Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: Advising

Educator: Wendy Grossmann, Student Support Counselor, Clinton Community College, NY

Implementation: When a student wants to withdraw from a class due to a poor grade, use the Wise Choice Process (emphasizing the step that asks, “What are the likely consequences of each possible choice?”). Help the student consider the impact of withdrawing or remaining in the class on 1) enrollment status (full-time, part-time) 2) financial aid eligibility 3) health insurance eligibility, 4) grade point average, 5) sport team eligibility, 6) residence hall eligibility, 7) pre-requisite for future class, and 8) future class availability. After this inquiry, students are better able to make a well-informed choice regarding withdrawing from a class.

2. Strategy: Graduation Game (Ring Toss)

Application: Advising

Educator: Robin Middleton, Coordinator of Advisement, Jamestown Community College, NY

Implementation: I occasionally have students who are doing poorly in their present courses and want to register for unrealistic course loads in the following semester to “catch up.” One student was failing all of his first-semester courses (12 credits) and insisted that he had to register for 24 credits in the spring semester “to catch up.” I thought the Graduation Game might help him understand the wisdom of taking only six credits, but I didn’t have a ring toss game handy. Instead I used a trash can and a piece of paper wadded into a ball. I invited the young man to toss the paper ball into the trash can from six feet away (representing the number of credits I was recommending he register for). His toss went right in. Then I asked him to try tossing again from 24 feet (representing the number of credits he was insisting on). Just as he was about to toss from 24 feet, he stopped and said, “Ohhhhhh…there’s no way.” He agreed to register for six credits.

3. Strategy: DAPPS Rule

Application: First Advising Meeting

Educator: David Bell, Dean of Academics, USAF Academy Prep School, CO

Implementation: As a preparatory school for the USAF Academy which commissions officers for service in the Air Force, it is important that our students have both short- and long-term goals. During my first advising meeting with students, we talk about desired outcomes and experiences as well as making sure goals meet the DAPPS Rule (Dated, Achievable, Personal, Positive, and Specific). I give each advisee a set of note cards: blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. On the blue cards, the student records his/her desired very long-term goals (25+ years—post Air Force). On the green cards, s/he records career goals for the Air Force (5-25 years). On the yellow cards, s/he records goals for the USAF Academy (1-4 years). On the orange cards, the student writes Prep School Goals (1 year). And, finally, on the red cards, s/he identifies goals for the present quarter. I model the process by sharing a similar set of cards for my goals. I give each student additional cards for them to add, change, or update their goals. In subsequent bi-weekly meetings, we continue to discuss their desired outcomes/experiences, as well as discussing how the choices they are making are helping or hindering the achievement of their goals.

4. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: Advising students on probation.

Educator: Michelle Johnson, Academic Advisor, Missouri University of Science & Technology, MO

Implementation: The goal of this activity is to aid students on probation to arrive at a realistic view of their current situation, including how they got there and what they are going to do about it. To this end, create a handout that has the six steps of the Wise Choice Process printed on it. In a one-to-one conference, read through the steps with your advisee, providing clarification where needed. Then ask the student to both verbalize and write a response to each step. Make clear that this is a working document, so the student has the ability to revise responses as needed. Once completed, the document (especially the commitments) serves as an agreement between the student and advisor. Schedule subsequent meetings to review the student’s progress and revise the plan, if needed. The student keeps the original; make a copy for your own files. Advise the student that how well they fulfill their agreed-upon actions will affect the recommendation you make for re-admittance to their academic department.

5. Strategy: Victim/Creator Language

Application: Academic Advising & Study Skills

Educator: Shanon Miho, Academic Counselor, Honolulu Community College, HI

Implementation: As a counselor, I don’t teach a specific class, but I do go to classes in my “assigned” programs to go over the requirements of the program and general college information. My main goal is to communicate to students their responsibility for their own academic progress. Since whatever class I’m visiting is not my class, I’m only allotted an hour. I explain to the students that we all slip into Victim language from time to time. I tell them that I still hear myself using Victim language, but now I can recognize it as soon as it comes out of my mouth. In order to do this as well, the students need to distinguish between Victim statements and possible Creator responses. For a class of 24, I have developed an interactive exercise. I write 12 victim statements on separate index cards, including statements I actually hear students using. I also make 12 creator responses on cards (the counterparts to the victim statements). I shuffle all the cards and have each student pick a card. I then direct them to find their counterparts. When they each have found their “partner” they are to wait until everyone is paired. Then they take turns sharing what the victim sentence is and the creator response. A colleague of mine who teaches a Study Skills course loved the idea and plans to use this in her course.

6. Strategy: Wise Choice Process

Application: Nursing & Advising

Educator: Carol S. Beneker, Academic Coordinator-Nursing, Columbus State Community College, OH

Implementation: As the Academic Coordinator, my role consists of tutor, advisor, counselor, etc. for our “at-risk” population, i.e., nursing students who are failing one or both of required, concurrent courses. If they drop one course, they must drop the other. If they fail one course and pass the other, they do not have to repeat the course passed; however, they are then taken out of the sequence of classes for the nursing program until the failed course is offered again, usually every other quarter. This creates a lot of discord amongst the students. Often they are passing one course and failing the other and have to make a decision about which path to take before the final cutoff date. They are in a dilemma because they may be getting an A in one course but an F in the other and they don’t want to drop both courses only to repeat them again. I sit down with them, and we go through the Wise Choice Process. I keep a legal pad just for this situation, and I have the student write down ALL the options because having them do it themselves helps reality sink in for them. After we go through the choices in my office, I have them take the list home for a few days and add whatever they want to it. Then we discuss it again. Surprisingly, they usually make the decision to drop and go out of sequence because they don’t want a D or F on their record. Failing two classes drops you out of the program entirely at any time. So far, all the students, except for one, have understood the concept of making a wise choice. When the student does choose to drop, I try to discuss with them why they think they were unsuccessful to begin with.

7. Strategy: Next Actions List

Application: Academic Advising

Educator: Robin Middleton, Coordinator of Advisement, Jamestown Community College, NY

Implementation: Mid-semester grades often prompt students to come for advisement on how to improve their grades. I often find that students have so many roles and activities going on in their lives that it is difficult for them to create a plan of action. By completing the Next Actions List in my office, students are able to create a visual snapshot of their responsibilities and “see” all the plates they are spinning. Not only does this activity give them a plan of action, it becomes a moment of greater awareness. Often students will realize that they need to make some changes given the complexity of their lives, by limiting work hours, social time, or dropping a class. The Next Actions List provides an opportunity for increased self-awareness and enhanced decision-making.

8. Strategy: V x E = M

Application: Academic Advising

Educator: Robin Middleton, Coordinator of Advisement, Jamestown Community College, NY

Implementation: When students say, “I don’t know what happened, I just lost my motivation for college,” they often feel powerless to regain it (as if Motivation is something that happens to you rather than something you create). I share the Motivation Equation with them and ask them to assign numbers (1-10) for their level of Value and Expectancy with regard to getting a college degree. With a goal of 100% motivational level, I ask the student to brainstorm concrete steps for increasing the levels of Value and/or Expectancy for success. Some examples to increase Value might be: Talk with a professor to learn more about his/her interest in the field or job shadow a person in a career area of interest. To increase levels of Expectancy: Attend two tutorial sessions or attend every class for at least two weeks. We make a follow-up appointment (or follow-up email) to see if their level of motivation has increased by taking these steps. It’s a very simple exercise taking less than 10 minutes, but it allows the student to feel empowered to actually increase the level of motivation s/he brings to the college experience.

9. Strategy: Responsibility Model

Application: Academic Advising

Educator: Lino Gutierrez, Adviser, Heritage University, WA

Implementation: Create a poster of the Responsibility Model and post it in your office where students can see it. In my initial meeting with students, I explain to them how other students tell me Victim stories about how they are treated unfairly. Using the model, I offer a couple of examples of Victim stories and explain that they have a choice in everything they do. Once a student understands what it means to be a Victim, then we go over what it means to be a Creator. This helps students make the right choices. It also makes our advising sessions much more productive. The end result is having the student take ownership and responsibility for his/her actions and choices. When they know what it means to be a Creator, the world around them is a better place (academically and personally).

10. Strategy: Affirmation

Application: Academic Advising

Educator: Idalia Aguillon, Advisor, Heritage University, WA

Implementation: At the first advising meeting, help students to create an affirmation using the process from the On Course I Workshop. Next, create a laminated book mark with the affirmation on it. Students will be able to turn to their affirmation throughout the semester.

11. Strategy: Quick List, Choices of Successful Students, and Tracking Form

Application: Advising Struggling Students

Educator: Sara York, Advisor, Jackson Community College, MI

Implementation: Have struggling student make a Quick List of the qualities of successful students. Then, discuss the “Choices of Successful Students” with them. Have them discuss the inner qualities they have, the ones they would like to have, and how they can develop them. Have them set goals for improving one inner quality and use a Tracking Form to list the actions they will take to strengthen that quality. Meet the student weekly or bi-weekly and have the student explain his/her progress, with specific reference to evidence found on the Tracking Form.  In particular, have students explain why any action has few or no checks. End the session with a discussion of what the student will continue doing and any new inner or outer actions s/he will take to strengthen the desired inner quality. [Editor’s note: Discussion of student’s inner qualities could be enriched by having him/her take the On Course self-assessment and provide the scores for analysis.]

12. Strategy: Eagles and Hawks

Application: Academic Advisement Training

Educator: Crystal Ratliff, Director of Academic Advising, University of Arkansas & Ranelle Eubanks, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, University of Arkansas, AR

Implementation: During new academic advisor training, discuss the academic regulations involved in advising as well as real-life advising issues that students face. Next, give advisors a simple advising scenario. Using Eagles and Hawks, have the advisors discuss their initial solutions to the scenario with two or three colleagues. The activity will demonstrate to advisors that there are many ways to handle an issue and help them see the power of interdependence in advising.

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