Category: Andragogy – Adult Pedagogy

Hopeful GRIT: The Path to Tenacious Retention

by Dr. Paul Criss, Dean of Belhaven – Memphis/DeSoto

This was presented as a live webinar. The recording can viewed HERE

Hopeful GRIT is an introduction to Angela Duckworth’s work on GRIT and Ray Johnston’s work on Hope Quotient with the intent of applying principles in the classroom to improve student retention and overall performance.

Eighty Four percent of students want faculty who will be concerned about them as a person and their success. Hopeful GRIT is a model of how to help students build their perseverance muscles and improve their academic performance. Angela Duckworth conducted studies involving National Spelling Bee champions, elite military trained graduates, and top corporate sales people to determine if the secret to their success was talent or effort. The science showed that GRIT – the sustained application of effort towards a long-term goal, is the biggest predictor of lifelong achievement. GRIT can grow by helping students identify their interests, improve the quality of their practice, connect their work to their purpose, and finally create a sense of hope through the entire journey.

Hope liberates by releasing us from past mistakes. Hope motivates by helping us bounce back. Hope initiates by setting us free to dream. Hope actives by providing the fuel needed to make the world a better place. Hope is the greatest gift we can give and grow in our students. Ray Johnston says that hope is “a state of being God creates in you.” He encourages the building of seven hope-building factors in our life. I want to emphasize the third one: refocusing on the future by asking “what can this become?” Jesus did this when he called the disciples saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 NASB). Jesus was not focused on what people were like; he was focused on what they could become. Are we seeing our students and their work through this same lens: what can they become?

Five years ago, the retention rate in our graduate business program at the Memphis campus was 67 percent. We changed the way we taught the program’s gateway course and attempted to be more intentional about motivation by incorporating mini-lectures on grit, hope, dreaming, and addressing thoughts that had the potential to sabotage a student’s success. We have seen some good results in that by 2016 the retention rate increased to 82 percent and in 2017 it was up to 90%.

Some points of reflection for you consider might be 1) how can we develop and strengthen GRIT in our students? 2) how can we become better purveyors of hope to inspire students? 3) how can this be accomplished in various teaching venues: on-ground or online? Hopefully, you can see the value of encouraging students, developing their perseverance muscles, and helping them persist until they reach the goal set before them in their academic studies. The  PDF at this LINK provides the entire presentation and may help spark some more ideas to this end.

Advice for Teachers: Dare to Be Strict – repost

I’m passing this article on because I think there is some good information here for us.  This is always like walking a tightrope and yet if we don’t address it, the educational quality for our students suffer.  RLU

Joseph W. Trefzger PhD

For two decades I have taught 150- to 200-student sections of introductory financial management to majors in all business programs, plus business minors from diverse fields. Although the course has its fans—some even change their majors to finance each semester—many students find the material daunting, become distracted, and behave in ways that impede the learning of others along with their own. Distractions always have lurked in college classrooms; texters and Web surfers are merely the note passers and campus newspaper readers of the digital age.

READ MORE

Business Program Review

Dr. Chip Mason presented the annual outcomes report for the Business Programs at Belhaven University today in a webinar format. In that presentation he shared the basic structure of each of the business programs and how they are evaluated/assessed.  Belhaven’s business programs are accredited through the International Accreditation Council of Business Education (IACBE).  The key learning outcomes for all the business programs are:

  • Recognize/Solve Problems
  • Integrate Theory/Practice in Strategic Analysis
  • Master quantitative methods in analysis of business situations
  • Communicate clearly both orally and in writing
  • Work effectively with teams on various projects
  • Identify and analyze ethical obligations and responsibilities of business within the context of a Christian world view

Our programs are:

  • MBA: 36 credit hours, requires a 3.0GPA and no more than 2 ‘C’ grades: Assessment: Passing score on Comp exam
  • MSL: 36 credit hours, requires a 3.0GPA and no more than 2 ‘C’ grades: Assessment: Leadership development project
  • MPA: 36 credit hours, requires a 3.0GPA and no more than 2 ‘C’ grades: Assessment: Combination of program evaluation and tests
  • BBA: 48 credit hour business core: Assessment: Peregrine Tests & Capsim
  • BSM: 45 credit hour business core: Assessment: Capsim, Synthesis Paper, & Peregrine Samples

Dr. Mason then went over the results of the assessments for each of the business programs. He discussed course modifications and strategies for improving the scores.  Overall he expressed satisfaction with the programs in general, although he noted a few areas which need attention, specifically related to quantitative courses in the BBA and MBA programs.

Sadly, the recording of the webinar stopped after 8 minutes so I cannot link it here.  If you have any questions related to the webinar or specific assessments, please contact Dr. Mason.

 

 

 

Guiding Your Course

The course you are teaching was not created out of a Big Bang. Nor does it randomly exist without purpose. It was conceived as a collection of knowledge and competencies which fit into a larger picture. The larger picture we call a degree, or perhaps a concentration. When a course is well designed it fits into that larger picture as a piece fits into a puzzle, revealing and contributing to the fuller understanding of the knowledge which that degree/concentration represents.

The connection of the course you are teaching to the larger whole can be found in the Student Learning Outcomes, which can be found at the beginning of your module.  Sometimes they are called Learning Objectives or Competencies. They usually vary in number from 3 to 12, with 4-6 being the ideal. I have no doubt that you have read through them when you first looked over the module. The question I have, is: to what extent do those outcomes/objectives/competencies guide your instruction?

You might say, especially in the online course, that everything is so prescribed that there is little you can do that would impact the achievement of the outcomes/objectives/competencies anyway. Therefore, you might easily gloss over them as more academic rhetoric that is simply part of the course module which has no real bearing on the REAL job of teaching.

This, of course, is absolutely wrong. It is only as the outcomes/objectives/competencies for the course are achieved through student learning that the course can be considered a success.  While an effort has been made to align those competencies with the assignments, quizzes, and grades, the true measure of success, for you and the student, is whether they have indeed been met.

How to do that in a curriculum which is relatively “fixed?”

  1. Make sure YOU know the outcomes/objectives/competencies for the course.
  2. Through discussions in class and online tie the content back to the objectives.
  3. Through announcements online and in post-class email summaries, reflect on the connection of them to the work the student has done in the previous week, or the work which will be addressed in the coming week.
  4. Actively evaluate the achievement of the objectives both at the mid-point of the course and the end through discussions and any other ways you can.

Using these outcomes/objectives/competencies in an ACTIVE teaching pedagogy will make you a better teacher.  It will also better equip your students for success as they leave your course and move on to other courses.

Context: A Required Fundamental for Hermeneutics and Analysis

by Jon Pirtle, Full-Time Instructor, Atlanta

Recently I was invited to speak at a local church gathering on the biblical worldview with regard to some hot button issues in our culture. That’s a pretty common request, so I did not expect anything unusual to come of it. Boy, was I going to be surprised. About forty adults, forty to eighty-year-olds, assembled monthly to discuss current events. I knew several people in the class on a casual level. We shared a passion for history, so I was excited about being with them in their current events class. The evening arrived. I entered the church, greeted folks, engaged in small talk, and then the class leader introduced me and asked me to pray. After that, we distributed printed agendas so the class would have a road map of topics for the evening’s discussion.

We were in a political season in GA. The primary elections for governor and other state offices had been held just days before. Arguably, like much of our nation, the class divided when it came to social issues and politics. The atmosphere had been cordial, respectful, and dignified when I entered. But when the topics of politicians’ stances with regard to illegal immigration, special “rights” for the LGBTQ demographic, liberation theology, and “social justice” engagement came up, the atmosphere changed. Some of the men’s voices grew louder. I watched three of the women’s faces grimace. Several wives squeezed their husbands’ hands as if to say, “Patience.” I was hearing Solomon’s admonition in my mind (ESV): “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). In short, I sensed things were going south … quickly, and I had not even spoken yet. What was I going to do?

Then something happened that made me realize I had an opportunity to hopefully bring calm to the room and draw the focus to the biblical worldview. One man cleared his throat and said loudly enough we were all sure to hear, “You know, it’s not our place to judge! Jesus told us to ‘Judge not, that you be not judged.’” He then sat back in his chair as if he’d settled every issue for the night.

What shocked me was this: the class as a whole seemed knocked off their positions due to one man’s quotation from part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Suddenly I felt like Esther. Was I here for such a time as this? I believe I was, so I raised my hand. The class leader looked at me and said, “Jon, you have something?” “Yes, I do. May I ask a few questions and then just make a comment or two?” I asked. “Sure,” he said.

“I heard someone say that we are not to judge. Is that right?” I asked.

“Yes,” came a wave of affirmations from the class.

“Do you know what the Lord says in the following verses?”

Silence filled the room.

“Jesus tells his followers to not throw pearls before pigs. Isn’t he judging? Isn’t he making distinctions? He called some people pigs—foul animals to his first-century Jewish audience.”

Again, silence.

“Furthermore, Jesus tells us in that same sermon to not condemn sanctimoniously but to remove the logs from our own eyes. Does that not require us to judge, to discern, our own shortcomings? Isn’t judgment involved there?” I pressed.

I knew I might make some enemies by drawing them to the text, but the text of Scripture must be interpreted correctly. Otherwise, all sorts of misapplications can occur with supposedly biblical grounds. Proper context is key.

This is the way I ended, and for the remainder of class I just listened.

“Folks, may I suggest something to you? You are in a current events class. You spent half an hour excoriating politicians with whom you disagreed. Some of you condemned the president for wanting American sovereignty and laboring to build a wall to protect legal American citizens; others of you recognized that social justice is encroaching, and even overtaking, some mainline Protestant denominations. You condemned your political and theological enemies, and you lauded those with whom you agree. How can you misapply Jesus’ words about judging? Your whole class is designed to have you think biblically—to judge, to discern, what God would have you think and do. Does that make sense?”

I share this story from my own life only to reiterate what we need to do with our own writing and when we teach writing to Belhaven students. When we quote Scripture, context is key. Explaining and understanding the whole and proper context of a verse/passage/book, etc. of Scripture is essential in our vocation as educators and Christians. When Paul neared the end of his life, and was about to be executed for his Christian witness, he wrote to Timothy crucial words for all of us, too, to heed: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Challenges for Adult Education as Learning Trends Change

by Dr. Ken Elliott, Dean Belhaven Jackson/Madison

Adult education is on the forefront of changes in the culture. Mary Kay Park (Executive Managing Director for the Far East Broadcasting Company—Korea in Los Angeles), the main speaker for the annual conference for the Christian Adult Higher Education Association, summarized the greatest challenges facing adult education.  Her background in intercultural studies brought a clearer understanding of these challenges we face in adult education and the intercultural context of our enterprise.

In her first session, she asked what drives changes in learning trends.  Socioeconomic factors, she said, are top of the list.  We can expect an increased cost of higher education.  With this said we need to think about how adult education fits with the current job market.  Students want to see an immediate value to their education.  In addition, many students are divorced parents looking for ways to improve their economic level.

The second factor to consider is “the disillusionment of value.”  The rules for working with current bureaucracies and for education keep changing and creates disillusionment on the part of adult learners.  The new crop of prospective students are not driven by “passion” as in previous generations, but rather they are purpose driven.  Long drawn out education is often not primary for them.  The tendency is pleasure first and education later, or travel first and learn later.  This is the Instagram generation.

Also, challenges will persist, she says.    Prospective students want to know how education helps them now.  Many adults are working full time and trying to raise a child. This creates challenges for higher education programs in marketing, recruitment, and enrollment.  The new generation wants it now – the “no child left behind” generation, the group that was taught to pass the test, lacks critical thinking skills, and wants to rather know what is needed specifically for the test.

The question that most students are asking internally is: What is more important to me (and my family)?  They are conflicted between immediate needs as opposed to future needs.  It will be up to educators, to help prospective students to see the value and purpose of their education.  This will also mean that we will have to help these prospective students to understand the need to change their habits and see the great value in education.

How to Navigate the New Norms for Adult Education

by Ron Pirtle, Dean – Belhaven Chattanooga/Dalton

I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Christian Adult Higher Education Association (CAHEA) conference recently. While there were a number of really good sessions, one particularly stood out to me as it related to what we have all seen as the potential new norms for adult education. Dr. Claudia Dempsey reminded us of the traditional attitude toward professors, which is the “Sage on the Stage” and was the standard until the beginning of what we know as the “Computer Age.” Dempsey feels that once the internet became accessible for all, “higher education became a fluid, real-time, globally-accessible, inquiry-based exchange” and if we give careful thought to that statement, I believe we would all have to agree that it is rooted in fact.

Some statistics that Dempsey shared concerning, what she referred to as, the “Brave New World,” are:

  • Distance education has now surpassed six million students
  • The student demographics in higher education are now 73% non-traditional
  • We know have consumer students – meaning that higher education is evolving into a customer service industry. (“How can I serve you” vs. “Come meet our standards”)

While the last statement is difficult for most of us to swallow, I believe many of us would concede that this is the attitude we see displayed by more than one of our students. Dempsey actually refers to this generation as the “Starbucks Generation.” She expounded on this designation by pointing out that our students, generally speaking, are no longer just a coffee generation, but a venti, non-fat, salted caramel mocha frappuccino generation. When we shift our thinking to understand that description is representative of students that we are going to be teaching soon, our attitude towards how we present information to our students must be adjusted. The traditional “lecture” format is not what our students are looking for as they participate in their education.

Dempsey addresses this attitude by referring to what Mats Alvesson calls “The Triumph of Emptiness.” She reveals that Alvesson believes that our pursuit of marketability, superficial shine and branding is allowing us to succeed at the triumph of emptiness. Because of this emptiness, Dempsey fears education might experience the assembly-line mass production that has been avoided for years. Should that happen, she feels it could result in several things for professors:

  • Loss of job security
  • Loss of voice
  • Increased academic work/demands
  • Isolation – smaller/long-distance teams
  • Perpetual upgrades in learning systems, which result in bugs/glitches
  • The need for supplemental income

If we just accepted that this might become the reality experienced in higher education, the pursuit of pouring into our students’ lives would be futile. I, for one, am very thankful that we work at an institution where we do not pursue an assembly-line mass production of graduates.

While the attitude presented by Alvesson could become a reality, students that sit in our classes do not experience the triumph of emptiness. I believe that is based on our pursuit of integrating the Christian worldview into all of our classes, along with what Dempsey referred to as cultivating a climate of C.A.R.E: Compassion/Affirmation/Respect/Encouragement. It is my joy to work with instructors who are committed to investing in the creativity, productivity, and resilience of our students, all while enabling them to deepen their understanding of Christ and his place in their daily life.  So, for those of you who have picked up the mantle of teaching, never underestimate your ability to overcome and help our students overcome the triumph of emptiness!

Reflections from CAHEA – Teaching practices with Adult Students

by Dr. Larry Ruddell, Dean Belhaven-Houston

Dr. Joseph Flowers spoke on “Basic principles and practices for teachers of non-traditional adult students” at the annual Christian Adult Higher Education Association (CAHEA) conference. We have several good articles on instruction in this blog, but it always good to review and remind.

Dr. Flowers started by emphasizing that our roll in teaching is not necessarily to “teach” students but to “create an environment for learning.” Thus, people with different strengths and gifts can “help students learn.” A small few have the gift of teaching and can lecture effectively because of that gift. Others bore students after ten minutes of lecture but can help students learn through a number of other class activities.

Flowers reviewed the basics about andragogy but went further to introduce three “radio stations” (two of which are pertinent) that helped explain adult learners and their perspectives.  The first station is “WII-FM” which stands for “What’s in it for me?” It highlights the importance of relevance in instruction, answering questions like; “why do students need to know this information, how will it benefit them, how can they use it in practical ways, and do students know what to expect?”

In other words, students need to see value in what they are learning, so as instructors, we always need to be building bridges between the course material and how the knowledge can impact students. As Flowers points out, “adults feel the application of information is the primary motivation for undertaking the learning project.”

The more the instructor has experience in the topic covered and relate professional experiences and evaluate course content based on actual professional experiences, the better for students. So, we as instructors should bring this experience into the classroom each week.

The second channel covered by Flowers is “MMFG-AM” which stands for “Make me feel good about myself.” In other words, “instructors should value the learners’ life experiences.” So, as instructors, we must walk the line between covering the course material and valuing and encouraging the individual student. Respect is critical. We must always keep in mind that advanced degrees don’t make us better than anyone else. We must value the experiences of our students whether working in major corporations, small businesses, non-profits, churches or educational settings.

Part of making “students feel good” is mentoring them in personal responsibility and confidence in their ability to perform. A “well done” when a student knows a professor maintains high expectations for performance actually means something versus a platitude for “participating” by submitting an assignment. In fact, when I’m fishing for something positive to say about a lackluster paper, I’ll write at the end of the comments, “glad you were able to submit something.” It sounds trite but depending on the week, it may have been all the student could do to just submit their assignment so even that effort, even though not highly lauded, should be acknowledged.

You want students to complete assignments but hopefully can give them flexibility in how they handle assignments based on their own interests and goals for learning. As Fisher points out, “adults need to be independent and direct their own learning.”

Finally, make sure to chunk material together so it can be memorable. Do not rely too much on PowerPoints. Include three modes of learning; auditory, visual, and tactile. And “tell, show, and experience.”

So, we removed some basic principles of teaching adults from Dr. Joseph Flowers who presented at this year’s annual CAHEA conference. Hopefully some of these points are good reminders for continued success!

Webinars to Inform and Improve

Greetings,

We are working on a re-design for the Faculty Resources tab of our site and in the process the webinars, which have been listed there, have all been moved to YouTube for easier access.  As I was compiling these links I reviewed some of the webinars and was reminded of the wealth of information these contain.  I’m posting that information below and encourage you to look over the list and review a couple yourself – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming Webinar of the Faculty’s Role in Student Retention – see the calendar link on this page to register.

APA and Grading Writing Across the Curriculum. Presenter: Dr. Everett Wade https://youtu.be/HFeLIpg2lUk

Bring Life to Your Classroom. Presenter: Dr. Ed Garrett https://youtu.be/urKi7DGVGQM

Christian Worldview: Practical Applications for the Classroom. Presenter: Dr. Paul Criss https://youtu.be/jFm9nNoFoXc

Effective Use of Library Resources. Presenter: Dr. Kim Priesmeyer https://youtu.be/CxpBGF8AHAs

Introducing Critical Thinking into the Classroom. Presenter: Rosemary Foncree https://youtu.be/HotogEC0PEc

Plagiarism: Helping Your Students Avoid It. Presenter: Dr. Kim Priesmeyer https://youtu.be/jFmhBggVdzw

Student Engagement Strategy: Experimentation. Presenter: Dr. Thomas Randolph https://youtu.be/vvOAQl2Q_48

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Foster Critical Thinking. Presenters: Dr. Jerald Meadows & Elizabeth Juneau https://youtu.be/Qdt7Mu5sGno

Using Canvas to Facilitate Team Projects. Presenter: Dr. Rick Upchurch https://youtu.be/RWuMnPtAvZA

Millennials in the Classroom. Presenter: Emma Morris https://youtu.be/0kgNsVN3SDs

Canvas Updates 2017. Presenter: Joe Villarreal https://youtu.be/0wWkVfKNNbA

Andragogy: Adult Learning Theory Applied. Presenter: Dr. Rick Upchurch https://youtu.be/KnDc3zfpvrs

Accessing Case Studies from Belhaven Library. Presenter: Charles Gaudin https://youtu.be/3k_X6RQ5jvM

7 Laws of the Learner

7 Laws of the Learner is the title of a book by Bruce Wilkinson published in 1984.  The focus is on understanding how students learn and ways to enhance student learning. Because Dr. Wilkinson is a Christian, biblical principles are applied throughout the material.  He draws out the word for teach in Deut. 4:1 and learn in Deut 5:1 and shares that they have the same root.

According to Hebrew grammar, the fundamental idea … means to busy oneslef eagerly with student’s learning. Do you see how the Bible’s mindset is the opposite of the normal mindset? The Bible says that teaching means “causing learning.” This is the heart of the Law of the Learner. No longer can you or I consider teaching merely as something the teacher does in the front of the class.  Teaching is what the teacher does in the student.  How do you know if you are a great teacher? by what your students learn. p. 26-27

I know we have great teachers working at Belhaven. I know you are passionate about your students and their success. I know you go beyond expectations to do all you can to achieve student learning.  We are blessed by a faculty who recognize the biblical foundations of what they do and strive to do what they do “as unto the Lord.”

May God bless you for all you do and the lives you are impacting by your faithfulness.