The Clarion

Focus on Focus seeks to impact student success

Student purchases textbooks at Truax Bookstore on Thursday, Jan. 11.

Student purchases textbooks at Truax Bookstore on Thursday, Jan. 11.

Alexandra Christensen/ Clarion

Alexandra Christensen/ Clarion

Student purchases textbooks at Truax Bookstore on Thursday, Jan. 11.

Adrienne Oliva, Editor in Chief

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Students will be receiving more welcome letters from their instructors this semester than they have ever received in past semesters.

Though this might seem like an easy email to overlook during the hectic beginning of the semester, Madison College believes it is one of several practices that will improve the grades of all students.

Welcome letters, as well as five other practices done by Madison College instructors are a result of Madison College’s Focus on Focus.

“Focus on Focus is an effort by Madison College to focus on the issue of student course success, and what can we do in the classroom to improve student course success,” explains Tim Casper.

“It is our belief, because these practices have proven effective at other colleges, that we should experience increases in the students’ course success at Madison College.”

“A group of faculty and staff and administrators met since April of last year to identify a series of practices to engage students with in the classroom beginning in the Spring of 2018,” said Casper.

There are six practices that have been identified that Madison College will be encouraging their faculty to adapt.

These practices include sending welcome letters at the beginning of the semester, learning the name of the students in the class within the first three weeks of the semester, providing students with an assessment early on in the semester, providing time for the faculty and student to converse, using common elements in their syllabi as other Madison College instructors, and utilizing Blackboard.

“This is the first time in recent memory that the college has decided to take an approach of implementing a set of practices across the entire college to generate student improvement,” explained Casper.

Casper explains that Focus on Focus is important because it is not uncommon for students to drop out of their programs at Madison College when they are not experiencing success in their classes.

“If you leave the institution early without a degree or certificate, your chances of obtaining family-supporting employment in the labor force are not as great.”
Though some students come back after leaving, many do not attempt completing a program at Madison College a second time.

“If they leave the institution because they are not successful … they are missing that opportunity to complete the degree, and get into that higher wage job in many cases.

The main question Focus on Focus intends to answer is “How do we support students when they are here, today, the first time, with being successful with their studies?” explains Casper.

Focus on Focus will target not only the general success rate of all students at Madison College, but the success rates of students of color.

“We found that there is a difference in student success bases on race and ethnicity.”
In terms of gateway courses, as in the top 20 courses that students are enrolled in at Madison College, there was a gap between the success rate of students of color and white students.

“We found that student overall, in the gateway courses, are successful at a 71 percent rate

… When we broke that out by race and ethnicity, we found that our African American students are only succeeding in those courses at a 54 percent rate. Our Native American students, 63 percent. Our Latino/Latina students, 64 percent. Our Asian students, 69 percent. And our white students, 75 percent.”

“The practices, when they’ve been implemented at other institutions, should be moving all students forward,” explained Casper.

“As we engage in these practices over time, we hopefully will not only see everybody moving up, but see that gap based on race and ethnicity close.”

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Focus on Focus seeks to impact student success