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Center for Teaching and Learning

Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) - BSI

Social Science/Psychology College Success

Area of Inquiry

During the current semester (spring 2009) we have been exploring changes in our pedagogy and developing and refining new educational materials. We propose that the three psychology faculty continue with the FIG during fall 2009.

As a part of the current FIG we collected baseline data from our psychology classes primarily during December 2008; we collected data from more than 200 students. During the spring 2009 our FIG members developed and began piloting new educational materials based on our FIG readings and discussion. Our psychology FIG members added an extra element to their new materials; the psychology FIG members aimed to make the connections between the traditional psychology course content and college success in general more obvious.

Here are some examples of the specific projects being developed and “test-driven” by the psychology FIG members during spring 2009:

Activity 1: Improving Memory Skills (Rani)
Presentation of this chapter begins with lecture and class discussion and activities that model key concepts of memory, such as chunking in short-term memory, using iconic and echoic memory, elaborative rehearsal and self-referencing. Then as a follow up, students are given a study guide of key terms from the chapter. Working in small groups, students organize the chapter material in preparation for learning, and practice applying the memory principles mentioned above. The goal is to provide scaffolding to build new skills in reading the text, organizing the material and preparing for an exam or any task that requires memory performance.
As a way to assess if students have acquired new skills, I will use a study habits survey and/or compare scores from a pre and post quiz (or exam).

Activity 2: Applying Principles of Learning to College Success (Rani)
Using the principles of operant conditioning from the Learning chapter, students select a personal behavior that they would like change or improve. Students select a target behavior that is related to life as a student (ex. would like to work on time-management, would like to increase hours of study, would like to have better organizational skills). Students keep a baseline journal of the behavior for one week. Then they design a new weekly schedule, and using principles of reinforcement and shaping they establish new daily and weekly goals. Positive goal behavior is linked to positive reward activities they personally selected. Students write a 2-3 summary paper, reflecting on their behavioral change program and success. As an assessment students will complete a short survey, rating their progress on a Likert scale.
The project actively engages students in the material and also builds a sense of accomplishment and self evaluation of personal strengths and weakness. These important self-efficacy skills transfer into college skill

Modules on Memory and Forgetting (Aldrian)
I’ve required students to create a pamphlet on Study Skills Tips blending in the information from textbook on Memory. They’ve created some very interesting pamphlets, several of which could easily be submitted for the following semester’s sections. Some ideas include: Mnemonic Devices, the quick decay of Short-Term Memory, and Massed vs. Distributed Practice.

Stress and Wellness and College Success (Aldrian)
I teach my students how to reframe situations when encountering stress. I’ve tried to incorporate Ellis’s idea of Cognitive Reappraisal (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) in this section of the book. I encourage the re-examination of situations that students’ have encountered (I’m working to focus on college success related events) and try to facilitate the application of the appraisal and re-appraise model.

Team-Based Learning (Aldrian) I’ve also incorporated formally a team-creation process that teaches students not only to socialize and mingle, but also to depend on one another for notes when someone is absent. This Team-Based Learning paradigm is loosely based on Larry Michaelsen (Team-Based Learning) and suggested practices from Barkley, Cross, and Major (Collaborative Learning Techniques). I believe the creation of groups to be an essential element for college success in an emotional and academic sense.

College Success Team Project (Andrew): I have modified my teaching and created an extended lesson on survey research design. Drawing on the literature we have read and discussed in the Social Science FIG throughout the spring 2009 semester, I have created a series of group projects included in the topic of survey research including, but not limited to: the parts of a research article,(abstract, introduction, method, results and discussion) types of question (open/closed), question errors (simplicity, double-barreled, loaded, negatively worded) response formats (Likert, graphic scale, y/n, range choice) descriptive statistics, (mean, median, more) APA format, literature search—including finding a published article related to college success, presentation using PowerPoint. These group projects result in a final group project where students write a research journal style article based on the data they have collected and present the data using PowerPoint . The assigned topic for the research is COLLEGE SUCCESS.

Some of the scaffolding provided includes hints for brainstorming college success factors. I provide a list of prompts that includes: Beliefs about or attitudes toward college, reading, public speaking, writing, tests, group studying, class size, teaching style, extra credit, late work, tardiness, attendance, attendance policies, likes & dislikes, behaviors, goals, motivators, distractions, time spent studying, study bhvrs, where you sit in class, calendar/planner use, hours working, time on campus, friends on campus, college involvement, support, any of these bhvrs, or beliefs about these bhvrs, knowledge of resources, etc

Currently (5/5/09) students in the class are presenting their group research projects on College Success. Keep in mind the goal of our work on this grant is to modify our teaching practice and, specific to psychology, make our course content more clearly relevant to college success in general.

Student group research topics include:
Ideas about what college success means
Alcohol and drugs as influencing college success
Visual v. textual learning styles
Calendar/Planner use and College Success
Use of Instructor Office Hours and College Success
Family income and college success
Involvement in campus activities and College Success

Although I am still “test-driving” elements of this assignment it has been very clear to me that students are engaged in the discussions of college success. The content of the course is still being covered, but covered in the context of the meta-cognitive work directly related to college success in general. Also, through the use of problem-based structured lab-style group projects, the content topic elements are being worked with, instead of talked about; this style of learning is supported by the literature our FIG has been reading.

We propose to continue to development and implement our new psychology educational materials psychology during fall 2009. In addition, we propose to assess our new materials by collected student data during December 2009 and comparing the December 2009 data to our baseline data collected from over 200 students in December 2008.

Inquiry:

We have lots of basic skills students in our classes who are not fully engaged. How can we change our pedagogy and educational materials/curriculum to facilitate student engagement and facilitate the success of our basic skills students? And what does the literature say? We have lots of “content to cover”. How can we cover all this content, in depth, while making meaningful connections, when so many of our students lack the “necessary basic skills”? How can we increase the depth of engagement for our students? How can we integrate basic skills, both in the traditional and “not-so-basic” senses, into our courses? How can we increase self-directed and active learning? How can we make our classrooms feel like a safe place for students to take risks? Are we doing as much as we could to weave knowledge of content with the social, personal, and cognitive dimensions of our students’ experiences as learners (BSI). We want to problematize, to at least some degree, our “delivery methods”. We are particularly interested in how to reach and support our basic skills students, those students who might have the most to gain from our rethinking and reworking our classes. We propose to continue this work during fall 2009 and, specifically, we plan to collect and analyze student data.

Future Plans:

(specific examples of our work are included in the first section of this document)

This proposal is a request for funds to continue a modified version the Social Science FIG that began in January 2009. During the current semester (spring 2009) we have been exploring changes in our pedagogy and developing and refining new educational materials. We propose that the three psychology faculty continue with the FIG during fall 2009. As a part of the current FIG we collected some baseline data from our psychology classes primarily during December 2008. We propose to continue to development and implement of our new psychology educational materials psychology during fall 2009. In addition, we propose to assess our new materials by collected student data during December 2009 and comparing the December 2009 data to our baseline data from December 2008.

How significant is our potential impact?
(specific examples of our work are included in the first section of this document)

When we checked enrollments during mid-fall 2008, 897 Chabot students enrolled in PSYC 1. At that time PSYC 1 was the third highest enrolled course at Chabot, behind only HLTH 1(1000), and ENGL1A (948). The majority of these courses are taught by the three fulltime psychology instructors. We urge the proposal review committee to consider the potential impact we can have just by influencing the PSYC 1 curriculum. If we are able to continue and expand Psychology’s integrated basic skills work, we can potentially affect a very large proportion of Chabot’s basic skills students.

Members

  • Andrew Pierson-Psychology (proposed Spring FIG leader)
  • Aldrian Estepa - Psychology
  • Rani Nijjar-Psychology

 

 

 

 
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