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?
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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!🙂

October 20th Provisions Session Summary: Teaching First Generation Students

**To access the podcast, click here!!**

Our second Provisions session of the year explored the theme of Teaching First Generation Students. Presenters shared previous experience with teaching first generation students, and effective strategies for improving success for first generation students. An audience of approximately 35 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Lai-Monté Hunter, Director of Intercultural Leadership, Gina Occhiogrosso, Associate Professor of Art and Foundations Coordinator, and Jeff Marlett, Professor of Philosophy/Religious Studies.

Lai-Monté Hunter started off the session by introducing the ALANA is Leadership mentoring program. This mentorship program was developed to help and offer support to first generation and first year college students. Comprised of a cohort of 60, ALANA is Leadership focuses on what these students are coming to college with, and in most cases what disadvantages the students are starting off with.  Most of these students experience a lack of support from home, a lack of financial information, and a general sense of being unprepared. First generation students face numerous challenges, including: a lack of support, pressure to succeed, role reversal (students are now more educated than their parents), and a lack of information about the accessibility of help. Peer mentors offer support and guidance, and students are typically more receptive to information from peers. Lai-Monté mentioned that he receives messages from the First Alert System when students are performing lower than they should be. This system allows for Lai-Monté and other faculty members to intervene early on, in order to prevent failing and drop out. Lai-Monté said that in order to help these first generation students achieve success, ALANA is Leadership provides a variety of sources for information. Some examples of what ALANA is Leadership can provide a student with are:

  • information about managing finances
  • learning to juggle a full-time job with a full-time student schedule
  • learning to become integrated in the school community
  • an outlet for professional development
  • peer mentors leaders
  • prevention of dropping out or leaving without a degree
  • learning to deal with feeling marginalized at both home and on campus
  • learning to deal with cultural difficulties on campus
  • ways to develop self-advocay skills

In addition to ALANA is Leadership, it is important for professors to be available and accessible to students. First generation students are often unaware that professors are there to help them succeed. They typically do not know that it is “okay” to ask for help. Lai-Monté included the following list of what a professor should provide for their students, especially first generation students.

  • accessibility/availability- make yourself available
  • ability to listen- give your full attention
  • support- encourage students to learn and improve
  • practical- remain on task
  • guidance- give direction without pushing
  • insight- share personal experiences to show students that you’re human
  • specificity- what needs to be done, what has been done well, & what needs to be corrected
  • education- how you got to be where you are now
  • ability to foster success- have encouraging conversations beyond academics

Second to present was Gina Occhiogrosso (powerpoint presentation will be available soon).  Gina started off her presentation by explaining the Art 100 Foundation Seminar, which is a 1.0 credit (approximately 15.5 hours) course. She discussed the course requirements and said that the assignment for the course was to create a public art piece to be displayed on campus in the empty space next to Massry. In the beginning of the course, as Lai-Monté suggested in his presentation, Gina and her colleagues discussed their own college experiences. Explaining how they got where they were showed the students that they too faced challenges in the process. This course allowed for students to become acclimated to the campus, as well as to other students and faculty.

Eight groups of five were randomly formed based on students’ talent areas. For example, she picked students talented in photography and placed each one in a separate group. This way each group had someone talented in photography, writing, drawing…and so on. In the groups, students were able to discuss their common interests. There were some restrictions placed on the class assignment, but the students also had plenty of room to be creative with their ideas. At the end of the semester, the groups presented their public art pieces to the class. Each group member was required to speak at least once during their presentation. Last year’s winning public art piece included a swing-set and a musical stage for performing. Gina said that for next year’s class, she should add more restrictions to the assignment. Her students thought that more restrictions would make creating a public art piece easier. Gina mentioned near the end of her presentation, that she also receives messages from the First Alert System, which allows her to intervene before it is too late for a student.

Last to present was Jeff Marlett. Jeff started off his presentation by explaining that, in contrast to Lai-Monté and Gina, he works with students of all majors and he gets to see all students on campus, even though it may only be once. He refers to his department (Ethics, Values, & Religious Studies) as the “Iceberg Department”, because there is a little bit above the surface, but a lot more underneath. Jeff mentioned that in 2008, he was asked to give a presentation for a previous Provision’s session, Teaching First Year Students. He spoke about an academic student and learning outcome assessment program that he and some colleagues started in 2008. Jeff’s main focal point of the presentation was about bridging the gap between instructors and their class material. Through the use of humor, personal narratives, and popular culture,  Jeff believes he can help bridge the gap. He said he shares his own narratives, sometimes with the use of profanity, to show the students that “he is alive.” He believes that use of his own narratives will encourage students to find and tell their own, in order to connect with the material.  Popular culture and social media serve as a framework for first year college students because it shows the similarities between the students. He said that it doesn’t matter where the college students come from because they have the same technology to “level the playing field.” The leveling experience of all student’s being subjected to the same expectations shows them that “we’re all in this together.” Regardless of which generation a student is, Jeff ultimately wants his students to be connected with the material and to be able to discuss the material appropriately.

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

  • It is not uncommon for first year/first generation students to be unaware of the expectations and responsibilities of college.
  • Self-regulation and autonomy skills are essential for college success but often require improvement.
  • Bridging the gap by clearly defining expectations of college, and by being aware of assumptions.
  • There is a need for improved communication among faculty, and among the campus as a whole.
  • Faculty need to communicate their accessibility and availability to students, and also make sure to be flexible in the process.
  • Should professor expectations vary for first generation students?

Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, November 17th session on “Teaching Non-Traditional Students. Provisions’ sessions are 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!!