Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Test Tips Tuesday - #1

Test Tips Tuesday - #1
submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at EvCC

Over the next few weeks, we will share some ideas for helping students get better at taking exams. From my personal experience (as both a student and instructor) I know that students often feel a great deal of pressure when it comes to exams. In fact, I like to share this story with students:

In my first graduate level class, my instructor decided that he would schedule an evening exam so that he could have all of the students in his courses that term in the same room at the same time. He thought this was a great idea! So I made sure I had the date, time and room number on my calendar. I got there a little early because it was a different room from my regular class. Of course I was so nervous that I couldn’t find the correct room!!! That means I wasn’t there as early as I wanted, so the classroom was already filling up with other students. And I didn’t recognize anyone, so that added to my stress level. Here’s the worst part – when the instructor handed me my exam it looked like Greek to me. Seriously, my nerves had gotten the best of me and I didn’t recognize anything! So I had to talk myself off the cliff, and took a few deep breaths to try to relax. Fortunately that worked. When I opened my eyes and looked at the test again, things started to look familiar. Reading through the test I found a problem I could do easily, and that helped me to recognize that I could get through the test.

Our student have similar experiences, so as you think about what you’ll do to help them prepare for final exams or  tests next quarter, suggest these tips from Study Guides and Strategies. The better prepared and more relaxed students are when they walk in on exam day, the more successful they will be!

1.    Analyze how you did on a similar test in the past.

Review your previous tests and sample tests provided by your teacher. Each test you take prepares you for the next one!
2.    Arrive early for tests.
List what you need beforehand to avoid panic. Good preparation prepares you for the task at hand.
3.    Be comfortable but alert.
Choose a comfortable location with space enough that you need. Don't slouch; maintain good posture.
4.    Stay relaxed and confident.
Keep a good attitude and remind yourself that you are going to do your best. If you find yourself panicking, take a few deep breaths. Don't talk to other students right before: stress can be contagious.
5.    Read directions carefully!
and avoid careless errors.

Next time we’ll take a look at five more strategies to share with students.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Introducing Kristina Jipson

Kristina Jipson, PhD, MFA
Senior Associate Faculty, English Department
Co-Coordinator Faculty Development
Welcome, Kristina Jipson! Kristina is one of the newer folks in the 5 Star Consortium. Learn more about her below!

What do you like most about your job?
The passion and genuine kindness of the people I work with.

What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
Very few people wind up doing one thing their whole lives—be open to career growth and change.
If you have a great idea, somebody else is probably already working on it—find them and help!
Google yourself—at least once. I’ve been caught out one too many times with a sentence that starts with, “I saw online that you…”

What is one surprising thing you do as part of your job?
Assemble furniture!

What do you like to do on your days off?
I have days off?

Are you messy or organized?
Organized! I consider myself a an IKEA collector. The most romantic thing my husband has ever done for me is set up a Craigslist alert for coveted KALLAX units on sale in our area. So far, we’re at 80+ cubbies, and as far as I’m concerned, they are the only thing standing between us and the total world domination of our small, knick-knack collecting children.

If you could be anyone from any time period who would it be and why?
Can I stick with my current hand? We are living in “interesting times”!

Any favorite line from a movie?
That’s easy, because it’s my youngest daughter’s as well: “Weezin the juice,” from Encino Man. My daughter’s name is Louise, AKA Weez, Weezo, Weezy, ZZ, etc., so in our house “weezin” is basically the coolest thing anyone could do to anything, especially juice.

You’re happiest when?
Hmmm…can I have two? One for when I’m immersed the chaos of my adorable family, and one for when I’m writing quietly all by myself?

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
No brainer: sushi boat.

If your house was burning down, what’s the one non-living thing you would save?
Do I have to be able to carry it? We have an old family piano that travelled cross-country four times before landing in our living room, where it gets played every day (very well, I might add!) by my oldest daughter, Mathilda. I’d haul that out of the flames and impress the neighbors.

Top 3 life highlights?
Well, I have one very tall and infinitely kind husband, and two insane, wizardly daughters, so that math works out pretty well!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Building Relationships

Recently Sally Heilstedt, Associate Dean of Instruction, Engagement and Learning at Lake Washington Institute of Technology finished a 5-part series on Impacting Students for a Lifetime. Sally uses the lens of “The 4 Connections” first introduced to her at an Achieving the Dream kick-off event by Don Wood at Odessa College in Odessa, TX. Don described the impact of the in-class retention rate when their faculty used what they called the “Drop Rate Improvement Plan.”

I like sharing these simple steps with new faculty to help them build connections with students, and they are in fact pretty simple steps. In addition to the 4- Connections, instructor presence is known to help with student retention. Stephanie Delaney, Dean for Academic Programs at South Seattle College, wrote about instructor presence in a recent article that appeared in Faculty Focus:

“Instructor presence increases student retention because students are more likely to stay in class if they feel their instructor cares about them. By being present, the instructor can pull students together, encouraging cooperation and collaboration. Additionally, if things start to go off the rails and a student begins to have problems, an instructor who is present can address those problems immediately.”

Research tells us that teachers make a huge difference in student success and retention. But what do we do to promote teacher success and retention?

A recent conversation on the POD network (Professional and Developmental Organization Development in Higher Education) started when a contributor wondered what we as professional developers can do to help struggling faculty. Recognizing that there are different reasons faculty struggle (factors both inside and outside of work that impact work/life balance, a heavy workload (think teaching all new classes in a quarter), difficult students/classroom management issues, demands of the department and/or division), what can we do to support them?

One respondent said, “I have seen (over and over) that the relationships we build in the classroom, boardroom, faculty work room and beyond remain a critical component to student success—as well as faculty success.” Mentoring is an important part of this, and not necessarily the formal mentoring where you are paired with a person for a stated length of time with a certain number of required meetings.

Think about the hallway conversations you’ve had with a colleague that helped you work through an issue. Can you be available to someone else who needs a sympathetic ear?

Focusing on faculty success, what do you believe are the most important things we can do to support not just new but veteran faculty who are experiencing a difficult quarter?