Student Retention = Getting Involved

Getting students involved with each other and the college makes it more likely for them to stay in school. I knew this way back in the dark ages (1992). Here is a shortened list of journal topics for one composition course. The list was specifically created to try to get the students involved on campus.

1. Attend or view one of the following and discuss what occurred and what effect this event might have on the history/tradition of the college.
There were four events listed including: Faculty Publication Display, Library Display Case

2. Interview someone on campus who either attended or worked at the college before 1972. Ask them to tell you how the school has changed. Record their responses.
The college had a lot of older faculty. I was asking them to find someone who had been there for twenty years. Some of the schools I have taught at since aren’t that old.

3. Do one of the following:
•Interview an older family member and ask about the oldest family anecdote they know. Write it down. If it is very short, ask for two or three.

•Find out if there are any old recipes or games which have been passed down more than two generations in your family. If there are, write one down along with any history about it you can discover.

•Write down the courtship or early marriage story of an older (50+) couple who have been important in your life.

I didn’t want to limit them only to the school.

4. Interview someone in the old folks home attached to the college who attended the college. Write up the interview.

Most people in the old folks home did attend the college. Or at least their spouse did.

An earlier journal topic list was for a written introduction of themselves that was read/presented to the class.

Suggestions for methodology:
•wanted poster, with sufficient verbal detail to facilitate recognition
•description of your dream home, if it includes the whys
•written collage
•newspaper article for the college newspaper
•your funeral eulogy
•your family’s favorite story/stories about you
•comic explanation of how you ended up at our college
•a riddle about some personally important item you brought to college with you
•a shopping list of what you would purchase if given a million dollars
•a description of your favorite place to go or thing to do in high school
•chapter titles and the front cover blurb from your autobiography
•family history depicting scandalous or strange ancestors
•the best thing that has happened in your life and what impact it has had on you
•your three favorite songs, poems, stories, novels, magazines and the impact each has had on you
•how your life would have been different if you had been born the opposite gender
•five things people (generally family members) tell strangers about you that embarrass you
•least and most favorite high school teacher, class
•something you have learned about yourself in the last six months
•the most important goal and why it is most important
•list of your favorite somethings (Remember, this has to be interesting!)
•things you never want to do
•explanation of one of your favorite songs and why you think it is a good one

One thought on “Student Retention = Getting Involved”

  1. I love so many of these ideas for journal topics! I’ve been a little reluctant to assign topics more personal than just reflections on the readings. Your suggestions aren’t *too* personal, though, and will certainly be more fun for my students than just writing about the reading all the time.

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