Sarah Zale combined “compassionate listening” with participatory theater to teach English 101 at Portland Community College in Oregon, building on the college’s program on “Theater of the Oppressed.”
Now she’s added social science, community service, multiculturalism and global awareness to create the Listening Tree Project at Shoreline Community College near Seattle.
In November, the Listening Tree Club staged a five-minute skit on “the prejudices and power differentials” experienced by Asian and international students of color. Then the audience replaced the characters and tried to resolve the conflicts.
This quarter, Zale is co-teaching an interdisciplinary course with drama instructor Deb Jacoby called “Leading the Way: Social Justice Through Activism and Compassion.”
Next year, the Listening Tree will be a sequence of three classes that satisfy humanities or social sciences requirements and lead to a Leadership Trainer Certificate.“More and more, employers are looking for something that says ‘Yes, I have these skills, I can be a leader in community building and conflict resolution and demonstrate active listening to multicultural perspectives’.”
Community colleges can reduce the need for remediation by collaborating with feeder high schools to prepare students, reports Inside Higher Ed.
In California, Long Beach City College faculty worked with Long Beach Unified teachers to align high school and college courses. By using high school grades, not just placement tests, to decide who can start in college-level courses, LBCC dramatically lowered remediation rates.
For example, 53 percent of the group took transfer-level English courses in their first semester, while only 5.5 percent of students from the same high school district took the courses the previous year – meaning they were 10 times more likely to jump directly into credit-bearing English. And their passage rate of 62 percent was roughly the same as the college’s typical passage rate in English.
Fully 60 percent of the students in the program, which is dubbed “Promise Pathways,” placed into transfer-level English courses, compared to 11 percent of the college’s overall student population.
LBCC now places 31 percent of Promise Pathways students in college-level math, compared to 7 percent of students overall.
South Texas College, located near the U.S.-Mexican border, has works closely with high schools to prepare students for college. Sixty-eight partner high schools offer dual enrollment programs, giving students a head start on an associate degree.
. . . the high school partnerships have helped drive down remedial placement rates to 17 percent, an extremely low number for a college that serves a largely lower-income, first-generation college population. The remedial placement rate has dropped by 45 percent since 2004, and Shirley A. Reed, the college’s president, credits dual enrollment as being a big part of that improvement.
“The high schools have accepted responsibility for college readiness,” Reed said. “Now we share in the responsibility.”
Preparing students for college success is the high schools’ job, write Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers in an Ed Week blog.
Community colleges were supposes to be “democracy’s college,” writes Keith Kroll, an English professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan. That “grand experiment” is coming to an end, Kroll writes. From President Obama on down, community colleges are seen as job training centers providing workers for local employers, not as places where students begin higher education.
Within the next 20 years, 80 percent of classes will be taught online, he predicts. Ninety percent of faculty will be part-timers who may never meet their students or each other.
In the community college of the future each department will have one full-time “faculty manager,” whose responsibilities will include distributing prepackaged, business-driven curricula and course syllabi; selecting the common textbook from which all faculty members will “teach”; scheduling and assigning classes . . . and managing the online grading program that all faculty will use to assess student performance. There will no longer be in-person department meetings, faculty representation on college committees, shared governance, or professional development . . . (faculty) will no longer be teachers, but technicians with no say in what they teach and how they teach.
English instructors will teach writing solely to give students the practical skills required by employers, he writes. Literature — indeed all the liberal arts — will be eliminated on grounds they have “no economic value.”
The revised mission statement of the Association of American Colleges and Universities is “to make liberal education and inclusive excellence the foundation for institutional purpose and educational practice in higher education.” I’m not sure what “inclusive excellence’ means.
High-level remedial writing students are more likely to complete college-level English courses if they participate in Community College of Baltimore County’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), concludes a Community College Research Center follow-up study. Furthermore, ALP students were more likely than non-ALP students to persist to the next year.
ALP lets developmental students take classes with college-ready students. College-ready students in ALP English 101 did as well as similar students in wholly college-ready sections, but slightly lower subsequent college-level course enrollment and completion.
Introductory math and English courses are gatekeepers at community colleges: Many students don’t make it through. But via other introductory courses are “obstacle courses” that can block completion, according to a new study by Matthew Zeidenberg, Davis Jenkins and Marc Scott if Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia.
. . . if colleges want to increase students’ chances of earning a credential, they will need to pay attention to student performance in a broader set of courses beyond simply college math and English. They should also rethink college remediation or developmental instruction, which tends to focus on math and English and not on other obstacle courses.
“Obstacle courses” include: College Success Skills, Introduction to Computer Applications and Concepts, History of Western Civilization I , Introduction to Business, Principles of Accounting I and Beginning Spanish I.
A student’s overall grade point average — not the grade in any particular course — was the best predictor of success or failure.
College remedial education requires ”transformation,” not just tinkering, concludes a national coalition of higher education groups. Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education recommends scrapping most remedial courses. Instead, most poorly prepared students would be placed in college-level, for-credit courses with extra support, such as tutoring, computer labs and extra classroom time.
The report was issued by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas, Complete College America, Education Commission of the States, and Jobs for the Future.
“Half of all America’s undergraduates and 70% of its community college students begin college in at least one remedial course, and only one in four remedial community college students ever make it to graduation day,” said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America.
For every 10 students assigned to three or more semesters of remedial English, fewer than three ever complete a college-level English class. Only one in 10 students assigned to three or more semesters of remedial math passes a first-year college-level math course.
The report also calls for changing requirements so students take the subjects they need for their program of study, but don’t have to take irrelevant courses. That means not everyone would take algebra.
“This is especially important in math, which is the most significant barrier to college success for remedial students,” said Uri Treisman, director of the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin. “Too many students today are required to pass college-level algebra when statistics or quantitative literacy would be much more appropriate preparation.”
In a joint statement, the groups called for “immediate, large-scale changes” to turn remediation from a barrier to a gateway.
Culture and Literacy through Arts for the 21st Century will be a partnership among community colleges in the CUNY system, Queens College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Katonah Museum of Art and El Museo del Barrio plus The Literacy Assistance Center and Visual Thinking Strategies.
Teachers and museum educators to work with a minimum of 50 students and their families per year.
Yes, a tiny group of immigrants will thrive without learning English, but mastering English is a prerequisite to becoming part of the middle class in today’s America. It’s why immigrants flock to free or low-cost English language programs that community colleges across the nation offer.
Sadly, the patchwork of private and government money falls far short of meeting demand. Right now at LaGuardia Community College, people hungry to learn English are placed on a waiting list that extends up to two years.
If we want immigrants to prosper, and to advance our democracy, it is a huge mistake to tell those who are desperate to learn English today to take a number and we’ll get back to them in a couple of years.
Sadly, many people think immigrants don’t want to learn English. That’s just not true. Wait lists for English classes are common in California as well. We need more online opportunities to improve English skills.