Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop
1. Strategy: Success Teams & Desired Outcomes and Experiences
Application: New Student Orientation
Educator: Chrisa O’Connell, Coordinator, Student Support Services, Clinton Community College, NY
Implementation: Have students form teams of 4-5 students. These groups become “success teams,” with students sharing and recording their desired outcomes and experiences for their first semester. Teams develop an action plan to help the team members meet their goals. Students may exchange phone numbers and contact information so they can stay in touch throughout the semester. Optional: Current students who assist with orientation may act as “team captains,” giving new students an additional connection to the campus.
2. Strategy: Affirmations
Application: SSS Study Skills
Educator: Tere Francis, Reading/Academic Specialist, Student Support Services, Doane College, NE
Implementation: When I took the On Course I Workshop, I had grave doubts about the worth of the affirmation activity. I actually thought the strategy was a bit contrived and hokey. I decided on the spot that this particular strategy was not for me. Skip said at the start of the workshop that not all the strategies would appeal to everyone, and this one definitely did not appeal to me. However, less than a week later, a situation occurred that would forever change my mind about affirmations. A young, bright, promising student in my study skills class came to my office to tell me she had to drop out of college. As she spoke, she used words to refer to herself such as “loser,” “stupid,” “quitter,” and “failure.” The negative self-talk she was using about herself was astounding. What was worse is that she felt that that was what everyone else thought about her, too. I knew that I couldn’t let her leave my office on such a negative note. I mentally brainstormed how I could help her be more positive, and the only thing that came immediately to mind was…using affirmations! I reached into my desk drawer and pulled out index cards. Before I gave them to her, I asked her what she really desired to happen concerning college. She responded that she really wanted to come back as soon as possible and continue studying to be a teacher. I then had her brainstorm a list of attributes that she felt she needed more of in order to achieve that goal. She quickly fired off a large list. I then had her pick the three attributes that she most wanted to have and helped her create an affirmation. I told her, “This is my gift to you. This is an affirmation that I want you to repeat to yourself every day until you believe it about yourself. Use it to stay on course to your goal of returning to college.” She took the card, burst into tears, and threw her arms around me. She said it was the best gift anyone had ever given her. She left my office smiling. Not once did I feel that what occurred during that interaction with her was contrived or hokey. To the contrary, it was positive and empowering. I now teach the use of affirmations in all of my study skills classes with life-changing results. For many students it is an empowering opportunity to rewrite the negative self-talk they learned and internalized during childhood.
3. Strategy: Graduation Game (Ring Toss)
Application: TRIO SSS Student Development Course
Educator: Valerie Jones, TRIO Student Support Services Counselor, Thomas Nelson Community College, VA
Implementation: Before helping students create a realistic schedule of classes for the following semester, play the Graduation Game. In debriefing the game, help students see that taking too many classes is like trying to make a ringer from 15, 24, or even 30 feet. They can move steadily toward their goal of graduation by taking a realistic course load each semester. In the Graduation Game, each player has to decide on a realistic distance from which to toss depending on variables such as their skill level, what the score is, and even how they are feeling that day. Similarly, each student has to decide what a realistic course load is for them depending on variables in their lives. To identify these variables, have students brainstorm a list of things that will affect the number of credits they take (e.g., hours they work, family obligations, personal motivation) to have a realistic schedule of classes.
4. Strategy: The Late Paper (Case Study)
Application: Upward Bound Workshop
Educator: Eric Brown, Upward Bound Academic Services Coordinator, Kansas State University-Selina, KS
Implementation: After reading "The Late Paper," break students into groups according to the character they thought was most responsible for Kim’s failing grade. Have each group write a list of reasons why their character is most responsible and discuss their reasons. Next have them make a list of excuses that Kim might offer for her failing grade. As you record each excuse on the board, ask "Who has used this excuse before?" or "Can anyone give me a better choice she could have made to get her paper turned in on time?" Have each student make a list of ten or more excuses that s/he has used before and give you a copy. Alert students that if they offer you an excuse in the future, you are going to ask them to pull out their excuse list to see if they have used the excuse before.
5. Strategy: Affirmation Milling and Affirmation Whisper
Application: Upward Bound Senior Retreat
Educator: No name provided
Implementation: We take Upward Bound students on a Senior Retreat–a 3-day event in the woods with no distractions–one week before they start their senior year of high school. On Night One, we have students shout attributes that contribute to success (in life, college, or work) and record them on a flip chart. Then we have students each pick three attributes and create their affirmation: I am a ___, ___, ___ man/woman/person. Then have them “mill” and share their affirmation with each other: Speaker: Hi, I’m ___ (say affirmation). Response: Yes, you are. Speaker: Thank you. I know. On Day Three, at the final campfire circle before going home, we do the affirmation whisper.
6. Strategy: The Graduation Game
Application: TRIO College Prep Workshop
Educator: Chris Westin, TRIO Counselor/Coordinator, University of Nevada-Reno, NV
Implementation: Many high school students have a difficult time grasping the idea that what they choose to do as freshmen affects their future success. In order to get that point across, I have them play the Graduation Game with a limit of 12 tosses to earn 30 credits. They find that if they miss a couple of throws in the beginning (either because they took tosses that were too challenging or because they lost focus while taking a 3-foot toss), they are forced to take bigger risks later on, many of which do not lead to success. Afterwards I discuss the game with students, helping them explore how they felt about the pressure of only having so many chances, how they came up with their strategy for success, how they dealt with the pressure, and how this game compares with their lives in high school.
7. Strategy: The Jigsaw
Application: TRIO-Upward Bound College Prep Workshop
Educator: Yolanda Vega, Assistant Director, Upward Bound, Hope College, MI
Implementation: The purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for high school students to learn about the college admissions process and use what they learn to maximize their own chances of being admitted to college. In Step A, students choose to become experts in 1) ACT scores, 2) Essays, 3) Filling out the Application, and 4) GPA/Transcripts. To help students become experts, either provide them with information in a written format or have them attend a mini-workshop on their topic. After deepening their knowledge by sharing what they have learned with other experts, students return to their home groups and teach what they have learned about their topic. Each home group then role plays an admissions committee and makes a decision on accepting or rejecting an “application,” giving them an opportunity to practice what they have learned about college admissions. They then journal about where they are in their own journey towards college admissions, identifying what is going well and where they need to make changes in order to maximize their chances of being accepted to the college of their choice.
8. Strategy: 32-Day Commitment
Application: TRIO-Student Support Services Kick Off
Educator: Sylvia Symonds, Program Coordinator, Student Support Services, South Mountain Community College, AZ
Implementation: Every semester our SSS program holds a kick-off event where we give students important information about the upcoming semester, check in to see how they are doing, and feed them lunch. Occasionally, we have a motivational speaker, but looking back, none of the information they shared with students has stuck with me. Thus, I was looking for an activity I could do with a large group of students. The 32-Day commitment was the answer. I ask each student to think about what they want to accomplish in the upcoming semester. Maybe it is finally passing that math or English class. Maybe their goal is improving their GPA. Perhaps the student wants to win a scholarship. Whatever their goal is, I ask each of them to commit to doing something every day for 32 days in furtherance of their goal. I give them examples such as 1) Open and read my biology text book for at least 10 minutes every day, 2) Work on 10 math problems, 3) Practice my speech in front of the mirror, and 4) Work every day for at least 15 minutes on my big research paper due at the end of the semester. I then ask each student to choose a 32-Day Commitment Buddy and share their commitment with each other. Then they check in with their buddy every day during the 32-days.
OCI Trio Programs (SSS, UB, TS, McNair) Forum