Saddleback concentrates on student success

Carmen Ulloa

Given state-wide concern with student’s lack of basic skills to perform successfully at the college level, Saddleback College has formed committees to recommend and implement strategies leading to better student achievement and success in the classroom.

Leading this effort through the college’s Liberal Arts Division is English instructor Renee Bangerter. Using the input from members of the Liberal Arts Division Student Success Committee, she has developed a series of videos outlining the characteristics of a successful student. The videos are intended to encourage students to be active, organized and responsible learners. Students are urged to follow specific guidelines to help them experience a higher level of academic achievement.

“We are developing a resource that instructors can use in their respective classrooms that will outline specific recommendations leading to higher levels of student success,” Bangerter said.

With input from several different academic areas, strategies to help instructors encourage student participation and enhance student achievement are also included.

The college’s effort puts it in the forefront of a state mandate for more accountability in the state-wide community colleges.

“A state task force has been formed to come up with recommendations from instructors, students and representatives in all disciplines, regarding how to make decisions how to fund programs and prioritize education at the community college level,” Bangerter said.

“The success of these videos will be measured looking at better student performance in the basic skills courses,” she said. “Success will be measured looking at matriculation numbers. A decrease in the number of students enrolled in basic skills programs and better student performance in the courses taken will be important measurements,” Bangerter said.

All students, however, can benefit from this program, including students who are already getting “A” grades and just need to reduce stress or become more efficient with time management, she said. Students who are first generation college students and need more strategies to achieve academic success will be able to use the recommendations to achieve their goals.

“Students who find it difficult to cope, either because they lack motivation or because they lack a vision of what their future holds with find concrete recommendations to find focus,” said Mike Reed, journalism department chair and Liberal Arts Student Success Committee member.

Reed sees the state-level task force leaning toward supporting only students who are seeking degrees or certificates.

“There will be less room for students who don’t have specific academic goals set and there will be pressure to see progress toward that goal,” he said. “The emphasis will be on transfer with more support for programs that help students toward that goal. “

“That is the goal of Saddleback’s Student Success Committee, we are developing lists of specific characteristics and skill sets for students and instructors to focus on that lead to more student success,” Bangerter said.

Titles of specific videos that will be available to students and faculty include:

“Setting Up For Success: Characteristics of Successful Students”

“Being Active, Being Involved”

“Staying Ahead of the Game”

“Being a Responsible Learner”

“As an associate faculty member, I’m looking forward to having these videos available to show to students. The strategies outlined will make a difference to both instructors and students who utilize them,” said Debbie Thiercof, ESL instructor and Liberal Arts committee member.

The college plans to make these videos available on the college Web Site.

The videos and Power Point presentation being developed relating these specifics and more will be posted on the college’s web site for both students and instructors

to utilize.

Recommendations for students include but are not limited to:

Engage in learning and problem solving strategies and activities (know what you don’t know) implement study flash cards, take text chapter notes, use a tape recorder when possible, review notes before and after class, create study groups, work on most difficult projects when you are most alert, check the syllabus regularly, check the outline of assignments daily for homework and major assignment due dates, make special note of test and quiz dates, schedule in study time as work hours, accounting for Carnegie Units (2 hours outside class for every hour in class), ask questions and make use of instructor office hours, attend class regularly and keep track of any absences and missed material, use the college Learning Assistance Program (LAP) for tutoring.

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