Friday, Dec. 12, 3-4 pm in S45
A discussion of article/blog entry:
“Can we reduce or eliminate Fs even in tough classes? Dysfunctional illusions of rigor.”

Discussion goals:
  1. Share strategies and ideas about reaching D and F students – especially those discussed in the article
  2. Come away with some ideas to try out next semester
Bill Hong, CNIT
Chantilly Apollon, Biology
Deborah Goldsmith, Economics
Doug Orr, Economics
Edith Kaeuper, Biology/Biotech
Jie Wang, Nursing
Joe Cannon, Biology
Joseph P. Hickey, Chemistry
Joyce Lucas-Clark, Earth Sciences
Katryn Wiese, Earth Sciences
Krista Hanson, Foreign Languages
Kurt Common, CAD & Engineering Graphics
Leilah McCarthy, Physics
Pamela Kamatani, Music
Sheri Miraglia, Biology
Torina Craig, African American Scholastic Program
Victor Turks, ESL

Action items: Summary of discussion
  • Attendance -- Although we can't give grades for attendance, finding ways to increase attendance can lead to better retention and performance. We shared strategies we used to improve attendance (quizzes, group assignments, cohorts, etc.). Details on CCSF Attendance Policies.
  • Studying for exams enhances learning more than many other activities -- We discussed ways to increase exam studying -- by letting students retake exams (strategies were shared, especially for ways to grade the retakes, so they didn't get as much credit as the original), work together on exams in the classroom, and work together on exam study before class (through pass sheets or study questions).
  • Working together -- study groups, in-class cohorts, lab groups -- all seem proven (through research and through ancedotal evidence from our classrooms) to increase classroom participation, study habits, and performance. Perhaps our students can work in groups to help catch up on lacking basic skills. C
    • Challenge: how to create a strong group? Suggestions: 2 high-level students, 2 intermediate-level students, 1 low-level student. Allow students to fire a group member, if not participating. Mix up groups regularly.
    • Challenge: how not to alienate top students? Remind students how important group work is as a future job skill, including bringing weaker groups up to higher levels. Also students learn more when they have to explain it, so it's a great cementer for ideas.
    • Review quizzes in a group: let students work together in a group to go over the correct answers to quizzes or exams.
    • Grading group quizzes/activities: Use different color pens for solo answer and then later group answer OR have each question come with three spaces for answers -- the solo answer, the revised group answer, and the revised larger-group answer.
  • Because our students are in college doesn't mean they're prepared. What do we do to help them with missing skills? At the very least we should drop our assumptions and look for ways to help students fill in missing gaps in their background. The article described group work for building writing, problem-solving, and math skills, but we didn't get to delve into this deeply.
  • How do we engage students who are very shy? Remind and demonstrate to students that hidden ignorance does no one any good, and that being wrong and making mistakes are necessary to learn and improve. Als review Earth/Mind Blog and research on calling on the quiet shy students and why we should do it.
  • Torina Craig discussed some details of the African Amercian Scholastic Program and encouraged us to find ways to connect students and instructors to a variety of programs and services available to help/support our students.
  • Edith Kaeuper discussed some details of the Bridge to Biotech program which works specifically with low-performing students. Using various techniques, including group cohort work, the program has a 75% retention rate and a 90% pass rate in science classes for those who remain in the program.

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