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Study Skills

Here are some useful links to online resources regarding Study Skills:

Assess your study skills and make a plan to improve your study skills.

Know your learning style and search for tips for that style.  (This is a short, 24 question test that will tell you your learning style).

Learn some organizational skills to save your semester.

Make good use of to do lists.  Learn to prioritize. Avoid procrastination.  Reward yourself with something fun, when you’ve got things done. Become an adult learner.

Become creative in keeping a calendar.  Make your calendar something you want to look at it.  Use an online calendar if you like – but keep a calendar!

For college level writing, the CSU-Channel Islands Student Writing Guide is great.  It has suggestions for papers in everything from Art to Biology to…most anything else you’d study.  

For help with pre-college and college level math, you can’t beat the free online courses at the Kahn Academy.  You can sign in with facebook or create an account, but do check it out.  Video lectures on most math topics you might be seeking.  Other quizzes and help, too.

 

Contact Prof. Kama’ila at lkamaila@vcccd.edu to add to this list.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Cool Tech for Student Success

More evidence that the first week of school is crucial, but also that today’s students are different. There are voluntary game-like apps that really help a student keep on track for school (the way a person might use an app to help with fitness or nutrition).

These apps do some coaching, too. I think they are a lot of fun. These apps would really be the modern equivalent of the “College Hour” as they can push out to students where interested faculty may be at any given hour and help them find us for interesting activities. Students OPT IN to these technologies (so no FERPA violations, but the app-builder has already done that research). The app we are looking at is called perkEDU and it’s really spiffy. There’s no cost to the college.

There are apparently similar apps without an educational emphasis that work…people like games…

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Student Success

 

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The Completion Agenda: Double by 2020

Dr. Terry O’Banion may be the world’s leading expert on The Completion Agenda, the topic of his speech today at the Student Success Summit. This post is a reflection on a talk he gave at the California Community College Student Success Summit in Sacramento.

What is the Completion Agenda? The mission is to double the number of students who achieve a certificate, an associate’s degree or transfer to a 4-year college or university…by 2020. This is a focused agenda. Two times the number of students completing…this is a nationwide effort. This agenda recognizes that the United States is not creating enough well-educated people to sustain society and enter the job market. President Obama says we need 5,000,000 community college grads by 2020. The Lumina Foundation and the Gates Foundation are driving monetary sources behind this initiative. The League for Community College Innovation agrees.

Everyone agrees we need 50%, but some think we need 60%. Double by 2020, though, is easy to remember. 40 states have signed on to this agenda. Most California Community Colleges have individually signed on to this agenda. This has never happened in the community colleges before. It immediately strikes me that the difficulty is that half our students arrive (statewide) without the basic skills to attend college.

We used to be first in the world in educating students; we are now 26th in terms of graduating and educating our young. For the first time in our history, the current generation of college-age Americans will be less educated than their parents’ generation This is a radical shift in American culture; upward mobility is compromised.

14% of CC students do not complete a single credit in their first term. Almost 50% drop out by the second year. 60% need remediation nation-wide. 33% of the students who are told they should do remedial students never enroll.

The Community Colleges cannot continue to do things as they’ve done in the past. California has some specific challenges. Less than 30% of the students are college-ready. Only 53.6% will get a degree. Only 41% will transfer. This record is not particularly impressive to the public. The Student Success Task Force has stated that we really need to refocus our use of resources to lead to success, for our students, and to create more degrees and transfers. Here are some suggestions:

Strengthen support for entering students (First Year Experience (FYE); more contact between counseling and students; instructional involvement in student support and success)

Give students incentives to succeed (this one is interesting, right?)

Here’s a list of things colleges have thought might be “magic” practices:

Learning Communities (all by themselves, this has a high measure of success)
Project-based Learning
Student Success Courses
Early College High School; Dual enrollment
More engagement (Service Learning; Contextual Instruction; Supplemental Instruction)

Just doing lots of things, all mixed up like a dog’s breakfast, doesn’t necessarily work. Colleges have to have some way of producing evidence that the success rates are changing (to put it bluntly: fewer drop-outs). Each one of the practices above, by themselves, are not strongly effective. Piecemeal reform does not seem to work; boutique programs that work for 50 or 100 students aren’t enough. Each little piece of these “magic practices” makes many fragments. Faculty are often fragmented and interested in their own particular thing, their silo or island of innovation. There are plenty of innovators in the colleges, but it’s often single individuals whose practices live and die through their individual involvement. The artificial silos work, historically, to get resources for particular faculty, but they are not transformative to the college as whole. Each group that champions its own practice creates its own silo.

Transformative change will take much more collaboration. The “magic practices” should not disappear, but there needs to be overall coordination and collaboration that takes people out of their silos.

Adjuncts, administrators and classified staff need to be involved as well.

Here are some guidelines from O’Banion’s work:

1. Every student will make a significant connection with another person at the college as soon as possible. (This is what students say: a particular counselor or faculty advisor or another student or a secretary…knows my name…that’s the most important factor to many students).

So, even the police should be friendly. Info booths should be staffed by people
who are willing to ask people’s names. Instructors should greet students at the door
of the classroom. I know, I heard this one and I thought about it. This is supposed to
lead to students valuing what we do. They need personal connection. I’m guessing
that a lot of us born in the 40’s-70’s didn’t need this as much. We had it back in our
neighborhoods, where kids still played outside.

2. Key intact programs (orientation, assessments, advisement, placement) must be integrated and mandatory. One stop shopping is key. Services need to be in one place. To the new generation of students, being sent somewhere else to do something is being given the run around. Of course, the students have no clue what words like “registration” or “matriculation” or “assessment” mean. We have to teach them.

I get this one. We should change our language (and have better signs and remember that
everyone on campus is an educator). Students do not do optional; I’m hearing lots of
people at this Summit talk about how students simply are not permitted to enroll in
classes if they haven’t assessed and done all the rest of this. I don’t know how they
worked this out, policy-wise.

We need to assess “non-cognitive” factors. Motivation, drive & grit need to be
assessed, says Dr. O’Banion. Is the student one who really wants to succeed no
matter what? A highly motivated student should be admitted even if their academic
achievement isn’t high. Chafee College is one of the best in this area. They use
Gallup type polls, one is called the “Hope Scale” to assess students. They also use
a “Mindset Scale” to get a handle on what’s inside the student’s head, motivation-wise.

Educational Testing Service is on board with this. They have a new community college
program called the Success Navigator. Costs $10 and is online. ets.org/successnavigator
vmonaghan@ets.org This program provides for early warning and academic alert.

3. Every student is in a “Program of Study” from day one; students without majors will be in a mandatory program of study designed to help them decide. This is basically declaring a major. Those who were placed in a program of study in the first year were twice as likely to complete. A sample program of study for the undecided: A student success course, a writing course and a psych course (or substitute a career exploration course for one of those). Just allowing them to wander around in the curriculum is a way to insure they fail.

4. Every enrolled student will work with college personnel to create a Pathway – a Roadmap. This is different from Program of Study (Major). The courses for the major are part of this Roadmap, but this is broader. These are individual educational plans.

Gates Foundation Version: Connection > Entry (Gatekeeper Courses) > Progress >
Completion.

Places with success at this: Indian River, Mt. San Antonio, Miami-Dade, Valencia College

This provides a framework for the college’s strategic plan.

5. Every student will be carefully monitored throughout the first term and the college will make immediate interventions to keep students on track (+20% for retention for Early Alert). It really does mean EARLY. The idea of a midterm is way too late. It needs to be first week. Second week. Lots of monitoring is needed. At Oxnard College, it would be really nice if we knew who the first year students are (I always used to ask for a show of hands in the on-the-ground classroom). D2L provides a really helpful flagging tool that a prof can open right in the smart classroom to show who the students are (could be more useful, but it is what it is). If a student isn’t participating or is shown to be at risk in the first week or two, they are referred to a coach/counselor. We are all going to have to use systems like this if we want students to succeed.

6. Students will engage in courses and experiences designed to broaden and deepen their learning.

I know there are courses at Oxnard College that would be great for the FYE, and which
could be included in any student pathway. Building and teaching a course like this
should be a goal for many faculty, and when they have shown they have good retention
and success for first semester students, their courses should indicated on the Pathway.

If the “Completion Agenda” becomes all out about “training workers” it will fail. The
old goal of broadening the horizons of students is still something we should all focus
on. We need to remember, as educators, that deep learning is key to future success
and to students remaining with us. We aren’t just training workers. We want all our
workers to be broadly educated.

Employers actually want employees who can think, and many tell us to produce
students with a “liberal education.” Narrowing some of the choices down to those
classes that are best able to do this would be good. O’Banion suggests a host of
“101” classes that engage students in problem solving, critical thinking, data analysis.
education regarding citizenship in a democracy, etc.

Dr. O’Banion says the future of the community college depends on transforming ourselves. We cannot simply turn out skill-enabled students; we must turn out holistically educated students, which of course, will also lead to them staying with their goals until completion.

To order “Access, Success, and Completion: A Primer for Community College Faculty, Administrators, Staff and Trustees” go to http://www.league.org/store or call 480-705-8200 ext. 200

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Student Success

 

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Accountability

Last night, the shuttle from the airport was filled with Southern Californian community college teachers and administrators. Four of the other people were from really big community colleges, with over 300 faculty. I learned that an average of 40-45 people faculty at those campuses are involved in most committees and planning (just like at OC, but we only have 81 total faculty right now).

I also learned that the bigger schools have the resources to give 100% release time to an instructor to help the Matriculation counselors in the First Year Experience (FYE). The online orientations and the multi-track events they have for students were described by one person as a “buffet” of experirences, starting in the summer between high school and freshman year. They are really big on calling the year “freshman year” as well. They discussed priority enrollment for quite awhile (the shuttle took forever to arrive, so I got to listen in for quite awhile).

At VCCCD, we need to make sure we’re doing all we can to help students find a clear pathway to transfer, degrees and certificates (that should be obvious by now). If we ever want to teach others, we must take seriously the task of teaching the transfer-bound. I know we plan to relook at our priority registration policy this semester, and I listened hard when one person mentioned they had awarded first semester priority to freshmen (all incoming high school students were promoted to the top of their list!) but failed to work out a way for those same freshmen to get a second semester with priority. (They had placed students with 14 units or lower near the bottom of their list, they were rethinking this).

Naturally, many freshmen fail to pass all of their classes, even if they are taking 15 units. One woman had the job of running interventions for the freshmen who were on probation after one semester (below a 2.0 average). She was an instructor and worked with the students on study skills and basic skills. She talked a lot about “serve yourself” services, in which a student could use MOOCs or MOOC-like things (for free) for those students who wanted to “blast out” of Basic Skills. It was working very well (she is presenting at this Student Success Conference; they scaled up from 300 to 800 to 1500 students in one year).

I got to think about what “Accountability” means. At this Student Success Summit and similar places, we use the term to mean “Colleges are Accountable” to prove that their students are progressing. But, in the larger sense, the students have to be accountable too. Giving self-service tools to students makes them accountable too. A common theme in the airport and the shuttle was “The students have no idea what a 1.8 GPA will do to their financial aid and future prospects” or “they just aren’t used to having to read their textbooks at all” or “their math skills are 3 years behind where they should be.” (More on math, later, hopefully – on that topic the shuttle-waiters who were not educators got activated).

I think it’s a great idea to notify all students who are struggling and provide them with encouragement, counseling to continue, ed plans that include self study and advisement, etc. It’s apparently not that hard to do. At the particular college mentioned above, students were being turned away if no orientation and the invitation to the probationary students to receive more help was automatic and persistent attempts were made to reach out to them.

With at least half of California students “below college level” (hopefully more on that later”, what are we supposed to do? Naturally, our conversations turned frequented to student motivation and work habits…the First Year Experience is supposed to be designed to include a bit of that old college tradition (fun) that gets the students through the hard times. If only they knew, right away, the benefits of a college education and being able to read and write well…

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Student Success

 

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My thoughts on the Budget: ESL, Basic Skills and Adult Ed

The way I see it, there really is a larger plan embedded in Jerry Brown’s budget.  Yes, it would take some funds away from richer K-12 districts and reapportion it equally to all school districts.  Education would be perceived as a social necessity, an area in which equity is the best course of action.  How can we not see it that way?

As more and more research shows that, for basic skills, the first few years of life – and school – are the most important, it only makes sense that young children are afford an equal chance.  Naturally, this is considered a sort of egregious, politically-motivated “socialism” by parents in more affluent school districts:

Ventura County People React to Brown’s School Budget

I went to one of the “poorer” school districts (Santa Paula), and although we knew we didn’t have the resources that Buena or Nordhoff had, the disparities were perhaps not as great back then.  I remember getting to university and being disgusted, really, that I had never seen any sort of computer (other students had been taught binary codes and how to punch those cards and do simple calculations, including Buena students).  Today, it’s my impression that college bound students in Fillmore, Santa Paula, El Rio and parts of Oxnard do not receive the support that they should.

Neither do the “basic skills” students.  When schools have to teach such a wide range of ability (and language) levels, they need more resources.  That’s what Jerry wants to address in the earlier grades.  But there’s a cost.

The idea that we’d spend more educational resources for K-12 means that, if a student hasn’t learned the basics by the end of 13 years, there are a couple of options.  Schools have “fifth” and “sixth” year high school programs, where 18-20 years are segregated, for fairly obvious reasons, from the 13-14 year olds.  I haven’t heard anything about that changing.  But, if a person has dropped out of high school, or failed to attain the skills for a GED (the requirements of which every community college instructor should be familiar), Adult Ed has been their option.  Adult Ed provides more than basic skills, it also provides some career training.  Apparently about half the counties in California have already shifted this task to their community colleges, and the spokespeople imply that those districts are doing better with the project.  I want to reiterate that community college instructors are not teaching adult ed, but instead, a different union (usually CTA) and a different pay scale applies, different minimum qualifications of course.  I also want to make it clear that these proposals of Gov. Brown’s are in no way enacted into law at this point.

But, it’s an interesting question:  what would these kinds of changes mean for the current system that we have at Oxnard College?  I don’t know.  It makes sense that the “can’t go two years below college level” rubric that the Board created last year was in anticipation of just these sort of changes.  I don’t see anything specific in the new budget that would force changes regarding Adult Ed, at least not right away.

At any rate, the way in which the State Chancellor’s Office eventually interprets any Budget Bill and its requirements is, as usual, not easy to predict.

In our county’s Adult Ed, the typical registration fee for, say, an ESL or basic skills class is $10 for a year of classes.  Classes are open enrollment, a student can join anytime (and come and go from class as required by their work).  The State is setting aside some $300,000,000 (in addition, I believe, to already existing funds) to move this system to the community colleges, hire a new sort of teacher, and allow the adult ed learners to be in an adult environment, with college libraries, and, if possible, college classes alongside their ESL or basic skills classes, as they learn.  I hope you can all see that this may be a fundamental challenge to the way we do ESL and basic skills.  Further, Ventura County Adult Ed already has some quite popular automated ESL classes, taught by computer.  

That’s Jerry’s second pronged approach to adults who, after up to 14 years of attempts to teach basic skills and ESL, still need more education.  An online support system.  It’s not clear how this will work, but his spokespeople keep saying they in no way intend to compete with existing college level distance ed.  So it should be no surprise that San José State University has been asked to develop on all-online university for basic skills students, call Udacity.  50% of their students come in “underprepared” (which is about the same at most CSU’s).  Can they learn these basic skills in an online, low cost environment, served out by one giant state-run server, with top notch support for the classes?  The pilot project on that has begun, with several different consultants employed (not just from SJSU of course) to assess its results.  Universities like Harvard and Stanford have been involved in creating these courses, after years of work on determining what works best.  Such courses are already being used in Sri Lanka, in India, and in other places around the world to teach English and “prerequisites” to college courses.  Such courses are, as we know at Oxnard, in high demand.  Below are some links on the pilot project, which is expected to move to a larger project for the 2013-14 school year – in other words, very soon!

First, let me say that these are not MOOCs!  (Massive Open Online Courses).  State Academic Senate and  Educational Officers have been firm in their opposition to MOOCs.  

One of the aspects under discussion, therefore, is the “unbundling” of certain parts of college education.  That refers to the fact students are already choosing to get various resources from various places.  They will be given the option to attend low cost online remedial classes, often with no textbook cost, at their own time and place – but not from the institution they are currently attending:

Udacity offers unbundling

As the author above notes, some fear this is the “unraveling” of higher ed.  That’s why it’s a pilot study right now.  Earlier pilots show that these classes work, especially for young adults who are computer savvy, for stay-at-home moms, for military personnel and for many others.

Udacity is basically another version of Coursera (if you’re familiar with that).  Udacity has announced plans to build career and job placement into its framework.  In other words, employers who are looking for employees who need those basic skills could put in requests through Udacity’s career and job placement center (all initially online).  The power of something like this to attract students cannot be easily dismissed.  

There are, of course, private competitors.  What the above analysis (the one I just linked to) shows is that the State-run Udacity will have to follow FERPA, so employers won’t actually be able to “see” inside the classroom.  Students will be given privacy.

Not MOOCs but the author thinks that’s the general term to which this belongs…

This second author misunderstands a little of the project, but is still providing up-to-date analysis of something that is only about two weeks old, as I write, in conception.  While the author gets the MOOCs part wrong, it is true that these courses will probably be free or nearly free.  They probably won’t be entirely open access – a student will have to enroll in a community college or CSU to obtain these services, because the goal of Udacity is to get students college ready.  Note that many professors are in favor of these courses, and have some experience in evaluating them.  I checked some of the evaluative literature and it is true:  non-credit, online courses that are virtually free can do a very good job of teaching basic skills to motivated students (for whom they are being created).  As the last author (above) states, the idea of Udacity is enrichment or help to students already enrolled in some kind of degree program.  The above article also notes that in some pilot studies, success rates are actually higher for Udacity-like courses than for their real world counterparts.  That’s one of the main things they will be studying this semester in preparation for implementing Udacity statewide next year.

Why are they not MOOCs?  Well, in addition to be attached to a real college, they also have teachers.  MOOCs, by definition, rely on peer-tutoring and peer-help to attain the course goals.  Udacity will have professors or some sort of teacher available.

When Gov. Brown rolled out the pilot project in December, he had with him several national experts on online education.  They are, of course, to some degree already invested in online education, but here is a white paper from one of them:

White Paper on Online Education (used as part of the argument for Udacity)

High schools are already using methods of this sort for summer school, especially in the absence of funding for summer school.  Here’s an article on the success of such methods:

How online learning is saving rural high schools

Some of these articles ask universities to reassess their own assessment measures; employers are wanting to have a better look at SLO’s, seeking to have students learn what is needed in future workplaces (as opposed to what academia might dictate).  This is especially true for basic skills.

Lastly, for a really basic summary of what the new pilot (and next year’s $118M allotment to furthering this project might mean), here’s another link

Udacity partnership announced by Brown

I can say that, as we move into the preparation of our VCCCD Educational Master Plan, questions about the impact of all of this were at the forefront of some people’s minds.  Whether or not this all comes to pass, we need to be ready for innovations that are legislated from the top, and which could affect our local practices a great deal.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Background & Viewpoint, PBC and Planning

 

Associate in Arts for Transfer: Random thoughts and some predictions

We have two new kinds of degrees in California:  AA-T’s and AS-T’s.  I am not the most knowledgeable historian of the AA-T pattern, but I have learned a lot and will share what I think I know (comments welcome).

Summary:  There are now 22 majors that can guarantee a student with a 2.0 grade average a seat in the CSU ahead of other applicants for transfer.  

The plan, at first, was to identify the top 20 most popular majors and to streamline them so that students intending to transfer could get to transfer sooner and more cheaply.  The goal was to have each major be around 60 units.  Provisions were soon made for “high unit majors” as well, since some majors simply can’t be done and the GE pattern accomplished in 60 units.  But the goal is 60 units.

(For simplicity’s sake, I’m referring to them as AA-T’s from now on).

An AA-T fulfills the IGETC OR the CSU Breadth patterns that we all know and love.  Yes, it’s a little confusing to students, too.  We need to get better – in the classroom – at reaching out to students and advising them about transfer.  The counselors do a remarkable job at staying current on all of this, but all of us need to know the basics, so we can help students.

A course from the major can also be counted toward the IGETC or CSU Breadth pattern.  So, if the major fulfills, say, Social Science Breadth with its 18 or so units, the student can spend the rest of their 60 units on whatever they want (more social science if they like it; other subjects if they like those).  The more diverse a major pattern is, the more flexibility the student has in choosing electives.

So what’s going to happen to our old General Studies Pattern III majors?  Apparently, they still fulfill the transfer requirement, but they are not on schedule to be a preferred way to transfer; students with AA-T’s get preference.  Since our local CSU must allow the AA-T students in first, that means unless our students have an AA-T they are unlikely to get in.  Only 10% of CSUCI’s students are currently from Ventura County.  There is an increasingly “backlog” of AA-T students waiting to get into a transfer school of their choice.

One question that will almost certain be upon is, therefore, is whether we continue to offer that General Studies Pattern III A.A. degree.  Students are already confused enough about how to transfer and what gives them priority.  My personal view (and to be frank, this is the view of nearly everyone I’ve talked to so far – so if your view differs PLEASE make it known sometime soon, we want a robust dialogue about this):  we need to end the GS degrees.  They promise something they may never be able to deliver, as students from around California with AA-T’s compete for slots in the CSU.

Further, I believe strongly that the UC’s will soon follow suit and there will be one and only one way of transferring from a community college to a public university:  The AA-T’s (also called Transfer Model Curriculum or TMC process).

Will it become the case that only AA’T’s are accepted?  That’s a trickier question, but after hearing the president of CSUCI speak to the Board of Trustees this month (December 2012), I realized it’s something of a moot point.  The AA-T’s get preference – and right now, that’s enough to lock out students without AA-T’s.

On a happy side note, at the Fall Plenary Session, the State Academic Senate agreed and authorized its Exec Board to continue investigation into a resolution involving automatic degrees and certificates.  Right now, a student who meets all the qualifications for a degree or certificate has to go one extra step and file a petition to graduate.  Even with Degreeworks, students are not always aware which degree they either already have finished or are about to finish.  Naturally, that will be changing.  Students will become more savvy about figuring out which degrees they are about to receive (right now, as I understand it Degreeworks only calculates the student’s pathway to local A.A.’s not the AA-T’s – if I’m wrong about this, someone please correct me).  But, the State Senate is proposing that colleges be allowed to go ahead and award degrees to any student who has completed the pattern.  This would, by the way, up completion rates at community colleges since students do in fact transfer without bothering to collect their degree (and we are told that completion rates are tied to our financial future and to the administration of Prop 92 funds – which is our primary funding; how this going to take place is anyone’s guess).

So, within a few years, it is possible that

1) only AA-T’s will allow students to transfer (either by CSU choice or de facto)

2) that degrees will be awarded automatically (which may also up transfer – we hope so)

3) that baseline data collected today will reveal much about the most popular pathways to transfer in ways we are not accustomed to seeing

All of this is reshaping what we do.  Eventually, the State TMC process widened to include 22 completed majors.  Not all of them are completely worked out.  Each major developed a statewide task force, with invitations sent to every full time faculty person in the disciplines involved.  Academic Senate Presidents were advised of which groups were underway (Philosophy finally finished on December 10, 2012).  

Schools took different views on how to proceed with establishing AA-T’s.  Some of us wanted to wait until the TMC was finalized to submit our AA-T’s to our curriculum committees and Boards.  Other schools went ahead and did some guesswork, knowing that they could still tweak their curriculum further if needed, but also knowing that if the state curriculum was close to final, they would get a jumpstart on other schools.  At any rate, there are 22 available TMC patterns as of today, with two more nearing completion (Chemistry and Spanish) and three currently under construction.  The link just above will show you all that information.  There’s also a link on that page where you can sign up for your discipline to receive future updates.  

80% of Oxnard College students come to us stating that they want a B.A., only about 18% actually transfer.  In the end, all of this is about changing that.  Notice that there’s no distinction between CTE and Transfer any more.  CTE and STEM disciplines receive AS-Ts, that’s the only difference.  Four of the existing 22 TMC patterns are CTE; more are on the horizon.  If you’re curious as to whether your own discipline will eventually be included (if it’s not already), use the listserv sign-up link on the page I linked to above to see a drop-down menu of the disciplines who have organized at the State level.

Who organizes these groups?  The State Chancellor’s Office in conjunction with the State Academic Senates (Community College and CSU Senates – and soon, the UC’s).  In other words, we do.  

For more information about how the C-ID and TMC process might affect you, see my other post on the C-ID process.

From a local perspective, our own program review processes are incorporating TMC issues into program review.  We want to up transfers, so having an AA-T or AS-T is a good thing.  It’s something we need to support.  It may eventually be the case that a student cannot transfer without an AA-T/AS-T, so we need to plan for the future.  

There are compliance issues, as well.  New legislation requires that we construct TMC degrees for any disciplines where we already have degrees.  From my perspective, there is now a two-tiered system of transfer coursework:

1)  Coursework that is part of a specific TMC pattern

2)  All other GE Breadth Coursework

Since, once you combine all the 22 majors together, it’s entirely possible for a student to get a degree and meet their breadth/GE requirements, those disciplines that do not have any degree at all and are simply doing GE may end up looking redundant – in the future, a future that may be 4-5 years away.  Money for the community colleges is not going to go up; indeed, I suspect that despite efforts by the State Academic Senate to hold on to the mission statement of the community colleges that other missions, such as Pres. Obama’s Completion Agenda, are going to take root, redirect grant funding (already happening) and reshape our mission.  But even if not, transfer is still part of our mission, and it is huge reason that students come to our college.  Every dollar, every unit is going to count, going to be budgeted.

The underlying reason is pretty simple.  The entire planet is on austerity measures because we’re reaching our limits of expansion.  Even technological expansion cannot continue without large numbers of highly educated people working in teams, within a corporate structure (unless someone devises another economic system).  We are needed to rise to this crucial demand:  creating an educated citizenry.

While OC is only required to build 14 TMC patterns (by my quick calculation), I believe we should look at trying for more.  I also think that if your discipline is on that TMC list and you aren’t complying with the new rules (it’s actually law) by putting your TMC in place, it’s going to be a real problem at program review time.  Fortunately, nearly everyone is done!  The pioneers in the field (Amy Edwards, Marie Butler, Linda Chaparro, Robert Cabral and the business faculty in general) are of great assistance, but I can tell you that if you’re really confused the go-to people are Shannon Davis and Krista Mendelsohn.  

If you’ve read this post and the one on C-ID’s and can improve upon the information I’ve given, please email me at lkamaila@vcccd.edu ASAP.  

I still have questions, but I think I know the answers.  While recent legislation requires 100% compliance with providing AA-T’s where ever we have AA’s, I think it goes without saying that those must AA-T’s must actually work for transfer (which means that the curriculum must be C-ID and must have gone through the State approval process, which is getting a little slow).  As long as it’s in the pipeline at the State, I believe we’re compliant, but we aren’t really meeting the spirit of the law until the TMC’s at OC are fully operational, and we should all be working together to get that done.  

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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What the heck is C-ID?

What’s all this Course Descriptor/Course Identification business and why should I care?

Prediction:  Eventually every course that’s on a TMC will have C-ID numbering and descriptors

Summary:  Your courses have to be approved at the State level, in terms of meeting the C-ID descriptors, before your TMC can be used for transfer.

Well, if you aren’t part of the TMC (Transfer Model Curriculum) process you probably don’t care and even if you are, you might not care.  It was a mystery to me until I started working on the Anthro AA-T.

Simply put, the C-ID system is a set of common course “descriptors” that are supposed to guarantee that a student taking a particular class (given a common course identification number in the C-ID system) is getting the same basic curriculum everywhere in the state.  It’s the new CAAN system, but it has way more buy-in from the CSU’s and it’s here to stay.

Within our own district (which is not really a microcosm of the whole but is in some ways it’s own insular world), we have long pondered common course numbering.  The system that the new TMC process is using is called C-ID and it assigns 100- and 200-level numbers to lower division coursework, just as we do at OC.  Yay, OC.  But, other colleges throughout the state (and within our district) use the number 1 as the starting point for lower division courses – or even, oddly, sometimes the numbers 300 get in there (for lower division work!)  I can certainly understand why some committee, somewhere, decided to set forth a standard set of numbers, and that’s part of what the C-ID system is (it’s also much more).

The C-ID “descriptors” are actually statements about what should be in the course, its description, and its actual outline.  Learning outcomes are specified within the C-ID system.  Put in the most blunt manner possible, you can call your course “Intro to Whatever” but when it goes to articulate at the state level so that students can use it to transfer, it better look remarkably similar to the courses already in the C-ID system.

Yep, I mostly just used the C-ID descriptors and added to them for the Anthropology outlines and they seem to be doing fine.  I’ve done this since I came to the community college system, and it’s always worked.  No matter what you think you want to emphasize in a class, if you stick closely to what the C-ID descriptors say and use virtually the same language, your course will articulate.  You can add more content, but don’t take away content – cover all the described material.

Also, don’t bury the required content in a lot of other content or your course will look like a different course and won’t articulate.

Most of the time, most courses at OC articulate because we are all studying the C-ID rubrics and following them.  The courses also articulate because Shannon Davis does the same thing for us.  Curriculum Committee tries to be very helpful in this area too, but when you look at the sheer number of courses and how complex the system is, there’s no way that even the Curriculum Committee can be expert in your field.  You should really know the descriptors in your field.

Now, this is the dicey part.  Before a course can be part of a TMC, it must already be approved at the State level for its match with the descriptors.  Ouch.  When I learned this in August, I immediately went to work on the four courses in Anthropology that have descriptors.  If a course doesn’t have descriptors, you don’t have to submit it for approval to the State/CSU team, but if it has descriptors – as all of the core TMC courses do – you have to submit it for approval.

So, while my AA-T is done, it will only be when the State/CSU team of anthropologists reviews my descriptors for the four courses that my AA-T can be useful to a student.  Depending on the discipline, it’s taking 1-3 months for this to happen (and if my observations are correct, it’s taking longer and longer as the reviewers get more and more swamped with 116 community colleges submitting so much curriculum).

Upshot:  even if your TMC wasn’t approved yet, you should have heeded the announcement in August and gotten your courses updated.  Most of you did that or are doing it right now and hopefully that’s complete.  We’ll certainly be looking at such issues at PEPC and perhaps issuing advisories or something.  We have to do something to make sure we meet the TMC pattern goals.

In perusing what’s gotten approved at the State level, I can’t help but give a shout-out to Chris Horrock for being one of only two colleges in the system to get that Symbolic Logic class approved for Philosophy (so far).  Talk about a fast response!  If you’re not knowledgeable about symbolic logic, you should know that there are a lot of students who love, love this subject despite its grueling nature.  There are people who think that it’s as important as math in transfer, and it certainly leads to jobs in the computer field (I run into former students all the time who say that symbolic logic was the key to their current job success – although many of them ended up taking the course elsewhere, as OC hasn’t always had the right arguments to get Symbolic Logic into the schedule; the TMC process will change that).

I hope this tiny example helps you see how the TMC/C-ID process affects us.  And here’s a challenge to the historians:  take a look at what your discipline is up to, statewide.  History has 6 courses with descriptors – but only one course where I see finalized descriptors (the website is always a little behind reality – so let’s take that into account).  This struck me as interesting because philosophers have been busily making sure their courses articulate (even though their TMC was approved only 6 days ago).  The History TMC has been around for awhile.  What’s up with that, historians??

So, let’s issue a challenge to those disciplines who are behind in the C-ID process:  submit your curriculum and get it up to date!  Anthropology was so late in developing its descriptors that comparative data is not yet available (but should be in January or February, so we can play tag).  If your discipline was an early adopter, you’re already ahead of the game, so please, please take advantage of that (as Chris has done) and get your curriculum ready to go!

P.S.  I’m guessing that our historians are already busily at work getting this done, but from my side, I see the state approvals when they post – and I see what the Board approves.  I absolutely love hearing about your progress in this area (and there’s now a box on the Program Review form for you to say more – because every discipline has a slightly different story here).

 

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