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Three takeaways from requirements and resources to promote persistence

Teaching in higher ed, there are many times when we add requirements or resources to our class, only to wonder later if they are beneficial to the students.  Below are some conversations with a freshman that echo my experiences with students over the last few years as they adjust to college expectations.

On leaving room for electives in a degree program

Before class started:  “I guess I could take psychology for my other class; it looks ok.”

After the first month of school:  “Psychology is really interesting.  I love this course!”

Takeaway:  There is great value in liberal arts requirements that require students to explore areas they may never have known about.

On minimum course standards

Before:  “English is my best subject.  I don’t understand why I have to take the extra study lab just because of my grade point…weeks pass…I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve read all the directions and it still doesn’t make sense.”

After:   Advice repeated from multiple people resulted in multiple trips to the writing lab and the instructor office hours.  Finally, the realization hits that college is NOT the same as high school, and many different kinds of writing skills are needed.

Takeaway:  Entry requirements are not the bad guy, but instead are designed to help make sure students succeed.

On multiple means of learning via people, online, and text

Before:  #mathhater hoping to become at least #mathtolerent or #mathpassed.  Made choice to enroll in online but instructor-supported course AND to spend the extra $ on the printed study materials.

After:   Typical Sunday afternoon spent at the kitchen table surrounded by the printed guides, the computer, notes, and occasionally asking for help. All in use, and needed.  “This is the most math I’ve ever done in my life,” said with satisfaction.

Takeaway:  Providing our students with multiple means of support for them to be able to access on their own, and encouraging them to use as much or as little to be successful works.

(Thanks, Nancy, Melissa, Deb P., Mike G., Michael, and Lisa B. for all you do!)

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