Category Archives: Student Engagement

Changes that Lead to Student Success

After years of doing assessments and submitting the results before the end-of-term deadline, I finally realized I could actually be using the data. I have finally made some consistent changes that have led to greater levels of understanding and success in my classroom. Here are my top three.

Change # 1
Every single Exercise Physiology class starts with music and movement. Not just some classes when I feel like it. All classes. You might be thinking to yourself, “well of course, it’s an exercise class, why wouldn’t you be doing exercise with them?” I am teaching the science of exercise, so they are basically learning anatomy and physiology and how that applies to the acute and chronic adaptations to exercise. So, it is highly plausible that I could lecture for 75 minutes straight. Zzzzzzzz.

But no more! I have physical and visual evidence that my students are more engaged following a three minute bout of movement to music that will last for at least 30 minutes.

Change # 2
I have Included the arts in my sciences. I make my students draw pictures in their notes. The art lovers in class really enjoy this, and the non-artsy people appreciate that I bring coloring pencils and I teach them how to draw in a very simplified manner. I also give them visuals to think about to really break down the parts of their drawing. For example, the cell body of a neuron looks a lot like an egg after you have thrown it onto a hot oily frying pan. And the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) looks just like a lollipop.

It is much easier to review your notes when you have pictures depicting what your words are telling you. Just like I am more likely to read a textbook that has helpful pictures rather than all text and tables.

Change # 3
Less words on slides. I can actually watch their cortisol levels rise when I put up a slide that looks like it has 250 words on it. The serious note takers go into panic, wondering how they will ever jot down all these words. No matter how many times I tell them they have access to the slides, they still feel the need to write everything down, just in case it is on the test. So if you remove all that text and put down two key words that have an emotional impact, they are forced to think for themselves and jot down their own notes.

That is another opportunity to draw images on the board, give examples and simply explain the topic as it relates to their world. Then they give me their examples, we all nod in universal acceptance and we can move on to the next topic. Making an emotional connection will have a greater impact on memory compared to a slide full of words.

So just to recap: move to music for three minutes, encourage the arts, and post impactful words, not paragraphs.

 

2019 Finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

This year for GCC’s Write 6 x 6 I have decided to put together a series of posts based on the 2019 finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. I’ve chosen this topic because I always like to see what high achievers are doing so I can learn from them. My focus will be primarily on Academic Advisement and student support in alignment with Guided Pathways.

Every two years, the Aspen Institute selects ten community colleges who have improved student success rates and ultimately awards one with a $1 million dollar prize. This year’s winner will be announced in April.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence recognizes exceptional achievements in four areas:

  • Student learning;
  • Certificate and degree completion while in community college and after transferring to a four-year institution;
  • Employment and earnings rates after graduation; and
  • Access for and success of students of color and low-income students.

Here are the Community Colleges in alphabetical order who made the list for 2019:

  • Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, TX
  • Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY
  • Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
  • Miami Dade College – Miami, FL
  • Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, SD
  • Odessa College – Odessa, TX
  • Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, WA
  • San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX

These are colleges I’ve wanted to explore but really haven’t had the time. I’m inspired by Write 6×6 and even though I am ridiculously busy, I know this is important so here I am …. writing to learn for myself and anyone else who wants to come along for the ride. All aboard for the Aspen road trip! Buckle up as we head for our first stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Flying Books Deliver Daily Inspiration

This is my reality: All day…every day, books fly through the library and ultimately land in my hands. It’s as if these items take flight from the book stacks and land right on my desk… This experience of coming into direct contact with countless, random books every day inspires me tremendously. I wish I could track how much I’ve grown and learned, professionally and personally, since I joined the GCC Library family. Working in Access Services at an academic library is certainly a dream come true for a bookworm like me. A sample of our library’s extensive collection materializes each day. On every horizontal surface, books perch patiently, inviting me to take a closer look.

The written word speaks to my soul. Spoken words are fine, but reading words on a page transcends an auditory experience. Silent and deep, books change my life, one sentence at a time. Each book feels like a stepping stone. Or maybe more like shells on the beach…I ignore most, but certain gems capture my attention. In the same way, some books go unnoticed while others introduce me to a perfectly-timed message with lasting effects. It’s magical actually.

Momentary, random encounters can yield deep thoughts.
Recently I found the words of Octavia Butler and Brian Bilston.  In the library, inspiration is just a page away…

Refugees by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

          (now read from bottom to top)

 


 

WEEK 6: The “One Thing” and The Final Step

Welcome back to the final week of the” One Thing” you can do to raise enrollment, a six week “how-to” series.

The NUMBER ONE REASON employees cite for NOT completing their employee bio page:

Now you know!
Your employee Bio Page is the ONE THING you can do
to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

If you’ve been following along, you know by now that completing your employee bio page is a seemingly SMALL thing that pacts a powerful, influential punch.

But if you are just joining us, follow these links to catch up on this data-driven strategy:

Week 1: What’s on your GCC bio page right now?
Week 2: Quotes – their power to connect.
Week 3: How to get a rep.
Week 4: Your face.
Week 5: The “One Thing” Before and After

Here we go – Week 6 – the final step: today you find out how to copy and paste your story into a simple Employee Biography online form, and click “submit”.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • GCC email address
  • Credentials (such as MS, Ph.D.)
  • Biography (Hint: Review Weeks 2, 3 and 5, and be relatable, not stiff)
  • Areas of Expertise (Special knowledge or field of study)
  • Office Hours
  • Headshot (This is a photo of your face. It should be cropped to a perfect square. You will click to upload a jpg, which will be resized to 280×280 pixels. See Week 4 for photo tips)
  • Personal Website URL (This is a separate step: To include a link to your work-related Website, login to your Maricopa profile using the Manage My Account tool, and add the url there. It may take up to a week for the link to appear on your Employee Bio page, depending on how often the Web Team refreshes the Website.)

Ready? Use this form to update your bio page.  (The link to this form is listed here on the GCC website.)

That’s it! 

For those itching to know the broader impacts, read these final bits:

Dear Faculty, you, perhaps more than anyone else, are uniquely empowered to factually communicate GCC’s reputation by explicitly stating your credentials and experience, why you continue to choose to teach at GCC, your areas of passion, and your teaching methods. You have been empowered to give the community concrete reasons to choose you, and GCC, over every other institution. The broader impacts of doing this one thing includes reputation, enrollment, media attention, and funding.

College Reputation
Your employee bio page impacts the reputation of the college. Faculty completing their Employee Biography pages serves to significantly elevate GCC’s reputation and raise its credibility on a local, national and international scale. We need to tout the talent and body of experts who teach at GCC. It hinders efforts to fill classes when faculty are too humble to talk about their personal contributions and proudest moments.

Student Enrollment
Your employee bio page impacts enrollment. When comparing colleges, student not only look at cost, location and facilities, but they also compare faculty between colleges. “Who will be teaching me? What are their qualifications? Will I like them?” Students want to pick the “right” instructor and are looking for a reason to choose you. Your employee bio page empowers you to teach students how to think about you. Be relatable.

Media Attention
Your employee bio page impacts media attention. The enormity of all faculty specifying their “areas of expertise,” on their employee bio page cannot be emphasized enough. Members of the Media are using google to find experts to weigh in on current events and issues. For example, a USA Today reporter used a google search to find an expert on “Living Libraries,” and GCC popped up in the top of the search results. “Everybody has a fascinating story, all of us,” said GCC faculty member Heather Merrill in a USA Today article on the Human Library. “Our students are craving this, and they’re craving help having these conversations.”

Funding Awards
Your employee bio page impacts the GRANT AWARD decision-making process. It is common for REVIEWERS to search the web for insight into the applicant’s reputation. When a GCC Faculty member applies for grant funding, they are competing against other institutions to win that award. Faculty bio pages provide an opportunity to showcase your integrity and past performance, both of which work to influence the REVIEWER COMMITTEE’s decision to award a grant.

Small things make a big difference. Tell your story in your employee bio page.

 

WEEK 5: The “One Thing,” Before and After

Welcome back to Week 5 of “The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment,” a six week “how-to” series.

Let’s review the steps so far:

Week 1: Google yourself.
Week 2: Quotes – their power to connect.
Week 3: How to get a rep.
Week 4: Your face.

Are you working in higher education because you want to effect positive change in the world?

Are you unhappy with declining enrollment?

People shopping around for colleges and classes have more access to more information about you, and your competitors, than ever before.

Would you describe yourself as helpful?

What if there is one SMALL thing you can do to make it easy for students to choose you (and thus GCC)? The employee bio page is by far the most under-exploited opportunity available to intentionally connect to students during the decision making process.

Providing students with what you want them to know about you works to develop positive preconceptions about you. Conversely, do nothing and you risk falling off your potential students’ radar completely, and losing them to a competitor.

The “One Thing” is deceptively small, yet powerful.

How it works: When students can relate to what they see and read on your employee bio page, they feel immediately connected to you.

(Before we proceed to the “Before and After,” my apologies to Marty Reker. We have never met. You were randomly chosen to be a part of this process because your name appeared in a recent college press release.)

Marty’s employee bio page BEFORE:

Marty’s employee bio page AFTER:
These elements compel students to choose you. But why?

These elements work to build not only your reputation as a competent instructor, but also builds the perception of a shared identity between you and the reader. Feelings of having a shared identity holds a powerful and influential sway over the reader.

Robert Cialdini is recognized as one of the top authors in field research on the psychology of influence. In his most recent book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, he shares newly published research results: people develop powerful feelings of unity the more they identify with you. “Anything that is self-connected gets an immediate lift in our eyes. Sometimes the connections can be trivial but can still serve as springboards to persuasive success.”

When thinking about what to put on your employee bio page, don’t be stiff – be relatable.

So, after 5 weeks, you now know almost everything you need to know about the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace: Take control of the persuasive, engaging power of the employee bio page.

Now what?
Come back for our final installment in WEEK 6: Now what? The “One Thing” and the final step.

Make sure you’ve done your homework:
Week 2: Quotes – their power to connect.
Week 3: How to get a rep.
Week 4: Your face.

 

Week 4: The “One Thing,” and How to Influence Assumptions

Welcome back to Week 4 of “The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment,” a six week “how-to” series.

Data is a powerful thing: It can confirm our assumptions as well as confound them, as in the story I shared in WEEK 1.

WEEK 2 empowered us upon learning that, when it comes to students choosing YOUR classes (and thus GCC), leaving choice up to chance is not our only option.

In WEEK 3 we covered how reputation is the most important factor in influencing people’s choices, and the importance of making our achievements public to enable people to make informed choices.

This week, let’s talk about your face.

Face Facts: Numerous published studies provide countless evidence to support the fact that, when viewing a photo of a stranger’s face, it takes us less than a second to formulate an impression .

Assumptions about the character of the person pictured are formed quickly.  One Princeton University study published by the Association for Psychological Science is a great example:

“Willis and Todorov conducted separate experiments to study judgments from facial appearance, each focusing on a different trait: attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness.” The results? Of all the traits, trustworthiness was the one participants assessed most quickly.

We cannot escape the fact that photos influence choice, so we will harness this fact and use it to our advantage.

Fear not – the good news is, people want to see trustworthiness and competence in your face, not a glamour shot.

Consider the following photos of these notables: Albert Einstein, Delores Huerta, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Conrad Wolfram.

    

The reasons for not wanting to post a photo:
  • I’m not photogenic.
  • I don’t like the way I look.
  • My face will break the camera.

 It’s not about vanity. It’s about character. It’s time to embrace the powerful sway your photo can have upon a stranger’s choice.

The employee bio page is the most underestimated tool available to you. A photo of your face, backed up with a personal quote, your areas of expertise, and a list of your achievements works to establish YOUR personal reputation while raising GCC’s reputation.

By doing this “One Thing” you enable the public to make an informed decision to choose… you.

WEEK 4 Homework: Because you are your own worst critic, your homework is to recruit friends and family to help you sort through photos of yourself to find one that captures the characteristics of trustworthiness and competence. The photo chosen by others just may surprise you.

TIP: The size of the photo on your employee bio page is 280×280 pixels. Make sure the photo your choose is cropped as a perfect square.

For tips on how to choose a photo, read Lydia Abbots’ 5 Tips for Picking the Right LinkedIn Profile Photo.

If you can’t find a photo, a GCC photographer is available.

Come back for WEEK 5: The “One Thing” Before and After

“You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

 

Dreams Start With Good Habits

Dreams…I want to be a better writer. Thanks to Write6x6, I get to practice. I want to be a better public speaker. When are we starting Speak6x6? Who needs Toastmasters when we have everything we need right here at GCC?!

I have learned that there is no such thing as work/life balance. I would say madness is a more appropriate term than balance. I have been reading Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits so that I can continue to function effectively at home and at work. Brendon shares in detail the habits of high performers, and gives clues about how anyone can work on these specific habits to become a “rockstar.”

I can only dream, right?

Well, good thing this week’s writing is focused on dreams!

I have dreams for my students too. We know the data about our students. They arrive underprepared and with no idea how to be successful. But they have a dream…a college education.

Here is what Brendon shares that can help you, me and our students:

  1. Clarity – set an intention for who you want to be and how you want to interact with others. For example, if, in my heart, I want to be helpful and kind, I repeat these words to myself when a student or coworker enters my office. If I am about to enter a meeting room, I decide what kind of energy I hope to bring into the room and how it will effect others. This is a great message for many of our students who often do not see how their demeanor can affect others.
  2. Energy – time to improve your mental, emotional and physical vibrancy! This starts with nutrition, sleep and exercise! Open your refrigerator and your pantry and rate yourself the foods you see. You will eat what is readily available. Don’t like it? Either toss it or take non-perishables to the GCC Food Pantry! Start afresh! Take a nutrition class and learn the basics of healthful eating! Go to bed on time and wake up early so you can do 30 minutes of exercise and stretching! If you stay up late, you tend to eat more junk, wake groggy, and are less likely to want to exercise. So sleep!
  3. Necessity – are you bringing your A-game to work and home every day? You are here to serve students’ needs, right? What is your level of motivation? Are you really giving it the same level of motivation that you did when you started? Or are you just going through the motions. When is the last time you asked yourself “why am I here?” and “am I doing what I am supposed to be doing to effectively serve others?”
  4. Productivity – how is your time management and project planning ability? When do you strategize and actually get real work done well? Are you in offense or reaction mode? Do you check your emails first thing in the morning and start working on other people’s priorities? NEVER start your day by checking emails. Put the phone down! Get out of bed, stretch, exercise, read a good book, spend an hour strategizing and working on a favorite project, THEN check your email in a 20-50 minute time block. Then get up and walk around and chat with students or peers! Bring your good intentions to every interaction.
  5. Influence – let’s face it, nothing gets done if we can’t convince people to take action. If they don’t trust you, they will not go to bat for you. We need to show patience, compassion and availability to others before we can ever expect others to do the same for us. Relationships take time to build. Being a great role model and asking lots of questions is a great place to start.
  6. Courage – are you living your passion? Do those around you know what your dream is? Have you ever taken a step into the unknown even if it scares you? Live your truth, take risks, and share your voice a little more every day! If we live in fear of judgement, we can never expect to grow!

I hope these six guidelines will help guide you on your dream journey! They are great reminders to all of us!

 

 

Week 3: The “One Thing” and it’s Not Bragging

Welcome back to Week 3 of “The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment,” a six week “how-to” series.

Study after study has produced empirical evidence to support the fact that reputation is the most important factor influencing people’s college and class choices.

Without a strong reputation, colleges are unable to attract the resources necessary to build an effective educational environment. Institutional reputation attracts everything from the best professors and research talent to philanthropic donations and star students. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team, and in education, that means investing in the best academic brand,” writes Joseph Torrillo, vice president of Reputation Management.

As employees, we cannot sit back and passively place our hope in the power of the marketing department alone to define and manage our institutions’ reputations. Why? Because no amount of marketing can trump a personal experience with a brand.

I love this definition: Brand equity “is the intangible asset of added value or goodwill that results from the favorable image, impressions of differentiation, and/or the strength of consumer attachment to a company name,” writes Michael Belch and George Belch in their book,  Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective. (if this were a paper, the attribution would read, (Belch and Belch p. 56) …go ahead, makes me giggle a little, too.)

When a student has a good experience with a GCC employee, a curious thing happens: The student does not say, “I love that GCC employee named Lupe.” No, the student says, “I love GCC.” A single good experience with a single employee packs a powerful boost to GCC’s overall reputation. Suddenly someone is singing praises of GCC to their friends, family, and strangers on social media.

However, experience is a double edged sword. When a student has a bad experience with a GCC employee, it’s not the employee they heap coals upon, it’s the overall institution.

Last week you spent some time writing a few statements that speak to your personal humanity.

This week your task is to… take a deep breath…
list your achievements.The purpose of this task is to make public any information that enables students to make an informed decision to choose you.

“If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted.” – Francis Bacon

The simple act of listing your areas of expertise and accomplishments in your Employee Biography page serves to significantly elevate GCC’s reputation on a local, national, and international scale.

It’s not bragging.  You ARE the secret sauce in GCC’s reputation! You have a history of proud moments, achievements and accomplishments that needs to come up in a google search.

A bio page with secret sauce includes naming your areas of expertise, credentials, a personal quote, and some information that reveals your humanity and proudest moments.

Here is an example:

Name: John Doe
Credentials: AAS, M.A.Ed, Ph.D.
Areas of Expertise: Experiential Learning; Community Partnerships

Personal Quote:  “I got my Doctorate at Yale, but I identify more with the students who come to GCC.”

Bio: Example 1: Four generations of my family have come to GCC to get their first college degree. Ask me why…
Example 2: If it were not for my 9th grade math teacher, I would not be where I am today. He never gave up on me. I want to inspire my students the way he inspired me, and see what can be achieved.
Example 3: I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I was excited and scared at the same time.
Example 4: My proudest moment was when…
Bulleted lists might include: education, awards, specialized training, published research/articles/books, grant funded projects, committees, pro bono work, volunteerism, boards served, etc.

Teach others how and what to think about you, and it forms a reputation in their minds for GCC as well. Take this time detail what you offer – leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that not only are you are a devoted educator, but you are a nice person to boot.

Reputation wields compelling, persuasive, influential power.

Your homework this week: Begin listing the ingredients that make up your particular secret sauce. These may include your personal areas of expertise and scope of services, awards, thesis topic/description, published works, patents, specialized training, published news about you, your motivation, what inspires you, the thing(s) you love most about what you do, and…

…(at least) one thing you want to be remembered for should you drop dead tomorrow. 

It’s Presidents’ Day weekend, established in 1885 to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose reputations for honesty and integrity still inspire us today.

This weekend, carve out some time to work on defining YOUR enduring reputation. Then come back for Week 4. The “One Thing,” and How to Influence Assumptions

 

Week 2: The “One Thing” and its Powerful Sway

Welcome back to Week 2 of “The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment,” a six week “how-to” series.

Did you complete your Week 1 homework assignment? If not, take a moment to search for your name on gccaz.edu, click on your employee bio page, and make a note of any information that uniquely reflects your own personal humanity.

When it comes to class enrollment, do you leave it up to chance? You have a lot to offer, and are a passionate educator. But students don’t know this about you ahead of time. What if you could influence students before you even meet them?

Studies show that when it comes to choice, a good reputation is king. To influence a student’s choice in which class (or college) they enroll, we must increase perceived reputation. Reputation is a fragile thing, and a student’s initial experience plays a critical role in the decision-making process.

This brings us to the old adage, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” A first impression is critical to reputation, and Step Two is all about taking control of the timing of that first good impression.

Timing, they say, is everything.

So, the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace is to teach others what to think about you before you even meet.

I am going to show you how to not just make a good first impression, but a viscerally good first impression, using your employee bio page. During the decision making process, students check out who is teaching a class – why? They are looking for clues  for who to choose. The purpose of this blog series is for you learn how to make it easy for student to choose you, and thereby GCC. When you are done with your bio page, students who view it will “get” you. I have done random checks of comparable faculty at NAU, ASU, UofA and GCC. The sad fact is that very few instructors have posted any information on their bio page beyond name, email, and office hours.

As a result, students turn to sites such as RateMyProfessors.com to help them make a decision. The problem with these ratings sites is that other people are defining your reputation for you – and influencing reader choice. Remember, reputation is a fragile thing.

Consider the following:

“I grew up in a poor family, and I identify with the struggles some of my students have.” – Dr. Carlos Nunez

When I first read that quote, a picture of who this man is immediately formed in my mind: Genuine. Sincere. Empathetic. Successful. When I met Dr. Nunez, I quickly became aware that he was all this and more. He was courageous in and out of the classroom, and we all miss him, bless his soul.

Quotes – we love them. We share them, post them, tattoo them, frame them and hang them on our walls. We love quotes because quotes resonate with something deep inside of us. Quotes inspire us. Quotes give us hope. Quotes make us laugh at ourselves and life. Quotes make us cry with empathy. Quotes rally us together.

But the greatest power of a quote is that it connects us to each other’s humanity.

Your homework is to write a compelling introductory statement that reflects on a particular aspect of your personal journey through college. Here are a few examples to get your juices going:

  • “Juggling work, family, and college was hard, but I wanted a better life.” (inspires resilience).
  • “The first time I looked through a microscope I saw my future.” – (conveys vision)
  • “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. College helped me find my passion.” – (inspires hope)

Experiment writing statements that uniquely reflect your own personal humanity.

“It’s not up to chance, it’s up to you.” ― Rob Liano, Author and Business Speaker

Come back for Week 3, Step 3: The “One Thing” and It’s Not Bragging.