Karen Svendsen Werner, McLennan CC
“Seeking Retention Improvement in FYC 1”

first semester taught at CC, shocked at # of empty seats
sick children
parole judge
chronic CC problem = low retention rates
grad rate, after 3 years, 21%
grad rate, after 6 years, 39%

complex of issues could place more responsibility on FYC profs
–political promises
–WSJ “prehire assessments” 26% in 2001 to 57% in 2015
–Ft Worth Star Telegram “to improve bottom line” tests given often contain language competency

orientation activities/approaches
spending time on certain activities increases retention (time)
behavioral expectations explained
college technology access practiced (email, Canvas, type up and print)
1-2 students in class of 25 always seem to be trying to catch up
usually help retain students during 1st month
evaluate resources and access student resources
tutoring, counseling, veterans
originally NOT successful—worksheet, scavenger hunt, reps talk
choice over efficiency –I preferred efficiency. Students want choice. Choices and consequences. “If you choose, x… experience has shown, y…”
Direct approach (efficiency) did not work for students from generational poverty.
“continuity of care” needed, too—walk the student from class to the person they need to talk to –LOWEST level students need a hand off, feel too overwhelmed by system and expectations
Orientation document—
KEY is developing choices ahead of time (tell them what the obstacles will be and possible helps)
Lack of time available outside of class—include a description and schedule
Transportation—main way, options if not working
Other responsibilities—
Lack of goals
Why are they in English 111, English 112, English 326? Ask the students that first day.
Make sure students have a degree plan and know why they are here.

Lack of connections/relationships
Be a part of an organization.
Academic difficulties
Emotional stress
Scavenger hunt—so they know WHERE the things are (5-7 things have to get sigs)
Then they can choose from a list of options, so that they go to the one they are most likely to need.

Tasks on technology
Including drop by my office

Writing Center Visit
The very lowest students, the ones you wonder how they got in… I require every person to go to the Writing Center for the first essay.
This helps them feel less overwhelmed. –This is the handoff “continuation of care.”
Had to actually be tutored to stick.

from CCTE 2016: Teaching Strategies

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