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Identifying & Engaging Unprepared Students : Practical Strategies & Techniques For Today's College Classroom. Debra Dunlap Runshe Instructional Development Specialist University Information Technology Services - Learning Technologies Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

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Identifying engaging unprepared students practical strategies techniques for today s college classroom

Identifying & Engaging Unprepared Students:Practical Strategies & Techniques For Today's College Classroom

Debra Dunlap Runshe

Instructional Development Specialist

University Information Technology Services - Learning Technologies

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Webinar objectives
Webinar Objectives

By the end of the webinar, participants will:

  • identify specific reasons why the first year of college is the “make or break” year for different populations of students.

  • recognize characteristics and/or behaviors of unprepared students.

  • describe best practices to engage learners.

  • identify techniques that can be incorporated into their classes that will lead to student success.

Myth or reality unprepared
Myth or Reality?? Unprepared?

“The number of academically unprepared and at-risk students enrolling in colleges and universities is increasing.”

Why is the freshman year important
Why is the Freshman year important?

“Research clearly indicates that the freshman year is a critical period during which students are most likely to withdraw from higher education.”

~Joe Cuseo

Identifying engaging unprepared students practical strategies techniques for today s college classroom

Major Reasons for Academic Difficulty

  • Poor management of time

  • Continue to organize and

    study the same way as

    they did in high school

  • Selection of courses

  • They studied alone

(Light, 2001)

Resources for College Success:

The New York Times Tip Sheet: How to Succeed in College

Learn More Indiana: How do you succeed in college?

Time management
Time Management

  • Set goals

  • Plan ahead

  • Prioritize your tasks

  • Use good study habits

  • Identify resources for help

Resources to Improve Time Management:

Mind Tools:

Study skills
Study Skills

“Many students have never been exposed to different ways to approach studying or even to the idea that there are different ways to study … We can help students learn about different strategies and when to use them.”

~Marilla Svinicki

Resources to Improve Study Skills:

Study Guides and Strategies:


Basic definitions
Basic Definitions

(Svinicki, 2004)

Flash cards
Flash Cards

Resources to Create Flash Cards:

Flash Card Machine:

ProProfs Flash Cards:

Structural knowledge
Structural Knowledge

(Svinicki, 2004)

Concept maps
Concept Maps

Resources to Create Concept Maps:

Cmap Tools:


Effective learning techniques
Effective Learning Techniques

Low Utility

Moderate Utility

High Utility

  • summarization

  • highlighting

  • keyword mnemonic

  • imagery use for text learning

  • rereading

  • practice testing

  • distributed practice

  • interleaved practice

  • elaborative interrogation

  • self-explanation

(Dunlosky,, 2013)

Characteristics and or behaviors
Characteristics and/or Behaviors

Identifying Guidelines

  • Low SAT or ACT scores

  • High School GPA below 3.0

  • Might have ADHD or LD*

  • Special Admit

    Identifying Activities

  • Reading and Vocabulary Quiz

  • Writing Sample

(Gabriel, 2008)

Resources to Improve Vocabulary and Grammar:

Study Guide Zone

The Guide to Grammar and Writing

Course alignment
Course Alignment


What should my students know?

What should they be able to do?

What type of activities can help students achieve the learning outcomes?

How will I know that they have achieved the outcomes?



Tips for course alignment
Tips for Course Alignment




  • state clearly from learner’s point of view

  • measurable

  • provide at the course and unit/module level

  • expectations shared early

  • varied to accommodate student diversity

  • formative and summative

  • include thorough instructions and a grading rubric

  • engaging and active

  • opportunity for application

  • provide choice

Seven principles for good practice
Seven Principles for Good Practice

  • Encourages student-faculty contact

  • Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students

  • Uses active learning techniques

  • Gives prompt feedback

  • Emphasizes time on task

  • Communicates high expectations

  • Respects diverse talents and ways of learning

(Chickering & Gamson, 1987)

Resources for Implementation of the Seven Principles:

TLT Ideas & Resources:

Principle 1 encourages student faculty contact
Principle 1: Encourages Student-Faculty Contact


  • Encourage classroom interaction

  • Establish rapport with students

  • Provide personalized feedback

  • Increase accessibility

  • Express interest in students

  • Participate in co-curricular activities

The first week of class
The First Week of Class

Begin with a detailed and explicit syllabus.

Learn your students’ names.

Strategies to accomplish this:

  • Seating chart, student choice

  • Name plates

  • Office hours “interviews”


(Gabriel, 2008)

Building community
Building Community

Expert Group A


Home Group 1


Expert Group B


Home Group 2


Expert Group C


Home Group 3


Resources for Building Community:

University of South Alabama , Using Online Icebreakers to Promote Student/Teacher Interaction: Online/icebreakerjobaid.htm

Lansing Community College Center for Teaching Excellence, Icebreaker Activities:

Principle 1 online connection
Principle 1: Online Connection

Communication tools (email, discussion, chat, and web conferencing) can increase and strengthen student-faculty contact by:

  • Fostering more thoughtful responses.

  • Encouraging shy students to participate.

  • Providing more communication opportunities for commuter and part-time students.

  • Offering more time to read and formulate responses for ESOL students.

(Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

Principle 2 cooperation among students
Principle 2: Cooperation Among Students


  • Plan cooperative learning activities, such as:

    • Group projects, presentations, or papers

    • Study groups

    • Peer tutoring

    • Peer evaluation

  • Foster collaborative rather than competitive or independent environments.

Essential ingredients of cooperative learning
Essential Ingredients of Cooperative Learning

  • Positive interdependence

  • Individual accountability

    and personal responsibility

  • Social skills

  • Group processing

(Johnson & Johnson, 2003)

Applications of cooperative learning
Applications of Cooperative Learning

  • Learning new content

  • Peer review

  • Checking homework

  • Test preparation and review

  • Presentations and projects

  • Labs and experiments

  • Drill and review

(Johnson & Johnson, 2003)

General strategies for cooperative learning
General Strategies for Cooperative Learning

  • Matching group size to activity

    • Informal activity (2-4 students)

    • Formal activity (4-6 students)

  • Setting intermittent deadlines and offer continual feedback

  • Including self and peer assessment

  • Assign differentiated group or individual grades

  • Maintaining the groups for the duration of the semester

  • Avoiding forming groups which have only one woman or one minority

  • (Johnson & Johnson, 2003; Millis & Cottrell, 1998)

    Group selection for cooperative learning
    Group Selection for Cooperative Learning

    Long-term group selection criteria

    • Academic ability

    • Class/work schedule

    • Interest/skill level

    • Learning style

      Short-term group selection criteria

    • Values or opinions

    • Convenience

    • Random

    (Millis & Cottrell, 1998)

    Methods for selecting group members
    Methods for Selecting Group Members

    • Student data sheet

    • Interest/knowledge/skills checklist

    • Learning style inventories

    • Structured lineup process

    • Corners

    • Three-step interview

    • Playing cards

    (Millis & Cottrell, 1998)

    Additional Online Resources:

    Principle 2 online connection
    Principle 2: Online Connection

    Communication tools (email, discussion, chat, and web conferencing) can be used for:

    • Study groups

    • Collaborative

      learning activities

    • Group problem-solving

    • Group discussion

    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Principle 3 active learning
    Principle 3: Active Learning

    • Suggestions:

    • Interactive lectures

    • Discussions and debates

    • Student presentations

  • Collaborative writing exercises

  • Problem-based learning activities

    • Case studies

  • Role playing

  • Simulations and games

  • Active learning defined
    Active Learning Defined

    “In the college classroom, active learning involves students doing things and thinking about the things they do.”

    ~Chuck Bonwell

    Why active learning
    Why Active Learning?

    Research suggests active learning strategies:

    • more frequently engage students.

    • lead to increased student achievement.

    • enhance students’ metacognitive skills.

    Retention of information
    Retention of Information

    After 24 hours, what percent of information is retained by students in a lecture environment?

    • 5%

    • 10%

    • 20%

    • 40%

    • 50%

    Retention after 24 hours
    Retention After 24 Hours

    NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science

    300 N. Lee Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. 1-800-777-5227

    Principle 3 online connection
    Principle 3: Online Connection

    Types of technology tools which encourage active learning:

    • Learning by doing (simulations, interactive software, web research)

    • Time-delayed exchange (email & discussion)

    • Real-time conversation (chat & web conferencing)

    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Principle 4 prompt feedback
    Principle 4: Prompt Feedback


    Provide feedback that is:

    • Timely

    • Directive

    • Specific

    • Appropriate

      Use peer review when appropriate

    Principle 4 online connection
    Principle 4: Online Connection

    Examples of technology tools which facilitate

    prompt feedback:

    • Communication tools

    • Automated assessment

    • Word comments

    • Electronic portfolios

    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Principle 5 time on task
    Principle 5: Time on Task


    • Engage learners

    • Develop goals

    • Use class time wisely

    • Provide study suggestions

    • Post module/weekly checklists

    • Communicate clear expectations

    • Break down learning into small portions

    • Encourage students to develop time management skills

    The science of learning
    The Science of Learning

    Teach for long term retention and transfer:

    • Practice and retrieval

    • Vary the conditions

    • “Re-represent” information in an alternative format

    • Construct knowledge based upon prior knowledge and experience

    • Chunk information

    • Motivation

    (Halpern & Hakel, 2003)

    Principle 5 online connection
    Principle 5: Online Connection

    Technology tools can:

    • Make study time

      more efficient

    • Make access to

      resources more


    • Increase study


    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Principle 6 high expectations
    Principle 6: High Expectations


    • Foster supportive climate

    • Provide clear expectations of performance

    • Offer alternative assignments to meet individual students’ needs and interests

    • Provide models of outstanding student work

    • Hold yourself to the same standard of excellence

    • Offer immediate feedback

    • Tolerate mistakes

    • Celebrate success

    Principle 6 online connection
    Principle 6: Online Connection

    Technology tools can communicate high

    expectations by:

    • Stating expectations explicitly and efficiently

    • Posting samples of work representing different levels of quality

    • Automating peer review

    • Posting detailed rubrics

    • Publishing exemplary student work

    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Principle 7 diverse talents
    Principle 7: Diverse Talents


    • Accommodate diversity

    • Teach to different learning preferences

    Felder silverman model
    Felder-Silverman Model

    Students learn about their learning preferences and strategies that will assist them in being successful.

    Their preferences fall on a continuum between:

    • active or reflective

    • sensing or intuitive

    • visual or verbal

    • sequential or global

    Felder’s Online Resources:

    Principle 7 online connection
    Principle 7: Online Connection

    Technology tools can meet different learning

    styles by:

    • Providing a variety of learning experiences

    • Allowing students to work at their own pace

    • Providing varying levels of structure

    (Chickering & Erhmann, 1996)

    Points to remember
    Points to Remember…

    • Many of our students are coming to us unprepared for the rigors of college life.

    • Identifying them early is crucial to their success.

    • We can help by providing them with strategies for:

      • setting goals, planning, prioritizing, organizing their time,

      • learning how to study effectively, and

      • connecting with others and their learning.

    Thank you for your participation
    Thank You for Your Participation!

    Debra Dunlap Runshe, Instructional Development Specialist

    University Information Technology Services – Learning Technologies

    Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    Information Technology and Communications Complex (IT 342H)535 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202

    Phone: 317-278-0589 



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