Click on the link below for a proposal on assessing the satisfaction and awareness of transgender students.
The ideal framework for transforming education contains equal parts based on a student- centered ecosystem. Motivation, adaptability, and multiculturalism are the key components that need to be integrated into the ecosystem.
A student-centered ecosystem flips the roles of the student and instructor, making the instructor a guide for the students as they control their learning. This is accomplished through problem-solving, collaboration, and applying knowledge to real-world situations, preparing students to be aware of and understand the differences between cultures to contribute to society. Social interdependence theory and active learning can be part of this ecosystem (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018).
The social interdependence theory's basic principle is that the group is interdependent and working together towards a common goal or goals. This reliance on all group members creates a group dynamic where roles and responsibilities are well-defined, and there is individual accountability.
Active learning classrooms facilitate constructivist learning activities. Active learning focuses on real-world scenarios for students to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience.Space configuration promotes collaboration and cooperation between students. These configurations include flipped classrooms, and maker spaces, among others (Diep, 2021).
Multiculturalism must be integrated into a student-centered ecosystem. Faculty often bring their cultural bias into their instruction without realizing it. Personal bias can be addressed by having faculty look at their own culture and its impact on their teaching. Learning activities need to be inclusive of all students. Faculty should look at their language, social norms, and how they can be culturally responsive and adaptive to their students' challenges. Faculty should also consider the type of delivery they use in their instruction to ensure there is no cultural bias. This can be challenging when the diversity in a class is limited. These students may be hesitant to join in class discussions or speak freely. Many students at my institution enjoyed the anonymity of online learning during the pandemic and felt empowered to contribute to class discussions.
Motivation plays a distinct role in higher education. What motivates us is determined by what we feel and what we believe. As educators, we need to consider our students' cognitive domain and their feelings, emotions, and attitudes that motivate them in our curriculum design.
The self-determination theory established in the 1970s by Edward Deci describes two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic (Deci et al., 2021). Intrinsic motivation comes from the inherent interest in and value of an activity. Extrinsic motivation is based on external consequences like rewards or punishments. Humans have three goals: to be good at things, develop bonds with others, and make our own choices. Intrinsic motivation works best in an environment that supports all three goals. As educators, we should create activities based on those three goals instead of rewards or punishment to motivate students.
Instructors also need to consider students' personality traits in their course design. Research has shown that personality traits can influence how a student is motivated (Komarraju et al., 2009). Achievement motivation occurs when students are motivated by the opportunity to set and accomplish goals. These students are driven by their desire to be challenged and the satisfaction they get from meeting that challenge. Some students want to be mentally challenged and are motivated by activities that challenge their knowledge. Self-efficacy also plays a role in motivation. Students who believe in their ability to complete a task will be inspired by that belief.
Educational design must be adaptive, or it becomes stagnant. The curriculum needs to be continually reviewed and assessed to determine if changes need to be made. Learning continues throughout our lifetime as the world changes, and the curriculum must be adaptable to be relevant. This adaptability needs to include the different ways that students learn.
Curriculum design should consist of visual, auditory, mobility, and cognitive involvement.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 416–436). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n21
Fadel, C., Bialik, M., & Trilling, B. (2015). Four-dimensional education: The competencies learners need to succeed. The Center for Curriculum Redesign.
Komarraju, M., Karau, S. J., & Schmeck, R. R. (2009). Role of the Big Five personality traits in predicting college students' academic motivation and achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(1), 47–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.LINDIF.2008.07.001
Educational Redesign: Indicators, Risks, Global Trends
Instructional design models have evolved, building on the models before and reflecting the changing world. Objectivism is one of the first instructional design models and is very structured and predetermined, with the instructor controlling the learning process. Realities are given based on the notion that all learners perceive reality as the same. The constructivism movement gained momentum in the 1990s in response to objectivism and produced instructional models that are in place today. Constructivism deems learning as an active process that encourages students to use tasks like experiments or real-world problem-solving to create more knowledge. Many instructors have shifted from objectivism to constructivist teaching strategies to accommodate more meaningful, active learning and real-world engagement for their students (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). As the world evolves, educational redesign continues to be a challenge.
We live in a VUCA world based on volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (Fadel et al., 2015). Environmental and human impacts make it difficult to predict the future. There is an increase in income disparity and population, resulting in reduced resources. Education has not changed with the times to address the new needs, and requirements students need to succeed.
Technology impacts the workforce through automation and outsourcing (Fadel et al., 2015). As a result, job creation focuses more on non-routine interpersonal and non-routine analytical skills. Technology will continue to be used to assist with work, not replace work in these new jobs. Students will need to learn how to use technology effectively through education.
The increased access to technology affects education (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). Online learning has grown because technology is more powerful, easy to use, and increasingly available worldwide. Higher education pivoted to online learning during the pandemic and was successful when combined with faculty training and appropriate course development. Some students struggled with virtual learning. Each learner has a unique set of circumstances that can affect how they learn. This is not a new concept. Reiser and Dempsey (2018) break down adaptation and design suggestions into four categories: visual, auditory, mobility, and cognitive involvement. An excellent example of this is providing closed-captioning or transcripts of videos for virtual learning.
The Serious e-Learning Manifesto was launched in 2014 in response to quality concerns about poorly designed e-learning products (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). The manifesto lays out design principles and standards for e-learning products, contrasting e-learning, and serious e-learning. The profound e-learning principles are consistent with a constructivist perspective and are much more student-centered and focused on meaningful, real-world active learning than traditional e-learning. Due to the pandemic, these principles and standards are critical to addressing the challenges students and instructors faced when they pivoted to virtual learning.
Many professors had difficulty transitioning to online learning during the pandemic because they did not have experience teaching virtually. There was a significant disparity in the student learning experience at GW. Community colleges that offered online learning as part of the academic learning experience pre-pandemic were able to focus on training faculty and students in the skills needed to instruct and learn remotely (Xu et al., 2021). As higher education offers hybrid learning, courses should be designed for both in-person and virtual delivery. Faculty development and training should be required to ensure content can be presented in a hybrid fashion with the same desired learning outcomes.
Income disparity and economic inequality have always existed but became more apparent during the pandemic—this disparity and inequality impact students’ access to the technology and hardware necessary to learn virtually. A study completed in April 2020 concludes that students’ ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
Fadel, C., Bialik, M., & Trilling, B. (2015). Four-dimensional education: The competencies learners need to succeed—the Center for Curriculum Redesign.
Kim, H., Krishnan, C., Law, J., & Rounsaville, T. (2020). COVID-19 and U.S. higher education enrollment: Preparing Leaders for fall. McKinsey and Company. https://www.mckiney.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-us-higher-education-enrollment-preparing-leaders-for-fall#
Reiser, R.A. & Dempsey, J.V. (2018). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (4th ed.). Pearson.
Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The Effectiveness of Distance Education across Virginia's Community Colleges: Evidence from Introductory College-Level Math and English Courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(3), 360–377. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373711413814
Community colleges are two-year schools that provide open access to post-secondary education, offer workforce development and training, prepare students to transfer to a four-year college or university, and offer noncredit programs to the community. Community colleges do not provide on-campus housing but can provide some auxiliary services such as dining halls and bookstores.
Community colleges serve underserved and underrepresented populations. These colleges have a solid connection to their local community because they depend on public funding from state appropriations and local taxes. Because community colleges are relatively new and have fewer alumni, their endowments lag behind four-year universities. The median endowment for all colleges and universities is 11.5 times greater than the median endowment for two-year public colleges (St. Armour, 2020). However, community colleges' low tuition keeps higher education affordable and accessible to a more diverse population. (Ives, 2019).
Community colleges that offer online learning increase the access to higher education for all students, but especially for nontraditional students that are more likely to be employed and have family obligations that make it challenging to learn in person. As a result, online learning enrollments before the pandemic were rapidly increasing at community colleges popular with nontraditional students (Xu et al., 2013). Student demand for online education had been growing before the pandemic, and the impact of COVID-19 could increase that growth. Because of COVID-19, higher education shifted from traditional delivery to virtual learning in March 2020. The Instructional Technology Council's 2021 survey indicates that 75 % of community college enrollment will be in online courses within ten years (Lokken, 2021).
Pre-pandemic, the average community college offered a minimum of 25 percent of its courses online, so more faculty and students had already been exposed to online learning. Community colleges have established the infrastructure necessary for online learning, including professional development training and a licensed learning management system. (Lokken, 2021).
Because community colleges have strong ties to the community, they can build relationships with the local K-12 schools to ensure students are successful in their post-secondary education. Colleges can do this by developing high school transition courses for college credit, creating bridge programs for underserved high school students that provide additional support and resources, and working with the private sector to support curriculum development and work-based learning experiences. New curricula and programs can be developed based on community needs (Education Strategy Group, n.d.).
Online learning has some disadvantages for community college students. Large-scale studies of community college students have shown that students with lower GPAs, males, and African American students suffer steep declines in fully online courses, especially in introductory college-level math and English courses. Many community college students are concerned about the financial burden of accessing the internet at home (Fishman et al., 2021).
According to data from October 2020 US Census Bureau survey, 40% of households report that prospective students are canceling their plans for community college. This is more than twice the rate of four-year college students canceling their college plans (Belfield et al., 2020). Economic hardship and the fear of testing positive for COID-19 were the two main reasons for this drop in enrollment (Fishman et al., 2021).
Digital equity is a social justice issue for community colleges. According to the Community College Research Center, in 2016, 37 percent of community college students came from families that earned less than $20,000. Only 18 percent of community college students came from families earning at least $100,000. A study completed in April 2020 concludes students' ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income level. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
Community colleges and four-year institutions should collaborate to make it easier for community college students to continue their post-secondary education. Creating a transfer program that guarantees admission to four-year institutions for community college students is a good start. The Transfer Gateway Virginia's Community Colleges offers students who earned an associate degree and a minimum grade point average guaranteed admission to over 30 public and private colleges and universities in the commonwealth. The Virginia Community College System signed Guaranteed Admission Agreements specific to each institution detailing the requirements for Virginia's Community Colleges, n.d.).
Community College Research Center. (n.d.) Community College FAQs. https://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/community-college-faqs.html
Education Strategy Group. (n.d.) Aligning for student success. https://edstrategy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ACCT8114-Aligning-for-Student-Success-Paperv6.pdf
Finkel E. (2019, November 11). Endowments: They're not just for elite universities anymore. https://www.ccdaily.com/2019/11/endowments-theyre-not-just-for-elite-universities-anymore/
Ives, K. (2019). COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND DISTANCE LEARNING. Online Learning, 10(3). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v10i3.1757
Lokken, F. (2021, August 17). Distance learning after the pandemic: What now? Community College Daily. https://www.ccdaily.com/2021/08/distance-learning-after-the-pandemic-what-now/
Nguyen, S., & Fishman, R. (2021, April 4). Where did all the community college students go? The nuances of student experience with online learning. New America. https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/online-learning-nuances/
St. Amour, M. (2020, February 12). Endowments at two-year colleges. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/12/community-colleges-increasingly-are-game-endowments
Sutton, H. (2021). Recent research shows the dismal outcome for community college
enrollment after COVID-19. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners. 23:8-9. https://doi.org/10.1002/nsr.30717
Virginia's Community Colleges. (n.d.) Transfer Programs.
Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The Effectiveness of Distance Education across Virginia's Community Colleges: Evidence from Introductory College-Level Math and English Courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(3), 360–377. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373711413814
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance defines digital equity as “a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services (National Digital Inclusion Alliance, 2019).
When higher education pivoted to online learning in March 2020, the inequities in access to online learning came to the forefront. Research conducted pre-pandemic shows that digital equity in higher education is an ongoing global problem. Digital Equity goes beyond just having access to hardware, software, and the internet. It also includes access to meaningful, high-quality, and culturally relevant digital content. Students also need access to instructors with knowledge of using digital tools and resources. As early as 2004, researchers were concerned about how the digital divide would impact students in four areas: educational advantages, future employment and earnings, opportunities for social and civic involvement, and equity and civil rights issues (Willems et al., 2019). These concerns go to the heart of the definition of digital equity.
So how did the pandemic impact digital equity? A study completed in April 2020 concludes that students’ ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
I saw the issue of digital equity first-hand with our students at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Students in the undergraduate Journalism and Mass Communication program must take two video production courses to graduate. These courses are usually taught in a computer lab using the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. There is an additional computer lab that students can operate 24/7, equipped with all the hardware and software they need to complete video and multimedia production projects. As you can imagine, when the university shifted to online learning, and the computer labs were closed, access to the appropriate hardware and software for those production classes became a problem. Many students relied on the computer labs because the operating systems on the computers were designed to run the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and their personal computers were not. This was an issue across the university, with many students relying on computer labs in the library and other areas to complete assignments and have internet access.
The lack of technical support was another issue for students. In June 2020, GW eliminated over 300 staff positions, including the dedicated IT teams for each department. As a result, students did not have the support they needed when they had technical issues in their online learning experience.
Faculty throughout the university were having difficulty pivoting to online learning. They had both technological and pedagogical issues. Many faculty didn’t understand how the software systems worked or how to transition the learning experience online. Equity and inclusion were an afterthought. The university provided training for faculty on how to use Canvas to teach online the week before the campus shut down. Unfortunately, the training was not required, and many faculty did not participate.
How do we fix this?
In September 2020, the university created a GW Cares program that was to be used by students for financial needs. Money for the program came from the federal government in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF provided emergency funding for students and institutional grants for costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the Coronavirus. This included everything from money for rent to cash for a laptop or internet access. SMPA also created a separate fund specific to SMPA students. Money for this fund was raised through alumni and a generous faculty member. Over $500,000 was raised and distributed to SMPA students in 2020 and 2021. This was in addition to any financial aid students received from the university. This was a temporary fix to a more significant problem. As GW continues to grow its online programming, more permanent solutions need to be developed to address these issues.
One suggestion is for incoming students virtual and in-person to receive a computer robust enough to run the programs necessary for their coursework. The cost would be covered by using restricted endowment funds to ensure that all students have the appropriate hardware and software to succeed. Online students would receive internet hotspots for the duration of their coursework. These endowments are restricted funds for goods or services that directly impact students.
In 2020, Bowie State University provided free laptops to incoming first-year students, transfer students, and returning sophomores in need. They also offered internet hotspots for any students who needed them. The university had a laptop loaner program for Juniors and Seniors in need. Other universities instituted similar programs across the country.
Offering tech support 24/7 to online learners is necessary for students to have a successful experience with online learning. This could be provided in-house or outsourced to the various companies that have started offering these services. Pre-pandemic, the University of Central Florida began offering online tech help when students needed it most based on helpdesk tickets. Ball State University staffs their helpdesk during the day and contracts an outside company to provide support after 7 pm.
Faculty Training/Cultural Relevant Content
GW’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement created a webpage in August 2020 for faculty on how to maintain equity and inclusion in virtual learning. The webpage has several links to outside resources. This was a good start but did not go far enough.
Creating a required training module for all faculty teaching online is a better solution. This training should include the technical requirements to teach online and how to develop culturally relevant meaningful content.
Another is providing faculty with other faculty mentors who are experts in online learning.
Using open education resources is a great way to share and exchange digital content with everyone. The University of Maryland Global Campus gives students access to no-cost digital resources that have replaced textbooks in all their online courses.
These solutions will take time and additional resources to ensure that all students have digital equity in their learning experience.
Bowie State University. (2020). Students get free laptops & internet hotspots to close the digital divide. https://bowiestate.edu/about/news/2020/students-get-free-laptops-internet-hotspots-to-close-digital-divide.php
De La Rosa, S., (2017, April 5). Wanted: Tech Support 24/7. https://insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2017/04/05/tech-help-online-programs
Kim, H., Krishnan, C., Law, J., & Rounsaville, T. (2020). COVID-19 and U.S. higher education enrollment: Preparing Leaders for fall. McKinsey and
National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (2019).Definitions. https://www.digitalinclusion.org/definitions/
Willems, J. and Bossu, C. (2012). Equity considerations for open educational resources in the globalization of education. Distance Education, 33(2), 185-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2012.692051
Co-written with Tina Banks Gray and Karen M. Carty
Comparison of Student Mental Health in Community Colleges and Four-Year Institutions
Traditionally, mental health services have not been widely available at community colleges. In a study done by Bundy and Benshoff (2000), none of the seven community colleges that participated had centers that offered their students counseling services. Study participants indicated that they might or would be likely to visit a personal counseling center on campus if one were available, signaling that community college students need counseling services. Four- year institutions usually have counseling centers where their students can receive necessary services. Though some of them may not be adequately staffed or funded, their mere existence gives university students access to mental health support that some community college students do not have.
In Katz and Davison's (2014) comparative analysis study, it was found that there were significant differences in the amount of mental health information community college and university students received from their schools. Students at four-year institutions reported receiving significantly more information on mental health topics and being more interested in receiving the information than community college students. Overall, the study found "a pattern of difference in psychological concerns, available resources, and resource utilization, with community college students having more severe psychological concerns and less institutional mental health resources than university students" (Katz & Davison, 2014).
Increased demand for student mental health has affected both community colleges and four-year institutions. Almost 90 percent of presidents of public four-year institutions reported that student mental health had become more of a priority in the past three years compared to just under 80 percent of presidents of private four-year institutions and public community colleges (Chessman et al., 2019). Community colleges lag behind public and private four-year institutions
in reallocating or identifying additional funding for student mental health. Less than 60 percent of community college presidents reported reallocation or other funding to address student mental health compared to over 80 percent of public and private four-year institutions. Presidents of both community colleges and four-year institutions are hearing about student mental health issues with greater frequency. Almost half of community college presidents hear about these issues a few times a month.
Similarly, 41 percent of public and private four-year institution presidents hear about them in the same frequency. One exception to this similarity occurs in community colleges, and Presidents at community colleges were twice as likely to hear about housing insecurity than presidents of four-year institutions (Chessman et al., 2019).
Leadership Behaviors and Strategies
Effective leadership strategies and behaviors for campus mental health require a thorough understanding of relevant laws, areas of liability, student needs, and institutional capacities; strategic planning and implementation of student-centered processes and policies; and a campus- wide commitment to collaboration and communication. The increase in the number of students seeking support from counseling center services has created long waitlists due to a lack of appropriate funding. Over 50 percent of college counseling center directors at four-year institutions reported that their operating budgets have not increased over the previous year and resources cannot meet the demand for services (Reetz et al., 2015). The increased demand for mental health services on college campuses has caused colleges to rethink how to support mental and emotional wellbeing.
Students require transparent, connected, and flexible systems that meet the full range of mental health needs. To achieve such systems, institutions must have a healthy infrastructure that includes a clearly defined scope of service that best fits the campus context. Investing in student mental health support and services is a consequential investment in student learning, development, and success. As potential or actual recipients of an institution's mental health care, students can offer valuable perspectives to practitioners designing services, programs, and messaging strategies. Some institutions directly involve students in counseling center strategic planning and outreach strategy design (Reetz et al., 2015). Student-led organizations can communicate with other students to better understand and support their needs, share common experiences, and raise awareness about available resources (Gillard, Gibson, Holley, & Lucock, 2015).
Student Services departments traditionally identify college counseling centers as the epicenter of support for student mental health. Research has shown that resident life staff has historically played an important role in addressing students' mental health concerns. Resident directors, resident assistants, and residential learning community advisors identify and address student mental health concerns more frequently because they are in direct contact with students almost daily (Koch et al. 2020). Students may not want the stigma of officially reaching out to the counseling center for psychological services and may reach out to a resident assistant or director with whom they are familiar and already support the student in other ways. Integrating mental health services and residence life through counselor-in-residence initiatives is an innovative way to address and support student mental health (Orchowski et al., 2011).
Research has shown that many students with a mental illness drop out of college because they lack the tools they need to succeed in college (Field, 2021). The Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) program was created to teach students with mental illnesses executive functioning skills of time and task management, prioritization, and organization. Students with mental illnesses that affect the frontal lobe can have delays in achieving those skills. The program is being piloted at Binghamton University. Niteo is a similar program based at Boston University that provides students with one-on-one coaching and peer group coaching. The program teaches executive functioning and coping skills to students who left college for mental- health reasons to successfully return to college (Field, 2021).
Four-year institutions cut counseling center positions during the pandemic and are scrambling to provide mental health services to students on campus, off-campus, in-person, remote, or hybrid. Many institutions are turning to digital and telehealth options as cheaper and more effective ways to offer mental health support (Carrasco, 2021).
As a result of the general lack of personal counseling services at the community college level, campus leadership needs to get creative in finding strategies to provide the mental health services their students need. Suppose there are not enough resources to provide personal counseling centers on campus. In that case, campus leadership should consider partnering with counselors and private agencies that operate near campus to provide services to their students. Other strategies include adding personal counseling software to the career counseling and academic advising processes, offering group counseling sessions, and adding personal counseling staff to existing career and academic counseling staff (Bundy & Benshoff, 2000). It is also important to find out exactly what types of services students need by conducting surveys.
Less effective leadership behaviors and strategies include not being fully invested in students' mental health and not taking action to address mental health concerns brought forward by students, faculty, or staff. Two examples of community college leadership implementing strategies to improve student mental health include work being done at Jackson College in Southeast Michigan and Gateway Technical College Wisconsin. At Jackson College, faculty, staff, and students are trained to "proactively identify and address signs of mental distress" in themselves and others (EAB, 2019). The college president and his administrative staff received training on assessing risk, providing resources and information, and recommending professional and self-help to students on campus. Additionally, they created a safe space on campus called the Oasis Center where students and staff could meet with counselors and receive support (EAB, 2019). In the case of Gateway Technical College, student support counselors "work to normalize mental health conversations by teaching classes on professional success, attending student events, and engaging with students in hallways and outside of their offices" (EAB, 2019). As a result, the burden of seeking help for mental health issues is taken off the students because mental health awareness is woven into all aspects of campus life.
Bundy, Atticia & Benshoff, James. (2000). Research: Students' perceptions of need for personal counseling services in community colleges. Journal of College Counseling. 3(10). doi: 1002/j.2161-1882.2000.tb00169.x.
Carrasco, M. (2021, September 20). Colleges seek virtual mental health services. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/09/20/colleges-expand-mental-health- services-students
Chessman, H. & Taylor, M. (2019, August 12). College student mental health and wellbeing: A survey of presidents. https://www.higheredtoday.org/2019/08/12/college-student-mental- health-well-survey-college-presidents
EAB. (2019, August 26). How community colleges can support mental health. https://eab.com/insights/daily-briefing/community-college/how-community-colleges-can- support-mental-health/
Field, K. (2021, October 25). How time-management and other tools can help students with mental illnesses stay enrolled. Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-time-management-and-other-tools-can-help- students-with-mental-illnesses-stay-enrolled
Gillard, S., Gibson, S. L., Holley, J., & Lucock, M. (2015). Developing a change model for peer worker interventions in mental health services: A qualitative research study.
Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 24(5), 435–445.
Katz, D. S., & Davison, K. (2014). Community college student mental health: A comparative analysis. Community College Review, 42(4), 307–
Koch, J. M., Murrell, L., Knutson, D., & Federici D.J. (2020). Promoting students' strengths to cultivate mental wellbeing: Relationships between college students' character strengths, wellbeing, and social group participation. Journal of College and University Student Housing.47(1), 10-27.
Orchowski, L., Castelino, P., Ng, H., Cosio, D., & Heaton, J. (2011). The design and implementation of a counselor-in-resident program. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 25(3), 241-258.
Reetz, D.R., Bershad, C., LeViness, P., & Whitlock, M. (2015). The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors annual survey. https:///www.auccd.org/assets/documents/auucd%202016%20monograph%20-
Why is the concept of Student-Ready College so important?
Having a college degree reduces the risk of being unemployed and increases socioeconomic mobility. The student population is becoming more diverse with students attending college from different backgrounds and cultures at much higher rate than in the past. Many students attending college are non-traditional learners, having joined the workforce after high school instead of going directly to college. These students struggle to stay in college and graduate. It is essential for colleges to adapt student services, business operations, and academic programs to be responsive to the specific needs of all students so they are successful. In the past, colleges expected students to come to college prepared to be successful. For many lower-income students or non-traditional students, they are not prepared and look to the college to help them develop the academic and social skills they need to be successful in the real world. Student-ready colleges do this by focusing on the individual to prepare them to succeed in college and to be active participants in society once they graduate.
Who needs to be involved for this transition to happen?
The motivation for transitioning to a student-ready college needs to be clearly articulated so everyone understands their role and how they are contributing to the process. The transition to a student-ready college should be inclusive and include everyone working on a college campus. Letting faculty and staff have a voice at the table during the transition is an excellent motivator. If they are able to contribute their ideas to the transition, they are more likely to buy into the transition and work to make the transition successful. This is a great example of what shared governance should look like.
It is also important for students to have role models that they can relate to. Using faculty and staff to connect with students is a great way to develop leadership skills and for students to feel connected. One way this could be done is by connecting first-generation students enrolled in college with faculty and staff that were also first-generation students. The faculty and staff can serve as role models for these students and help them navigate the college process. Empowering staff to engage with students is a way for the entire campus community to be actively engaged and supportive of the transition. Everyone is working towards a common goal of serving students.
Students should also be part of the discussion and give insight on how to move the transition forward. Having a voice at the table will go a long way to getting buy in on the process from the students and make them active participants in the process.
Who will benefit from this concept and why?
This is a situation where everyone benefits. Students benefit from a campus community that is engaged and actively working to help the students succeed academically and socially. The administration, faculty, and staff are working together to use their experiences to serve students. On many college campuses, staff do not feel connected to the student experience. Actively engaging staff in educating students makes them feel like they are active participants in the campus community and will increase productivity and morale. Faculty will engage in students differently in a student-ready college and focus on student success. Faculty will need to know who their students are, what their background or culture is, and understand their socio-economic status to understand how each student learns to be effective teachers. Students will have more empathetic instructors and be treated as an individual instead of lumped into a group.
What is the benefit to the institution for doing this?
A student-ready campus creates an inclusive campus community. This is one of the biggest benefits of this concept. All employees across every level of teaching and service feel part of the transition process and are focused on student success. Faculty will become better teachers and connect more with their students. Students will have a nurturing environment in which to learn. Students will all be treated as capable learners and will be encouraged and supported as they develop the social and academic skills they need to be successful contributing members of society.
McNair, T. B., Albertine, S. L., Cooper, M. A., McDonald, N. L., & Major, T. (2016). Becoming a student-ready college: A new culture of leadership for student success. Jossey-Bass.
Global learning is part of international education associated with study abroad but now includes other interactions with people from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds and activities that analyze and address complex global problems. The activities can occur on and off-campus, globally through internships, capstones, study abroad, and locally through community-based experiences based on a global problem or issue or experiences in-country within a culturally different community from students' own culture.
Each higher education institution uses global learning to enhance students' intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes to communicate and act appropriately with people from other cultures. This includes understanding, respecting, and accepting different cultures and their impact on society. Students develop a global perspective through their knowledge and experiences to look at global and cultural situations from all perspectives and understand the local and global impact of their decisions.
The Global Learning VALUE Rubric was developed by a group of faculty experts from colleges and universities in the United States through the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The rubric provides clear, essential criteria for each learning outcome and performance level that require progressively higher levels of knowledge and skills. The rubric is not used for grading and is intended only for evaluating and discussing student learning on a programmatic level across a student's entire college career. The rubric may not be the best way to assess a specific experience, course, or assignment because it is designed to be used over a long period of time. The rubric provides a basic framework for evidence of student learning so it can be shared by universities across through country and used for specific campuses, disciplines, and courses.
The Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) is a web-based tool developed at Iowa State University to assess global learning experiences and perspectives. The GPI provides a holistic approach to learning and growing by focusing on three dimensions of global learning:
The Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) is a tool used to assess the degree to which students possess competencies critical to interacting successfully with people from different cultural backgrounds. The IES focuses on three dimensions of intercultural effectiveness that are combined to produce an Overall Intercultural Effectiveness Score. The three dimensions are:
This helps overcome students' resistance to learning because they see how they are progressing. IES also helps instructors assess students' abilities to understand what they need to do to move their learning forward. Students can also create a personal development plan based on the initial IES results and work on it for the semester.
Assessment that involves some student self-reflection is emerging as a trend.
This includes developing ePortfolios focused on enhancing student self-reflection and creating surveys specific to a course or program that combine context in the discipline and cultural knowledge. These tools can be used in conjunction with IES, GPI, or VALUE Rubric. Customized surveys will not have benchmarks outside of the program or course context, making it difficult to draw statistical inferences. Institutions that used student self-reflection and ePortfolios describe lower levels of student effort than expected.
There are several barriers or challenges to creating and implementing innovative assessments for student global learning. Faculty can be resistant to any assessment, whether it's innovative or something that's been used extensively. Faculty and staff may not understand the purpose of the assessment. Defining and clearly stating the learning outcomes is essential, so faculty understand what is being assessed. Faculty may not know how to design an effective assessment plan or understand the different assessment methods and align those methods to the learning outcome. There may also be little confidence from faculty in the new assessment tool. Faculty also need to understand how to use the assessment data in the right way.
Students must be culturally competent to be culturally responsive. Each dimension of the IES includes additional dimensions that assess intercultural competence. For example, the IES Continuous Learning dimension includes self-awareness and exploration. Self-awareness measures the level of students' awareness of their values, strengths, weaknesses, how they interact with others, their behavioral bias, and how they impact other people. Exploration assesses student's openness to cultures with ideas, values, norms, situations, and behaviors that are different from their own. It also assesses a student's desire to learn new things through new experiences and learn from their mistakes and adjust their behaviors.
The VALUE Rubric assesses student's ability to understand their local, national, and global responsibility to society and to understand and examine global challenges through respectful collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Iowa State University. (2015–2019). Global perspective
Kozai Group. (2012). Research studies that employed the intercultural effectiveness
Kozai Group. (2017). The intercultural effectiveness scale.
Kozai Group. (2018, October 29). Using the IES with Donna Evans [Video].
Accreditation standards are the biggest reason for increased assessment for graduate and professional programs. Regional accreditation includes assessments for all programs, including graduate and professional, but the primary focus has been on undergraduate programs. Disciplinary accreditation is more focused on assessment for graduate and professional programs, and the emphasis on outcomes assessment varies depending on the accrediting organization.
Graduate and professional programs use a variety of assessment frameworks and methods unique to each discipline. The assessments are not standardized across disciplines, and there are no minimum competencies or learning outcomes expected of graduate and professional students. There is also a lack of communication about the achievement of basic competencies for each program or profession. These factors make it very difficult to develop interprofessional competencies between programs.
Public scrutiny of higher education has increased because of the rise in student debt and the decline in employment outcomes due to the economy. New assessment methods will need to be used to justify the value of a graduate or professional degree.
In addition to the focus on accountability, health professions have a growing concern to measure entrustable professional activities (EPAs). EPAs are tasks that a trainee can perform once they attain adequate knowledge and competency so that trainees can carry out the tasks without supervision. EPAs include knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students progressively achieve. Many medical, dental, and pharmacy programs are using EPAs to assess learning outcomes. While EPAs are not currently part of the required accreditation standards, they will likely be required in the future as part of the accreditation process.
Medical, pharmacy, and dental education were some of the first programs that required specific standards and benchmarks to be met for accreditation purposes. Current assessment methods for these professional programs also include competency assessment beyond accreditation to include problem-based learning to assess critical thinking. Gleason et al. (2013) used the VALUE rubric to assess a doctor of pharmacy program. The study found this rubric to effectively assess student growth and achievement in critical thinking and problem-solving.
Graduate and professional programs can become more culturally responsive by integrating real-world experiences that involve people from different cultures and backgrounds into their curriculum and assessment process. For example, understanding different cultures and communicating with patients from different backgrounds and cultures is essential for anyone in a medical profession. The assessment process should include students’ ability to understand other cultures and backgrounds, recognize and address any inherent personal bias, and communicate with diverse populations. As described in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (2016), establishing core competencies for interprofessional collaboration creates a taxonomy that health profession schools can share to guide curriculum development.
Association of American Colleges & Universities. (n.d.) Global learning VALUE
Gleason, B. L., Gaebelein, C. J., Grice, G. R., Crannage, A. J., Weck, M. A., Hurd, P., Walter, B., & Duncan, W. (2013). Assessment of students' critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities across a 6-year doctor of pharmacy program. (Links to an external site.) American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(8), 166.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for
higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: 2016 update (PDF). (Links to an external site.)Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.
Guidelines For the Assessment Process
Establish goals – Goals are the outcomes or objectives we expect students to be able to do when they complete a course or program. Program goals are what we expect students to learn from all the courses within the program. Goals can also be called learning outcomes. In the Capstone course I teach the goal is for each student to be able to create a comprehensive communications plan based on their client’s needs. The plan needs to include specific components that have been taught throughout the master’s program.
Gather information – Gathering information that provides evidence of how well students are achieving the established goals of the course includes reviewing students’ assignments and talking to the students about what worked for them and what didn’t in the course. I review my students’ final communication plans to determine if they understand each component and have applied the component to their clients’ needs. This review tells me what areas students understand and the areas where they need additional support and instruction.
Taking action – Actions can be taken to improve students’ learning based on the information gathered on the achievement of course and program goals. This can include gathering additional information, changing curriculum or other aspects of the program. It can also include changing policies, funding, and planning that support learning, and faculty development. In my Capstone course, action resulting from the information gathering step includes creating a mini bootcamp for each component of the communications plan at the beginning of the course to refresh what students have already learned.
4. Assessment is a natural, scholarly act (Walford, 2010). As academics, we look for evidence to support our claims and assumptions. The data collection we are doing for our dissertation will provide evidence of what we’ve learned about our dissertation topic. My topic is the impact of COVID-19 on the college admissions process for first-generation students. My data will provide evidence that supports what I’ve learned about that impact. Assessment happens naturally as we determine what students’ work tells us about what they are learning. Assessment also provides evidence to all stakeholders that students are actually learning. These stakeholders include educators, parents, students, and administrators.
Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education. John Wiley & Sons.
Hundley, S. and Kahn, S. (2019). Trends in assessment: Ideas, opportunities, and issues for higher education. Stylus. Sterling, VA.
I am a higher education administrator with over 15 years of experience in communications and operations. The views in my blog are my own.