At no time is support, in particular academic support, more important than during the critical first year of college when student success is still so much in question and still malleable to institutional intervention.
If our efforts do not reach into the classroom and enhance student classroom success, they are unlikely to substantially impact college success. First and foremost they must direct their actions to the classroom, especially for those in the first year, and construct classrooms whose attributes are such as to enhance the likelihood that students will succeed academically.
Attributes of Effective Classrooms What are the attributes of such classrooms?
High expectations are a condition for student success; low expectations a harbinger of failure. A faculty member’s expectations are communicated to students, sometimes implicitly, through syllabuses, assignments, grading metrics, course management sites, and conversations.
Students quickly pick up what is expected of them in the classroom and adjust their behaviors accordingly.
This is the case because most efforts to improve college completion, such as learning centers and first-year seminars, sit at the margins of the classroom and do not substantially improve students' classroom experience.
Lest we forget, many students, certainly those in community college, commute to college and work and/or attend part-time.In this and other ways, learning communities provide a structure that enables the institution to align its academic and social support for basic skills students in ways that allow students to obtain needed support, acquire basic skills, and learn content at the same time.Contextualization can also occur through the integration of academic support within the classroom.In this regard it is telling that evidence from the National Survey of Student Engagement indicate that the expectations of beginning college students for the amount of work required for classroom success declines over the course of the first year.Support It is one thing to hold high expectations; it is another to provide the support students need to achieve them.For them, if not for most students, the classroom is one, and perhaps the only, place where they meet with faculty and other students and engage in learning activities.Their success in college is built upon classroom success, one class and one course at a time.Involvement A fourth, and perhaps the most important, attribute of effective classrooms is involvement, or what is now commonly referred to as engagement.Simply put, the more students are academically and socially engaged with faculty, staff, and peers, especially in classroom activities, the more likely they are to succeed in the classroom.As a result, students learn basic skills and program content at the same time from a team of faculty.The result is that I-Best students fare better on a variety of outcomes (e.g., credits earned, completion of workforce training) when compared with traditional students at the same proficiency level.