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Student Redesign: Resources to help Students be Successful

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By in Classroom, Course Redesign, General Education, Student Behavior on .

In my previous post, I discussed how there exists a shared responsibility between the University and its students with regard to their success.  In this post, I’d like to share a list of resources to which students can be referred.

Academic Advisors

A student’s academic advisor can often provide the best information with regard to how a student’s performance is going to affect their overall academic career. Each college, school, or department has its own advisors, and most students should know where their advisor’s office is located.

Academic Success Center

Purdue’s Academic Success Center provides 8- and 16-week classes focused on study skills and reading skills. In addition, they offer free workshops throughout the semester, as well as walk-in consultations to help students be more successful in their studies.

Division of Financial Aid

Often times, students struggle academically because of financial issues. Counselors in the Financial Aid office can work with students to find additional financial aid resources for them, or help them better understand the aid they’re receiving.

Office of the Dean of Students

Purdue’s Office of the Dean of Students offers a range of programs designed to assist students with their personal and academic needs. Personal counseling is available, as are tutors and academic assistance.  Specific resources are offered for adult students through the Span Plan.

PUSH and CAPS

An illness – whether physical or psychological – can impact how a student performs in the classroom. Referring a student to the resources available through PUSH, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), can help a student identify what’s wrong and aid in their recovery.

Science and Technology Resource Rooms

The Colleges of Science and Technology offer assistance via help and resource rooms, including biology, chemistry, electrical engineering technology, and math.

Supplemental Instruction

Coordinated by Student Access, Transition and Success Programs, Supplemental Instruction (SI) helps students succeed in historically difficult courses.  Students who received an A in the class are trained as peer instructors and are placed back in the classroom to observe the lecture again. Then, they offer out-of-class sessions designed to reinforce and supplement the faculty members’ lectures. Research has indicated that SI participants earn between one-half to one-full letter grade higher than their non-participating peers. A list of courses involved with SI can be found at https://www.purdue.edu/sats/SI/index.html.

University Residences

The professional and student staff in the residence halls exist to assist students in becoming integrated to Purdue. Residential Life Managers, Staff Residents, and Resident Assistants can be excellent resources for students who seem to be struggling in your classes.

Writing Lab

Purdue’s Writing Lab, and the Online Writing Lab (OWL), are excellent resources to assist students with their writing skills. The physical lab is on the second floor of Heavilon Hall.

This is just a smattering of the resources available to students across campus. Please feel free to post additional resources in the comments.

Course redesign? Yes. Student redesign? Definitely.

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By in Classroom, Course Redesign, Student Behavior on .

Lecture Hall at Purdue University

Lecture Hall at Purdue University

I have the privilege of working with the Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) project, and as part of that responsibility I have been observing classes that have been redesigned as part of the assessment process.

Recently I observed a course and came to the realization that while it is imperative that we work with faculty to create a more engaging and interactive classroom setting, as well as ensure that clear learning goals are set and articulated to students, there’s another piece to the puzzle: the students.  I was observing a larger class, and noticed the following student behaviors:

  • Many students had nothing on their desks – no computer, no paper, no pen/pencil.
  • Some students who were taking notes were writing what was on the PowerPoint slides – slides that were available for students to download (I only know this because some students had laptops with the slides right there).
  • When asked to talk to their neighbor about a concept or question, most did not talk to anyone.
  • At least 15 students arrived after the lecture had already started, and at least as many left before class was dismissed.

The behavior that got me the most, however, was when the professor walked the students through one of the homework problems and gave them the answers to two others (so that they could ensure they were doing the work correctly at home) and a large number of students didn’t even write that information down.

We can redesign courses and work with faculty to alter pedagogy, but if we fail to teach students how to best succeed in our courses, our redesign efforts may be for naught.

Literature indicates that many students coming to college acquired few, if any, study skills that were readily transferable to a university environment. Many times, students indicate that they did not have to study much in high school to earn a good grade. Further, they find college courses to be far more demanding and requiring a far greater amount of time outside of class than they’d experienced.

There exists a shared responsibility between the university and the student when it comes to success – a student must be willing to work for a satisfactory grade, but the university must also be willing to support that student in that endeavor.  Students need to be taught the techniques that will help them succeed – from note taking to test taking to using the libraries on campus. One cannot assume that first, or even second, year students have skills adequate enough to succeed without being shown how to do so.

If you’re redesigning a course, or even just making small changes, think of how that will impact the students in it – in particular, how they prepare for, participate in, and engage with your class. What tips or suggestions can you show students to help them best prepare for and participate in your class?  If you can illustrate what you expect them to do, and what will help them succeed, your course will be that much more successful.

This is part one of a two-part post. Part two will provide information on campus resources, handouts, and information that can be used to help students learn as much as they can.