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?

October 18th Session Summary: Fostering Relationships With Students Outside of the Classroom

Click here to access the audio recording from this session (the volume of this is very low due to the way it was recorded, sorry for the inconvenience).

Our second Provisions session of the 2016-2017 year explored the theme of “Fostering Relationships With Students Outside of the Classroom.” Presenters shared experience and expertise with the various topics pertaining to the theme, in which sought to improve relationships with students outside of the classroom.  An audience of approximately 25 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Kari Murad, Department of Biology, Claire Ziamandanis, Department of World Languages and Cultures and Ken Scott, Director of Community Service.

Kari Murad from the Department of Biology started off the session by presenting on her personal experiences from the Faculty-Led Program (FLPcourse, Food Microbiology. Kari explained the she has been in the teaching profession for eighteen years, and has participated in this FLP course for 9 years. Kari explained that this FLP course in Food Microbiology is offered to upper level science majors every two years, and encompasses a trip to France for two weeks during spring break. Kari emphasized the three main components of creating and maintaining successful relationships with students; (1) allowing enough time for the integration of knowledge and reflection of experiences, (2) providing opportunities for experiences in which are linked to academic content, and (3) providing opportunities to connect personal childhood experiences with the course content. The first assignment in Kari’s course requires students to tell their ‘story’ through a personal reflection using the quote, “Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of (wo)man you are.” In this reflection, students can share their experiences with traveling, cultural differences, food, etc. The study abroad portion of the course involves the exploration of France, including farms, vineyards, etc, and the opportunity to connect childhood experiences through reflection (shared each night at dinner with the group).

Next to present was Claire Ziamandanis from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Claire began her presentation with the title of her presentation, There’s a bull on my balcony!. Claire explained how the tragedy of 9/11 impacted the rest of her teaching. She discussed how she was teaching about ‘ar’verbs in Spanish 101 when the news of what had happened reached her classroom, which promoted the reflection of the value of  ‘ar’ verbs in the world. Learning must meet the immediate needs of students and there must be contextualization for the synthesization of knowledge. Claire discussed how the first year leading an FLP course can be overwhelming and stressful, but provides great satisfaction once accustomed to the details and pace of the planning. Claire explained that while in Madrid, she has her students visit the same cafe every morning, as a way of entering the community by getting to know the workers in the cafe. To promote conversation, Claire assigns students different topics to discuss with community members of Madrid. The cultural activities in Madrid foster improvements in students language skills and confidence in using those skills. Additionally, FLP’s  provides opportunities for co-learning with students, pseudo-parent relationships with students, and mentoring other faculty to become FLP course leaders. Claire discussed some challenges with FLP’s, including the maintenance of academic focus, avoidance of tourism, connecting experiences to course content, and intercultural learning.

Last to present was Ken Scott, the Director of Community Service. Ken began his presentation by explaining his experience of being the director of community service for sixteen years, and a faculty member of the college for twenty six years. Ken described his experience with helping to recover the devastation from hurricane Irene. Ken arranged to have a baseball team of all male students to accompany him with the restoration of buildings destroyed from the hurricane. Ken discussed that 80-90% of the community service work is done with female students, as they tend to be more compassionate, mature, and sophisticated in terms of emotional intelligence. Ken emphasized the significant impact that a professor can have on first year college students through a personal example of his own college experience. Some of the work Ken and his students have done have occurred in Florida, NYC, and San Francisco, and involved habitat humanity, hurricane restoration, working with incarcerated women, and pockets of poverty…among many other wonderful missions! Although sufficient time and money is a challenge of such missions, the evolution of student confidence, individual voice, and sense of moral authority make service learning opportunities gratifying.

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:

  • Debriefing
    • How do you do this?
      • Evening reflections
      • Plan sessions
      • Online reflection
      • 6 hour mandatory debriefing
  • Line between academics/interpersonally
    • Based upon the specific group of students (what is the group mentality?)
    • Shift objectives to better fit the needs of the students
    • Refocusing to course objectives/academic agenda
  • Boundaries within student-teacher relationships

Please join us for our upcoming November 15th session on Campus Community: Shifting Demographics and Student Identity.” 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!🙂

The Second Year Slump

Much has been said about the difficulties and challenges that both students and teachers face during that first year of college. For some, the increased academic demands weigh heavy on their shoulders, while for others, the culture shock of a new, independent environment away from their comfort zone can be emotionally draining. Last semester, Provisions explored ways in which we can help these students to adapt, on both a personal and an academic level.

However, it appears that, even after those first year teething problems have been treated, educators must brace themselves for a familiar challenge…

In “Disengaged and overwhelmed: why do second year students underperform?” from the The Guardian, Clare Milson explains how students can often experience a slump in their academic progress. Whereas the first year and the last year arguably carry more significance in the minds of the learner, the middle year(s) is awkwardly caught between the two, struggling for identity. Milson, who likens the second year to a middle child, states that this issue is, in fact, “a widely recognized” phenomenon, which is referred to by U.S. academics as “the sophomore slump.” Research undertaken at a U.K. based university found evidence that one in three undergraduate students had been affected by an academic decline.

Milson notes that this phenomenon is far from simple to explain. Many of the students who were found to have experienced the slump reported that they felt “lost, perplexed, and disappointed” with their second year performances. Studies suggest that students were not prepared for the increase of the workload. Whereas students in the first year found their classes to be “cute and fluffy”, the second year represented a significant change in difficulty and volume.

Milson describes how students feel that there is a lack of “support and guidance” given to students entering their second year. Despite this yearning for help, many students do not actively seek it. Very few students took it upon themselves to make use of student services designed to provide the help and support that they clearly felt they needed.

Milson proposes three strategies that institutions of higher education can help students in the second year:

1) Design a second year induction program to reacquaint students with the challenges ahead of them.

2) Ensure that your subject is fresh and appealing. It is important for the student to feel excited about the upcoming semester.

3) Inform the students about the on-campus resources available to them.

While it is true that students may not be aware of the support available to them, there are many that are aware, but harbor feelings of embarrassment about seeking help. In order to provide students with the platform to change, educators must attempt to remove the stigma around it. What other ways can educators prevent students from succumbing to the sophomore slump?

September Provisions: Teaching First Year Students

Our first Provisions session of the year kicked off with the topic of “Teaching First Year Students.” The presenters, who so kindly volunteered to impart their knowledge to the 38-strong audience, were Dr. Jelane Kennedy, Counseling and CCSA, Mary Fitzsimmons, Director of HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) & AOE (Academic Opportunity Experience) and Dr. Shirlee Dufort, Writing Center Director.

Jelane Kennedy was the first to present. She chose to talk about Arthur W. Chickering and his theory of identity development. Chickering’s theory features seven vectors of development:

  • Developing Competence – Intellectual, Physical and Interpersonal
  • Managing Emotions
  • Moving through Autonomy toward Interdependence
  • Developing Mature Interpersonal relationships
  • Establishing Identity
  • Developing Purpose
  • Developing Integrity

These vectors or stages all make up how one’s identity is developed, particularly throughout a student’s life in higher education. After giving a brief run through of each vector, Dr. Kennedy focused in on three that are of the most significance for First Year Students:

  • Competence – Trying to adjust to the realities of college life. There are many new obstacles and transitions that High School Students must face when making the leap to college. There are so many new tasks and experiences that they may have not encountered before. They may have to deal with basics such as making their own dinner, doing their own laundry and more demanding homework. On top of that, they must learn how to find time for their personal leisure activities, and get along with roommates and professors, as well as learning a new academic schedule.
  • Managing Emotions – There are a lot of emotions in those first few weeks of college: How do I connect to people? How to make new friends? Feeling homesick (leaving behind friends, family and partners). They have to be able to cope and deal with a range of emotions and the questions that emanate from them.
  • Moving through Autonomy toward Interdependence – A need for approval and feedback. Academic feedback is regular from K through 12 but may be less abundant in those first weeks in college. There is also a desire for personal feedback: Do people like me? They may have yet to reach the point where they don’t care about what people think and are comfortable just being themselves.

Dr. Kennedy provided a handout that followed up on the stages faced by students as they continue their academic journey – Chickering

Up next was Mary Fitzsimmons, who, as well as being the director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), teaches English 105 (a First Year Program).  She began her presentation by commenting how different St. Rose can appear to students who are not from the local area. For example, students from New York City had commented that the campus seemed like a park to them. Another girl shared that it was the first time she had had to cross four lanes of traffic.

In English 105, Fitzsimmons said that she liked to communicate individually and privately with her students. One way she does this is through the form of an online assignment; the students do a journal and are also asked a check-in question such as, “Is everything going okay in the program?” Fitzsimmons feels that by initiating direct communication with her, the student starts to feel more comfortable. She mentioned a student who came up to her after class and posed  the question, “How do I make friends?” – A question that really emphasizes the struggle, for some students, during those initial weeks at college. Through her dual role in student affairs, she said that it is easier to be more of an ambassador of the college for students. Fitzsimmons encouraged other members of the faculty to do the same by knowing who their partners are on campus, and in turn, knowing where to direct any in-need students. In her role as Director of AOE, Fitzsimmons invites students to attend a presentation that gives advice on how best to adapt to the standards they have to live up to at College.

Fitzsimmons continued by introducing the role of the AOE, where 1st year students are able to get assistance in making the transition both academically and socially. The students have a well planned schedule which allows them to attend workshops, get tutoring, and have structured study, as well as to gain help moving in, and to enjoy a celebration dinner to welcome the new arrivals. Fitzsimmons sees this early start orientation as a way to create community, comfort, and a challenge.

Last on the floor was Shirlee Dufort, director of the Writing Center. As part of her work with the AOE, she assigned students to write a research paper in five days. The main goals of this process were to walk through the stages of writing the paper, make it virtually impossible to plagiarize, and to collaborate academically. Over these five days, the students learned a lot about college writing, and the experience would no doubt hold them in good stead for future challenges. Here is Dr. Dufort’s handout from the presentation, which goes into detail about the five day experience – Shirlee Dufort Handout

After the presentations, during the Question & Answer session, some interesting points and observations were made by various members of the faculty:

  • Faculty should recommend help from specific individuals to struggling students, to add a personal touch.
  • Having academic coaches check up on students would be beneficial.
  • Students need to know where help and resources are for them on campus.
  • Self-motivation is key; while professors may provide inspiration, students are ultimately responsible for their personal growth.
  • Faculty should strive to put themselves in their students’ shoes, and try to remember what it’s like to be a beginner.
  • Make deals with students; give them the opportunity to improve. For example, a student given a poor first grade on a paper was given the chance to rewrite it in the office of the professor, and the new grade was averaged with the initial grade.

To listen to a podcast from the session, check out our soundcloud page at

Teaching the Whole Student

Ann Neilson, Department chair of the Physical Education Department, discussed what she does in her winter sports class to teach the whole child. She came up with five dimensions for this: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual (SPIES). For the social aspect Neilson has her students socialize with one another. They form groups early on in the semester to discuss issues they may be having with school or in their personal lives. Neilson brings her students to the von Trapp Family Lodge located in Stowe, Vermont. Her students then engage in cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, maple sugaring, and nutrition lessons. For the emotional, Neilson tries helping her students deal with stress – this is done in a number of ways. The European challenge was mentioned as a way to deal with stress. This activity involves rolling in snow and then getting in a hot tub. For those not brave enough for the European challenge there is always tea and lecture time in the afternoon. Neilson says that the lecture is often disguised as fun so her students do not even realize they are being lectured. The winter sports class also has sing-a-longs for stress relief. Neilson then discussed the intellectual and spiritual dimensions – which she grouped together. For these two dimensions she has her students read a book written by Maria von Trapp that The Sound of Music based on. This experience helps the students understand the history behind the family who owns the von Trapp Family Lodge.

Mary Fitzsimmons, Director of HEOP/ACCESS, and Marcy Nielsen Pendergast, director of the Academic Support Center discussed the many challenges facing students today and what their departments do to help these students. Nielsen Pendergast works with students who need academic support, have disabilities, or are on probation. She said that many of the students she works with are at risk academically, socially, and/or financially. With today’s economy many students have to work a part-time or even full-time job in order to afford to continue with their education. These students are at risk of leaving school because of the stress of going to school full-time and working. Another challenge for students today is that they are coming to college lacking the writing and math skills they need in order to succeed. There has been a large increase in the number of college students who utilize the writing center. Many students are also coming in requesting help with reading their textbooks, with tutorial requests, or with requests for help with time management. What is being done to help these students? Time management can often be a big factor in why students struggle, so they are helped with planning a weekly schedule for their academic and personal lives. The college also tries to provide emotional support for students. They want to foster an atmosphere where students feel comfortable talking with at least one faculty member. Three trends as to why students may be struggling have become very noticeable. The first trend is an increase in anxiety. Studies have shown an increase in anxiety in children born between 1989 and 2003. The college’s response to this is to help increase students’ resilience with the formation of a program called Knight Skills for freshman and transfer students. Knight Skills helps students deal with the problems first time college students encounter. The second trend is a high dropout rate for students who are the first generation of their family to go to college. These students don’t necessarily have moral support from family members who understand what they are going through. The last trend is the effect dorm life can have on a student. There are so many outside influences affecting students on a college campus (loud noises, parties, sickness, roommates, etc.). One last factor that is affecting student dropout rates is the stress students will be facing when trying to find a job after graduation. Many people are contemplating why they should spend so much money on an education if they won’t have a job to pay off their loans when they graduate.



Academic Support

Podcast of November Session

Extra-curriculars, Part-time Jobs, and More

Studies have actually shown that physical
activity not only makes a healthy body but it can also make a healthy mind. So
the question is why are we cutting programs that keep our students active? If
what we want are better test scores then why not increase funding or at least
the amount of time for physical activity? discusses this and more in the article “How Schools Fight Youth Obesity During Tough Budget Times
scores are not the only positive increases that can come from an increase in
activity. The benefits of being on a sports team have been preached for years.
The many benefits of students joining sports teams are hi-lighted in the EdWeek blog post “EdWeek Bloggers Tackle Youth Obesity, Value of Sports.”

College Board has given an opinion on activities for students. A page on
the College Board website gives the pros and cons of teenagers carrying part
time jobs while in school as well as suggestions for student advisement for
school staff.

several years old, ASCD’s article “Part-Time Work and Student Achievement” by
John H. Holloway can still be looked at as a good indicator of how part-time
positions can affect students. However, Holloway definitely focused more on the
negatives compared to the positives. He stated such problems as decreased
GPA’s, increased school absences, and an increase in drug and alcohol abuse in
students with part-time jobs compared with those students who do not hold part
time jobs.

Over two
years ago Doug Lederman wrote an article for ASCD on college students who have jobs.
Two years later this article seems more important than ever. With the
danger of loans being reduced or taken away and colleges increasing tuition
costs every year, students need to be employed not just for extra pocket-money
but in order to pay their way through school. Research results were similar to
those done on high school students with part-time jobs. More hours equal lower
grades. Since not working is not an option for these students many of them may
find it difficult to balance their schedules.

Some students may also find themselves paying
to take part in extra-curricular activities that were once free. Budget cuts
have really impacted the amount of money schools can invest in sports and
school clubs. Alvina Lopez reports on the MSTA Blog that these activities are needed in schools because
studies have shown participation in extra-curriculars can actually help improve
student performance. They can also help foster a connection between the
students and faculty who become involved with them.

Many students may be seeking out extra-curricular activities
or sports because of the mentorship some of these activities offer. Coaches and
advisors often make great mentors for students. School Book recently posted an article in the New York Times on a mentor program
sponsored in the Bronx that brings together public and private schools.

Why might students need mentorship or other programs
similar? Well stress can play a major role in a student’s life. There are so
many stressors in a child’s life from homework to home problems to college
applications.  The New York Times recently posted an article on how one school
helps students deal with the stresses of life.

The Huffington Post recently had an article discussing
the different actions to take for applying to colleges (Early Action and Early
Decision). The article went on to discuss the reasons behind applying early as
well as the pros and cons.

One of the most stressful times for a student and their
family can be college decision time. While some students may be debating
whether to apply early action or early decision some are still deciding on
where they even want to attend college.
Getting ready for college life can be very stressful. Nancy Berk reports
about these stressful times in the
Huffington Post
article College
Anxiety: Modern Families Caught in the Middle
. ”

While high school juniors and seniors are making decisions
on what colleges to attend, college students are making decisions on what
classes to attend or in some cases not attend.
It is often hard for professors to determine why a student is absent
from their class. While some students skip on a regular basis there are still
those out there who dread missing a class and hyperventilate when they do.  Read more on this subject in “The Good Skip.”

So what do all of these articles and posts have in common?
They all discuss student life outside of the classroom. There is so much more
going on in a student’s life then what they are learning inside your classroom.
Some of them may have part-time jobs to
worry about. Others may need to be on a sports team or in a club in order to
round out their life. These activities can often be beneficial to students who
are facing the major stresses of adolescence or the beginning of adulthood. In
other words, a student’s life does not stop outside the classroom; which is why
it is important to educate the whole child. The brain is not the only body part
that needs nourishment.

Teaching Global Perspective Session (11/16)

Vaneeta Palecanda presented on Post-Colonial literature and film theory. Using three films, Nowhere in Africa, Beat the Drum, and The Wooden Camera in combination with Nadine Gordimer’s novel, July’s People, Palecanda approaches teaching from a global perspective by providing her students with materials, questions, and subject matter. By drawing attention to the human condition and/of displacement, the texts are used to further analyze the “Self and Other” discussion within the framework of colonial tensions in Africa. Palecanda uses Nowhere in Africa and July’s People to initiate conversations between white character experiences of being displaced and the lack or deep affinity and understanding for the black Africans who have also been displaced by colonization (and Apartheid). Next in the process, the first three minutes of The Wooden Camera and Beat the Drum are shown to the students. Questions about the African native/ the “Other” and colonial tensions are presented differently in these films— intimately and voyeuristically. A question in teaching comes up in asking, how does one incorporate understanding to reflect the Self, not the Other? To answer this question, the global perspective is brought into the conversation. In this conversation, the social, political, and economical transformations and conditions that people live in can be seen and applied to the literature and films. It is also important in teaching to avoid/reduce universalisms and to recognize that what happens to the individual also happens to nations. This brings the focus back to the incorporation of an understanding to reflect the Self, and not the Other.

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