Thursday, November 02, 2006

Feeling a little disconnected

It's been a week since I last posted, but I've found a great topic to help get me back into form. Inside Higher Ed regales us with the details of a symposium held earlier in the week. 'Out of Step', Inside's write-up of events at The National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success, sponsored by the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, reports on reforming higher education. Reform should be systemic and institutional. 'Systemic' in that the changes can be applied to a variety of colleges and universities. Changes can be applied in scale. 'Institutional' in that the changes must be made university wide, not department by department or within certain programs only.

Five papers were commissioned for the symposium. Leading themes among the papers included:
  • High expectations; coherence of curriculum; integration of experiences, knowledge and skills; opportunities for active learning; assessment and frequent feedback; collaborative learning opportunities; time on task; respect for diversity; frequent contact with faculty; emphasis on the first-year student experience and the development of connections between classroom work and outside learning opportunities.
  • Coordination of policies across departments on an institutional level, and across the college and K-12 divide on a societal level, will help facilitate student success.
  • Classroom and teaching faculty play the most direct role in influencing student success.
  • Governmental institutions and colleges should engage in continuous information gathering, and policymakers and institutions should support research and theory development targeted at student success.

Student success in college often hinges on connectedness. Students who advance through college narrowly focused on conquering one class at a time miss out. Coherence and cohesion are key to a truly successful college experience.


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