The research behind this session comes from a couple of sources - CCSSE - the community college survey of student engagement and SENSE - the survey of entering student engagement. The focus of this panel discussion was starting right - a first look at engaging entering students. These initiatives were launched to determine why 50% of students leaving college were leaving before completing one semester.
Dr. Tinto used a metaphor approach to ask questions of the students - a process that he has used extensively with focus groups of students, faculty student services folks, and presidents. His advice on running a focus group was:
- serve food
- ask questions
- 6-8 participants
- The process of enrolling in college was like...
- My first two weeks of classes were like...
- make skills courses credit courses more students will take them
- communicate what you need
- take advantage of advisors/counsellors
- talk to people
So what needs to be done to help learners get engaged in their learning and at their institution? The learner experience of new students must be improved:
- be available and accessible
- advise, be open and honest
- care about students
- embedded advising - advisors go to class
It was also very cool watching Dr. Tinto interact with the students and the audience of educators. I learned a lot observing someone who is a master of their domain...