Learning Assistant Workshop at Chicago State University/Harold Washington College, March 24-25, 2017

1. Jim Rabchuk and Susan Brooks from WIU QC attended.
2. We prepared a poster on our proposed 3 year pilot project.
3. We engaged in discussions on the three aspects of the LA model: Learning Assistants in the classroom, the Pedagogy class, and the Weekly Preparation session with the faculty.
4. In addition, we heard various presentations on unique features of various programs, with a special emphasis on how TYC (two year colleges) and FYI (four year institutions) could work together.
5. We had question and answer sessions with learning assistants from CSU, HWC, and Cleveland State University
6. Plus we had time for information sharing with other participants.

Things we learned, connections we made, and ideas we had at the workshop:
1. We decided that for the pilot we would have a joint weekly preparation session with the two faculty members and the 4 LA’s, to help coordinate course preparation, and to see how students in the Engineering program were doing across several courses. We identified several goals for those prep sessions
a. Review of past week successes and failures
b. Identify needs for class review and for intervention with particular students
c. Consider different pedagogical approaches
d. Model and role play healthy learning dynamics
e. Review of content for LA’s.
2. We had a lot of positive feedback on our pilot proposal, especially the fact that we were controlling for the variables by having just two instructors involved initially.
3. The flip side to the benefit of starting small is that our data sizes will be small, so we’ll have to be wise in how we collect data and demonstrate effectiveness of the intervention.
4. We learned from the LA’s that they are able to help work with students on content, study skills, and discussing life-challenges.
5. Susie was able to connect with several faculty from other institutions who are using the LA model in Calculus classes.
6. Several institutions that are already using LA’s suggested having current or former HS teachers lead or at least participate in the Pedagogy class.
7. We had an idea that, in addition to exploring how this project might expand to the Macomb campus, we might be able to work together with Black Hawk in supplying LA’s to them for their Physics and Calculus classes from some of their graduates who continued on in the Engineering program.

Heather Calvert’s report from the 2017 Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference in Detroit

It was a great conference. I came off without my notes today, but here is a short overview: Peer mentors, or in class peer tutors are proving to be successful based on outcomes from other programs in use by schools presenting. There is a large focus on equity services, that some students need more assistance than others, or different types of interventions. I was impressed by a presentation by Harper College who has partnered with their in-district high schools to help better prepare students to enter college ready to take College English and Math. They have also established a program that allows students to “earn” their education based on their performance in high school, which includes areas beyond just their academic performance (attendance, turning in homework assignments in addition to a relatively modest GPA requirement (I can’t remember if it was a 2.0 or a 2.5). They identified these factors by going into the business community in their area and finding out what basic skills employers were looking for: showing up on time, being trainable, etc.

I also sat in on a few really good programs geared towards first generation students. One was a program developed by UM Deaborn, which provides a scholarship to first generation college students who are required to earn “points” each term by engaging in campus resources, or events. They have a full time advisor to help counsel the students and host events for the group, but they have taken on a persona kind of like a student organization with pins that they wear to help spread the word about the program, and to identify themselves to faculty/staff/students.

The other presentation that sticks out in my mind was a partnership between a Local College Access Network (Local branch of MCAN, I don’t know that we have those as a part of ICAN), and local community foundation, and a 4 yr. institution. Their program also focusses on first generation students, but has a graduate student (in counselor ed program) who serves as a mentor/counselor to students awarded the scholarship from the community foundation. The award is renewable and is not tied to a school. The community foundation had a change in focus so now when someone wants to start a scholarship with them, they focus on this program, as opposed to encouraging the donor to set up strict guidelines (someone majoring in math who came from Milan).