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Jun
23

Learning-Centered College Observations Part III

Greetings all,

This is my third posting on observations from the League for Innovation-sponsored Learning Summit that took place recently in Phoenix.

If you recall, I previously referenced highlights from the opening keynote presentation by Dr. Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin (http://www.utdanacenter.org/about-us/staff/p-uri-treisman/). After first emphasizing the importance of enabling student affirmation and confidence during the first three weeks at a community college, Dr. Treisman then offered organizational and systemic observations that learning-centered colleges need to be attuned to.

This post summarizes general observations distilled throughout the conference regarding strategies learning-centered colleges can act on to increase student success and completion.

  1. During the first three weeks of the semester, faculty should welcome academic support and student affairs staff into classrooms to encourage students to avail themselves of support and engagement programs. At most community colleges, the car-to-classroom-to-car students, in particular, may not be aware of services to help them succeed. A personal invitation from a counselor, advisor, or tutor is one more way to establish an important contact and help a student answer that key question – “Can I do this?”  This effort, along with our new student orientation that features a video introduction to the college and support services, should produce positive results.
  2. All of us – faculty and staff – who are fortunate enough to work at a learning-centered college need to continue to define, refine and update our personal beliefs and values related to learning. What do we believe to be true about learning? What are the optimal conditions for learning to flourish? What concepts best support deep learning?
  3. Learning-centered colleges need to align their work with their vision and organizational aspirations. Learning can and should be a means to a greater end. This theme shared throughout the Summit certainly supports what PVCC stands for and who we are …A learning-centered college where the power of learning transforms lives and enables positive social change!  For a moving reminder of the impact we make, I encourage you to view the stories of our graduates, in their own words, at YouTube.com/pvccrocks.

I welcome your continued thoughts and opinions on the subject and invite you to share your own observations.

Paul

Jun
17

Learning Summit Observations Part 2

Greetings all,

This is my second posting on observations from the League for Innovation-sponsored Learning Summit that took place recently in Phoenix. The Summit annually brings community college leaders and faculty from across the county together to engage in meaningful dialog on learning-centered college practices that further student learning, success, and completion.

If you recall, I previously referenced highlights from the opening keynote presentation by Dr. Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin (http://www.utdanacenter.org/about-us/staff/p-uri-treisman/). After first emphasizing the importance of enabling student affirmation and confidence during the first three weeks at a community college, Dr. Treisman then offered organizational and systemic observations that learning-centered colleges need to be attuned to.

  1. Faculty and students thrive together in an environment where a sense of community exists. At the same time, this learning community cannot be successful without a high level of “relational trust.” How to create that trust?  It begins first with truly knowing who your students are, and carries over into establishing and maintaining collaborative faculty and peer relationships.
  2.  Too much of “data crunching” in higher education is focused on student weaknesses and deficits. Instead, we need to pay as much attention to understanding the data behind our student successes.
  3. The problem in a learning-centered college is not a lack of innovation, but the opposite – too much innovation. We tend to adopt practices from other colleges because we want to “keep up with the Joneses.” However, true learning-centered colleges need to focus on quality, not quantity; that is, innovations that tie directly to their strategic priorities.

I challenge you to consider these three institutional observations and what your role in each may be.  I also welcome your thoughts and opinions on the subject and invite you to share your own observations.

My next posting from the conference will touch on concrete strategies learning-centered colleges can act on to increase student success and completion.

 

Paul

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