Presentation on theme: "Hostos Center for Teaching and Learning on Tour: Sharing and Passing on Effective Strategies for Retention Nelson Nunez Rodriguez, Christine Hutchins,"— Presentation transcript:
Hostos Center for Teaching and Learning on Tour: Sharing and Passing on Effective Strategies for Retention Nelson Nunez Rodriguez, Christine Hutchins, Cynthia Jones, America Trinidad, Sarah Brennan Hostos Community College of The City University of New York 500 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY Introduction Research into college retention has shown that strong social networks are key to retaining students, faculty, and staff. These networks flourish at colleges where the college mission is explained, and subsequent actions support the expressed mission. Ideally, the mission saturates the community. The Hostos Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) fosters open conversations that contribute to this idea of mission saturation. The center has become a place for conversation about ourselves; what we do and why we do it; our dreams and our needs. This is evidenced by the inclusive nature of the CTL Advisory Council and in CTL events taking place in department conference rooms during Center tour stops. The CTL brings together campus-wide community members who impact the learning inside and outside of the classroom. The CTL on Tour and other professional development initiatives nurture the campus culture of dialoguing about teaching and learning and reinforces the role of reflection and collaboration. Faculty and other campus-wide presenters are selected to demonstrate activities, share insights, and stimulate candid conversation in ways that are useful and that will engage participants in reflection and learning. The center continues to reach out to even the most resistant audiences to positively influence student academic life. The Center for Teaching and Learning established the Committee On Beautiful Ideas (COBI) to nurture the culture of faculty engagement in frequent interdisciplinary and cross-divisional innovations. From 2006, COBI has positively impacted student learning outcomes, and, therefore, retention and graduation rates. COBI understands pedagogy as a long-term metamorphosis including the freedom to imagine. In building this culture, the CTL offers stand-alone professional development opportunities as well as sustained conversations on specific topics over time for small groups of committed faculty during each academic year. Beginning in Fall 2011, the CTL is on tour making stops at all the different college departments. The tour stops allow for faculty from across the disciplines to share pedagogical strategies in department settings different from their own. The tour goals are: to discuss successful teaching approaches challenges and opportunities with other instructors; promote a community of practice across the departments; and enlighten faculty and staff about alternate teaching and learning styles considering the plethora of cultural identities that we have in our New York urban institution. The tour, as a community-building activity, is not primarily about faculty and classrooms but about all members of the college everyday. In this regard, the conversations have unraveled the need to understand the syllabus as a living, communal dynamic. This vision both reconciles teaching and learning styles and brings learners to the conversation. Each month has a theme and tour dates are scheduled on non-traditional days and times each week; therefore, the tour reaches a different cohort of participants each session. College staff running student support initiatives, such as the tutorial center, career services, and honor programs participate along with faculty and administrators. Tour session attendants fill out surveys after each dialogue, and use follow-up loops for conversation. All survey responses and loop thoughts are part of a collective memoir from the tour stops. Theory of Student Departure in Commuter InstitutionsLiterature Review Research into retention consistently shows that models designed for student success at residential universities and liberal arts colleges do not have the same impact for students at commuter institutions and community colleges (Braxton, 2004; Pascarella, 2005; Seidman, 2005). Among most important insights that have emerged from researchers' revisions to earlier "one-size-fits-all" models for student success have been quantitative and qualitative studies showing that whereas social relationships loom large for retention at residential colleges and universities, academic relationships predominate at commuter and community colleges. For most commuter students, classrooms provide their primary connections to peers, faculty, staff, and, hence, to their institutions (Braxton, 2004). Consequently, the role of teaching and learning, and most especially active engagement of students, have farther reaching effects on students' persistence to degree completion at commuter and community colleges. Student learning networks flourish at such institutions "only if faculty members actively involve students in the process of learning" so as to provide "opportunities for student social interaction" (Braxton, 2004, 48-49). Hence, at Hostos, administration, faculty, and staff collaborate via its Center for Teaching and Learning in ongoing, team-oriented, and reflective forums that allow all members of the community to strategize, develop, and support teaching and learning practices that research has shown most foster the academic and social networks crucial to student success. R eferences Braxton, John M., Hirschy, Amy S., McClendon, Shederick A. (2004). Understanding and reducing college student departure. ASHE-ERIC higher education report. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Cook, J.H. & Lewis, C.A. (2007). Student and academic affairs collaboration: The divine domity. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in Higher Education. Crosling, G., Thomas, L., & Heagney, M. (2008). Conclusions and curriculum-based retention approaches: Some suggestions for future action. In G. Crosling, L. Thomas, & M. Heagney (Eds.), Improving student retention in higher education: The role of teaching and learning (pp ). London: Routledge. Pascarella, E.T., & Terenzini, P.T. (2005). How college affects students: Vol. 2 A decade of research. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Seidman, A. (2005). College student retention. Westport: Praeger Publishers. Swail, Watson Scott, Redd, Kenneth E., Perna, Laura W. (2003). Retaining minority students in higher education: A framework for success. ASHE-ERIC higher education report. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Adapted from Toward understanding and Reducing College Student Departure (p. 43), by J. M. Braxton, A. S. Hirschy and S. A. McClendon, Copyright 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Student Entry Characteristics External Environment Internal Campus Environment MotivationFinancesLearning Communities Control IssuesSupportActive Learning Self-EfficacyWorkCost EmpathyFamilyInstitutional Integrity Affiliation Needs Parental Education Commitment to Students Anticipatory Socialization Among Faculty and Staff Via Shared Mission ► Student Persistence ◄ Methods Discussion and Results This sharing culture not only unravels common academic goals and challenges, but also allows time to stop, reflect, communicate and give back to the faculty community. Sharing successful methodologies from different departments organically reverberates in other department practices. Issues transcending the boundaries of specific disciplines such as the need to meaningfully integrate into the curriculum the study of women, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation have been part of the tour. Specifically, we have discussed the negative consequences of remaining silent when disrespectful comments and behaviors regarding sexual orientation arise in the classroom. Faculty discuss how they may effectively embrace these topics, and how using the syllabus as living piece creates a “controlled unpredictability” atmosphere in the classroom where students participate in the decision-making process of the class content. This negotiation forges ways of channeling “excited” discussion without dampening the students’ enthusiasm. Different alternatives to embed this experience in the content-based area classes have also been discussed. All together, these tour conversations explore approaches that unleash personal literacy and self-knowledge as foundations upon which to build academy literacy. No matter how fragile the nontraditional students may seem, they can, and often will, transform themselves into full members of the college academic and social community (Courage, 1993, Garden, 1995). All together, the tour addresses faculty and students need and generates topics for the annual college Professional Development Initiative week. Our hope is that inclusive practices that weave together research, actions and attitudes will ultimately foster a culture of common understanding and sharpen our awareness of and commitment to our main institutional goals so as to foster student academic and personal success.