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Teaching Students with At-Risk Characteristics

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Gray Kane

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Teaching Students with At-Risk Characteristics

cultural differences
Teaching Students with At-Risk Characteristics
New Faculty Workshop
Gray Kane, Ph.D.
No single characteristic determines student success. However, the combination of certain traits can derail students.
Which traits can impede success?
low income
fewer role models for attitudes or behaviors that lead to academic success

lower familial understanding or support of academic responsibilities

lower career aspirations
irregular, demanding, or otherwise competing familial or work obligations

limited resources for textbooks or other course expenditures

limited access to computers or online resources

isolation from campus community
competing familial or work obligations

isolation from campus community


extreme desire for self-direction, autonomy, and respect
Whereas higher education often emphasizes solitary learning, some cultures raise their children with a collectivist approach to decision making and shun individualism.

Whereas higher education often emphasizes debate, some cultures prioritize a common narrative and dismiss difference.

Some cultures assign the responsibility of wisdom and knowledge to elders, and deference and obedience to younger generations. These roles can impede the learning experience for both: adult learners who have problems admitting that experience does not replace learning, and a younger generation who defers responsibility to the instructor.
first generation
to go to college
that can impede
student success
So how do you overcome these obstacles, capture student attention, and keep students on track?
Explain the reasons for each assignment to increase its relevancy.

Center lessons on problems instead of content to emphasize their importance and promote intrinsic motivations for learning.

Allow student experiences, especially errors, to serve as the basis of a learning activity -- so students understand the relevancy and develop personal motives for learning.

Relate lecture material to students’ lives to personalize course content and promote intrinsic motivations.

Provide students with topic introductions, transitions, and conclusions and design a topic sequence to diminish the perception of disposable knowledge.
Choose the strategies you are most and least likely to adopt and explain your reasoning to your neighbors:
Involve students in the planning and evaluation process to increase student self-direction and autonomy.

Hold students accountable for each other's learning to embed students in a network of responsibilities and accountability for the learning process.

Establish high expectations that emphasize higher-order thinking skills to keep students engaged and responsible for knowledge production.

Teach strategies for learning specific course content to help those who haven’t developed their learning skills, as well as to promote student responsibility for the learning process.

Provide opportunities for students to work out the differences between course content and their personal experiences.
Cultural Differences Exist
Identify your most and least favorite and explain your reasoning to your neighbors:
Encourage campus involvement (events, clubs, organizations, etc.) to foster a sense of belonging.

Create group activities, preferably without assigning group grades, to foster a sense of belonging and promote peer teaching.

Provide positive feedback with “suggestions for improvement” to bolster student confidence and promote a respectful environment.

Decrease formality so rules or evaluations don’t appear controlling or persecutory.

Allow for exceptions and plan for alternatives to accommodate irregular familial or work obligations or limited access to technology.
Explain to your neighbors which you are most and least likely to do in your courses and why:
“In a study of American Indian students, those … who persisted had higher levels of interactions with faculty and staff” (Murphy 2006).

In a different study, faculty-student contact affected minority student performance more than students’ entering abilities had (ibid).
Student isolation is not just isolation from each other.
So how do you keep
students engaged and on track?
Promote a sense of community.
Increase students' responsibilities in planning and evaluation.
Emphasize relevancy of course content.
“At Risk Students and Teaching Strategies for Cognitive Learning.” Accessed on 31 October 2011. www.gpisd.org/departments/staffdev/documents/at_risk_students.ppt

Bart, Mary. “Helping At-Risk Students Succeed in the College Classroom.” Faculty Focus. 12 April 2010. Accessed on 31 October 2011. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/helping-at-risk-students-succeed-in-the-college-classroom/

Bash, Lee. Adult Learners in the Academy. Boston, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 2003.

Codde, Joseph R. “Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” 26 August 2006. Accessed on 31 October 2011. https://www.msu.edu/user/coddejos/seven.htm

Murphy, Catrina G. and Hicks, Terence, "Academic Characteristics among First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students " (2006). Faculty Working Papers from the School of Education. Paper 8. Accessed on 31 October 2011. http://digitalcommons.uncfsu.edu/soe_faculty_wp/8

Solomon, Amy. Faculty Development Workbook; Module 1: Understanding the Adult Learner. Clifton Park, New York: Thompson Delmar Learning, 2007.
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