Should ‘success class’ be required?

California may require low-skilled community college students to take a “success course” that teaches study skills and “college knowledge” reports EdSource Extra. The California Community College’s Student Success Task Force recommended non-credit student success courses as a strategy to improve graduation rates, but didn’t specify whether the classes should be recommended or required.

Many community colleges already offer success courses in various forms.

For at least 25 years, student success courses were offered at City College of San Francisco as a one-unit, not-for-credit course, said Nadine Rosenthal, the director of City College’s Learning Assistance Center.

It has since expanded to a three-unit course taken by some 800 students that can be used for transfer to a UC or CSU campus. It consists of three segments: one focused on personal growth and learning styles; another on study strategies and test-taking skills, and another on critical and creative thinking. An average of 40 students are enrolled in 22 course sections.

Rosenthal said surveys showed that students found the “time management” and “goal setting” portions of the class most valuable, followed by techniques for memorizing and concentrating on course materials.

But she opposed making it a required course for students who are shown to be lagging on a placement test. She said it would be “logistically challenging” as well as extremely costly to offer as many as 100 course sections without a major increase in staffing — an unlikely prospect during this period of extreme cuts to the community colleges’ budget.

Colleges are expanding student success courses to reach more students without hiring more counselors, said Bob Gabriner, a task force member and director of the Education Leadership Program at San Francisco State.

Combining classes with support services can reach students who’d never seek out a counselor, concludes a MDRC report on several approaches.

At Chaffey College in California, a voluntary success course for students on academic probation had no effect, MDRC found. Redesigned as a two-semester, mandatory program, it showed “large and significant” results. “Almost twice as many students in the program group as in the control group got off probation and returned to good academic standing.”

In Florida, community college students who’d taken “student life skills” classes were more likely to earn a credential, a 2006 study found.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON December 27, 2011

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Studying ‘success’ — Joanne Jacobs

[...] community college students should take a “success class” that teaches study skills, time management and “college knowledge,” a California task [...]

Florida Community College

[...] Community College Spotlight | Should 'success class' be required? “Almost twice as many students in the program group as in the control group got off probation and returned to good academic standing.” In Florida, community college students who'd taken “student life skills” classes were . [...]

Leanne Hoagland-Smit

What is so sad about this is the middle school and high school educational process is so focused on knowledge and skills (learning that being acquiring knowledge) and fails to address attitudes and habits (performance that being applying knowledge), young people who leave college are not prepared for the workforce according to one study Workforce 2020.

Employers need self leadership skills including goal setting, time management, effective communication skills along with critical thinking, problem solving and being a team member. The question to be asked is not “does someone know this or that?” but rather “Does he or she want to do it?” The want will always exceed the “knowing.”

This is part of the reason why the majority of full time college students are taking 6 years to earn a 4 year degree or 3 years to year a 2 year degree. This extension is costing communities millions of dollars and contributing to the ongoing national student loan debt.

By doing the math, we can see that a student who graduates in 4 years has two years of less debt ($20K per year) and 2 years of being employed ($30K annual salary). This can easily near $100,000 per student.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

[...] just read another piece regarding regarding how to secure college success as so many college students continue to lack the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits [...]

[...] California community colleges should require a “success course, learning community or other support activity” for students who are poorly prepared for college, a task force recommends. However, there’s no consensus on whether all students should take such a course. [...]

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