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Archive for the ‘Student Success’ Category

On May 1, Rebekah Carrow and Amanda Childress led a workshop on how faculty members can help victims of sexual assault who choose to identify themselves to their teachers for whatever reason. Amanda and Rebekah are new to Dartmouth and serve as co-coordinators of Dartmouth’s Sexual Abuse Awareness Program.

Faculty members are not professional counselors, nor should they try to be, but we are teachers. As teachers, we are concerned with anything that inhibits our students’ success. The trauma of sexual assault, whether from long ago or recently, can seriously inhibit a student’s academic success. When a student shares information about such experiences, we should be prepared to offer the kind of help they need to heal.

Carrow and Childress led the small group of faculty participants through a number of exercises that prompted us to identify some DOs and DON’Ts. Here’s what we came up with:

What YOU Can Do

Listen

  • You don’t always have to speak
  • Silence is okay Concentrate your energy on what S/HE is saying and feeling, NOT what YOU’RE thinking and feeling.
  • Be sensitive to HIS/HER needs
  • What is it that s/he wants from you?
  • Get him/her the help s/he needs Encourage him/her to seek help, but don’t push it
  • Be Sincere; edit your comments
  • Censor comments that may be irrelevant/inappropriate to the conversation
  • Be cautious of judgmental statements
  • Ask him/her how to help (don’t assume)
  • Believe what s/he is saying
  • Try not to judge his/her actions or statements

What NOT To Do

  • Don’t tell him/her what to do.
  • Don’t investigate the situation or interrogate the person (who, what, when, where, why???)
  • Don’t try to fix/solve the problem Don’t blame the victim (ie. have a risk reduction conversation or ask “why did you…”)
  • Don’t insert your opinion Don’t make false promises or statement
  • Don’t share his/her information with non-relevant personnel

Things to Remember

This is about them and their needs, not you and your needs

  • You don’t have to know all the answers -Direct them to someone who does
  • Every situation will be different
  • Be cautious of your facial expressions and tone
  • Use empathetic statements Stay focused and be aware of his/her verbals and non-verbals -Be there, in the moment
  • Make appropriate eye contact
  • Be cautious of touching, ask before
  • Remember… Actions can speak louder than words
  • Level with them about confidentiality, preferably before.

For more information, contacts, resources and help: Department of Student Health Promotion & Wellness
37 Dewey Fld. 4th Floor
http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualabuse

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Today’s DCAL workshop began with the image of a map, and a route marked from Hanover to Saginaw. The map inspired quite a bit of conversation before we settled in to the workshop proper. “Why that particular route to Saginaw?” one faculty member wondered. “There’ll be quite a traffic jam crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls,” another added. “Why not go through Cleveland?” I queried. Finally one faculty member asked, “Why go to Saginaw at all?”

Of course, the map had been offered as an analogy. The questions it raised might be applied to our teaching as well. When designing a course, we, too, are planning a journey from point A to point B. Our students may well ask, “Why that particular route?” or “Why take this journey at all?” The point of this workshop was to practice composing learning outcomes, so that these important questions might be answered.

Facilitators Tom Luxon and Prue Merton began the workshop by asking faculty to consider, in pairs, two course descriptions: one that focused entirely on course content, another that focused entirely on what students would be doing in the course. The two examples demonstrated powerfully how important it is to keep students at the heart of course design.

Once we’d been appropriately student-centered, we turned our attention to composing course objectives—a task that is always more challenging than it seems. The aim of our challenge was not simply to compose the objectives, but to assess them in light of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Thinking. I enjoyed the opportunity to reconsider Bloom, who has been an important figure in my professional thinking. I found myself preoccupied by the fact that Bloom’s taxonomy is often interpreted hierarchically—i.e., one must know in order to understand; must understand in order to apply; must apply in order to analyze; and so on. I wondered, along with my colleagues, if learning indeed happens this way, or if it is in fact a messier process. I’m leaning towards the latter.

While we didn’t reach any conclusions, we raised some first-rate questions. Another excellent conversation at DCAL. In the end, we didn’t make it all the way to Saginaw. But we had the feeling that the journey was well begun.

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The Teaching Sciences Seminar on October 13 was an informal discussion with Dean of the College, Charlotte Johnson, and Inge-Lise Ameer, Associate Dean of the College for Student Academic Support Services. The goals of this session were for Charlotte and Inge to meet the science faculty and for all in attendance to discuss the role student support services plays in promoting student success in the sciences at Dartmouth.

To facilitate this discussion, attendees were provided with the following readings, which focus on the latest research on first-generation college students, stereotype threat in education, and new research focusing on how to shrink the college minority gap.

  • Cushman, K. (2007). Facing the Culture Shock of College. Educational Leadership, 64(7), 44-47. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Ferenstein, G. (2011). How to Shrink the College Minority Gap. Fast Company. Retrieved October 17, 2011, from http://www.fastcompany.com/1741530/shrinking-the-minority-college-gap-for-free.
  • Steele, C. (2010). Conclusion: Identity as a Bridge Between Us. In Whistling Vivaldi: And other clues to how stereotypes affect us. (pp. 211 – 219). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Dean Johnson opened by outlining her vision of anchoring students in the intellectual life of campus and the importance of connecting what goes on outside of the classroom with what occurs in the lecture hall or lab. In particular, she noted the importance of building the faculty/student relationship outside of class and ensuring that the work of the Dean of the College feeds into and augments the Academic experience.

On the topic of student recruitment and retention in the sciences the message revolved around expectations and modeling. Students who have the opportunity to engage with and be mentored by diverse faculty and graduate student populations have a greater likelihood of success. Students are also more likely to thrive if they perceive that they are held to the same high expectations as others and that faculty are invested in their success. The key is to communicate this in a way that does not threaten a student’s identity.

When asked how a faculty member might address diversity issues in class without threatening student identity, both guests suggested faculty use silent signals such as

  • Letting the entire class know that you are aware of the variety of differences among the students experiences and preparation leading up to this class and that you are invested in each student’s success in the class.
  • Creating working groups, study groups and teams with a range of diversity in race, gender, experience, knowledge, etc.
  • Crafting critical feedback to include statements of encouragement and directing student to the support services available at Dartmouth.
  • Engaging the student in academic pursuits outside of class.
  • Communicating directly with Student Support Services at the first sign that a student may potentially need support.

Many faculty in attendance voiced a desire for improved communication and involvement between the Dean of the College and the faculty when it comes to student support and recruiting in the sciences. From the conversation that ensued around this topic it was clear that both Charlotte Johnson and Inge-Lise Ameer are committed to a developing a collaborative relationship with faculty in advocating for student success at Dartmouth.

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