Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential: March 28th Session

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In 5 Questions for the Director of the Kirwan Center for Academic InnovationJoshua Kim explored the purpose and drive behind what drove the creation of University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation by interviewing the director, MJ Bishop. In this article, MJ Bishop shared insight into the design of a systems-wide student success movement. Bishop stated, “The projects I enjoy most are the ones that really capitalize on our “system-ness” and the strengths our diverse institutions bring to the conversation about how to improve student success. Those are the ones where working at the system level brings value above-and-beyond what the individual institutions can accomplish on their own.” In terms of an ecological framework, the Kiran Center for Academic Innovation appears to use a systems-wide approach to improving student success through interactions among the various systems of student’s life. Ecological based frameworks have been shown to be effective means for improving psychological functioning, should it also be utilized for promoting student academic success at the college level??

Similarly, in Breakthrough Pathways to Student Success, Steven Mintz discusses methods for which he believes can help colleges and universities to promote academic success for students. One of the methods he discusses refers to designing ‘a more integrated, proactive, and holistic set of student support and skills building services.” In other words, student academic success centers should aim to provide students with an ecologically based system of support. In addition to adopting modularized curriculum, competency-based curriculum, alternate credentials, guided pathways, ‘learn and earn’ models, and pipeline programs, Mintz believes colleges and universities need effective student success centers that include:

  • support programs to assist students with money management
  • support for effective study and test-taking skills
  • a focus on reading, writing, and quantitative skills
  • coaching to advise students how to deal with challenges outside of the classroom (systems-based approach)

The College of Saint Rose Academic Success Center

“What we do is in our name: offer the tools needed to guide your path to academic success. Through our learning assistance programs, we seek to provide all students with academic support outside the classroom and equal access to information in the classroom. Our goal is to not only help students become independent and confident learners, but also to increase their academic success and help them reach their ultimate goal of graduation. At Saint Rose, academic support services are an interactive partnership between our staff and the students we serve. We look forward to working with you and enhancing your learning experiences at Saint Rose.” 

Services provided at the Saint Rose Academic Success Center include:

  • Disability services
  • Math placement support
  • Writing Center
  • Tutoring information
  • Study clusters

Please join us for our upcoming March 28th session on “Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential.” Our esteemed presenters from the Center for Student Success for the March 28th session include:

  • Jess Brouker – Assistant Director of Intercultural Leadership and First-Year Programs
  • Shirlee Dufort – Director of the Writing Center
  • Marcy Nielsen Pendergast – Executive Director of the Academic Success Center

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

February 21st Session Summary: Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks

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Click here to access the audio recording from the session!!

Our first Provisions session of the Spring 2017 semester explored the theme of “Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks.” Presenters shared experience and expertise with the various topics pertaining to the theme, in which sought to explore creativity and increasing student expectations. An audience of approximately 20 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations by  Christina Pfizer from Teacher Education and Sophia Paljevic from New York City Public Schools, Dave Clark of the Criminal Justice Department, and Risa Faussette from the History and Political Science Department. 

Christina Pfizer from Teacher Education and Sophia Paljievic from NYC Public Schools, a graduate from the College of Saint Rose, presented on Using the Classroom Community as a Safety Net for Encouraging Students to Take Risks . Christina and Sophia began by explaining how they use literature as a basis for their approach to teaching, emphasizing the importance of care. Specifically, both use Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs framework as a foundation of support for what you believe, what community you latch onto and the need to feel safe in order to take risks and complete higher level work. Sophia discussed her experience in the Bronx with her third grade students. She emphasized that building a school community can be achieved despite the school being located in a  ‘bad community.’ Within her classroom, there are 29 students whom she is responsible for instructing. Both presenters stressed the importance of knowing each students’  individual strengths and weaknesses in order to know how to help them do better without pushing them too far (scaffolding). Christina then discussed her teaching experience and how she aspires to learn names quickly, usually within the first and second classes. Christina also uses scaffolding with her students by beginning with easier assignments to help her students feel that ‘they can do it.‘Additionally using groups as a way for students to get to know one another, creating opportunities for students to integrate prior knowledge, and emphasizing that it is okay t be wrong are a few strategies Christina uses with her students to maximize student success. 

Dave Clark began his presentation by expressing the importance of intrinsic motivation for student success. Dave stressed how students are afraid to take risks in learning and thus need to be stimulated with motivation and the desire to learn. One way Dave encourages creativity and motivation in his students is by using images to stimulate interest. He asks his students, what are you seeing in these images” through a partner activity where one students is asked to describe an image to the other. Dave expressed that these types of activities teach the students to see environment in their own way and that each person has their own perspective. This demonstrates to the students that ‘no one sees things the same way.’ Throughout work with his students, Dave has witnessed improvements in the ownership of student work, which thus raises the bar because the students learned that they have to produce good work for it to be displayed. In his classroom, Dave asked the students describe and talk about images because perspective is crucial in ethics. In doing this, students are able to find out about the subject matter, use a multidisciplinary approach, and demonstrate creativity. This method is designed to stimulate interest and to show students that they can be creative in school, rather than just regurgitating information they are taught. Exercises like these provide students with a safety net, as they are not graded and allow the teacher and students to take risks together. 

Risa Faustete discussed how she sets the classroom environment prior to the first day of class, which demonstrates that ‘this is a real course’, which is crucial for development as a student. A main component of Risa’s course is learning the rules and methods of argumentation. Risa explains to her students the downside of not being able to recognize the components of an argument in the real world (politician, salesman, banker, etc.) and how decisions in an argument can affect others. Risa emphasized that her teaching philosophy is to make sure that students have this skill and can use it in the world. She tells her students that they will be able to read and compose arguments by the end of the course, but they must first be able to read and understand what they have read. Additionally, engagement is a key component for successful learning. In her classroom, Risa does not let any of her students sit in the back row. Instead, all students are to fill in the seats in the front of the room. If you want participation in your classroom, you need to take away some of the fear that students experiences. Some do not feel familiar with reading text or comprehending text. By explaining to the students, here is what I mean by ‘reading’ the text, you can alleviate some of the fear of the unknown. It is also helpful to start by having certain assignments ungraded and explain that it is just for practice and constructive feedback. Here are some of the handouts from her course that Risa shared during her presentation:


Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • Failure is a part of learning- use it!
  • Students come in wanting one answer and need to be pushed to learn that there is more than one answer
  • Link to creating community in the classroom
    • Being vulnerable
    • A ‘real person’ with personality
    • Make community between students
  • Assignments are up ahead of time- bring your best game, extended hours, demonstrate a lot of examples
    • Use rubrics to grade samples
  • Teaching and learning is a developmental process
  • Time as an issue?
  • Accountability?
  • Teach skills that can be transferred across disciplines (core skills)
    • How do we ensure the delivery of those skills?

Please join us for our upcoming March 28th session on “Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential.” Our esteemed presenters for the March 28th session include:

  1. Jess Brouker – Assistant Director of Intercultural Leadership & First-Year Programs
  2. Shirlee Dufort – Director of the Writing Center
  3. Marcy Nielsen Pendergast – Executive Director of the Academic Success Center

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

Announcement

Due to a conflict with the (re-instated) Advisement Day luncheon, the March 21st Provisions has been moved to March 28th


Please join us for our upcoming March 28th session on “Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential.” Our esteemed presenters for the March 28th session include:

  • Jess Brouker – Assistant Director of Intercultural Leadership and First-Year Programs
  • Shirlee Dufort – Director of the Writing Center
  • Marcy Nielsen Pendergast – Executive Director of the Academic Success Center

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks: February 21st Session

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The topic for this month’s session, “Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks,” relates to various topics in the higher education world. The question has been debated: how can professionals in the higher education realm increase expectations for their students while providing them with a safety net?

In 2012, Blackboard released “NOW is the Time to Raise the Bar for Student Success: How Professional Colleges and Universities Can use the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Drive Change. This article was designed to give higher education professionals drive for raising the bar for student success. In our current time, it is often necessary for students to employ more than one degree to qualify for a specific position in the workforce. This factor has played an influential role in the high rates of unemployment. Many researchers in higher education argue that a shift in policy towards competency-based learning and instruction is necessary to ensure student success. It is suggested for colleges and universities to integrate professional skill development into courses to better prepare students for a more competency-based workforce.

“The same kind of “disruptive innovation” that fueled the online learning movement now should be applied to creating achievement-oriented higher-education policies that tie a student’s rise through an educational institution to competency and mastery of well-de ned critical skills.” – Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School

A similar article,“Raising the Bar: Companies Up Education Requirements,” by Chad Brooks discusses the increased qualifications required for recent graduates to obtain a position in the workforce. The evidence presented by Brooks suggests the reason for raising the bar in higher education is to increase productivity. Within the past few years, employers have witnessed growth in the overall quality of work, communication, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, and employee retention.

Steven Mintz, the author of Breakthrough Pathways to Student Successsuggests various methods for preparing students to become successful in both academics and professional competency. Mintz provides several suggestions for improving instruction, which include modularized curriculum, competency-based curriculum, alternate credentials, guided pathways, ‘learn and earn’ models, and pipeline programs. Additionally, he suggests that universities must be prepared adopt new policies, which include:

  • strategies to enhance student success through engagement and motivation
  • flexible instruction delivery methods to meet the needs of all students
  • integrated and proactive approach to skill building
  • data-based methods

“Because of mismatched expectations and divergent learning objectives in community colleges and four-year institutions; uneven academic preparation among many transfer students; poor alignment among community college and university courses; and curricular roadblocks and requirements that make it difficult for community college students to apply credits toward their major. To address these challenges, four-year institutions, community colleges, and military training programs need to work together to agree on learning objectives, coverage, and assessments. A step in that direction is for these institutions to work together to develop common competency and outcomes graphs.” – Steven Mintz

Overall, there appears to be much support in favor of a competency-based approach to higher education. Will this be the next shift in higher education??


Please join us for our upcoming February 21st session on “Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks” Our esteemed presenters for the February 21st session include:

 Dave Clark-Criminal Justice
Rita Faussette-History and Political Science
Christina Pfister-Teacher Education & Sophia Paljevic– NYC Public Schools

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

Welcome Back! The Spring Semester Has Begun!

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Welcome back to the Spring of 2017 Provisions: Teaching and Learning Series! I hope you all had a wonderful break and are ready for another great semester of professional development with colleagues at the College of Saint Rose!


  • February 21st: Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks”
  • March 28th: Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential”
  • April 18th: “Pedagogy in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era”

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!! 🙂

November 15th Session Summary: Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity

self-reflection-is-a-humbling-process-it-essentiOur third Provisions session of the 2016-2017 year explored the theme of “Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity. Presenters shared experience and expertise with the various topics pertaining to the theme, in which sought to explore the shifting population of college students (i.e. millennials, first generation). An audience of approximately 20 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations by Maria Fast from the School of Education,  Kelly Meyer, the Director of Academic Advising, and Jack Pickering from Communications, Sciences and Disorders.

Maria Fast from the School of Education presented on the “Shifting Demographics and Student Identity”. Maria began her presentation by explaining her focus on helping in the development of her students’ identities, including their beliefs, values, ideas, and thoughts of themselves as ‘students’. Maria requires her students to complete a narrative reflection, in which allows them to explore a meaningful experience and connect it with the content of the course. Additionally, it serves as personal reference points so that they can explain how they see their own educational experience, can help to improve self-efficacy, and develop a sense of personal agency (i.e. how one can make a difference). In this narrative, students have the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned about themselevs, others, and their future careers from their specific experience. Maria explained how the narratives serve two main purposes, an assessment tool for understanding her students’  individual identities, and it is a learning tool for students through the reflection of content and their meaningful experiences. In concluding her presentation, Maria posed two questions to the audience, (1) how can we help students to evolve and change and (2) what can we do with those students who don’t value education or special classes?

Kelly Meyer, Director of Academic Advising, presented on “Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity”. Kelly started his presentation by discussing the changing demographics in the student body (i.e. race, class, ethnicity) and the differences in student expectations and levels of preparation. Kelly focused on the increase in first generation (students whose parents do not possess a 4 year degree) and millennial students (born within the same 20 year time period). Kelly discussed that 30% of the Saint Rose population (consistent with other campuses) was comprised of first generation students. Some of the difficulties that first generation students face are that they may be twice as likely to leave after their 1st year, lack traditional support networks, lack information from family, lack the knowledge and skills to access support, and/or have competing commitments (1/3 may be lacking support networks and information expected). Millennial students may typically possess five characteristics in which include specialness/personalization, conventional motivation, protection, pressure, —and an achievement-orientation. These students are also potentially more at risk, have different expectations of relationships, and could typically benefit from transition assistance. Kelly posed the question, “how can we help students transition, resiliency, and achieve efficacy to be successful?”

Jack Pickering, Communications Sciences and Disorders, presented on the “Lessons Learned from Clinical Practice with People in the Transgender Community” Jack discussed his experience working with transgender students and clinician students. In Spring of 2008, Jack created a group program comprised of transgender students and student clinicians. Within this group, the transgender students are able to share their expertise and develop their sense of voice and communication. The sessions are held on Monday nights from 5pm-7pm and each begin with a relaxation and mindfulness centering exercise. Additionally, each session ends with a gratitude exercise, so essentially each session is beginning and ending in the same place-relaxation. Jack suggests that this provides a great way of building a community between the students. Throughout the semester, the clinician and transgender students work with one another about feelings and attitudes. In this process, the students are able to learn what it means to develop a relationship with someone who is different than them. The transgender students are then able to do class presentations in which allow them to practice their voice and communication, and allow them to educate others about what it means to be transgender. Additionally, the clinician students are able to reflect upon this experience and the importance of language, unconditional positive regard, and maintaining an environment in which is safe and welcoming to their clients.


Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • Imbalanced support from advisors
    • How to make sure all students are getting 100% support?
      • The new advisement model is an attempt to do so
  • Student engagement = Saint Rose difference
  • Connection with last session- connections of students with faculty
  • Decline in student writing
    • How do we fill in the gap with student abilities
      • Build skill- our job is to scaffold and help students achieve success
  • How do we build a positive outlook on academic supports?
    • Change frame of reference
  • How do you give good feedback?
    • Feedback is a craft
  • Is the First Alert system effective or not?
    • How can we frame the first alert so it is not as intimidating?

Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity: November 15th Session

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In College of Tomorrow: The Changing Demographics of the Student Body, Joseph P. Williams discusses the projected changes in the demographics of future college students. Williams suggests that numbers of minority students attending colleges will increase within the years to come, preceding numbers of the current majority population. This provides implications for educators to prepare for the changes within the population of students in which will be served. The diverse population of students (including the different races and ages) within the college community may require changes in the overall culture of teaching.

Similarly, in A Looming Challenge in Higher Education: Our Changing Student a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report suggests that there will be increases in African American (25%) and in Hispanic (42%) college students, in comparison to a 4% increase in the amount of Caucasian college students. Additionally, there is a 50% predicted increase in the enrollment of students over the age of 25, typically referred to as ‘non-traditional’ college students. This also implies that educators across all levels (primary, secondary and college) must be aware of the possible risk factors (i.e. low income, higher high school drop out rates, and language barriers) that minority students might encounter. “Higher education leaders and policy makers must adjust to serve the students of the (very near) future, or risk failing in our responsibility to produce an educated citizenry and workforce capable of success in an increasingly global and complex economy. And that, in turn, will have profound implications for the future of our nation.”

In Four Trends Changing the Face of Higher EducationVicki Brannock (Director of the School of Extended Education at Brandman University) suggests that with the predicted shift in student demographics, educators must be prepared to also adjust to upcoming trends. Vicki predicts these four trends:

  1. The ‘flipped classroom’ approach of teaching
  2. Utilization of a neurological approach to teaching and learning
  3. Marketing the learning experience as opposed to content of colleges and universities
  4. Transition to competency-based strategies

Please join us for our upcoming November 15th session on “Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity” Our esteemed presenters for the November 15th session include:

Maria Fast- School of Education
Jack Pickering-Communications Sciences and Disorders
Kelly Meyer-Director of Academic Advising

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂