What is higher education doing to help our students succeed? Why do some students choose to leave college? How do we make a better system for students to feel valued within the classroom?
In his work, “Enhancing student success: Taking the classroom success seriously (2012).” Dr. Trinto highlights the three main pillars of an effective classroom and the efforts that go into creating a student-focused environment. From these efforts, we can model a better vision for higher education.
Pillar One: Expectations
To further students success within the classroom, instructors must hold students to high expectations. Dr. Trinto highlights the implicit expectations held within the syllabi and assessments given to students. If students feel like they are being challenged then they will push themselves to meet these standards. Wavering from these expectations can lead to students missing the goals you set for them.
Pillar 2: Support
Instructors must show their students that they will be there to help them at all times or at least be able to provide resources to further student growth. The need for support is highest at the transitionary periods where students are building skills for college.
Pillar 3: Assessment and Feedback
Instructors must be willing and able to allow students to see their growth and correct themselves for the better. Assessments must be frequent so that students can gain confidence in their knowledge of the subject or to ask for help and build habits. Feedback must be as often as assessments, as one cannot be as successful without the other. Feedback allows the instructor to highlight strengths in the students content knowledge even when a student feels otherwise.
All three pillars must be present in an effective classroom. Should one pillar fall, then the ability for student success to flourish becomes more difficult.
Efforts to enhance classroom effectiveness:
Contextualize Academic Support:
Academic support can have many different ways of looking. Dr. Trinto uses the example of the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges work on I-Best. I-Best or the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Initiative is a program set to help students build their skillsets with skills instructors while working towards their certifications or degrees. This example shows an active role of academic support in which both students and instructors are actively working to build student skills for the workforce.
Automating Classroom Feedback and Assessment:
Automating classroom Feedback and Assessment can better help students see their understanding of the content while allowing instructors adequate time to identify struggling students. Dr. Trinto emphasizes the work of the SIGNALS project at Purdue University. The SIGNALS project looks at student grade information and alerts both the student and their instructor about a need to provide support due to the student’s grade. This process allows instructors to identify struggling students which may increase student retention.
Promoting Classroom Engagement:
Higher education has moved to promote classroom engagement through the use of engaging pedagogy. From PBL to Think-Pair-Share, more instructors are looking to provide students with an active classroom that builds on their abilities rather than their retention of information.
What can Student Success in Higher Education look like now?
Currently, Higher Education can continue to build a more student-focused environment while addressing the needs of all of its population. In my opinion, I believe that the application of knowledge and skills gained in the classroom must be more integrated into the workforce than it is now. Greater integration can be as easy as instructors bringing in people from the workforce into the classroom to give students a better understanding of the companies in their given fields while highlighting the skills they need to be employed.
Reference: Trinto, V. (2012). Enhancing student success: Taking the classroom success seriously. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 3(1), 1–8