since second chance education actually produces and appearance of greater equality of opportunity and hence reinforces existing social structures.” Key Identified Issue There is a lack of institutional supports, especially access to resources and peers.
Institutional Factors Action Plan for the Lack of Social Interaction Key Issue Residence halls for community college To alleviate the issues students experience when commuting to school, residence halls would be made available. In their study of 14 community colleges with residence halls, Murrell, Denzine and Murrell (1998) found that students felt generally positive about their residential experience and believed that it facilitated their academic pursuits. Students reported that, by eliminating their commute they were able to spend more time studying. 2. Create a Social Network Administrators and student advisors would support adult commuter students through phone calls within the first two weeks of the term. Students who were called were retained at a higher level of controls. The felt the practice put a human face on the university and gave them a sense of community. 3. Structure the curriculum differently
Congruence model: In this model it is suggested that people are more likely to participate in educational activities where there is some congruence between their perception of themselves (their self concept) and the nature of the education program/environment. One of the key findings in the North American literature which has driven this is the correlation between the number of years spent at school and college and the likelihood of taking part in education programs after that (Boshier 1973).
Internships: The pressures of juggling the roles of student, partner, parent, worker, would be lessened if the role of the student was seen a including the others. Students created an environment for example through clubs which validated and reaffirmed their Native American Culture and students “redefined” and integrated higher education into their cultural identities (Cullen 1994).
Institutional Factors Action Plan for the Lack of Social Interaction Key Issue 4. Incorporate Elements into the Curriculum
Journal writing time, silent writing: Telling and hearing our stories is essential to human nature. It is the way we make sense of things. With a sense of inclusion, most adults can publicly bring their narratives to their learning experiences. They can personalize their knowledge-use their own language metaphors experiences or history to make sense of what they are learning. They can be involved knowledge builders (Wlodkowski 1999).
Begin with ten minutes sustained silent writing
10-20 Minute “Mini Lesson”
Writing Block-Three Zones
Sharing Zone Trainees are discussing ideas or peer editing Silent Zone Trainees are working on a writing project silently. This can be related to writing class or writing for another course Conference Zone Meet with Native trainer for feedback
Institutional Factors Obstacles to the Action Plan to the Lack of Social Interaction Key Issue
Dispositional factors Relevant Facts from the Case Academic underachievement reflecting a lack of interest than ability (Lack of motivation). Students did take high school seriously and never really studied (Past educational experiences). Value the social dimension of school more than the academic side ( Attitudes about learning). Academic work is a struggle not matter how much effort they put in (negative impact on the self-perceptions about oneself as a learner and impact on future learning). Key Identified Issue Lack of motivation of the learners due to not perceiving the learning endeavor as valuable and relevant. Motivation to learn meaning “ Process whereby goal directed behavior instigated and sustained” (Schunk, 1990).
Dispositional factors Reasons as to why the problem stems from the quality of instruction: Relevance of material to personal educational goals. (Adults feel much better when they have successfully learned something they wanted to learn and something they value. This separates superficial learning from relevant learning and deeply anchors the learning process in intrinsic motivation” (Wlodowski, 1999). Diversity of classroom in terms of population, levels and needs. Employing ‘culturally responsive teaching’ methods to speak to each individual learner. “Intrinsic motivation is an evocation, an energy called forth by circumstances that connect with what is culturally significant to the person.” Further, ...for us to effectively teach adults requires culturally responsive teaching.” (Wlodkowski, 1999). Need to built in motivation into instructional strategy and design to target retention from the onset. “Designers must strive to create a deeper motivation in learners for them to learn new skills” (Kruse). Need for dialogue learning approach to engage and sustain adult learners. “Engaging adults in their own learning means engaging them as subjects of that learning” (Vella, 2002).
Dispositional factors Action Plan for the Quality of Instruction 1. Perform needs assessment to understand target learners individual needs “Listening to learners’ wants and needs helps shape a program that has immediate usefulness to adults” (Vella, 2002). This begins before the course and will require obtaining info from each prospective participant in advance. 2. Utilize Culturally responsive teaching methods Lesson plans that focus on Multiculturalism and unique life experiences. “Seeing learners as unique and active, we emphasize communication and respect, realizing that through understanding and sharing our resources together we create greater energy for learning. (Wlodowski, 1999) Instructor should keep in mind not to “assume” or make judgments by stereotypes, information should be researched, then students should be allowed to scrutinize information.
Action Plan for the Quality of Instruction 3. Employ the ARCS Model
Dispositional factors Obstacles to the Action Plan to the Quality of Instruction Key Issue
Summary Key Issue: Lack of time and lack of money Action Plan:
Financial assistance to students in need
Convenient course offerings
Opportunity to test out of developmental courses
Make material accessible to students
Provide low cost childcare services on campus
Key Issue: Lack of institutional supports, especially access to resources and peers Action Plan:
Residence halls for community college
Create a Social Network
Structure the curriculum differently
Incorporate elements into the curriculum.
Key Issue: Lack of motivation of the learners Action Plan:
Perform a needs assessment
Utilize culturally responsive teaching methods
Employ ARCS model
“Beginning with recruitment, the adult learner should be seen as a partner in the learning process that builds on motivation, counsels rather than tests, emphasizes relevance and recognizes resistance.” (Wonacott, 2001)