Tech college puts work ethic on transcripts

Graduates of a Missouri technical college can show employers a transcript that includes a “job readiness” score and attendance as well as academic grades, reports Inside Higher EdLinn State Technical College hopes the new transcript will help students find jobs.

Instructors evaluate students’ job readiness and work ethic in six areas: safety, trust, timeliness, work habits, interpersonal and citizenship.

Job readiness is scored on a four-point scale. For example, a student must be described as “respectful” and “polite” to land a four in the interpersonal category. Lack of civility and the use of “slurs,” conversely, are on the checklist for a zero in interpersonal. As for safety, which is optional for general education courses, students get points for looking out for the safety of themselves and others, and score worse for the careless use of tools and equipment.

Under work habits, a student who’s diligent, organized and takes pride in a job well done earns a 4. A 3 usually goes beyond the minimum and has a good attitude. At the 2 level, the student is improving but needs supervision. A 1 needs supervision. Under 0, the student is lazy, takes no pride in work, ignores warnings and “thinks minimum is maximum.”

Evaluating workplace readiness is just starting to catch on at a few colleges, reports Inside Higher EdAsheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina will issue grades and certificates for “soft skills,” such punctuality and teamwork, to help graduates find jobs.

Employers are complaining that new workers lack a strong work ethic, said Donald Claycomb, Linn State’s president. The college worked with industry partners to decide which skills to evaluate.

The entitled student

College professors may be enabling “academic entitlement” in their students, according to research by Tracey E. Zinn, a psychology associate professor at James Madison University. Entitled students learn less because they don’t think they need to do the work, notes Inside School Research.

Signs of entitlement include the beliefs that:

• Knowledge is a “right” that should be delivered with little effort or discomfort on the student’s part;

• A high grade should come, not from mastery of material, but in return for non-academic aspects of education, such as the student showing up to class, or the student or her family paying tuition or taxes which go to the teacher’s salary; and

• If a student didn’t perform well on a test, it is a sign that the test was too difficult, not that the student did not understand the material.

Entitled students want instructors to give them the right answer, while students who don’t feel entitled ask for help understanding concepts, Zinn and her colleagues found.

Veterans bring esprit, maturity to class

Military veterans contribute to the classroom because of their esprit de corps, maturity and wide-ranging experiences, writes Meredith Martin, who teaches history at Collin College in Texas.

Veterans prefer structured classes with clear goals, Martin writes.  They respect instructors and “appreciate mutual respect for dissenting opinions and professors’ unbiased approach to topics, such as political issues.”

Student veterans who’ve served around the world have developed maturity,  understanding and global awareness that traditional-age students lack.

Student veterans have a different opinion of global affairs, foreign policy, government and issues of entitlement than their traditionally aged peers. They have been in some of the poorest nations in the world, and they can explain to younger students why they may not have it as bad as they think they do.

Vets take responsibility, follow through and help others, she adds. Their “high expectations, respect, experience, commitment ethic and the ability to perform well under pressure” serve them well in the classroom and will serve them well in their future careers.

Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland reaches out to military veterans, reports Community College Week.

California community colleges also are working to ease veterans’ transition to the workforce.



Students, you are adults in my class

On the first day of class, Rob Jenkins makes sure students get the message: You’re adults. Act like adults. An English instructor at Georgia Perimeter College, Jenkins prints his first-day welcome in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Students don’t have to raise  hand to speak or ask permission to use the restroom. They won’t be penalized for coming late or missing class, “beyond the natural penalties that accrue as a result of your missing class time and activities.”

You should also know that, according to several recent studies, students who attend class regularly earn, on average, one full letter grade higher than students who attend only sporadically. If you don’t know what “sporadically” means, you should definitely come to class.

“Along with considerable freedom, being an adult also carries a great deal of responsibility,” Jenkins reminds students.

You’re responsible, first of all, for displaying good manners, being considerate of others, and generally not being a jerk. That means you won’t interrupt other speakers, including me. You won’t routinely be late to class, or regularly leave before it’s over, because that’s rude. And you’ll keep your cellphone turned off, unless you have some really good reason to leave it on, such as your mother is in the hospital, your partner is about to give birth, or the Braves are playing in the World Series.

Moreover, you are personally responsible for everything we cover in class, whether you’re here or not. I don’t mean that unkindly, but please don’t come up to me and ask, “Are we going to be doing anything important on Wednesday?” Of course we’re going to do something important on Wednesday. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be there either.

And please don’t ask “Is it OK if I’m absent on Friday?” or “Is it OK if I leave early?” As far as I’m concerned, it’s neither OK nor not OK. I prefer you to be in class all the time, for the simple reason that I want you to succeed in the course. But it’s entirely your decision. You’re an adult. Do what you have to do. You don’t need my permission, nor will I give it. Just remember that you’re responsible for all the material.

Jenkins warns students that he doesn’t give many A’s because not many students excel. But plenty are good enough to earn a B, if they show up and do the work.