Monthly Archives: August 2012

Linda Suskie – Nurturing Student Success – August Celebration of Learning 2012

Linda Suskie, assessment consultant, was our guest speaker for the general sessions and breakout sessions throughout the day on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.  Here are my notes (my perspective) on Linda’s address at the general session.

NURTURING Student Success

What is student success?

  • When students learn what they need and what they want
  • When students achieve their goals; degree, certificate, better job
  • When students achieve their goals efficiently and effectively

How should we help them succeed?

  • Provide opportunities for writing, revising, practicing, reflecting (standard is 2 hours of work for every 1 hour in class; students report doing 45 minutes of work out of class)
  • Ask students to write even a 1 paragraph summary of what they have read; allows them writing and reflecting activities, holds them accountable for reading
  • Help students by providing them with a structure, a ‘blueprint’, for tests; many students study in an incorrect fashion
  • Minimize lecturing; provide hands-on practice, collaboration opportunities
  • Minimize memorization; Suskie referenced the 5 Minute University; students need opportunities for deep learning, getting facts into the deep memory
  • Set high expectations; use scaffolding to build one concept upon the others; grade on important goals; outline key points, what the students will do to learn, and how they will demonstrate learning; use rubrics; break projects into pieces; allow students to synthesize to get meaning from what they are learning
  • Provide concrete feedback; grading is not editing – try circling errors and letting students identify the problem
  • Prompt the use of student support resources


Following Suskie’s presentation, Dr. William Tammone made a presentation.  He indicated ICC is prepared to help students succeed, we need to focus on fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention of students (currently 64.5% and 44.8%, respectively).


August Celebration of Learning General Session – Opening

For what it’s worth, here are notes (my perspective) from the opening of the August Celebration of Learning General Session…

Ron Howell’s address used a superhero metaphor.  Educators are superheroes; our enemies are ignorance and apathy; we defeat ignorance with knowledge; we conquer apathy with action; allies are those we count on when we are in trouble.  Always remember to listen.

State of the College 2012 – Dr. Erwin

  • Non-Traditional Students – down in number of students, up in number of credit hours; we have smaller high school graduating classes from our 37 feeder schools
  • Online Course Credit Hours – up
  • Adult Community Programs – down in participants
  • Distinct Graduates (not previously earning a degree or certificate from ICC) – down
  • African American Success – down
  • Developmental Success – even
  • Satisfaction – would you recommend ICC?  Down on the Student Satisfaction Inventory
  • Foundation Funds – up $1M
  • Health Care Savings – up (good)
  • Operational Costs – down (good)

Goals for this year:

  • Retention of first-time full-time students; goal 73.5%, currently 71.9%
  • Course Success of African American Students; goal 54.1%, currently 52.6%
  • Virtual Campus Enrollment; goal 11,359, currently 10,816
  • Workforce Readiness; develop new programs

Also noted in Dr. Erwin’s address – Pension Reform – future options may include: choose receiving current cost of living adjustment but freeze salary and give up health care in retirement; or, lesser cost of living adjustment but retain salary increases and health care.

No significant difference? No significant difference. No significant difference!?!?

Big shout out to Megan Bomer, Phil Harris, and Jen Hopp for helping to facilitate this session, ‘No  Significant Difference: Teaching and Student Learning in Online,  Hybrid, and Traditional Classes’ during August Celebration of Learning 2012.

Here are Megan’s slides and Phil’s slides and the breakout session handout.

And notes from the session:

  • Students tend to withdraw early in WWW classes, perhaps because the WWW class isn’t what they expected (ICC needs to keep striving to get the right students in online classes, based on informing them about what it is, what to expect, etc.);
  • We might want to investigate – when students are withdrawing from WWW classes, are they enrolling in the same course in a different mode? (sent an inquiry to the IR folks);
  • Is there a correlation between GPA and online course success? (Probably, but using GPA as an entry factor for online may be invalid.  Students may have once been unsuccessful but have remediated whatever issue or skill was the barrier the first time around.)
  • If students are enrolled in developmental reading, writing, or mathematics, should they be permitted to enroll in WWW classes?  (Something to consider for the future…)
  • Academic honesty and cheating are certainly considerations in WWW course design and particularly testing.  Phil in Math had an issue where a student’s online tests were 80-90+% but the in-person final was 29%.  The final’s weight determined the student’s course grade was a ‘D’ but without the proctored final the student would have passed the class with a ‘B’ (or better).  ICC does not discourage proctoring or other measures of academic integrity.  However, students may not realize ‘offline’ proctoring is require.  In the future we may try to collect proctoring requirements for course so we can help better-inform students when enrolling in these classes.
  • Session attendees asked – do you spend more time on your online classes?  Facilitators responded they spend more time-up front preparing materials but over the course they spend as much time as teaching in other modes; it’s just dispersed differently.
  • Megan, in comparing her classes, noted students all used the online homework system; students in WWW classes use it to learn while students in in-person classes use the online homework to practice/reinforce and she uses more examples and individual and group work in class to help students learn.
  • Jen shared regardless of mode, the class experience boils down to preparedness, participation, retention, and success and those factors are largely determined by student attitude.  Megan reinforced that the success of a class in any mode is also heavily dependent on the instructor regardless of mode.
  • Jen noted she prefers teaching LIT and Humanities classes online because an online class provides more opportunity for all-class discussion.
  • Jen also noted differences in handling difficult student situations in online vs. in-person classes.  She shared she had an irate student who, in an in-person class, may have garnered the support of other students and rallied against the teacher.  On the other hand, in a class setting, Jen may have had the opportunity to intervene with the student before she got irate.

Faculty who teach the same classes in different modes should really take a look at the analysis Phil and Megan did (see slides previously linked).  They both indicated this analysis gave them an insight into their classes for which they hypothesized but didn’t have concrete evidence.  Megan noted the national pass rate for college algebra (regardless of mode) is 40% – we’re doing OK at ICC!!

Here are some general stats for comparing modes at ICC…

FY11 to FY12, same mode comparison of success from year-to-year
All modes improved in course success from FY11 to FY12
Hybrid up 3.21%
In-person up .47%
Online up 2.35%

FY11 to FY12, in-person to online success comparison (in-person higher)
In-person is still higher at 73.41% but we closed the gap by 1.88%
2.52% in FY11
0.64% inFY12

What advice 2nd year faculty had for new faculty…

  1. While teaching, keep a log of what went well and what you want to change the next time; also note classroom policies you may have to document or expand on in the next iteration of your course syllabus, even keeping a working draft of your syllabus during the current semester so you’ve collected the revisions for the next semester;
  2. Connect and collaborate with colleagues, avoid eating lunch at your desk every day;
  3. Get to know staff in student service and support areas (Learning Lab, the Studio, Math Lab, TRiO, Access Services, Counseling)  and refer students to services and support when needed;
  4. Be a responsible of consumer of college information shared through email, eNews, and the college website;
  5. Take part in activities outside of teaching, ICC offers a broad array of cultural, entertainment, and athletic activities beyond the classroom;
  6. Know of and use the services provided by ICC Document Services;
  7. Know of and use the services provided by the Teaching and Learning Center;
  8. Remember you have the liberty to think before acting if pressured by a student concern or issue – tell the student you have heard the concern and need to get back to the student with next steps – confer with colleagues when necessary;
  9. Check out classrooms in advance to know of the room setup and technology available in the room – have a backup plan if technology fails (but be sure to report problems to the Help Desk or the department so they can be resolved, and if your classroom does not offer the technology you need, work with AV for delivery of portable equipment);
  10. Know your students, your yourself – work to personalize teaching and learning but know the boundaries of professional relationships;
  11. Know that students will look to you for advisement – know the program you’re teaching in or know where to refer students who might need additional assistance with goal and course planning;
  12. Use assessment techniques, especially when teaching for the first time – consistently reflecting upon, analyzing, and striving to continuously improve your teaching guides you to better teaching;
  13. Acknowledge the presence of technology in our classrooms and lives – set clear policies for use of phones, tablets, computers, and other devices in class and leverage the use of the devices as learning tools if desirable;
  14. Remember that while teaching, you are still learning as well and that’s OK;
  15. Encourage students to self-advocate, suggesting to them they use the services and use the tools available to help them and know what services and support are available so you can refer them;
  16. Have fun;
  17. Know that many students will be working, juggling family responsibilities, and going to school but find ways to inspire and motivate students to do the best at everything they’re doing;
  18. Know that student and faculty perceptions do not always align – use positive communication strategies and document difficult situations if needed;
  19. Seek, when necessary, the assistance of Campus Safety and Security, 694-5111 or x5111;
  20. Know and use your resources as a faculty member and an employee of the college; Human Resources, Academic Affairs, the Teaching and Learning Center, Custodial Services, Mail Services…and more!
  21. Know you are not alone – take part in the cooperative community of Illinois Central College – participate in discipline, department, division, and college meetings and gatherings to be an informed and contributing member of the college community.
  22. Identify a reliable ‘go to’ person (mentor or other) who can be a trusted source of guidance when you need to ask questions or for assistance.

How do you create an environment conducive to learning?

When asked, “What do you do in your classrooms to cultivate an environment conducive to learning?” during new full-time faculty orientation, ICC new faculty said…

  • Provide hands-on learning opportunities;
  • Create a relaxed, friendly environment;
  • Maintain a sense of humor;
  • Be aware of varying student needs;
  • Use group work to allow students to get to know, interact with each other;
  • Demonstrate passion for the discipline;
  • Use examples to relate content to ‘real life’;
  • Use visuals;
  • Build on students’ life experiences, making them an important part of the classroom experience.

How do YOU create a classroom environment conducive to learning?