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Our Commitment to Student Success

Our Commitment to Student Success

Columbia College Chicago
on Oct 27, 2014

CONVERSATION CLOSED

In what ways should Columbia improve to ensure our students are personally, professionally, and academically successful? How should we define and measure student success? What would Columbia look and feel like as an institution committed to the success of our students? These are only a few of the questions we as a community need to explore and address as we improve the student experience and we enhance the educational value of our institution. We look forward to a robust conversation regarding student success at Columbia. Please share your voice.

A Subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee developed the ten questions that will be posed one at a time in this discussion forum from Oct. 30 to Dec. 8. You can see the members of this Subcommittee listed as moderators for this discussion. They will each periodically assume this role.

The moderator’s role is to facilitate the discussion by adding relevant information (e.g. data, connections to resources, clarifications), providing some additional deep-dive questions to spur more discussion, and assuring a conversational environment that is consistent with the principles of the Civic Commons platform.

The moderator is not responsible for summarizing anyone’s comments or making any decisions based on the comments provided. All comments will be collected, aggregated and incorporated into the final strategic plan.

Moderators (4)

Participants (128) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2017-07-23T04:40:31+00:00
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Recent Activity

Barbara Calabrese
on Dec 09, 2014
"I think the most important change Columbia needs to make is to commit to a substantial increase..."
Joan Hammel
on Dec 09, 2014
"Inviting professionals in different fields to compile current industry standard info documents..."
Joan Hammel
on Dec 08, 2014
"It would be helpful to have a formalized structure which would allow students to interface with..."
Aldo Guzman
on Dec 08, 2014
"Sorry about the previous long post, not sure what happened there.  "
Aldo Guzman
on Dec 08, 2014
"I agree with Yvonne's suggestion.  Peer-to-peer mentoring can be very powerful and a..."
Laura Daniels
on Dec 08, 2014
"First, I agree with Lyn.  It is very important career education to start at the freshmen level. ..."
Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014
"Could we offer 2-credit Career Development courses during the semester, over J-term, and in the..."
Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014
"Before we ask alumni and industry professionals to make a greater contribution to the College,..."
Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 08, 2014
"This and all the other strategic plan conversations will close tonight at 11:59pm. Conversations..."
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014
"I have often wondered why Columbia does not offer more certificate bearing education (teaching)..."
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014
"We hear increasing calls for access to various tools and spaces where students (and faculty?) can..."
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014
"storage for commuter students, secure bike storage, shower/changing room for commuter..."
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014
"Resurrect student-alumni job shadowing program, Job du Jour. It connected current students with..."
Ruth Leitman
on Dec 08, 2014
"In Cinema Art + Science new foundations, as part of an early assignment, the students go on a..."
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014
"Adding a comment about the academic advising model at Columbia: I do believe that Columbia..."
Justin  Witte
on Dec 08, 2014
"Within the school students need to be exposed to more practicing professionals who have active..."
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014
"Ways we can demonstrate our commitment to student success: Continue to look at reducing the..."
Susy  Schultz
on Dec 08, 2014
"I've been teaching as an adjunct journalism department for several years. I've also taught at..."
Susy  Schultz
on Dec 08, 2014
"May I echo Mr. Levinson's point. These dedicated and amazing students often juggle jobs, family..."
Maurya Orr
on Dec 08, 2014
"I happen to be in the great position as an alumni of Columbia and also a full-time staff member..."
Lisa DiFranza
on Dec 08, 2014
"As someone who is dedicated to re-imagining our First-Year Seminar course, I think it’s important..."
Jenn Jones
on Dec 08, 2014
"I would like to echo what Kevin has brought up -- it's not going to "fix" everything, but I do..."
Kristi Turnbaugh
on Dec 08, 2014
"Someone brought this up in the roundtable, and I wanted to echo the sentiment. Students need a..."
Jenn Jones
on Dec 08, 2014
"I wanted to formally endorse all of Mary Rachel's ideas about how technology tools can enhance..."
Luying Chen
on Dec 08, 2014
"I agree with IIya. I'd like to add that with the current resources and policies, students who..."
Ann Hemenway
on Dec 05, 2014
"Certainly the College needs to re-implement the office of a Graduate Dean and designate at least..."
Laurie Lee Moses
on Dec 05, 2014
"When I think of supporting student success, as well as 21st century learning, and yes, student..."
Susan  Stirling
on Dec 05, 2014
"Building on the career development thread, I agree that internships are important. Even before..."
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014
"I agree with Beth's comment's above.  First year students often ask for advising help in class."
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014
"It must have WiFi and computers available for those that do not have their own. 24 hours is..."
Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014 - 10:36 pm

Could we offer 2-credit Career Development courses during the semester, over J-term, and in the summer? Could we offer a work-semester option, similar to Semester in L.A., where students could work in the field while completing online courses and assignments and earning credits at the College? Could we provide externship opportunities for students by asking industry alums to host a student(s) for a one-day job shadowing experience?

 
Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014 - 10:03 pm

Before we ask alumni and industry professionals to make a greater contribution to the College, can we identify some ways in which we can develop a closer relationship with them? We could hold an annual Day at Columbia for alumni, industry professionals and others, when they could participate in a variety of mini-classes to introduce or re-introduce them to the campus and to some of our most creative and engaging faculty. As part of the Day at Columbia, we could provide an annual State of the Arts address, identifying major art trends for the year and maybe even making some predictions for the coming year. This experience could include a fee to cover the expenses for the day including a breakfast and/or lunch.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 08, 2014 - 7:51 pm

This and all the other strategic plan conversations will close tonight at 11:59pm. Conversations and the comments made within them can still be viewed after this time, but any comments made after 11:59pm will not be included in the final report. Thank you for all your great participation!

 
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014 - 6:28 pm

I have often wondered why Columbia does not offer more certificate bearing education (teaching) programs for k-12 or 6-12 teaching majors.  This would not be the choice for many of our students committed to working directly in their fields, but for many students who want to explore and develop their knowledge and skills in the arts, media or other programs offered, this would provide a practical career option in which they could still be engaged with their subject of interest.  It might also bring in a new category of student interested both in the programs we offer as well as in the teaching profession and working with youth. 

 
Justin  Witte
on Dec 08, 2014 - 5:11 pm

Within the school students need to be exposed to more practicing professionals who have active connections to their fields. This means seeking out staff and faculty who are engaged in their fields and currently practicing in those fields.  There are too many faculty at this school who are teaching from a foundation of experience that is no longer relevant.  

An equally important issue is making sure students graduate with managable levels of debt related to their chosen profession.  Are we able to say we are supporting our student's success when we graduate students with degrees in fine arts and comedy who have debts multiple times what they can resonably expect to earn in a year?  More financial aid is one solution to this,  but that is a limited well to draw from.  Another option to explore is to reevaluate course requirements for certain majors. If, for example, a student interested in a studio specific majors were required to take less general electives or less liberal arts courses they could reduce their costs and have the time to focus more on thier chosen fields of study.

A Columbia that was more focused on our students success would be more nimble, more creative and more willing to restructure what it means to get a creative education.  It would not look like the other ubiqutious Liberlal Arts Schools or Art schools that populate the higher education landscape.

 
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014 - 5:06 pm

Ways we can demonstrate our commitment to student success:

Continue to look at reducing the number of hours required by many of our majors:

  • This will help keep college more affordable by increasing the opportunity for students to graduate in four years;
  • Would allow students to broaden their educational experience (study abroad, minors, internships, etc);
  • Would increase the college's appeal to transfer and "non-traditional" students considering Columbia College.

Strengthen the advising system:

  • Add more professional advisors;
  • Assign a faculty advisor to freshman cohorts (FYS faculty, perhaps).

Increase student counseling/mental health services

Increase student internship and experiential learning opportunities

 
Susy  Schultz
on Dec 08, 2014 - 3:11 pm

I've been teaching as an adjunct journalism department for several years. I've also taught at Northwestern's Medill School as well as Roosevelt. Media is an evolving field and there seems to be more silos between departments than is necessary. The openness and understanding of the faculty to help creat opportunities for departmental collaboration seems key to an arts college. And I will say each time I meet people from various departments, it is a real pleasure. There are just a plethora of fascinating and creative people who are teaching here. More collaboration by design of those people — either by driven by indivudals or by students — would be great.

The school also has a rich full-time faculuty and a rich adjunct crew. But there seems to be  a deep animous between the powers that be — the union representing the adjuncts and the administration. This cannot serve anyone, neither students nor faculty, well. There has to be a better way to utlize the deep professional connections the adjuncts have to help augment the faculty's work and elevate the college as a real connector for Chicago in the job sector. 

 

 
Maurya Orr
on Dec 08, 2014 - 2:54 pm

I happen to be in the great position as an alumni of Columbia and also a full-time staff member supervising students after I graduated.

 

I can only speak for myself and what drew me to Columbia, but I can assume I'm not alone in my feelings. As I was looking for graduate schools in 2006, I wanted something that would offer me experience and an open door to a very specific field, youth media. Columbia had just started the AYCD (Arts with Youth and Community Development) program, out of then AEMM, and was the only program in the nation that would put me in organizations I had followed for years but could never find an opportunity to get in and work, even volunteer. AYCD would allow me to be paid for this experience and my classes would help me with real skills and issues that executive directors faced, like the legal issues with working with underaged students, payroll, marketing, development and fundraising, and strategic plans and organizational missions. It was a dream to find such an opportunity and I would gladly pay for an education that helped me secure a job and skills for my future, one built on my values and passion. Unfortunately, AYCD no longer existed when I finally entered into graduate school, but the AEMM program made sure that I was still receiving the courses behind the experience. CCAP stepped in to give me the hands-on experience I was disappointed I would no longer get through the program itself.

 

I was hired as a student worker for a program called TEAM (Transforming Education through the Arts and Media), a project that I felt ready and eager to take on as it fit well with my experience in youth media and education, my bachelors from Antioch College in Youth Media and Social Change, and what I hoped to gain at Columbia, shooting me into a successful career. Since then I have become the manager of that program, successfully meeting all of the requirements for our DOE grant.

 

While at my job at CCAP as a student assistant, I was able to put all of my coursework into perspective. It gave my education purpose. Rather than going back to notes once I finally did land a job in my field, I was able to use it immediately, without hesitation.

 

Columbia and CCAP gave me the network I was looking for. I felt lost in traversing my field before entering my program. I found a perfect position with CCAP, met colleagues who nurtured my growth, and felt secure in my choice of career to explore inside and outside the theory of my work.

 

While I view undergraduate education as a place to explore knowledge on deep levels, both new and known, graduate school was a place to firm up my decision for a future career. Without a chance to work in my field thanks to Columbia and CCAP, I’m not sure the program would have appealed to me as much. Graduate school would have seemed too costly if I wasn’t going to get an immediate network and job possibilities.

As I supervise both undergraduate and graduate students, I want to ensure that they also get the chance to use working with CCAP as a place to explore careers and use what they are learning in the classroom. It is my goal that none of the students see their position as a place to only clock their hours, but instead experience what our field in arts education can be for them. Without that unique experience, many of our students can go to places more affordable. Ultimately, it is our connection with departments like CCAP and CPS and other organizations that draw students to the school. We must continue to provide students with hands-on opportunities to put their education into practice and make that cycle of learning complete.

 
Kristi Turnbaugh
on Dec 08, 2014 - 12:58 pm

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Someone brought this up in the roundtable, and I wanted to echo the sentiment. Students need a lot more help in professionally marketing themselves. I hire student workers often and have reviewed hundreds of Columbia student applications for my editorial positions. The vast majority of these applications are completely unacceptable. Incomplete applications (failure to follow directions), misspellings, incomplete sentences, failure to address the cover letter to the appropriate person (or worse, addressing the letter to someone at another organization). This is basic job application stuff. I toss these applications into the trash before even getting to the resume. If students can’t get the basics right, why would anyone want to hire them? If I do get to the resume, students after fail to even include Columbia College as their college on the resume. The list of fails goes on. The students could have the best skills in the world, but if they don’t learn to present themselves professionally and as a problem solver for jobs, they will not succeed. In my experience: If they get an interview with me, they often show up for interviews late and in too-casual attire (for example, shorts and a T-shirt). Somehow, Columbia needs to better train students to present themselves more professionally. Perhaps it’s a required course or required session(s) with Portfolio Center. But more needs to be done.

 

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Dec 05, 2014 - 6:06 pm

When I think of supporting student success, as well as 21st century learning, and yes, student life, and helping students become life-long learners—all of these goals are served by people gathering together to study, talk, (maybe over snacks or coffee), to share ideas, argue, experience art (and life) real-time in meat space and NOT alone. Solitude and quiet focused study and creative work is excellent, and essential, but any work’s ground is filled with life energy, fertilized, aerated, and planted with new ideas and feelings from, and through, experiences with other people. 

We need to think about making more and various places where students can be together for a multifarious set of purposes and plans, and which can also facilitate serendipitous encounters that could later turn into deeper connections and foster collaborations. My deepest and most treasured memories of college are all about groups: lively discussions in small classes or after rehearsals, hanging around the lounge in the Commons before going up to a meal. We talked about life, friends, politics and activism, and yes, even our studies, and our creative work. Staying up all night with my ceramicist friend who was firing raku pottery I met other nocturnal artists, and learned about Japanese art. A casual conversation in the lounge with an intense and brilliant activist introduced me to the ramifications of the IMF and the World Bank, entities I never knew existed until that moment. My world got bigger through the students around me. 

 

I had many places to meet with others, and bounce ideas around informally. The faculty and the College created the crucible and the cocoon for these explorations. The spaces (and the time) allowed for and afforded an easy cross-disciplinary sharing. How can Columbia College do that in our scattered, time-crunched state? It’s got to be possible. Students seek out these kinds of spaces, like water finding its level. Let’s make more spaces (and time) for them to be together. And, while we’re at it, let’s make space for faculty and staff (and students) to hang out, discuss, and engage each other. We all need to discuss ideas, inspire, and problem-solve together as a circle of equals, to stay lively, and vital as people and as an institution.

 
Lyn Pusztai
on Dec 04, 2014 - 8:36 pm

I think one of the things we can do to ensure our students professional success after graduation, is to do all we can to make sure that incoming students know as soon as they get here, all that is available to them in terms of career development.  One of those things is internships.  Supporting students early on in how the internship programs work and are structured, so they can plan to take advantage of them as they become eligible is so important.  (Things like knowing that their GPA must remain at 3.0 or above to take advantage of many of the opportunities according to industry standards, and having a close relationship with coordinators who work closely with industry professionals to make these connections for them is key).  If they understand the path earlier on, they can plan their academic schedules to include them. Showing students that they can gain real world experience that not only builds their resume while they are in school and gain contacts, but also informs how they approach their classes while they are here to get the most out of them. Also knowing that support is there to make use of industry contacts in the months right after graduation while they are getitng on their feet.  Students I do this for routinely have a much greater hire rate then those who find the internship office at the end of their time here.  

 

 

Responses(2)

Susan  Stirling
on Dec 05, 2014

Building on the career development thread, I agree that internships are important. Even before students begin to think about internships, faculty can bring professionals into the classroom. I am partnering with a team from Gensler, the architecture and design firm, and my students are working with them on a real-world design problem. We have visited the Gensler office, and their team has come to our class.

It is crucial to brand Columbia College as the place for companies to go for the best students. This will take some work and coordination but it is possible, and will be a strong selling point for good students to choose Columbia College. Because of its location in the city there should be many more opportunities available for Columbia College students. Relationships with industry need to be developed as part of the new strategy and commitment to student success. 

 
Laura Daniels
on Dec 08, 2014

First, I agree with Lyn.  It is very important career education to start at the freshmen level.  It will help students to be prepared and attain the valuable skills and experiences they need for a career post-graduation.

 

 

In addition to internships, I think it is very important to provide other experiences for students to venture outside of the classroom and become involved in their industries.  This could be attending a conference, taking a tour of a company, or show their work at an industry event.  These experiences are extremely valuable.  It helps students learn, through real-life situations, how to network and promote their work and themselves.  It is important for us to strive to provide these kinds of unique learning opportunities.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 03, 2014 - 6:47 pm

What online and human resources need to exist to help promote student success, a positive Columbia experience, and persistence to graduation?

 

Responses(7)

Jennie Fauls
on Dec 04, 2014

Focus on the 'human' resources for the entire first year, beginning with new student orientation and registration. In my experience, students complain of confusion in the first year and then feel like time was wasted later because they didn't know where to go and how to begin.

The administration seemed collectively proud of a move towards online 'distance' registration for new students but I feel like that only created a feeling of distance, even after they arrived.

Note that this is coming from a Moodle Fellow, online teacher and huge advocate for advancing our online resources, too. The first year needs to be about humanizing and familiarizing our staff and faculty community here--all offices, programs and departments. 

 
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Dec 04, 2014

I agree with Jennie about investing in more 'human' resources. It is impossible for students to make real connections when many of the areas are incredibly short-staffed. Every year the New Student Programs staff gets smaller and smaller and I am amazed at what they pull off. From a college advisor perspective our average student caseloads are 2x what is nationally recommended by NACADA.

 

I believe there are many investments to be made in online resources. Perhaps these investments have already been made elsewhere in the college, but haven’t trickled down (or over) to different silos. I wrote a longer post below and don’t want to be too redundant,  but in summary:

 

1. New student registration can be humanized if there is a required advising appointment beforehand. This can take place in-person, over the phone, or via webcam. I have used Skype with students who are abroad but Google Hangouts should be explored since it has screenshare and there is already a Google interface with Loopmail.  I’ve heard of Blue Jeans being used around campus and some have looked at Cranium Cafe. One barrier is very few staff who interact with incoming students in an advising capacity have computers capable of web conferencing.

2. All departmental advising content (4-year plans, department specific info about internships, coordinators of areas, etc.) was deleted from the new website(s). This info was used to advise students on a daily basis and helped avoid shuffling students around the campus looking for answers. The CAC truly misses having access to this information for advising. Could it be easily accessed by students, faculty, and staff through standardized Moodle or students.colum.edu pages? The Photography Dept. Moodle page is an excellent example. I strongly feel this should happen sooner than later.

3. It was mentioned below that students, faculty, and staff need more information about the courses that goes beyond the course description in the blue box on the registration page. Since all courses have a standard Moodle presence; could an instructor choose to have some content visible to the CCC community? A page could display more information about the course such as topics covered, student work, perhaps even a syllabus, etc. It wouldn’t have to be required, but I know many instructors are passionate about the classes they create and access to this info could help students find classes that are a great fit for their goals.

4. A digital file cabinet for students that could house personalized 4-year plans, documents, etc.

5. Updated online tools and processes for 21st century communication with college students. What are the best modes of communication? One example is currently the College Advising Center calls every single student who received two or more APRs. These conversations help connect students to resources and strategize how to turn the ship around. Sometimes students pick up the phones; voicemails often go unreturned. Would students be more responsive if they received a text message to come in and talk to their advisor? Would students show up for advising appointments if they had the option to receive text reminders through Timetrade?

 
Mark Klein
on Dec 04, 2014

My question to these comments;  Are the advisors qualified to give the advice themselves? 

I have had students that I felt were mis-guided. I often try to deal with my students as closely (personally) professionally as I can.  In some cases this requires indivdualizing the student's specific needs, or at least from my perspective at the time. 

I think a better approach might include networks that allow Faculty (both part and full time) to have discussion.  Or at least to pre-empt issues. 

The Academic Progress Reports we use institutionally, don't seem very effective to me.  Maybe they flag 'general' problems, and capture some troubled students, but this requires students follow up.  I have given APR's where students never even come to me. 

Sometimes the systems we create only provide a band-aid,  this may stop the bleeding temporarily, but does not provide a solution for the wound in the first place. 

 
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Dec 04, 2014

I believe that is a great question for all advisors at the college; whether staff, faculty, or peers; regarding a student's academic path, career strategy, and well-being.  

No piece of technology can replace in-person conversations and guidance. Yet it can facilitate a space for more of those individual conversations to take place.

In terms of students graduating, technology can also help provide advisors (staff and faculty) with accurate nuts and bolts information.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014

There is a problem for both students and faculty with classes that do not run which are needed for graduation in both majors and especially minors.  I've noticed that classes which are not offered every semester often have trouble filling in comparison to classes that ran the previous semester.  If we want students to graduate on time then they need to be able to get the classes they need.  I'm not in favor of a year long schedule but it might be nice to mention in the course catelog if a class is generally fall only or spring only or fall and spring or all year including summer.  I think that would help students and faculty plan and therefore improve progress towards gradution.

I also think person to person interaction is much more effective than over the internet (either emails or forums) so it's hard to have these conversations in a disjointed format.

 
Jenn Jones
on Dec 08, 2014

I wanted to formally endorse all of Mary Rachel's ideas about how technology tools can enhance the human resources that are advisors (faculty and professional.) We definitely need to invest in additional student contact methods such as text messages and online advising (skype, google hangouts, cranium cafe, etc.) 

I think we need to seriously consider changing Student Information System companies because Jenzabar is too small of a company to have viable technology partners.  Other SISes such as Banner, Peoplesoft, and Datatel, are easily able to integrate 3rd party tools such as Degree Planning, Transferology, and Degree Audits into their systems.  It won't be fun to change from Jenzabar and no program is perfect -- but there is so much out there to assist the students and our staff members that simply won't work with Jenzabar. 

 
Barbara Calabrese
on Dec 09, 2014

I think the most important change Columbia needs to make is to commit to a substantial increase in full time faculty.  Majors need to be able to connect to faculty on a daily basis, not just once a semester for registration and advising.  Many of our departments have inappropriate student to faculty ratios--we are not currently functioning with respect to best practices.  Yes, if we look at total faculty, including our LAS faculty, but we need to have more faculty in the major programs of study. Students need to connect with faculty for mentoring and to insure that students, especially when they first matriculate, join the life of the department and the college, i.e., participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, choose an appropriate path through the curriculum and receive mentoring and support.  And, we need to listen to our students and prospective students.  Contemporary students need different things than when I was in college.  I believe full time faculty can truly make a difference in the success of students--I have seen it happen over the years. Contemporary students need more individualized programs and individual attention from faculty than in the past.  We have terrific faculty (both full time and part time) and wonderful students.  But we must have more full time faculty to support the students.

 
Expand This Thread
Ilya  Levinson
on Dec 03, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Our CCC curriculum is designed for full-time students; many of current CCC students work 20-30 hours per week. This creates an uneven response to the concepts and ideas we teach them. More financial aid and a stipulation that the student can only work x-number of hours per week will create a better learning environment.

 

Responses(2)

Luying Chen
on Dec 08, 2014

I agree with IIya. I'd like to add that with the current resources and policies, students who have long work hours could be advised to take at most four courses. Advising can also be more intentional in that advisers can help look at students' schedule and encourage them to have a balanced and manageable schedule. When students who commute and who work long hours try to take five courses, that fifth course can hurt their overall learning experience and well being. 

 
Susy  Schultz
on Dec 08, 2014

May I echo Mr. Levinson's point. These dedicated and amazing students often juggle jobs, family issues, family care and school. If there were more financial aid, that would help, but it would also create debt. I think a smaller class load as Ms. Chen points out would help. But there has to be some accomodation for the juggle these students have vs. the juggle that the full-time students have. 

 
Expand This Thread
Sebastian Huydts
on Dec 02, 2014 - 9:35 pm

In addition to the curricular issues already discussed at length here, I see academic success further affected by four major practical issues:

  1. The current academic agenda: The Fall semester simply starts too late. As a result the Fall semester becomes a mad dash with a first week that is off to a bad start (it already misses one day because of Labor Day), which offers no break after week 8 (unlike Spring) and has a dysfunctional week around Thanksgiving (when class attendance is abysmal). Many faculty are working under strict curricular deadlines during Fall (New Program/Course Proposals etc.), do the largest part of committee work etc. and are stretched thin. I propose the administration seriously consider starting the AY two weeks earlier, allow for a week of "Fall Break" after week 8, and cancel classes for the entire Thanksgiving week to allow for some breathing space. We have competition a few hundred yards to the north that does exactly that.
  2. The sorry state, use and support of technology: Although periodically improvements take place, one thing has remained constant: An opaque, top-down approach that ignores student and faculty advice, and which has delivered its contituents a plethora of systems that do not communicate, require a lot of "busy" work, and are prone to too much error. Would you bank with an institution that requires you to use Moodle, OASIS, Slideroom (suddenly to be replaced by "Decision Desk"), "My C Self Service, 360, IRIS and so on? Systems should be designed around the academic needs (rather than the opposite), and should integrate its data seamlessly.
  3. The budgeting system: The current budget year is still aligned with the semester agenda that we had more than a decade ago. As a result upgrades/resources always arrive late in Fall, while the semester is already in full swing, much like "mustard after a meal". Is it possible to fix the budget year, perhaps at the same time the Fall Semester is readjusted to start those two weeks earlier as discussed under #1?
  4. The lack of local, STABLE, administrative assistance at the departmental level: I have observed upper administration mushroom to its present size, and for the last decade it seems engaged in an endless game of reshuffling, renaming and reorganizing. Although I will defer questions regarding necessity of stability in upper management to those who reside at the top, this constant change is mirrored at the departmental level, where I believe administrative stability is essential. We could surely use more familiar friendly faces (we have them, but too few) rather than unfriendly computer interfaces (of which we have too many, on rickety computers at that) at the departmental level. People to be hired should remain where they are (for a decade or so at least maybe?), get to know their department in and out, and serve as the go-to person to help students navigate (inter-) departmental affairs etc. When one of them gets sick, a substitute should not have to wait for months to get hired, while work and issues pile up and the practical functioning of a department screeches to a halt.
 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 30, 2014 - 5:44 pm

How can the College enhance its efforts to support students who are struggling with health, personal, and transitional issues to increase their matriculation to graduation?

 

Responses(6)

Clayton Smith
on Dec 01, 2014

I teach Information Management both in the classroom and online, and I've found that mirroring the subject matter closely between the versions of the course gives me some great tools for assisting students in the classroom section who have to miss large chunks of time due to health and personal issues. I've been able to grant those students access to the online course videos, and it's been really beneficial for them. It gives them an unabridged way to catch up with what they've missed, and though this hasn't been the case in my class yet, if a student knew he had to take an extended absence due to personal or health issues, they would have the opportunity to follow right along with what we're doing in class by accessing and watching the online videos.

 
Peter Saxe
on Dec 01, 2014

Pardon my bluntness...but this question strikes me as rather disingenuous. When you admissions policiy is by definition "generous", you will neccessarily admit a disproportionate share of students who struggle in any number of ways. The last I heard, we were accepting the vast majority of students who apply.  So come on...this is not difficult. Become more selective, and the number of students with 'issues' (who would have trouble gaining admission elsewhere) will be reduced and graduation rates will rise.  But this is nothing that anyone with eyes open does not already know. The truth is not always politically correct..but it is nevertheless, the truth.   

 
Kevin Obomanu
on Dec 01, 2014

One way to support our students is to first best use and support the resources we have available while also having the students be well aware of those resources. As we have a diverse student body, not only defined by race and ethnicity, but also socially, economically and varied unqiue personalities. The student organizations and the departments under Student Success has had vastly limited personnel and funding for the past few years. I've mostly seen this in Multicultural Affairs, where the existing staff works tirelessly to not only support students of color and students of the LGBTQ community, but also supports those who may not fit into those categories. Adequate personnel would definitely help produce quality support and programming for our students.

New Student Programs has also been struggling with one full-time staff person. That first semester and the weeks leading to the first semester are imperative to not only the retention of students, but also to the overall well-being and success of the students. Orientation programming gives new students a road map on what pathways and detours are available for their unique situations they have and road blocks that may arise, especially for those who may not have been able to read all the information about our college's offerrings. A few more staff people in that office would enhance the quality of the programming from this office.

Regarding health issues, if a student unfortunately develops a dire situation that prevents them from attending classes, maybe developing a service oriented program in which a peer from each of their courses, assigned by maybe the instructor or department, meets with the absent student regularly to help with homework and in-class assignments. For something like this to work, however, we would need to intergrate the idea of service either in our doctrine or core cirricula, or both.

 
Sharon Wilson-Taylor
on Dec 04, 2014

Clayton, very interesting idea

 
Jenn Jones
on Dec 08, 2014

I would like to echo what Kevin has brought up -- it's not going to "fix" everything, but I do think we are lacking in the idea of first-year support.  Our New Student Programs office has shrunk from 4 full-time staff members to 1 full-time staff member in 5 years.  Instead of being able to innovate new ways to orient and support new students, that office has had to work too hard at mantaining the initial orientation program.  

"New Student Programming" isn't just summer orientation, connections, and weeks of welcome -- the office should be staffed to support semester and year-long initiatives involving the transition to college. 

Along with this, our FYS course needs to be evaluated  -- while I know we are quick to fight against the ideas of 'best practices' as being code-word for 'common' and therefor, probably not what CCC needs -- there IS a place for recognizing new student transitional support in the form of a first-semester course and that support is heavily researched.  There are very clear broad guidelines for this type of experience and I think we need to examine whether or not our current course content and structure are meeting these guidelines. 

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Dec 08, 2014

As someone who is dedicated to re-imagining our First-Year Seminar course, I think it’s important that we make careful decisions about the particular need (s) the course is serving and the purpose of the course at Columbia.  

Is FYS  a humanities-based entry point to a new Columbia Core Curriculum? 

Is it, as you suggest, Jenn, a place for “student transitional support”?  

Yes there is a lot of research, and “best practices” support a variety of perspectives and outlooks on what a first year seminar course could and should be. 

 
Expand This Thread
Mahalia Jackson Elementary
on Nov 28, 2014 - 10:08 pm

Many of Columbia College's student participate in CCAP, service projects, field experiences, and/or field hours; perhaps the organization members and students they engage with should complete a survey on the Columbia College students professionalism and engagement. 

 

 

Responses(1)

Barbara Iverson
on Dec 01, 2014

We organize our education units (classes) as if it is the 20th century. We act as if we teach subjects, not human beings. Each student has some knowledge they bring to every class or interaction. We set up the 15 week, standard classes as if students are buckets and it is our job to fill the bucket for 15 weeks.

We need to disrupt our model and offer our students the opportunity to individualize the amount of TIME (and thus money) they spend to learn what we teach. 

If we used a proficiency-based model of teaching/learning, students could opt out of areas they already know, and focus on learning new skills and ideas, or integrating knowledge they have acquired in new ways. We could use technology to track progress through online courses and face to face courses. We could individualize our offerings, and they have a set of project or capstone classes which students take to learn to work with other disciplines or to produce work that is useful in the real world.

That way many of our students could get to the "meat" of what they need to learn in a way that worked for them, rather than forcing everyone to study a "subject" for the same amount of time.

Time and attention are the important commodities in the 21st century, but we squander them for our students by acting as if learning really happens in 3 hour chunks, once a week for 15 weeks. 

 

 
Expand This Thread
Jessica  Burton
on Nov 24, 2014 - 2:15 pm

As a graduate student I feel as if the gradute programs have been ignored for way to long. The undergraduate school and graduate school need to be separated and run by chairs who are versed in graduate level education and classes need to be taught by instructors who have their doctorates and are experienced in the profession and coursework. 

 

Responses(1)

Ann Hemenway
on Dec 05, 2014

Certainly the College needs to re-implement the office of a Graduate Dean and designate at least one financial aid officer who handles graduate issues only. However, according to national standards, not all disciplines, especially in the arts, require a PhD to teach at a graduate level.

 
Expand This Thread
Louis Silverstein
on Nov 24, 2014 - 11:13 am

Pursuing our professional/artistic/? agendas enahnaces Columbia's presence in the larger world, our knowledge and skill level, and our teaching, all of wish contribute to success. At the same time, spending time beyond the classroom with our students to interact with them hloisticially also contributes to stucdent success. In evaluating faculty, a greater appreciation/value needs to be acknowledged in this regard.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 23, 2014 - 7:44 pm

What new structures and ideas will better promote deep interdepartmental connections and collaborations to foster student interdisciplinary work?

 

Responses(7)

William Frederking
on Nov 24, 2014

In addition to highly qualified faculty and excellent and appropriate curriculum, what is essential for student success at CCC is providing excelent specialized facilities, staffing and access to facilities for all CCC students. What if specialized spaces including movement rehearsal spaces, lighting studios, computer labs, Music private lesson spaces, and professional performance spaces were no longer "owned" by departments.  

What if these spaces were college spaces and staffed by college, not department staff? In the School of Fine and Performing Arts, use of any space (or equipment) that a department considers "specialized" restricts access to that space (or equipment) unless the student is a major and currently enrolled in a department course. For instance, an A&D student who has completed a basic lighting course, may no longer have access to the space and facilities in the Photography Department to continue a project begun in a Photography course. In a college that purports to educate students in the arts and media, we must provide students professional facilities and equipment to pursue their work, regardless of their major department.  Providing shared specialized facilities operated by knowledeable staff would also allow students across schools, disciplines and majors to interact in common college spaces rather than segregated departmental spaces.  Also, college spaces could be designed and built or upgraded based on an understanding of the curricular needs of multiple programs.  Efficiencies might be discovered that would provide necessary software in computer labs that support multiple majors, or the renovating (upgrading) or building of new spaces such as movement rooms that would allow Theatre, Dance, Interdisciplinary, and Creative Arts Therapy students to rehearse or soundproof Music rooms shared by Music, Musical Theatre, Music Business or Audio students.

In order for these spaces to work across departments and majors, the space renovation and allocation structure at the college would need to be a part of the curriculum approval process at the college.  Academic space should always be tied to curriculum and should therefore be tied to the costs associated with offering academic programs and apporved by the Provost's office. Creating deep interdepartmental connections rather than non-sustaining "one-off" individual faculty collaborations involves re-thinking curriculum and space approval at the college. 

 
Louis Silverstein
on Nov 24, 2014

As I stated at one of the forums,I witnessed in the early years of Columbia, there much greater actual interdepartmental connections and collobarations than is the case today. Among the primary reasons for such a reality was Ma Sherman's and the Columbia bar scence on Lincoln Avenue. 

Ma Sherman's was a mom and pop restaurant right next the 540 N. Lakeshore building that was Columbia's primary address. Faculty from virtually all departments used to gather there for food and conversation. No formal structures, no bureaucracy to deal with that serves to deaden both ideas and action, just the sharing of interests, ideas, etc. in a non-competitive atmosphere did the trick of faculty joining together to connect and collaborate on an interdisciplinary project/class/etc.

The same holds true for what came to be known as the Columbia bars on LIncoln Avenue where faculty, administrators, staff and students (of drinking age) would go to hang out, get loose and talk about their interest, ideas, etc. And from these secnariors interdepartmenbt connecitns and collaborations would flow forth.

Columbia needs a Ma Sherman's. As for the bars, perhaps a hookah place would more fit the times.

 
J Dennis  Rich
on Nov 24, 2014

Wonderful answers from colleagues.  I want to suggest that faculty can and should play an important role promoting collaboration and interdeparmental collaboration.  I think one barrier to this is the way in which faculty, especially tenure track faculty, are evaluated.  As an institution, we seem committed to the pedagogy, research and service model of evaluation.  This if fine, but we have not rewarded or incentivized cross disciplinary collaboration.  Faculty must play a major role in promoting cooperation among departments and disciplines. If they are penalized for doing this instead of more traditonal curriculum development, we discourage interdisciplinary work. 

 
Pangratios Papacosta
on Nov 24, 2014

•  Create a set of creative incentives for Departments, faculty and students to explore interdepartmental collaborations. One of the easiest and fastest way of doing this is with the Budget.  If a small but symbolically significant amount of the Budget normally allocated to each department were to be set aside and be released ONLY after evidence of such practices - then this will encourage more departments to set up new or strengthen existing collaborative efforts.

• The evaluation of faculty (including the awarding of tenure or the rank of Professor) should reward interdisciplinary collaboration.

• Preference should be given to new faculty who have experience, qualifications and or interest in Interdisciplnary work.  Emerson College already is doing that. • New full time lines slould be in well defined  Interdepartmental positions. This will make the evaluation of the new faculty a little more challenging but not impossible. The rewards of this type of a new generation faculty will be immensely important for our future as a college.• On the 3rd year after a sabbatical - faculty should be given a release time of one course - if they are willing to co-teach in a class outside their discipline. Faculty should apply for this privilege. 

• Create an Internal Bureau of Speakers. Faculty that apply to be on that list must state their expertise and the topic(s) (with a brief abstract)  that they are willing to share as guest speakers on a pro bono basis to any class that a colleague outside their department invites them to. If successful this program will generate a healthy and busy faculty traffic across departments. 

 
Pangratios Papacosta
on Nov 25, 2014

One strong recommendation in the final report of a 2006 Task Force on Interdisciplinary (see attached) states..

 

In order to better promote and support interdisciplinary experiences for faculty and students at Columbia College, while also striving to remove the barriers to such success, the Interdisciplinary Task Force recommends that a unit be established under the auspices of the Office of the Provost to promote and coordinate interdisciplinary experiences at the College. 

 

Interdisciplinary programs encourage our students to think outside the box and create/discover connections in different disciplines that are meaningful and create  cutting edge creative opportunities. This kind of thinking will enrich the Creative imagination and will help all students in their chosen field.  But besides the interdisciplinary courses/programs we ought to think of ways by which we can increase the cross-pollination of ideas amongst our faculty as well.  We need to create opportunities for our talented faculty to get together, exchange ideas and establish parnerships that can explore new themes for our next curriculum - rich in creative and interdisciplinary courses and programs. This meeting of talent and minds can very well be known as the Incubation Center for Novel Ideas. 

 
Rosita Sands
on Nov 30, 2014

I completely agree with the need to provide a space (or place) for this to happen. Collaborations and cross-departmental connections can, in fact, be difficult to make happen.  This is due to a number of obstacles, some of which are related to timing.  Making contacts with faculty early on while projects are being planned and in advance of those projects being finalized, in terms of dates, times, and specific time requirements would certainly be helpful.  My thought was to suggest that we provide a place (perhaps on IRIS/Moodle) for faculty and students to share information about projects are collaborative in design and/or would benefit from the involvement of students and faculty from other programs and departments in the planning and execution of interdisciplinary projects.  Involving faculty and students at the planning stages would support deeper connections, since true collaboration requires a more equitable participation in the entire process. However, the idea of an “Incubation Center” sounds much cooler.

 
Lillian Williams
on Dec 01, 2014

Additional technology spaces where students could interact with each other outside of the classroom would be great.  That would foster peer-to-peer learning.  It would also serve as an incubator for academic and entrepreneural experiments.

Depending upon mission, a department might consider student portfolios for program-level assessment purposes.  Those portfolios could be assessed for interdisciplinary work, in addition to other outcomes.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Dana Connell
on Nov 23, 2014 - 12:00 pm

I found this Ted Talk today that inspired me to share here.  It's only 11m - have a look.  I think this is why I came to CCC, it was the kind of school I wished I had as an undergrad.  Maybe we should listen to kids like this - they are our future. 

 
Dana Connell
on Nov 22, 2014 - 10:00 am

I want to expand and link a couple of comments from Friday's forum.  Creating community is essential for student success and the college as a whole.  It was devastating to hear the senior who had NEVER met his faculty advisor.  I hear comments like this all the time.  As a faculty member who is usually IN the office 5 days per week, they come to me.  In fact, a student dropped in just before I left for the forum - on a Friday!  

In my early days as full-time faculty, I felt a strong sense of community with my department and our students.  Casual chats in office doorways, students just stopping by to say hello or ask a question.  This was in the day when departments resided together on the same floor and under the same roof.  Today our conversations take place (quickly) on the street, via email, or not at all.  In many cases while we are so busy collaborating across the college, at the same time we are failing at collaborating within our own departments.  This hurts our sense of community (students and faculty).  Our adjuncts are in one building, our full-time in another - communication is via email or not at all. 

Let's come together - let's have great ideas and conversation in doorways with coffee in hand.  Relationships are built face to face.  Think about it - if you have ever known someone but not met them, your relationship completely changes with face time (and I don't mean the App!).  The saying that winner must be present to win is worth noting.  

Relationships and collaboration also need to take place IN THE FIELD!  Be present at industry events and functions, support student events, classroom activities.  Share with colleauges, share with students - have rich discussions.  Chicago has SO much to offer yet I bet in many areas we don't even scratch the surface. 

The college needs to reward active engagement in the field and in the classroom.  I came to CCC because the college placed high value on industry and relationships vs. research.  If we are becoming a research institution just say it.  We used to spend time at industry events and functions, work with industry partners and show students how to network, get our students jobs and internships - what happened? Was it technology, a change in culture, too much me and not enough we?   

Our college today reminds me of teenagers who sit in their rooms self absorbed in media while their parents text them from the next room. 

This forum has been a nice way of encouraging inclusion but many aren't participating.  It takes effort but I think it's worth the effort - come on, put your phone away, walk away from the computer and let's talk to one and other!    

 
Paul O'Malley
on Nov 21, 2014 - 10:01 pm

About improving students' academic success:    Frequently, three-credit-hour courses are taught in one session each week.   It is difficult to assimilate new concepts, develop understandings and skills, when so much is presented to a student without much time for reflection and integration.  Maybe more 3-hour courses could be offered on a two session a week basis.  This would make it more inconvenient for me as an adjunct, part time instructor, but I believe it might be in the best interest of student learning.

 

 

Responses(1)

Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014

Also, it's currently difficult to get the split classes to fill.

 
Expand This Thread
Lissette Hall
on Nov 21, 2014 - 4:41 pm

Can someone please post a copy of the 10 questions asked in the Round Table?  Or is there a link that I have missed?

 
Mark  Kelly
on Nov 21, 2014 - 10:12 am

If a student/campus center was created, it should be an extension of the classroom, deepening student learning and building student community as it acts as a creative crossroads; a vibrant main street where students can eat, relax, study, and converse; where connections are made across all the disciplines; and, where the students’ emerging body of work becomes palpable with screenings, performances, readings, and exhibitions.

The building’s design should bring to life Columbia’s Key Principles for Student Success in which students tap into the creative energy around them, embrace the campus and the city, expand diversity, develop their body and mind, and make their mark while building a body of work.

Because we are an urban, high-rise campus, a center is neither a frill nor a luxury, but rather a pressing student need.  A student center has the potential to: 

  • Be a powerful tool to attract and recruit students
  • Encourage student persistence
  • Create a focal point for our campus
  • Build synergy and connections across the disciplines as students’ body of work is showcased
  • Build a vibrant student community
  • Offer a “home” for Columbia’s 7,500 commuter students, comprising 75% of our student community
  • Accommodate large-scale college events
  • Leverage influential architecture to create a sense of place
  • Offer a rallying point for the college’s fundraising efforts
  • Allow us to reconfigure offices, programs and resources as we develop “one-stop shopping”
  • Provide a compelling home for student leaders and student organizations
  • Bring together offices and programs that support career development and employment: an Alumni Center; Career Initiatives and the Portfolio Center; a centralized Internship office
  • Become a launch pad as we push our students out into the Chicago community where learning intersects civic engagement
  • Act as a student laboratory that promotes learning beyond the classroom, encourages interdisciplinary practice, and offers a practical setting in which real problems are debated and practical skills evolve
  • Offer information technology tools for student learning

An organizing idea would be to name and design floors around clusters or hubs such as: 

 

  • Relax
  • Lead
  • Eat
  • Socialize
  • Make
  • Showcase
  • Expand (diversity)
  • Launch
  • Engage
  • Be Well
  • Connect
  • Explore
  • Innovate
  • Research

 

 

Responses(3)

Jan Chindlund
on Nov 21, 2014

Agreed, Mark.

Extension of the classroom as a place where intellectual collisions occur and where new ideas are encouraged and created.

Also place that feels like "home"

A place to meet and  interact across, between, among disciplines in developing solutions to real world problems.

 

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 21, 2014

The subject of student space and learning should involve talk of space for part-time faculty to meet with students. In some departments, there really isn't a decent devoted space for students to have a private conversation with their teachers who are part-time faculty. Opportunities for connection and engagement are missed because any kind of comfortable interaction would have to happen in passing or at Panera or Peet's.

The college should re-commit to providing better workspace and private meeting rooms for any faculty member without an office of her own. This will encourage all faculty and students to connect.

At my small liberal arts college we would run into teachers at the student union and eat mozzarella sticks together while we talked (...it was in Wisconsin). Create conditions for students to see their teachers in comfortable spaces where the teachers and students feel equally welcome.

 
Katie Collins
on Nov 23, 2014

What if Columbia had a Co-Working space where students, entrepreneurs and community based organizations(CBOs) could work together. This would be a great incubation space for our students to test out their ideas and what they are learning alongside industry professionals / community members. Many of the CBOs that CCAP partner’s with are either very limited on space or share space with another entity and don’t have access to meeting rooms or even enough office space. Some need space to have a board meeting or staff retreat. This would be great for students to meet potential clients or future employers. Natural networking takes place in these spaces just by working alongside of others.

 
Expand This Thread
Chad Wilson
on Nov 20, 2014 - 3:00 pm

I humbly submit to this group that our support structures for the student experience are woefully understaffed and overlooked.

In my own opinion, informed by a professional and educational background in the field of student affairs, we need:

(1) a structured and required Orientation program that provides a foundation for college transition from high school to college. Employing only one full-time staff member in the office of New Student Programs is, frankly, neglectful. Whether this happens in the summer or the week prior to the fall semester is not as important as its content - study strategies, health & safety, housing resources, transitional support, academic habits, and where to go for help;

(2) stronger involvement in the residential life of our first-year students to enhance the curricular experience by conecting them to those experiences they're having outside the classroom (and to also support the basic needs of our student residents - the stories I have heard of their housing situations are appaling). Living-Learning communities - not just themed halls - are one example of how this can be done. Further, the residential experience needs to work in tandem with the weeks of welcome and orientation experiences so that students don't have to jump through hoops to get to campus to experience orientaton. We need to remove financial and structural barriers for students;

(3) A stronger focus on career development as it relates to learning outcomes - not just portfolio development. While the Portfolio Center does great work, the marketing and events coming from that office seems to overshadow resources focused on job interviewing, resume building, entrepreneurial skills, education and informaiton about how to get and fund work as an independent artist, which many of our students will do. Also, how do we talk to students about developing their portfolio and/or their "body of work", as opposed to just showing it. Are there conversations early in their years where we talk with them about the choices they are making about how to be involved and create work with an end-goal in mind? Seems to me the focus is not on developing a "body of work" but instead the portfolio is an often an afterthought in their final semester when they are told they need to show it to someone. Before that, it is this mysterious thing they're supposed to be working on (this may be department-specific, which suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't approapriate);

(4) Faculty and curriculum/faculty development professionals may benefit from training and education in student development theory to help meet our students where they are in terms of support. Student Affairs professionals and faculty can work more closely together to aid the student needing help. We have an early warning system in place for poor academic performance (EASE), but it would be beneficial if faculty (either as instructors or advisors) were also equipped to refer students to appropriate resources on campus when necessary.

(5) In that vein, we need to make those appropriate resources more accessible to our students. They are seemingly uncoordinated and spread throughout campus. Making all faculty and staff aware of the contact persons and resources available are a constant struggle with a decentralized approach. If there is a central structure to student resources, it is unclear (Dean of Students? Student Life? Does that include Learning Studio? Are Career Services and Portfolio Center the same office? Does a student go to the Library for help with research? Are Health Services and Counseling Services the same office?);

(6) A centralized, physical student center that housed resources for students, along with the activities in which students engage, would be a huge benefit to our campus community, as well as a stong step in the right direction in putting the support they need right at walking distance.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 19, 2014 - 5:58 pm

 

Are there any questions we haven’t asked that you wish we had asked?

 

Responses(4)

Jennie Fauls
on Nov 20, 2014

Simple question to the CCC community (students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, administration): Do you believe that our employees' health and well being is directly connected to student success?

If structural, systemic changes could improve employees' financial status (freeing up time and energy spent at 2nd jobs, for instance) could that translate to direct improvements in our students' education and experience?

Sometimes I feel chastised for suggesting that this correlation is real and important. I still believe that communication about and attention paid to staff and faculty wellness positively affects our ethos/environment and student learning.

I'd be interested to hear what others think. Is this a frivolous, selfish question or is it fundamental to our strategic plan to achieve greatness?

 
Margot Wallace
on Nov 24, 2014

We should ask: How can we get students to attend theses sessions?

I brought one class to the roundtable on 21st century curriculum and although going in they knew little about the range of inter-disciplinary opportunities, minors, flexible curricula, and marketing themselves, now they know.  I wish there had been a time slot for all my classes.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014

I think getting student feedback is important. 

 
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014

Adding a comment about the academic advising model at Columbia:

I do believe that Columbia should reconfigure its undergraduate academic advising to match the expectations and needs of our students.

The  "advising model" in place now is ill-fitting. It was designed so that all new students work only with a college advisor for the student's first year, and then move on to work only with a faculty advisor through graduation time. (While this is the current model's plan, most students ignore it and see both college and faculty advisors from start to finish.)

Students expect and need academic guidance from faculty as soon as they first arrive on campus. Faculty are well-suited to discuss majors and course selection along with career development with students from the get-go -- and students love that. However, the nitty-gritty of degree requirements could be left for a centralized, professional advising staff, who also should work with students from Day 1 through graduation.

In fact, students could benefit most by having a full advising team assigned from the student's start to their finish at Columbia. That team would include faculty advisors, college advisors, academic coordindators, internship coordinators, and career advisors.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 19, 2014 - 5:58 pm

What are some new and innovative ways the College can connect students to alumni mentors and industry professionals?

 

Responses(5)

Julie  Ford Alevizos
on Nov 20, 2014

 

The Portfolio Center is consistently bringing in industry professionals for presentations, lectures, portfolio reviews and a host of other events.  Our most prestigious event every year is "Industry Events", which is being reborn as "Portfolio Day" - when we invite creative industry professionals to campus to review and critique graduating students portfolios.  The interaction between students and professionals is critical in student learning, and teaches stduents to push themselves professionally and immerse themselves into their industry as it is a crucial part of their development. 

 

 
Jan Chindlund
on Nov 21, 2014

I think we could reach out to our alum and industry professionals with a brief survey (perhaps annually) asking if they have the desire and capacity to be a resource for a student in one of several ways:

1. be a mentor (rules of engagement need to be agreed upon including duration of relationship, frequency of connecting, method for connecting, expertise being offered, etc.)

2. offer a "tour"

3. give an informational interview

4. involve in a project

5. create an internship

Make the results of this survey visible to students and let the students with some guidance from advisors pick matches.

 
Pangratios Papacosta
on Nov 25, 2014

Brunel University in London - UK arranges for students to take classes for 6 months followed up by 6 months work at a relevant industry (that collaborates with the University)  http://www.brunel.ac.uk/business Here in the USA I know of at least one such institution that has the same co-op program. (Kettering University) 3 months of academic study is followed up by 3 months of work for which students get paid by the industry.  http://www.kettering.edu/experiential-learning  These industries are carefully selected and they enter into an agreement with the University.  They report back to the university on the progress of each student, who is evaluated on a rubric of 30 or so questions.  This is like a longer and much committed type of Internship with full pay. This program provides the hands on experience for the students who are often offered a full time job by the industry they work even before they graduate.  Students do not have to worry much about loans, since they get full pay. At Columbia College Chicago we do have many programs that can easily establish similar Co-Op relationships with Chicago industries.  Many of our students can benefit from such an innovative approach to Hands on and No Loans education that is enriched with such a strong element of Experiential Learning.

 
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014

Resurrect student-alumni job shadowing program, Job du Jour. It connected current students with available alumni for a day of job shadowing or just an informational interview. The Portfolio Center or a full-service career center could support this program and prepare/coach students (and alumni) to participate effectively and productively.

 
Joan Hammel
on Dec 08, 2014

It would be helpful to have a formalized structure which would allow students to interface with alumni and other professionals. Industry Nights are great. Internships are awesome.  Some alumni participate in these things, but there has not been a specific call to all alumni to be a resource for students.  And if they agree to participate, having a clear menu of choices such as these things along with a speakers bureau, shadowing opportunities, webinar library, google docs of professional tips and other ideas so alumni know options.  How do you create a database so alumni could be contacted in ways and as often as they are comfortable by different people across campus?  Folks might be asked to speak to students once, and never asked again.  Others feel like they are asked too much.  Some alumni have asked for one easy to use online location where this information is accessible to all.

 
Expand This Thread
Eric Booth
on Nov 18, 2014 - 2:38 pm

Having worked at several major conservatories, I believe you serve students best when you prepare them for the professional world they are to enter.  Juilliard, where I taught for ten years, does that well for only a portion of their students.  CCC serves its students well, in my view, if every single one develops a feel for and the skills of teaching artistry and community engagement while they are at CCC.  These are essential skills in the kitbag of the 21st Century artists, and indeed, they are they only way we are going to succeed in expanding the active interest in the arts to the 93% of the U.S. population that thinks they are for others.  Make sure students feel capable of, and excited by, engaging with a wide public.  These are the skills of teaching artistry, and they are evident all over CCC, but not pulled together in a way that helps students best.  The students of mine from Juilliard who are doing the best 20 years later are the ones who massaged teaching artistry into their artistry. 

 

Responses(1)

Jan Chindlund
on Nov 21, 2014

Yes, Eric. We heard you address us here at Columbia a few years ago. Very compelling messages.

Future success of our students will hinge on their ability to collaborate in solving real world problems and in teaching and inspiring others to engage in and across disciplines/practices/fields.

 
Expand This Thread
Sara Kalinoski
From the Moderator: Sara Kalinoski
on Nov 17, 2014 - 6:04 pm

Great points everyone and thank you for contributing!

What are your thoughts on if a "student/campus center" was created, what aspects should be considered and included?

 

Responses(4)

Lance Cox
on Nov 17, 2014

There is very little that I actively need from a student center on our campus, but ideally it would have 1) wifi that works (have you been to the library lately? Can't remember the last time I could access the internet on my own computer in our library, which is a shame), 2) a kitchen in some form, 3) truly quiet spaces, and MOST IMPORTANTLY 4) it should be open 24 hours. It is a shame that we don't have a place to be on campus past 11pm, for several reasons. (I understand that Plymouth Court can be a 24 space for students as needed, but it's not at all what i'm talking about. Nor do I necessarily feel welcome there past 10pm anyway.)

 
Jacob Chartoff
on Nov 20, 2014

We need to create a space on campus that fosters collaboration – not just cross disciplinary within the current student body, but also engages alumni and professionals in our community and beyond. Something that becomes a landmark, a multi-use research and maker-space for students, faculty, and technical and design professionals to gather, to experiment, to ‘make it, break it, and fix it’. A destination that is on the edge of what is out there currently; something that says ‘This is what Columbia has to offer that you can’t get anywhere else.’ The space should have unique features, equipment, and facilities that don’t appear in other places on campus in order to make the center a destination, to promote use of the space, and to encourage the mixing of all of our user groups.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014

It must have WiFi and computers available for those that do not have their own.

24 hours is important. 

So is food and comfy places to hang out.

It also should be safe.

 
Paula Brien
on Dec 08, 2014

storage for commuter students, secure bike storage, shower/changing room for commuter students (and others), kitchen for student use, flexible meeting/gathering/event space, quite study space, space designed that fosters student connections/friendships, welcoming and comfortable

 
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John Barajas
on Nov 17, 2014 - 3:01 am

I have an issue about worrying about my grades. Either moodle was down or my teachers haven't posted grades on assignments yet. Those issues are understandble. Moodle was down becuase of maintance or becuase it was just acting up and not working. Teachers have more than one class to worry about and have to grade each one fairly and need time. Teachers won't always be able to get grades up on schedule because they need more time or sometime else might have come up. Which iswhy I believe every teacher should have some form of extra credit to give to stuents. Students could be given a chance every month or semester. Any form of extra credit is wonderful, because no student can thinks that an opportunity to help their grade is a negative impact.

 

Responses(3)

Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

Hi John, I appreciate your concern about knowing your grade. Moodle is great. While some of us have embraced the grading system on Moodle, others are still getting up to speed using it to do our grading/posting grades throughout the semester. Many of us still use Excel or some other program to keep track and so it's a matter of changing over to Moodle. In my case, I have my grades set up in Excel, and I've used it for a while so that is what I am comfortable with. But, I do understand that for students it would be great to see the grades in progress, and I am trying to switch over. I would say, feel free to ask your professors to give updates at any point in the semester. Grades may not be posted in Moodle, but your professors can certainly give you an idea of how you are doing in terms of the assignments you have turned in. Don't wait for grades to be available or posted - just ask. It is your right to know.

 
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin
on Nov 20, 2014

I understand where John is coming form. Many of our students have had instant access to their moment-by-moment grades since they were in middle school. (This is the first time their parents have not, however.) These students make very calculated decisions about how much they need to do (and how much they can skip) to get a decent grade as they balance their work loads. From a teacher perspective, it's easy to think they should just do their best on all assignments, but realistically, they are making choices. I think it's helpful for us to know this. 

 
Paul O'Malley
on Nov 21, 2014

I agree with Sharon on this issue, and I also believe it helps students tremendously if they know their grades on an on-going basis.   At Harold Washington College, I post every grade and the cumulative grade on the LMS system there(Blackboard.) Students watch it carefully- if I omit a grade, or fail to give credit for an assignment that is turned in, they never fail to let me know.     I haven't yet figured out how to do it here on Moodle, but do assign a mid-term grade, of which every student is informed. I'm always willing to discuss grades with a student, if asked.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Ian McQueen
on Nov 17, 2014 - 2:06 am

 

One main problem for my student success is that I have been left uniformed of my current academic standing in my classes. Some teachers are better than others. But, even after personal meetings with my teachers, I have been left with vague ideas of whether or not I will pass my class, but often close to no information on the exact academic standing of my courses. With modern technology and our Internet platform this would seem to be a problem easy to fix, which would allow a student, especially a first year student, to feel more grounded in their place at Columbia. Being left in the dark about your current academic standing is a counterproductive process and adds to the confusion which many incoming students face from a normal transition period. 

 

 

Responses(1)

Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

Hi Ian, Please see my post above about your right to ask and get information about your progress in your classes. Your points are good ones. Regarding attendance, policy at Columbia does not include failure for not attending class. What is more important, in my mind, is knowing that not attending class equals not participating, not learning, not getting the most education out of your education, which is what you are here for, and also, what you are paying for. That being said, missing class is often correlated with missing assignments, not participating in ones own education, and therefore doing poorly in the course. Email if you want to talk: rwhatley@colum.edu

 
Expand This Thread
Ian McQueen
on Nov 17, 2014 - 2:05 am

In order to maintain student success it is important to place the most importance in relation to grading on class participation and the quality of student work.  It is also important for the student to have a clear understanding of his or her academic standing throughout the semester. I have an interesting perspective on the subject of student success at “liberally” designed schools with modern curriculums. I attended the Evergreen State College in which they had no grades, and have spoken with many of my peers who have attended various art schools, and liberal arts colleges. In my experience what is most productive for a students success is to have the student engaged in the subject matter and care genuinely about the work they are producing as much as possible. This seems pretty obvious and in a utopian college that would be the status quo. However, this is often a problem. 

 

            In my first days at Columbia it was made especially clear the importance of attendance in my final grade.  More than anything it came across as a threat to me. While I understand the importance of attendance in a college setting with small classes, to have such a rigid policy of four absences equaling an immediate failure seems counterproductive, and unnecessary. This initially gave me a negative first impression of many of my classes. Moving across the country and adapting to a new environment is a process that often puts students in difficult situations. In my personal opinion attendance should be weighed as a high percentage of your grade, and included in class participation. Creating a hostile classroom environment at the very beginning of a curriculum immediately creates a student vs. professor environment, as opposed to an environment in which a teacher and student works together to achieve the student’s greatest potential, with focus on good marks and quality work.

 
Isabel Cendejas
on Nov 16, 2014 - 10:45 pm

I feel like there is not enough communication to students and parents on how to navigate the online resources that Columbia provides. For example, I still don't really know what important things I can use Oasis for, other than dealing with financial matters, looking at my schedule and only a couple of other thing I see useful. There doesn't seem to be any workshops or a "how to" about these resources and if there is well, I don't know about them. The informaiton that is communicated to me is very general and I'd like a more in depth process on exactly what I can find on Oasis and other online resources. I know that I could just exlplore Oasis on my own but if I have a question then who would I go to?

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 16, 2014 - 7:56 pm

If a “student/campus center” was created, what aspects should be considered and included?

 

Responses(1)

Kristine Brailey
on Nov 19, 2014

I propose that students have a general place where they can check out visual and audio equipment.  Include a studio space with computers where they could edit photos, videos, audio and print photos.  Maybe have workshops for students to show them basic editing.   Teaching First Year Seminar there are many students who want to try other mediums for their projects but don't have access to equipment or a studio.  

 
Expand This Thread
Pangratios Papacosta
on Nov 15, 2014 - 3:21 pm

I propose that we examine on first principles our Grading System. Let us ask What is the purpose of our Grading system?  What are the other learning achievements of our students that we often tend to ignore? 

Letter grades have served us well but I believe it is time to invent a new Grading system that says much more. Perhaps areas such as as Participation, Effort, Motivation, Collaboration, Exploration, Interdisciplinary connectons, Initiative etc. should each one be evaluated on a regular basis and an appropriate grade be issued for each one at the end of the semester. Students will benefit from such a system since they will know What their strengths and weaknesses are in each category. If we truly care for the learning outcomes of our students we should invent a more holistic method of Grading.  Students will know that content knowledge of the subject matter is no longer the ONLY criterion. The work habits of learning are just as crucial gems of achievement that we need to take into account in the evaluation of our students.

 

Responses(2)

Jeff Schiff
on Nov 18, 2014

Barking up the right tree again, Pan. My son attended and graduated from the Evergreen State College, and they use an interesting grading variant worth checking out.

 
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin
on Nov 20, 2014

Hampshire College uses narrative evaluations instead of grades. 

I like other things about its academic philosophy, too. 

 
Expand This Thread
Mindy Faber
on Nov 15, 2014 - 10:07 am

In a sense, the challenge we face is this:

What new systemic "learning structures"  need to be developed that can support student success and 21st century learning?

Such new learning structures may disrupt the traditional idea of what college looks like but contribute toward a more equitable, fair and student-centered learning ecosystem.

Below is a diagram from Knowledge Works, an organization that uses strategic foresight to reimagine the future of education. Applying these concepts to Columbia, i wonder what this might look like?

Perhaps:

  • Faculty operate as personal learning advisors for students who design learning playlists that are customized to interests, career paths and values.  
  • Stackable certificates and compentency-based badges can be used to credentialize student mastery in skills, knowledge and performance.
  • Robust learning experiences are cultivated through these learning structures that unfold across a range of non-traditional settings and new platforms for learning (online modules, internships, short course design challenges, etc.).

Columbia College's role is to design these learning structures that extend beyond the classroom so that experiential, informal and self-directed learning is not only recognized, but credited. We evolve into a non-traditional college for the non-traditional student in a way. But i tend to think of it more as the college and student of the future.

Columbia's extensive reach into the community and industry coupled with its vast talent pool of adjunct faculty and alumni, provide a unique advantage over other competing institutions. These "learning agents"  contribute to the development of our own digital badging and credentialing system where students navigate through a scaffolded series of modules, leveling up towards points and credentials.

Instead of course credits, student earn points when they participate in say CCAP's Big Art Program, a volunteer experience, an online module or even a paid internship. Points add up toward credits for graduaton and students can add these to their digital dossiers and portfolios.

We could begin simply by piloting a learner-centered data infrastructure that tracks student learning experiences throughout their matriculation.

Tools like YouTopia are already developed to support this kind of data infrastructure. My friend who runs the Center for Teaching Innovation at SIU is adopting YouTopia to track student campus engagement. i am sure something modest and doable could be piloted along these lines, especially through programs and faculty that are already cultivating civic literacies and community engagement in a structured way (CCAP, a revived Critical Encounters, etc.)

In the Convergence Academies, we are already exploring these new learning structures in the two public schools we are working in. Very exciting possibilities.

 
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Responses(4)

Nathan Bakkum
on Nov 17, 2014

Mindy Faber I really appreciate your ideas relating to modular curriculum and for drawing closer connections between traditional curricular experiences and those that have been classified as extracurricular. Within our academic programs, we face a big challenge in re-thinking sequential curriculum – we tend to build curriculum through prerequisite structures, locking some students in to long sequences and locking others out. Many introductory-level topics could be addressed through online tools and short workshops, working toward basic compentencies that unlock specific curricular modules. 

In such a modular structure, I hope we would strive to maintain a robust set of core outcomes. We need to emphasize writing across the curriculum, media literacy, and critical thinking throughout, though I'm not sure that those outcomes need to be tied to specific, required course experiences. Perhaps we could tie a set of competencies  to courses, modules, and other experiences (similar to how LAS categories such a "Global Awareness" and "US Pluralism" currently function) that would assure that students undertake a certain set of experiences and engage with a set of Columbia College Learning Outcomes before they graduate. Students-at-Large would be able to take advantage of particular modules to earn certificates and badges, but earning an undergraduate or graduate diploma would require a deeper experience of the College and a deeper engagement with its mission.

 
Mindy Faber
on Nov 17, 2014

Nathan Bakkum I like it. Because we live in such a knowledge abundant world and the information landscape is constantly shifting, in some cases content knowledge is less critical than knowing how to think, how to ask good questions and find answers, search, discover, tinker, play etc. So a modular structure that allows for flexibility in topics but consistency in ways of teaching habits of mind, dispositions and analytic thinking skills might serve CCC well.

 
Nathan Bakkum
on Nov 17, 2014

I really like the idea of a single structure that could accomodate traditional college students and commonly-recognized degree types while providing a menaingful path for non-degree seeking learners in a way that is more robust and directed than single courses, etc. Perhaps this should be in the "21st-century curriculum" forum.

I'm also thinking about the possibility of making our developmental classes available for free online. In the music department, we currently offer two foundational courses in musical literacy that would be well suited to a fully online and open environment. With the help of instructional designers, we could build some really strong and beautiful experiences, and prospective students would be able to try these courses out without any risk. By the time they got to campus they would not only have that foundational knowledge, but they would also understand the kinds of rigor we expect at the college. This probably belongs in the "Aligning Goals with Resources" thread, but it also sets students up to succeed once they're on campus.

 
David Flatley
on Nov 21, 2014

Thanks for sharing all this Mindy.  I think the idea of tracking and crediting sudents for their investment in exploring and doing some of this work will need to be a part of how we envision a more thoughtful and cohesive and more effective structure for these experiences.  Coupled with some mandates for graduation, or participation in first year seminar--or however we may decide to connect this to student learning more intentionally--will take our current work to a whole new level.

 
Expand This Thread
Donyiel Crocker
on Nov 14, 2014 - 8:04 pm

 

 

As an Adult learner (age 30+) who is also a Mother and works a full time job, success means something quite different for me than it does for the traditional student.  Taking an internship or entry level job in my field of study could mean a huge pay cut and that is extremely scary in this economy.  So, while I am very happy for my classmates as I hear about their internships, my mind is busy trying to figure out how to manage one while still holding down a full time job and raising two kids. 

 

In the classroom, I often need to be challenged and engaged in ways that my younger peers do not.  Also, my life and job experience, leave me struggling to see the relevance or benefit in taking courses which teach basic skills that I, often by necessity, have had to master in my 9-5.

 

Outside of the classroom, I often feel disconnected from the Columbia experience, as most programming and workshops happen during the day.  It’s also difficult to make connections to other Adult learners as there are few events that appeal to this group. 

 

Developing courses and workshops geared towards Adult learners and creating opportunities for them to connect are just a couple of ways to improve upon their success at the college and after graduation.

 

 
Adam Smith
on Nov 14, 2014 - 3:46 pm

While our existing capstone opportunities are valuable, the Final Year Seminar - a proposed addition to the core curriculum - would leave our new graduates more confident and better prepared to start their careers.

We owe it to every Columbia student to instill in them the practical knowledge and real-world competencies necessary for success.  The Final Year Seminar would prepare graduates with proficiency of freelance, branding, intellectual property acumen, and a mandatory portfolio content submission with review.  

If structured as an in-person classroom experience, the Seminar could be scheduled with a flexibility complementing the fast pace of senior year.  I also pose consideration to craft the Seminar as an online course, or as a series of interactive modules; the success of the virtual orientation implemented last summer by New Student Programs could serve as a model.

 

Responses(1)

Michelle Gates
on Nov 16, 2014

Adam- this is an interesting suggestion. Can you expand on this topic with more specifics?

 
Expand This Thread
Odalis A
on Nov 14, 2014 - 1:29 pm

While I was a student at Columbia I was also working at CCAP - a center at the college - as a student worker. My biggest aha moments were when what I was learning in the classroom actually applied to my job, and helped me be better at it. What was most valuble to me was being able to align what I was learning to what I wanted to do post graduation. I think that most students start to complain when they feel like the classes that they are taking dont apply to them. I often heard, "Why am I even taking this class? I'm never going to have to use this information again.." etc. Experiential learning is something that I think Columbia is good at, and something that I think pulls students in. If more students had the opportunity to take classes that are meaningful to them outside of the classroom, they will have a better experience and achieve success, both in and outside of school. 

 
Lynn Levy
on Nov 13, 2014 - 4:58 pm

Students need to feel connected to Columbia. Staff and faculty could mentor students on a voluntary basis. If each of us mentored five students a term, our students would gain a greater sense of community. Some students have told me that they would not be here, if I had not reached out to them.

 

Responses(2)

Kristine Brailey
on Nov 14, 2014

I agree that students need to feel conected to Columbia.  Adding to your idea about staff and faculty mentoring maybe we could think about junior and seniors mentoring freshman.  I agree that reaching out creates a greater sense of community.

 

 

 
Mikhaela Padilla
on Nov 17, 2014

I completely agree! Columbia College is a huge community made up of tinier communites, however not everyone feels as connected to their peers, advisors, and environment as others might. Creating that sense of community within a few students at a time will expand the connection and collaboration within the student body, as how it should be in a creative art school such as Columbia. We strive on creative and colloboration, but without connection, without community, how are we as individuals suppose to grow as an artist and as a person?

I also agree with Kristine about the upperclassmen mentoring or helping out with the freshmen. It would be nice to get some insight and feedback based off of their experience at Columbia. Our school should definitely encourage more collaboration, not just within the current students, but with Columbia alums as well. 

 
Expand This Thread
Fred Camper
on Nov 13, 2014 - 3:52 pm

One student expressed dissatisfaction with First Year Seminar. Other posters suggest that "student success" can mean many things. Surely one meaning, perhaps the one that will be suggested first, is financial and career success. Another mentioned has been success in courses. What I have not seen mentioned here is what I think should be most important: how can the College foster the deepest possible engagement between the student and the subject being studied? I teach cinema. In my view, students should be studying, in depth, the whole range of past cinema. Studying “in depth” should mean seeing some films many times; seeing many films by the same filmmaker; exploring in depth whole areas of cinemas that might be of particular interest to the student – Japanese cinema for one, documentary for another, early silent films for a third. Of course I’m encouraging my students to make such explorations on their own, but this idea is not sufficiently built into the curriculum.

“Student success” should have, as one of its meanings, that the student emerges with a deep knowledge of and feeling for some key aspects of their major area. It’s essential that we teach the technical aspects as well as we can, and that we give them career skills. But if we are a college, not a technical academy, it seems to me our obligation to also bring the students to the history of their fields, and to the best work that has been done in those fields. And in terms of achieving success, what better experience can one have than encountering other work made at high levels of accomplishment? No one produces in a vacuum, and viewers and readers will be implicitly measuring any work they encounter against other achievements. What I find lacking from much of the discussion thus far has been that larger perspective: whatever we are teaching should engage with large questions, encouraging students to think about form and meaning, the purpose of making work, the relationship of current to past work, the possibilities open in each medium.

In the College's pursuit of teaching effectiveness, too, there seems to me too much emphasis on "ice breaking" and not enough on encouraging the students to think both analytically and creatively, and on better ways of encouraging them to engage with difficult subject matter.

 
Lance Cox
on Nov 13, 2014 - 2:04 pm

As a student, I think 90% of our questions on Student Success could be solved by administration, faculty, and staff seeing students as individuals, as humans.

Sure, we are "customers" but we are human beings who are affected by every move made by the structure of this institution. A genuine interest in the student experience on an individual level is necessary. How we can cultivate this culture, I am unsure, but there are already folks doing this work--so much so, actually, that I find that I learn most and most comfortably outside of the classroom.

I think every other category discussed below is important--study abroad, first year seminar, internships, portfolios, career outcomes, etc. but how does the dialogue shift here when we think of students as individuals and not as a mass body of paying consumers? When faculty and staff make space to look around their classroom, their office, and see students as people who come in with knowledge and a passion for growth, rather than empty vessels into which knowledge is dumped?

Further--how can we make student support resources more available? Student Relations, for example, does great work, but who knows about them? And, at what point is the community responsible for this lack of knowledge?

I think this forum is a great start to listening to the student voice and looking at the structures in play at the institution, but I worry that this listening will end here-- "we had an open forum, you could have contributed then" as opposed to seeing a student in your spaces and asking, "so what do you need NOW, today? How are you doing? What would you like to learn?" I'm still at Columbia because of the people who have done this--not because of the moment I walked into advising and had someone change my major for me, or the times I checked ColumbiaWorks for internships -- I'm here because several folks (not enough) have taken a genuine interest in my life and goals on an individual level. How can we help push this culture forward?

 

Responses(1)

Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 17, 2014

Thank you Lance. This is so important. Your story. Individual stories. Taking an interest. I'm committed to re-designing First-Year Seminar -- in addition to advising settings, perhaps FYS is a place where these kinds of true listening can happen? 

 
Expand This Thread
Sara Kalinoski
From the Moderator: Sara Kalinoski
on Nov 12, 2014 - 8:10 pm

Thank you for contributing to the conversation so far!

My name is Sara Kalinoksi and I am the President of the Student Government Association here at Columbia College Chicago. I am also one of the sub-committee members and Moderators for Our Commitment to Student Success. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts about how our college's environment inside and outside of the classroom contribute to student success. Please join the conversation!

 

Responses(3)

Insook Choi
on Nov 13, 2014

Chicago as Meta Laboratory: Sara, your lovely introduction enticed me to post this. Columbia’s location is an inherent value proposition for those families and students who are to making decisions which college to choose. It reminds me of NYU-Poly in New York City, where students from out of town related to NYC as a cultural immersion. But the courses—mostly engineering majors—rarely connected to the city unless you were an urban planner or transportation engineer. The students benefited in peripheral ways by osmosis. City was taken for granted.

Columbia College is very different. Yes the urban campus is great for extracurricular and cultural opportunities, with Grant Park as a front yard immersed into urban life of the south loop. Even better, at Columbia our urban value can be accessed through curriculum in a direct line to enable and achieve learning outcomes. Columbia’s original motto “esse quam videri (to be, rather than seem to be)” is such a great phrase we can reflect upon our being inside/outside of classes and campus environment. Esse quam videriis not a philosophical abstraction but a practical aspiration. Earlier today (Nov. 13th) in roundtable discussion on Aligning Our Resources with Students Success, a senior student (apologies that I do not remember her name) clearly stated her preference, while she is in college, to focus with challenges with intellectual rigor around campus life. I did so appreciate her statement. Situated in Chicago as an urban campus, we can extend our intellectual rigor and academic focus with connecting professional perspectives and coursework into this “City as Laboratory”.  Our Radio department does this very well connecting to large followings in Chinatown and Pilsen; Chicago Talks and Austin Talks and the city beat in Journalism. There are so many other excellent examples. Many learning objective can be tied into this Meta Laboratory. The city offers wealth of problem areas you can exercise and experiment with creative solutions and innovations to sharpen your design rigor and critical thinking.  

 

 
Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

Hi Sara, There are some interesting posts about First Year Seminar - it would be great to get more students providing feedback about experiences and expectations. How?

 
Sara Kalinoski
on Nov 20, 2014

Hi Robin, thank you for contributing! Having the student voice heard is very important. A great way to get more students involved could be to have faculty and staff tell them about civiccommons and help spread the word.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 12, 2014 - 7:43 pm

How should the College’s environment inside and outside of the classroom contribute to student academic success?

 

Responses(6)

Kristin Pichaske
on Nov 13, 2014

Last year, I made the request that all of the students in my first-year core courses be assigned to me as advisees (as opposed to the previous practice of randomly assigning student I’d never met). This has made a huge difference -- highlighting what I see as the biggest challenge of advising and how the college might solve it.  

 

I get to know my first-year students very well because I teach them 2-3 small courses in the space of one year.  Advising these students comes naturally -- we know each other well, I know what their goals and strengths are, and they feel comfortable coming to me for advice.  This all stands in stark contrast to my randomly assigned advisees, who often try to get me to clear them to register without ever meeting me because they don't have a clear sense of who I am and what I am willing and able to do for them.  The discussions I have with these students are not as deep or as honest and don’t occur nearly as often.  

 

To be a great advisor requires having a relationship with your advisee and this is difficult to establish with once-a-year meetings.  

 

What is needed then, is for students to be able to establish a meaningful relationship with at least one full-time faculty member during their first year at Columbia -- something that is most likely to occur in the context of a class with fewer than 20 students enrolled.  Why doesn't it work this way currently?  Too often introductory courses are taught in large lectures, by graduate students or by part-time faculty members, who might be wonderful teachers, but are not in a position to act as 4-year advisors.

 

Every first-year student should be taking at least one small course with a FT faculty member who is present in the department on a regular basis, can meet with them regularly outside of class, and is intimately familiar with the rest of the program, resources available to students, etc.  Realistically, this would require more FT positions at the college, which is another discussion entirely and one that I hope will be had somewhere in this forum.  

 
Bill Guschwan
on Nov 16, 2014

I argue for mindful environments.  Classrooms of rows of seats limit face to face interaction, and are NOT mindful for face to face knowledge exchange. They are optimized for a 20th century education model of efficient consumption of lecture knowledge. I believe in the embodiment of knowledge, so something as simple as chairs with wheels are a mindful piece of furniture because you can easily rotate these chairs to face a fellow student with alacrity. 

Also in IAM the offices of faculty are next to classrooms. The flow of students by the faculty office is a mindful environment design that exposes possibilities of knowledge transfer.

 

 

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 17, 2014

I think that our classroom spaces need to reflect Columbia's committment to our students.  When we have spaces that look old and out of date it gives a message that certain things are less important.  This happens accross the college. 

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 18, 2014

I agree with Kristin's comment about faculty advising.  We do not advise students until they have 30 credits.  First year studetnes in my classes flock to me for guidance because they have not established a realtionship with a college advisor.  They do not know the difference between a colelge advisor and faculty advisor; they are looking for a relationship.  

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 05, 2014

I agree with Beth's comment's above.  First year students often ask for advising help in class.

 
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014

We hear increasing calls for access to various tools and spaces where students (and faculty?) can work across disciplines to collaborate and create.  Technologies that are available only in certain departments and sometimes even only to students in certain classes are often needed by other students or by groups working collaboratively.  The Library is beginning to plan such a "maker lab" and to try to get software that would meet part of this need.  It is hoped that the new student center would also provide more of those spaces and technologies in the future. 

 
Expand This Thread
Abel Valle
on Nov 12, 2014 - 2:12 pm

In order to encourage student success, a college must focus on the most important aspects as to what the student is trying to get out of a college. Yes, general education is important, but aquiring mandatory classes that do not seem to make much sense to the student can deter the student from going to school for a specific profession. This may depend on what the class may be and why the student got discouraged. The class could have been too stressful, or it could have made no sense at all that the student stopped going to college because they are paying too much money for a class that didn't make sense to them. We pay a lot of money for the classes that we need to set a career for ourselves. And I wouldn't want to spend the money (that I don't have) on classes that wouldn't apply to my general education or my major. 

 
James N
on Nov 12, 2014 - 11:16 am

To me as a student I see engagement within Columbia through clubs and activities as a way to help with success. I’m not only talking about clubs that are directly related to a certain major. As of right now there are no clubs that interest me enough to get involved within the college and push to succeed. Unconventional types of clubs such as a college competitive E-sports team that competes against other colleges in tournaments is something that I am trying to push for. While the only college I am aware of that has done this currently is Robert Morris University, I personally believe something like this would help me as a student become more engaged and want to succeed at Columbia. E-sports are an extremely new medium of competition when it comes to it. To me as a student I have honestly considered RMU, because they have a program that I wish was something I could find here at Columbia. 

 

Responses(1)

Ruth Leitman
on Dec 08, 2014

In Cinema Art + Science new foundations, as part of an early assignment, the students go on a scavenger hunt across campus.  They engage early on with other departments and are asked to join a student organization outside of our department. The following week the students shared the experience with their classmates.  Not only was it an icebreaker, but it's a conversation starter that asks the students to become self advocates early on.  What do they want to get out of their college education?  How will they go about getting it?  What sorts of organizations, ideas, concepts, collectives- and finally careers will the discover and create?

 
Expand This Thread
Ian McQueen
on Nov 12, 2014 - 11:14 am

In order to maintain student success it is important to place the most importance in relation to grading on class participation and the quality of student work.  It is also important for the student to have a clear understanding of his or her academic standing throughout the semester. I have an interesting perspective on the subject of student success at “liberally” designed schools with modern curriculums. I attended the Evergreen State College in which they had no grades, and have spoken with many of my peers who have attended various art schools, and liberal arts colleges. In my experience what is most productive for a students success is to have the student engaged in the subject matter and care genuinely about the work they are producing as much as possible. This seems pretty obvious and in a utopian college that would be the status quo. However, this is often a problem. 

 

            In my first days at Columbia it was made especially clear the importance of attendance in my final grade.  More than anything it came across as a threat to me. While I understand the importance of attendance in a college setting with small classes, to have such a rigid policy of four absences equaling an immediate failure seems counterproductive, and unnecessary. This initially gave me a negative first impression of many of my classes. Moving across the country and adapting to a new environment is a process that often puts students in difficult situations. In my personal opinion attendance should be weighed as a high percentage of your grade, and included in class participation. Creating a hostile classroom environment at the very beginning of a curriculum immediately creates a student vs. professor environment, as opposed to an environment in which a teacher and student works together to achieve the student’s greatest potential, with focus on good marks and quality work. 

 

 
Michael Unghajer
on Nov 12, 2014 - 10:49 am

As most people know, the first year for college is usually the hardest due to adjusting from the way high school operates to the way columbia operates (or any other university). It's almost a cultural shock for the first couple months of living in a new area for most students. In order to make the first year easier for the majority of people, there should be a more refined tuning process to those first initial classes taken during the first year. Classes like First Year Seminar that are supposed to introduce the students to Columbia are not at the level of introduction as they should be. Every student I have spoken to has voiced that they dislike what the class does for their learning. The course should have an overhaul and get a better grip on being an introductory class to college. 

 

Responses(3)

Karl Regensburg
on Nov 15, 2014

I agree with you when it comes to the total dissatisfaction of the First Year Seminar course. Many students I have spoken with, (myself included), feel that they have gained little or nothing from the class. More often than not it is viewed as busy work; menial tasks to complete just to make the grade. That is not an engaging paradigm to start college with as it quickly demotivates students. The course has loose definitions, something that is both a strength and weakness. Almost every single First Year Seminar is different in radical ways. This is certainly an interesting approach; however, it begs the question whether the course truly works as an educational tool, or is merely a way to fulfill a requirement.

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 16, 2014

Michael,

As someone who is committed to redesigning First-Year Seminar, I am interested in your post. Are you saying that FYS should lean more toward an 'orientation' to the resources of Columbia College Chicago? Should it be an orientation to the City of Chicago? Should it be a study skills course that gives students information on how to manage time and study efficiently? If you were to remodel it, what would it look like? 

 

 
Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

What do you, as students, think a freshman's first introduction to college life at Columbia should be? What are the most important things an introductory college course (at Columbia in Chicago) should teach? What do Columbia freshman most need from their first semester class?

 
Expand This Thread
Kirk  Irwin
on Nov 11, 2014 - 9:55 pm

Someone below mentioned study abroad options for students. The college should allow the adjunct factulty members in Art and Design to teach in Florence again. I was told by Jay Wolke, Eliza Nichols, and Louise Love that I was no longer eligible to teach in Florence because of my status as an adjunct faculty member. When I raised this issue to the interim Art and Design Chair Tim Cozzens and the Interim Dean of SFPA John Green they said that international study is not a priority for the department. The expertise in international studies resides with the adjunct faculty who have developed research interests and creative work abroad. Perhaps recognizing this as a core competency and supporting it could lead to increased enrollment. 

 

 
Mark  Kelly
on Nov 10, 2014 - 5:28 pm

To dramatically improve student success, we need a holistic, college-wide approach centered on an integrated first-year experience.  To that end, I am attaching an ambitious proposal for the College’s consideration.  

Many of our strategic planning commenters have already mentioned how critical it is to support first-year students, and the College currently has many programs and support services, but they are often disconnected.   The idea of an integrated first-year experience is not new to Columbia.  However, I believe we have much work to do – from strengthening first year advising, shifting the first-year seminar program, fostering community and expectations (both inside and outside of the classroom), offering intentional support to students, and communicating and integrating these efforts centered on our faculty and staff. 

New students must feel the weight of our expectations and the support of our community. We must clearly articulate our core educational values for our new students and use them to shift our curricular and co-curricular structures so that our students do not experience Columbia as a series of good but disconnected courses and events, but rather an immersive Columbia experience. The attached paper outlines a strategy for creating an integrated first-year experience, which is not more programs or more resources, but an educational strategy defined and supported by a culture that makes our core values come to life for our students.

 

Responses(8)

Brian Marth
on Nov 11, 2014

Mark - thanks for sharing your thoughts and the attached proposal.  I would really like to hear the community thoughts and reactions to Mark's IFYE proposal.  What are specific ways the College can work together to improve the first year student experience and possibly develop/implement Mark's vision for the IFYE? 

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 12, 2014

Mark, these are great suggestions! There have been several similar recommendations stemming from ongoing committees that have met over the past few years and your ideas support those suggestions concisely. Getting everyone unified under a common language and process is a cultural change that would take some time but is well worth the effort. Engaging faculty in this change is the key to the long-term success and deep change.

 
Rachel Ready
on Nov 13, 2014

As stated in your white paper,

 

"Address career and body of work development from the start, making it clear the connection between the curriculum and career outcomes."  Yes, I agree that most if not all students neet to develop an evolving portfolio.  Encouraging students to seek out the Portfolio Center is key.  Students need to be internship ready.  Some students do not go for certain internship opportunities because they do not have a portfolio.  This is a roadblock that can be erased. 

Mark, thank you for sharing!   

 
Kristin Pichaske
on Nov 13, 2014

Mark, I agree with your recommendations and hope we can make this happen.  

A lot of the points you have outlined have been incorporate into the Television Department's first-year Learning Community program and we know that they are a big contributing factor in our student retention and graduation rates.  A visit to the portfolio center and discussion of body of work is part of the first-semester program.  Instructions are made to many of the full-time faculty and the various concentrations we offer in the department.  Students build meaningful relationships with their peers and FT faculty members who can continue to serve as advisors for the rest of their years at Columbia.  i would love to see a coordinated effort to do these things on a college-wide level and have no doubt that it would have a positive impact on student success. 

I would like to point out that this approach has great benefits for faculty as well.  It seems many FT faculty gravitate toward upper-level courses because they want to work with the most advanced students and that was my attitude 8 years ago as well.  Today, I find that I strongly prefer working with first-year students because our first-year program provides me with an opportunity to have a more meaningful impact -- setting the bar high for incoming students, building meaningful relationships that can be sustained for four more years, improving my effectiveness at advising (it's so much easier when you've had the student in their first class and you know who you are dealing with)...  This is something that faculty should want to see happen for their own good as well as that of their students.

 

 
Mike  Harris
on Nov 14, 2014

Some good suggestions, Mark. Though many of them still require the student to act—Columbia has been offering some similar engagement ideas over the past decade and not enough students are finding them engaging because they require action on the students' part.If Columbia was more selective in the students it accepts—meaning more rigorous application requirements—it would find, I think, more motivated students. Columbia is an expensive school that, as mentioned previoulsy in this thread, kind of treats its students as "clients"—they're not "clients." Imagine the resentment you would feel if you were paying or borrowing a lot of money and getting lightweight, rigor-less courses? Too many of Columbia's efforts the past 5 years or so have been on cheap ways to keep students enrolled. Why not take a different tack: offer a more selctive student body in year one RIGOROUS (as opposed to "vigorous"), challenging courses that focus on UNIVERSAL SKILLS that can apply to most majors and careers instead of trying to crap-shoot tailoring courses to what students MIGHT find engaging? Courses limited by time—ie. a course that "teaches" social media skills (which students already possess)—is a waste of time and money for a first year student. However, communication courses, both written and verbal, teach life-long skills any Columbia student will need—let's find interesting ways to enagage students in centuries-old meaningful skills (they're not going away) that they can use no matter what major they pursue.

 
Bill Guschwan
on Nov 16, 2014

Hi Mark,

I love the portal class proposal. In Interactive Arts and Media, Brenden Wysocki has already advised IAM students to get a game class in the freshman year in order to start integration into the learning community of IAM. Using the term "portal class" will help to formalize work that IAM is doing. Note there is a tension between the College learning community, and Department learning community. Portal class affirms the importance of the Department learning community, in my case, IAM.

Second, IAM has a student-run group called AlphaLab. This learning community was generated by students and continually run by students. They run 24 hours game jams frequently. The "sense of belonging" generated is palpable when you observe the fervor of a room packed with 30 students! Will you specify more detail about TV's learning community? I did look at Tinto's work and am interested in further resources to look at.

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 18, 2014

Mark, thank you for this white paper.  The Business and Entrepreneurship department is also experiencing tremendous success with our first year Learning Communities. As a result of this success, we now have every first year student in a Learning Community.  They are smaller class sizes where students take two foundational courses together in the first semester, Introduction to Managment and Entertainment Marketing. Stronger communities are being developed and real world project opportunities are emerging from student and faculty inspiration.   The You Year event was created by students to manage an event that is a first year student showcase.  This is planned and implemented in a management class, yet recruits talent from all across the college and the event hosts students, faculty and parents from all disciplines. Our 2nd annual You Year event is held on December 2nd.  

We also are partnering with CCAP and the Urban Missions program to connect other Learning Community sections with community-based organization to work on real world projects.  They are critically thinking, problem-solving and providing recommenadtions to the CBO's and the outcome is the CBO gains ideas to implement, access to potential interns and the students have  a presentation and a written business proposal for their portfolio in the first semester that they are in Columbia College Chicago.  Everything the do is intergraed into the curriculum. This is scalable.

Career Mangement is also integrated into the ITM curriculum. 

 

We recently completely re-engineered our Intro to Management (ITM) currilcum to foster such opportunities that you address in your white paper and I would like to be part of the conversations as we move forward with IFYE.  

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 18, 2014

Thanks Mark. Under Honing Curriculum, #4, I'd want to expand the conversation about placing FYS at the center of an improved FY experience. I represent First-year Writing (now the Program in Writing and Rhetoric) and we would hope to serve a more central role than orbiting around the hub of an improved FYS. 

You can see that many of us are eager to respond on behalf of our programs and we're ready to act. But we're not prepared ideologically or curriculum-wise to do this in concert with one another. We don't even all know one another. 

I'd say that the FY model that is working best right now is the Honors Program. There, you have an example of one organized hub with a clear mission and highly effective academic leadership that works well across programs and successfully unifies/inspires its constituents. 

Reading Mark's document, I see the main obstacle to IFYE as leadership on the academic affairs side. 

I'd urge folks to examine the strengths of the Honors Program and even query its students for their feedback about what went well in their FY experience. Something there must be transferable to the wider FY student body. 

Any Honors students willing to discuss? Do you have a sense of how your first-year experience has been different than non-Honors peers? 

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 09, 2014 - 11:03 pm

How can we better integrate experiential learning, internships and practicums into the student experience?

 

Responses(6)

David Jones
on Nov 10, 2014

Great question! 

all three of these, experiential learning, internships and practicums are practiced at the Center for Book and Paper Arts and Anchor Graphics on a regular basis. We implement these through visiting artists, guest artist, Artist in residencies, contract jobs, outreach opportunities and so on. 

One of the ways to enhance these types of activities is to create more parity between the staff who run, manage and facilitate activities in our centers and the faculty who design and implement the curriculum.  Sometimes there is a disconnect which discourages collaborations and creative exchanges. 

The Centers are spaces where creative risk-taking and collaboration take place. having students involved in those activities should be enhanced, supported and encouraged.

 
Kari Sommers
on Nov 10, 2014

Student Life has worked diligently to create a dynamic sense of campus and community by focusing our resources on curricular integration and by seeking to extend the classroom in all of our work.  Utilizing our  galleries, performance spaces, student store, online systems, communications, business partnerships, programs, services, and student groups, we have created an innovative laboratory for student learning that has improved student satisfaction and creates micro-student union’s all across campus.  We refer to this collection of projects as Student Life Laboratories.  Working with most academic departments, the Student Life Laboratories connect and engage students beyond the classroom in a “real world, working environments.” Successful examples of this work include the Hokin Project, ShopColumbia, the StudentLoop, Haus, the Business & Entrepreneurship Event Management Practicum,  and the professional recognized student organizations, just to name a few.  We would like to expand this work across the college as appropriate.

 
Shopcolumbia.3
Natasha  EGAN
on Nov 10, 2014

Make having an internship for at least one semester part of the core curriculum to graduate. Summer jobs in their field of study could count for internship credit and faculty can assist their students in finding internships though CCC community partners. 

 
Luther Hughes
on Nov 10, 2014

I think the best way to go about this is making all of these things (experimental learning, internships, and practicums) better integrated is to make them more accesible through the classroom. Maybe every syllabus have the contact information to the internship coordinator for that department. Maybe every make it a requirement for their students to visit off campus events, and internship fairs. In addition, have more interactive things for students, that way we know what is available to us as students out there. A lot of times, students, espcially commuters, don't know what's going on on campus because events that surround these things aren't advertised effectively and purposefully. 

 
David Flatley
on Nov 11, 2014

I think this question speaks to one of our overarching concerns in many ways, as we look to take Columbia to the next level.  As Eric Booth (arts educator, teaching artist elder/guru) has said (and I paraphrase) to our community in the past: you all have the most rich offerings and programs and connection points happening here than at almost any other institution I have worked with; what you haven't seemed to be able to do as yet is connect the dots in order to create a more synergistic whole; the whole is greater than all its many parts, and Columbia has the potential to reach much greater heights if it can figure that out.

I agree with him, and this question illuminates this particular challenge.  We have experiential learning, internships and practicums at Columbia (certainly this is true within CCAP); and we could have more.  But what we do have can feel sporadic, haphazard.  Folks have often bemoaned the fact that such opportunities are not centrally organized; and those frustrations are merited.  But a seemingly simple fix here is not necessarily the answer.  The fact that we have such a rich community, with many outlets for helping students to create and realize such opportunities is partially due to the gumption and initiative of various individuals and departments, and we don’t want to lose the innovative spirit and effectiveness around creating such opportunities by centralizing all efforts in one place.  That said, I do believe that a thoughtful effort and process in creating a more integrative and cohesive structure that supports such work would benefit the institution greatly.  Maybe some of the pieces and logistics get centralized; I don’t know.  But we have not had the opportunity to delve deeply into this challenge, and so I am glad it is getting air time here!

 

 
Brian Marth
on Nov 11, 2014

Thanks David.  Mark Kelly posted his vision for an Integrated First Year Experience, and your post successfully contributes to that concept but beyond the first year at Columbia.  How can the student experience be better "integrated and cohesive" between curricular and co-curricular learning?  What is also apparent from other posts in this thread is that this experience does in fact exist for many students, so perhaps our goal should be to highlight those experiences and create more opportunities for students to have similar experiences. 

 
Expand This Thread
Lynn Levy
on Nov 07, 2014 - 6:09 pm

Columbia's College Advising Center does an impressive job. I think that the current structure essentially works. However, when the College is able to add one of two more college advisors it will provide even better service to our students. The caseload for each advisor is heavy.

 

Responses(1)

Paula Brien
on Nov 09, 2014

Love that idea, Lynn. It would create a fabulous opportunity for the college.

At the moment, career advising gets short shrift in the College Advising Center, to a great extent. The extremely high demand by students for academic advising fully absorbs all the resources in CAC as currently staffed. This situation leaves no room for advisors to provide comprehensive baseline career advising for each advisee. Yet, our students need BOTH career advising AND academic advising from freshman (or transfer) year to graduation.

Columbia’s goal could be to not only ensure students know their path to graduation academically, but career-wise too. Yes, each undergraduate student needs to know how to complete their graduation requirements. But, it doesn’t end there. In addition, each student should graduate with a considered and overt goal of a job, artistic endeavor, or graduate school or further training. The College Advising Center advisors are well-situated to guide each advisee to that goal by educating each student about the career development process and about the career-related resources and opportunities that already abound at the college and in the city.

-- observation from a former career advisor and current academic advisor

 
Expand This Thread
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Nov 07, 2014 - 4:51 pm

To spin off of the main thread below...what should the digital structure and delivery of information look like for academic advising? Are the tools we use (OASIS, Advising Guide, email, etc.) adequate ? To expand and enhance advising we have some catching up to do. Pardon the length of this post. I'll be amazed if you get to the bottom. This topic has been marinating in my head for quite some time.

 

I would like to see digital libraries (repositories?) of information for students. In the thread below we mentioned access to content for potential courses, centralized nuts and bolts information for students, faculty, and staff, advising handbook. There is also great concern for shuffling students around the college for answers. Nothing will ever replace advising a student in-person; but easier access to information opens up space to go into more depth with a student’s well-being, interests, graduation plan, goals, and challenges.  The redesign of the website and it’s functions provides a great opportunity to address hubs of advising information since that material has been removed from colum.edu.

 

To go a step further a student could have some sort of digital file cabinet/folder. FEITH delivers some administrative functions but only a minority of staff and faculty use it. This user-friendly electronic folder could have personalized advising information from appointments, documents, plans, anything. Anytime a student met with a faculty or staff member they could pull up the information and go through it together. GoogleDrive through Loopmail? Some students really like the kinetic action of writing on paper so I’m not sure how that would work for them. iPads to mark up documents? Some processes like submitting petitions could be done online; similar to the scholarship applications.

 

How do we react to a shifting culture of communication? Currently college advisors call every single student who receives 2 or more APRs a semester. We reach out in the hopes of getting a student to come in to meet with us or at least have a conversation about options and solutions. We see great results when we can connect with these students, but often the voicemail doesn’t work, is full, or a student just doesn’t respond. Would it be better to get a student’s attention via a text message from their advisor?

 

Occasionally I advise students over Skype if the student can’t come in but really wants to meet with someone face-to-face. I can’t see the browser on their computer screen if it’s a registration issue but somehow we get the problem solved in real-time and have great discussions. Web conferencing would be a great way for an incoming student to attend a required advising appointment prior to the orientation process.  This would only work if an application had the ability to share screens and documents, the college invested in adequate computers for those advising, and committed to training.

 

These tools are used at most institutions, and I guess in some ways we have our own small versions, I just think we don't go as far with them as we could. Here is a link to an article about the digital file cabinet: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Paperless-Advising-for-Today%E2%80%99s-Students.aspx

 

Ideas? Thoughts?

 

Responses(6)

Paula Brien
on Nov 10, 2014

That's a powerful idea, Mary Rachel.

 

 
Brian Marth
on Nov 11, 2014

Agreed, powerful ideas that could potentially and dramatically change the student experience at Columbia.  In many ways, we have a system that requires students to interact first with individuals (admissions counselors, advisors, faculty,...) before they have easy access to accurate and consistent information.  If we were to flip that model and focus on information first, it may create better opprtunities for robust conversations and learning when students do speak with those individuals. 

 
Bethany Brownholtz
on Nov 12, 2014

The video conferencing ability would be useful for online classes too. Although the college has something called Blue Jeans, as far as I know, it does not allow people to be viewing the same document, video, etc. at the same time. It works well for group discussions. Blue Jeans/Skype might be a temporary solution for you--but I agree that Columbia should pursue a better option that allows people to view the same materials simultaneously.

I am using FEITH for student files. I think there is potential for uploading advising documents there. If the student needs to write, perhaps the document can be scanned to a PDF using a Xerox at the end of the session.  

I love your idea about text messages. There must be a way to do that online. I also have experienced a few doctors and vets that use online confirmation systems via email, which is probably mobile friendly.

 
Bethany Brownholtz
on Nov 12, 2014

Brian, I love your points; I wonder how current students perceive the model--if they see it as student-centered personal guidance or if they are constantly frustrated. Perhaps to some, mandating guidance may feel infantilizing. That was one of my fears in graduate education when the web site became minimalized in terms of available information on programs.

Our department created a "student resource page" in Moodle, which is department specific, but may be of use to others struggling with where to put useful information for current students. Then again, there is probably much missing from our department's student resource page when it comes to practical information graduate students need. 

 

 
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Nov 12, 2014

Bethany thanks for sharing all of this info and experience. I think we are in the same ballpark of thought and should have coffee. I believe the student resource (nuts and bolts) page in Moodle is something that could be done college-wide in the short term. For some departments it might just be a transfer of information they had on the old colum.edu. Students, staff, and faculty seek out this info regularly. 

Is your department's page "open" or do students have to be enrolled in it to view it?

 

 
Bethany Brownholtz
on Nov 12, 2014

Mary, it is an open page (I'll post it here). I kept it open so that I can share the link with prospective students or alumni as needed. Occassionally I direct students to the Student Launch Pad in the Loop area of colum.edu when the information they seek is more general. 

And joint coffee sounds good :)

 
Expand This Thread
Alex Riepl
on Nov 06, 2014 - 10:41 am

I meet with many students who want to study abroad but who are very unsure how to fit this into their graduation plan. This is a major hurdle for them and many student who would otherwise pursue study abroad withdraw ordo not even try because they are not getting the support they need around their class schedules. 

I think that incorporating a study abroad discussion into the advising discussion around college requirements would not be that hard to do. All that would be needed is some coordination. 

I think our students would benefit enormously from this.

 

Responses(5)

Mary Rachel Fanning
on Nov 06, 2014

Agreed, Alex. So often students don't think about it until it's too late to fit it in. Conversations about studying abroad need to start from day 1. Or even before day 1! Could this be included in the pre-orientation moodle course? As College Advising expands our First-Year Group Advising program studying abroad should be included in the advising syllabus. Start the conversation early. 

 
Brian Marth
on Nov 06, 2014

Great points! I'm hopeful the discussion of International Study and Study Abroad elevates at Columbia as well, not just in the advising conversation, but also in terms of curriculum design and overall institutional values.  Once again, clear and articulated pathways to graduation may help us to determine when a student can study abroad and how to fit this option into his/her personal plan.  Thanks! 

 
Ann Hemenway
on Nov 07, 2014

I agree. Study abroad has long been an afterthought and traditionally it's been up to faculty and departments to drum up support and enrollment. The International Programs has done what it can, but appears to be constrained by understaffing. In my dept, we have two J-Session programs: one in Paris and another in Rome. Both have been spear-headed and nurtured by faculty (full- and part-time) who handle all the promotion and budgeting, as well as arranging itineraries.

I've taught twice in the Fiction Writing Dept's (now the Dept of Creative Writing) summer in Prague class. The first time was in 2000--the inaugural year. We recruited all the students, held info sessions, made all housing arrangements, budgeted, collected deposits. It was a hell of a lot of work--and worth it. It's now in its 15th year. I've also taught in the Summer in Florence program. Again, the International Programs unit did what they could, but because of lack of centralization and communication and student awareness of the possibilities, it took a hell of a lot of educating and promoting.

These experiences are vital to developing artists and need to be made more accessible and affordable when possible. Adjunct faculty have contributed enormously to this effort--and many have the connections to do so. But we need staffing and a culture that values travel and study. My department has the McNair Travel Scholarship, to which students can apply to help them defray the costs. I think the college can do more of this and that there are many untapped resources for these opportunities and scholarships.

I was heartened to hear Provost Weardon's support of Study Abroad programs and (I don't want to put words in his mouth) his understanding that it requires flexibility in requirements. It is an invaluable experience for students. For many, this may be the only chance they get for many years.

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 09, 2014

Alex, one of my questions in my first advising session with my advisees is: Do you have a U.S. Passport or other travel documents (for non-U.S. citizens).  It opens the discussion of study abroad. I'm always surprised by several things when they answer:

1) Many students already have an active passport.  They might or might not have been considering study abroad in their future.

2) In general, many students never imagined they could study abroad or could afford it.

3) Many don't know how to figure out if study abroad fits into their academic plans for gen ed, major, or minor reqs.

I'm delighted to then discuss with them the fact that Columbia offers a wide array of accessible opportunities to study outside of Chicago -- short January trips, full semesters, summers -- domestically or abroad. Students also have the chance to propose a travel-based independent study or an internship abroad.

Part of this discussion is always a careful calculation of where study abroad can fit into their major's course sequence and overall degree plan. I then refer the student to your office and, when needed, to their major's faculty advisor. As a college advisor, I rely heavily on the services and resources of the International Programs office and on the faculty advisors to further guide the student.

Because the process of preparing for study abroad is not a one-stop shop, I urge them to tolerate the somewhat messy process of collecting all the information needed before giving up on the dream.

This is one of my favorite advising converstaions with Columbia undergrads. It's part of how their college education can open up the world to them.

 

 
Kathie Bergquist
on Nov 22, 2014

As an active participant the the Dept. of Creative Writing's dynamic study abroad programs, I have seen first hand what an enormous impact the opportunity has had on student's creavity and confidence, as well as their sense of community and retention. The interest is there, and the value is unquestionable. This January, my colleague, Philip Hartigan, and I are taking 20 students to Paris to study creative writing, and the majority of them have never traveled out of the country before.

Oftentimes, students are not aware of programs and how they might fit into their academic plan. The other major obstacle is funding: without support, many of our students are proced out of the opportunity. I get e-mailed questions about the availability of scholarships or aid for study abroad pretty much every week; sometimes daily.

 

 

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 06, 2014 - 9:39 am

How should academic advising be structured and delivered to assist students with exploring their options, registering for courses, and fulfilling degree requirements?

 

Responses(10)

Jennie Fauls
on Nov 06, 2014

Empower and involve non FT faculty. When formal academic advising is limited to FT faculty, obviously you're missing hundreds of opportunities for meaningful connection and advancement. Again, (I've said this here in other contexts), we have to acknowledge that students could approach anyone in the community whom they trust, to seek help, support and advice. Any non FT faculty member here (grad student instructors, staff who teach, adjunct faculty) is less entrusted and equipped by the institution to follow up, in the context of the college. (We can give great advice but it may not be in line with Columbia's procedures and practices.)

 
Jenn Jones
on Nov 06, 2014

One idea is for Columbia to explore the possibility of structring Proactive Advising through professional advisors.  Here  are some articles about Proactive Advising, for anyone not familar with it. http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Proactive-(Intrusive)-Advising!.aspx 

http://occrl.illinois.edu/articles/intrusive-advisement-a-model-for-success-at-john-a-logan-college/

 

Faculty could remain in a mentorship advising role, which is definitely crucial to the success and engagement of our students, but the nitty-gritty degree paths, registration, at-risk student, exploratory student advising work would be done by professional advisors.  

Of course, this would require restructuring and/or hiring of additional advisors because all students would need to meet with his/her advisor before enrolling in any courses every semester.  There are pros and cons to centralized and departmental specific advising models and I think a final decision would need more information about how the entire College will be structured academically before that could be determined.  

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 06, 2014

The most important aspect of a good advising model is that student queries end with answers. Many of us have experienced student visits during which they say they have been shuffled around various offices at the college all day in search of answers. We each have to think of ourselves in an advising capacity in order to try harder to close the loop when they come to us. I'm not going to send anyone away when I can keep the student in my office, pick up the phone and take responsibility for the student's concerns.

As a side note, first-year students' registration process needs closer supervision. Someone in an official advising capacity should have to review new students' schedules before they're locked into them. 

Finally, in my experience, new students have difficulty understanding the distinction between faculty and college advisors and their roles in supporting them. There are some FT faculty who seem uncertain about the difference, as well. 

 
Steve Golden
on Nov 06, 2014

As an adjunct I’m not sure how advisers are picked or how well they know what each class teaches and how well it will benefit a student. All I know is the feedback I get in class from students. It does not seem as if the advisers know very much about individual classes. Perhaps there could be some kind of meeting where teacher present what their class is and which students it would benefit. Students need advice on how many hours they need to take etc. but they also need someone to help them decide why one class may be better for them than another and in what order they should be taken.

 
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Nov 06, 2014

There are so many great classes (especially electives) at the college that it can be hard for students to find them. I believe most students discover them via word of mouth from other students. A course description in the catalog can only go so far. One thing that helps in the advising process is having additional information about the class and the learning outcomes. Sometimes this comes to advisors in the form of flyers or emails. Since every student has different learning styles it is important to be as objective as possible, but we want students to have agency in their education and choose classes that enhance their major, career goals, and life as a global citizen. 

I wonder if there could be a way to make this "objective" information accessible to students, faculty, and staff? Could the instructor have the option to showcase the content of the class in Moodle or in a different web space? It could display the syllabus, student work, outcomes, rationale, etc. Much of this is discussed behind the "curricular curtain" but only a few members of the community get to dig that deep. 

Students care about their investment in these classes and I agree that we all would benefit from having an easier way to get the information. 

On another note it is very important in advising to have access to 4-year plans, suggested transfer plans, and general info like area coordinators and internship processes. Since the new website has changed, maybe there is a central place this info can be located. The Photography Dept. has built an amazing department page in Moodle with all of the nuts and bolts info. 

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 07, 2014

I hope that someone powerful looks at the Photography Dept. Moodle page (and maybe others) that Mary Rachel references above, and mandates such a template for each department. It's jarring when different departments/offices feature wildly different kinds and qualities of information. Departments can choose their own genre, delivery mechanism and content. Students and other constituents don't know where to look for essential data. And sometimes, when it's in Moodle, it's a private, faculty-only resource page that not everyone (from outside) can access. 

 
Daniel Jordan
on Nov 07, 2014

Along the lines of what Jennie mentioned, I'd really appreciate a handbook for faculty that lays out college-wide policies and procedures related to advising students. Maybe this exists, but I've been here several years and don't know where to go to find information. The student handbook has some rules, but not neceessarily process. And IRIS has some policies, but half of those seem to be out of date. I feel like students get sent to Advising (and I've sent my share there), just to get sent from Advising to an academic department or some other office. I'd feel better, and we could save students and others time, if faculty could tell students: "OK, you want to do X, you need to prepare by getting documentation Y, then go see person or office Z."

 
Alex Grandmaison
on Nov 12, 2014

My experience with Academic Advising was excellent. Others tell me that their experience was not quite as good. I think what would help a lot is if students came prepared to the sessions with specific questions or points to bring up. The advisors have all the information on their computers and are generally quite knowledgable about most things one could ask them. It seems that students just are not asking the right questions. The point may not be to overhaul how advising is structured, but rather what students bring into the session. The advisor cannot do all of the work. Student and Advisor have to work together to accomplish what the student needs.

 
Michelle Yu
on Nov 12, 2014

I agree with what Mary Rachel said about how it can be difficult for students to find certain electives. I feel that the system to register and search for classes is impractical and complicated. We are given a list of all the classes available for every student when really they should be a more efficient filtering method specifically to the classes that we, as individual students, are actually able to take.

 

Perhaps we should be able to register straight from the advising guide and choose the classes that we are allowed to take straight from there, rather than having to open multiple tabs and go back and forth from registering, looking at the advising guide, and searching for classes. It would save a lot of time from having to look through all the classes available, and confusion from what classes fill which requirements.

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 12, 2014

Going back to Jennie's first comment, I think that the community can have core information for communicating the fundamentals of advising, understanding core requirements etc. and to know where to refer students -- to supplement and augment the work of the CAC and faculty advisors. We need more advisors to be sure. Certain folks could be brought in for regular training and etc. with the CAC as a cohort of "others who can help to provide basic advising information". SFS, Conaway Achievement Project etc. are areas where this might be especially beneficial.

 
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Casandra McCottrell
on Nov 05, 2014 - 12:47 am

In addition to education, I have always felt the best thing about attending college was the unique opportunity to make friends with people who share your same passions. I believe what would help ensure student success personally, professionally, and academically are a variety of different things; however, I have included a list of ten ideas below to add to the conversation:

1) Encourage and support student collaboration for students and alumni

2) Encourage and support student portfolio building throughout all 4 years

3) Organize Professional Networking Opportunites w/real job opportunities

4) Protect students work and ideas

5) Increase Oppotunities for students to make money 

6) Increase the value of students work by providing opportunities for students to work on real world projects and assignments.

7) Help students support themselves who land unique internship opportunities but unable to support themselves

8) Provide more opportunities for alumni to rent or utilize campus equipment and computer labs for independent projects that are for portfolio building.

9) Create retention programs for homeless students

10) Provide regular affordable professional continued education classess on and off campus

 

Responses(2)

Sharon Wilson-Taylor
on Nov 05, 2014

Casandra, you put forth some great ideas; especially your last point about providing regualar affordable professional continued education classes on and off campus. Such classs couuld be lead by some of our alumni

 
Casandra McCottrell
on Nov 08, 2014

Hi Sharon, Thank you for reading my comments. Great that you mention alumni could come back to lead classes. I believe a great deal of alumni would highley interested and love to come back to speak and teach. I know of working professional alumni who have expressed this as something they'd enjoy. I think to have alumni teaching alumni continued education classes would make the classes a lot more interesting including add to the appeal.

 
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Sharon Marie Ross
on Nov 04, 2014 - 3:00 am

Well, we follow the traditional model quite well so far (at least in my experience here to date): internships, fellowships, festivals, etc. But one key element I see missing (and this is endemic I think in higher education across the board, but is perhaps felt more "painfully" here) is the phenom among many students of "well, what in god's name does this assignment/reading/class even have to do with my actual future?" For all courses that are not directly tied to an end product or result in a field, this is a daunting question. I advocate in my classes 2 approaches that I learned way back in my graduate studies days: 1) Students have a right to ask "why the heck are you teaching us this concept/method/etc." and a teacher should be prepared to answer. 2) We could stand to be more creative with our LAS and non-practicum courses in terms of assignments. In my experience, students more often than not rise to the occasion hen you tie a research assignment to a professional report that they are hypothetically submitting to a client, or when you ask them to consider the "ultimate end user" when answering an exam question. This is easier in some fields of study more than others, to be sure--but one work around to this is overall focusing on a cohesive educational experience--only a few study math for math's sake, but if you can't do budget projections (college level algebra) or defend deficit spending for a project, you won't rise far in any field's ranks. If you think you've got the best idea since sliced bread but can't prove it by knowing a specific artistic history, you'll be sent packing by those who are hiring. The trick is not just telling our students such platitudes, but proving it to them through peer review of their work (as just one idea)...

 

Responses(1)

Jeff Schiff
on Nov 05, 2014

I've always strived to use real world simulations in my classes, Sharon; so, I couldn't agree more. In this semester's Writing Digital Content class, for instance, I've encouraged many students to engage in creating and critiquing sites they'll ultimately use to promote their work and/or apply for paying jobs.

 
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Kirk  Irwin
on Nov 03, 2014 - 7:34 pm

The best way to accomplish student success is to first offer a college level curriculum. No more 5 week chunked courses developed under the false pretense that students want flexibility and options. The move to a 5 week chunked curriculum was a mis-placed singular bottom line idea that needs to be stopped. The decline in enrollment speaks to the ineffectiveness of this approach in the academic marketplace. 

Second, identify then support the core comptetencies of the College. If a program is professionally based then support the faculty with professional credentials. If a program academically based support the faculty with academic credentials. If a program chooses to be a blending of both, such as the program I teach in Interior Architecture, then find a way to combine both credentials. 

Third, consider re-classifying the college from being a Liberal Arts college to an Art and Design college. This way resources can be allocated in a clear and direct manner to the core competencies that thrive in this institution. Not that I am opposed to Liberal Arts, I have a LIberal Arts degree myself and I spent a lot of money recently to see to it that my son has one also. But we are not a Liberal Arts College, not by any stretch of the imagination. 

 

Responses(2)

Friedhard Kiekeben
on Nov 04, 2014

Dear colleagues,

Thank you very much for an interesting discussion. Our exhaustive discussions about future prospects have ambitious and important goals, yet in my view there is too insufficient reference to a proposed process in which the existing programs, schedules, and class offerings (in my case in A+D and Fine Art) would transition in actuality into new separate entities, schedules, and departments in a way that will encourage academic excellence and increased student interest, not just for future students, but especially for the ones, currently, that made Columbia their college of choice.

Our existing programs are unusually complex and multi-facetted, and years of tuning has been done to make things run smoothly, and in my view such considerations are very important. The realities of program transition, makes me question the feasibility of fast implementation of big - and perhaps rushed - changes that do not sufficiently cater for the needs of the existing student population.

The transition away from BFA programs already was costly (and lost solid revenue streams and academic kudos) and in some instances served what I would regard as poorly defined academic goals - although some students do well with the new BA study options - unless an overall lowering of standards was the aim, which I am sure all would agree cannot be the case. I my view 'student success' has to be first and foremost the success of the students we have; and any future developmets need careful consideration and inclusion of current students and their needs.

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 06, 2014

"No more 5 week chunked courses developed under the false pretense that students want flexibility and options. The move to a 5 week chunked curriculum was a mis-placed singular bottom line idea that needs to be stopped." 

Students want...to graduate.  -- Those 1-credit courses spanning five weeks can enable them to reach the average 15 credits per semester needed to earn 120 credits at the end of four years of schooling for a BA. Because full-time tuition for a semester covers from the 12th through the 16th credit, strategic students can use 1-credit courses to top-off their semester to the precise number of credits needed to ultimately reach that 120. (It always pains me to see a "Sorry Charlie letter" go out to a  BA student informing him or her that they've earned only 119 credits rather than the 120 needed. Usually, the letter comes after the student has walked across the stage at commencement. It’s not happy news and it leaves a sour taste.)

Also, my experience has been that students use these options to learn something they’re especially interested in, such as web design, negotiation skills, or smartphone photojournalism.

I don’t see students registering for these 1-credit five-week courses seeking “flexibility.” Instead, when they’re overtly seeking “flexibility,” they might take a January Term course,  summertime Columbia or community college coursework, an online course, internship credits, a CLEP test, or even an Independent Project.

So, those 1-credit five-week courses are an important and critical tool to educate -- and graduate -- our students.

-- observations from an academic advisor

 
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Paula Epstein
on Nov 03, 2014 - 6:54 pm

So many students do not realize the possible careers that embody their skill sets nor do they realize what they need to study in order to achieve their career goals. I would like to make a case for the Career Corner that is in the library. There are wonderful resources there that students can look at to see what is necessary for their career of choice, options within their career choice, dealing with a new job, networking and for starting their own business.  I have worked with many high school, freshmen, Marketing Yourself and transfer students by directing them to these books and pointing out websites that can help expand their interests and give them addiional career options.

 

Responses(2)

Paula Brien
on Nov 08, 2014

Paula (the other Paula): You’re 100 percent correct. The great majority of our students -- even at the ultimate point of graduation -- cannot name three entry-level job titles they desire and for which they qualify; three types of employers they’re targeting;  the skills, knowledge, and abilities in demand for those jobs or endeavors; or how much income they want or need in their first years after graduation.

You can see how much is wrong with that picture for a college that values “vocational outcome” as part of a liberal arts degree. This lack of preparedness for the job or career search is chronic. I saw it first-hand when I came to Columbia as a career advisor more than 20 years ago, and I still encounter it today in my current work as an academic advisor in the College Advising Center.

My hope is that with administration’s new (renewed?) focus on career development and career advising, we can deliver students to their graduation date able to answer those critical questions above. I know the Columbia advising staff, librarians, internship coordinators, Career Initiatives staff, and academic staff and faculty can create pathways and support to make this happen.

 
Lundon Lewis
on Nov 12, 2014

In response to Paula Epstein mentioning, “ So many students do not realize the possible careers that embody their skill sets nor do they realize what they need to study in order to achieve their career goals” I do believe in order to increase the retention rate of students graduating the influence of the school helping the students realize potential careers and job opportunities can help. Instead of required classes like First Year seminar that most students either blow off or skip entirely, they should implement require meetings with career advisors, portfolio reviews or perhaps internships in that field of choice to build relationships with employers. I believe this type of approach can help persuade the students to finish out their studies because they will know that the possibility of a job is highly likely at the end. Knowing students who decided to leave school or are thinking about it, I have heard that one of the main problems is that they feel as though they are wasting money on classes that have nothing to do with their major. And while there are some LAS courses that apply to certain majors, not all of them do. I feel they should only be required for the majors that they apply to. For example, Biochemistry has nothing to do with Pop music, nor does Humanities have anything to do with Game programming. Time is money, so fill their time with things they will actually need and will help in the long run.

 
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Beth  Ryan
on Nov 03, 2014 - 5:55 pm

I would also love to brainstorm how to better serve our transfer population in making them feel welcome and a part of something rather than disconnected, independent and often feeling isolated.  We are looking to reach out earlier from an advising capacity and looking for innovative ways for them to meet and connect with each other to more rapidly cultivate their 'creative possee'.  Any ideas welcome!  

 

Responses(3)

Brian Marth
on Nov 06, 2014

Thanks Beth. This afternoon I met with one of our SGA Senators because she wanted to discuss "transfer student issues" at the College. SGA is seeking better ways to support and engage our transfer students.  If we intend to recruit and admit greater numbers of transfer students, we must also discuss all of the ways we need to support this population of students.  

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 08, 2014

Beth: Thanks for broaching the needs of our transfer students.  One special challenge these students have is in making friends on campus. Seriously.

As an academic advisor with a holistic approach to advising, I hear many transfer students mention how distressing it is to not have friends among their fellow students. Commonly, transfer students do not start at Columbia as residential students, when connecting with peers on campus is somewhat easier. Instead, they are commuting and likely even working jobs outside of school. But, today's students bring high expectations for their social life as well as their academic life to Columbia.

I hope a major element within Columbia's new strategic plan addresses how to help students, especially commuting transfer students, make friends here on campus. I know our Student Engagement staff works long hours and commits huge effort now on this endeavor and I hope this foundation can be built up.

 

 
Mike  Harris
on Nov 14, 2014

Columbia currently has many daily activities and events open to students—perhaps transfer students should simply be encouraged to attend these to connect with their new campus and student body. Seriously—when you transfer to a new school it's awkward and you have to make an effort to meet people and make connections. Columbia is still very much a commuter school—there's no Quad or union or obvious central meeting places for students (transfer or otherwsie). That's a limitation of Columbia. Are we really going to spend much time and effort finding ways to get socially disconnected poeple to learn how to make friends? This kind of stuff infantilizes students and really does little to "connect" students to their new commuter campus. (I transfered to two schools when attending college—never had an issue with connecting to other students.) I've taught grad students who come from all over the country to attend Columbia—they really don't seem to have any issues connecting with fellow students and the campus and what it has to offer. But again, they are more motivated students.

 
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Beth  Ryan
on Nov 03, 2014 - 5:52 pm

Student success is about supporting the 'total person', not the academic side and then all the other stuff.  Collaborating more creates more wrap around services for students.  I advocate the EASE communication system.  I have had extremely positive results.  By using this system, we were able to turn around 4 of 5 students in my summer online classes.  As a faculty member, I could not do that alone and 4 students would have failed without the integrated approach.  Thank you Student Success department!! 

Embarrassingly, as a parti-time faculty member for 7 plus years at Columbia, before I became a full time Lecturer, I did not even know such services existed.  That said, a once a term departmental In-Service meeting where we talk at faculty is not informative or valuable in retaining the necessary resources to fully support our students.  I don't know how exactly, yet we need a more comprehensive communication plan to reach part and full time faculty.  

 

Responses(5)

Jennie Fauls
on Nov 04, 2014

Beth points out something really important, that different faculty populations, who are often oriented differently to the school, can easily miss exposure to crucial support systems for students. I believe that EASE is in transition this year but, going forward, I think it (or whatever replaces it for student support) needs a dedicated team behind it, including a communications director and/or outreach director for non FT faculty whose population turns over frequently.

The college needs to acknowledge that faculty are approached when students need support. It's not our job to provide the support but I think it's unclear precisely how we each should respond. Let's also admit that procedures and offices change from year to year without everyone being notified of the details. 

Procedures should be made clearer and should be the same across departments. Whoever the student in crisis reaches out to should feel absolutely confident that they know exactly what to do next. I don't. 

I guess I'm not sure if EASE is enough, in its current state. 

 

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 05, 2014

More investment needs to be made in coordinating student support resources - I agree.  Faculty members are the critical connector for students needing extra support - getting information to all faculty members reliably and accurately so that they can have it available to them for referring students is essential. The system needs to be easy, fast and provide feedback to close the loop.

 
Ann Hemenway
on Nov 07, 2014

This is very important. 

Who is responsible for communicating all of this information to faculty? Should chairs make sure that all faculty are aware of policies and support services? If so, what is the best way to communicate this information? There is a limit to emails--as we get so many. A reference guide with contacts on IRIS would at least be a starting point.

 

 

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 08, 2014

Beth: I bet my office, the College Advising Center, could help with a comprehensive communication plan for part-time faculty. We centralized advisors are very familiar with the typical flow of student and faculty needs at the entire college within any semester.

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 10, 2014

Paula, I think that help would be fantastic. 

 
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Marsha sanchez
on Nov 03, 2014 - 12:48 pm

A degree does not always have to define what a student does exactly for their  career. Create an "out of the box" experiece. Your degree gives you skill sets, and those skills can be applied to a numerous amount of paths in any field. A degree should not limit a students imagination, but give them the opportunity to explore not only what makes them happy, but also something that can be financially successful. Your first job isnt not always your dream job, however other jobs can create bridges to that dream job.

 

Responses(1)

Brian Marth
on Nov 03, 2014

Great point Marsha, thanks! Many students will work in fields 'unrelated' to their degrees. Our discussion about success should consider important transferable skills regardless of major and degree. 

 
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Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 02, 2014 - 10:58 pm

What are some ways the College can embed a meaningful integration of career outcomes, career developent, and employability into the Columbia experience?

 

Responses(10)

Mark  Kelly
on Nov 03, 2014

In consultation with Christie Andersen Asif, executive director of Career Initiatives and the Portfolio Center, I am submitting this strategic document that was drafted this fall to address the integration of career outcomes and employability campus-wide.  A series of meetings between Student Success and the Provost established outcomes which ultimately led to a vision for career and portfolio development that establishes Columbia as an industry leader in educating students in creative practices, with an eye on successful career outcomes. 

 

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 03, 2014

We have successfully embedded career management topics into our core curriculum in the Busienss and Entrepreneurship department.  Christie Andersen Asif has been an instrumental partner over the past 18 months to help us integrate a strategic approach to career management in the core and elective curriculum.  

Focusing on career managment from first semester freshman year, through graduation prepares our students for success in sustainable careers.  The Portfolio Center offers full service career management resources, more than the name implies.  As faculty, we need to be committed to making the content connections in our curriculum; not simply passing of career topics to the Portfolio Center.  

 

See the document attached if you want a roadmap. 

 
Mary Rachel Fanning
on Nov 03, 2014

I totally agree, Beth. Career development has to start from Day 1. In College Advising we think it's important to connect the academic plan with the career plan in forming the total "graduation plan." One resource I like to use with first-year students is the Career Four Year Plan created by the Portfolio Center. http://students.colum.edu/portfolio-center/articles/career-plan.php 

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 05, 2014

These are exceptional ideas. It is essential to prepare students from day one. I had two exceptional internships when I was in college that shaped my career and ultimately the direction of my life. Developing robust internships (hopefully paid) is an intergral part of this conversation - real-life, feet-on-the-street, experiences to see if what they are studying is something they ultimately will want to pursue. Connections via internships are incredibly important in finding employment after college.

 
April Langworthy
on Nov 06, 2014

I am so happy to hear the articulation of career development as a process.    Providing opportunities for students to explore career paths and gain experience associated with their body of work is essential for later success. They should be able to try new things and risk while they are pursing their degree and have support to reflect on their successes and challenges.  In my role at CCAP we work with a number of our students in community-based settings (schools, not for profit arts organizations, etc.). It may be for an internship, as part of the Teaching Artist Minor, a work study opportunity, a course-associate project or a part time job.   Our students learn so much about themselves during those experiences - sometimes they find a passion they didn't know they had, sometimes they learn about what they don't want to do, and sometimes what they learn is very basic life skill stuff (be on time, be fully present, listen, etc.)  I think sometimes we forget that our students are still young adults and are learning about EVERYTHING - not just their academic and vocational success.  This all feeds into their ultimate success in their carreer.  We need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to coach and mentor students so they can succeed. 

 

 
Dana Connell
on Nov 06, 2014

Chicago is rich with networking opportunities.  Our faculty should be encouraged and rewarded for professional engagement with practitioners.  Industry connections keep our teaching current and relevant to the career, provide linkage from college to industry, and expose our students to what is real and relevant right now, today as well as what's possible in the future.  Considering internships, practicums, field experience, or other industry specific learning have tremendous potential to enhance the space from college to career.      

 
Mindy Faber
on Nov 06, 2014

Wondering how we might use badging as a way to award credentials to students who are gaining skills outside of formal or course-based contexts? Or how do we award credit to students who perform this work similar to service learning credits that CPS students perform? Doing so, positions faculty in the role of connecting students to other kinds of learning opportunities such as the ones April describes.

 
Brian Marth
on Nov 06, 2014

Great points everyone - thanks for your contributions! 

 
Martha  Meegan
on Dec 01, 2014

I am concerned about the specialized majors the College is offering in some of the departments and how it can potentially limit the opportunities for employment even within the field of study.  Degrees define an area of interest, but should not define one's utimate skill set. Within the Film  Department's undergraduate level alone there are 9 majors that describe various disciplines.  These are disciplines one ascribes to at this time in their life, but can one easily transition  to other aspects of filmmaking with these specialized degrees?  Will a specialized major limit one from getting "the foot in the door" and experiencing other aspects of the field? My comments are by no means limited to the Film Department majors   Consideration should also be given to specialized degrees offered in  TV, Photography and Music.

 
Joan Hammel
on Dec 09, 2014

Inviting professionals in different fields to compile current industry standard info documents about expectations and tips could be an ongoing way to provide students with up to date employment help while providing opportunities to build relationships with those professionals.

Practical skills such as the financial value of works created, job search, marketing, professional appearance, contracting and other real life applications should be taught as a part of a business course including participating in the wonderful offerings of the Portfolio Center.

In general, I would like to see a specific definition of what student success looks like.  Is it graduating?  With minimal financial burden?  With a job?  Having Columbia create a clear picture of what that looks like provides a road map for what goals should be pursued.

 
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Blair Allen Mishleau
on Nov 02, 2014 - 12:29 pm

While it has been two years since I was a student at Columbia, I'm assuming that this is still relevant:

The advising center has some great folks in it (Brian helped me an immense amount the short amount of time he worked with me my freshman year!) But I feel that inconsistencies in communication to students and between professionals have left many of my classmates a.) not sure how often or who they should meet with and b.) making some silly choices that cost them a lot of money.

I think College Advising needs to be more promintent and integrated throughout the college - however that might look. :)

 

Responses(3)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 03, 2014

Blair, thank you! This is great feedback. We definitely need to look at ways of improving our student advising so that students' pathway to a degree is quicker and clearer.

 
Timothy McCaskey
on Nov 03, 2014

Excellent points, and I agree completely.  To add to the point about communication between professionals: advisors have a hard job, especially when giving advice on courses outside their field of expertise.  Iniatives such as the LAS ambassador program seemed to help foster the spread of useful advising information between different departments.  Also, feedback FROM advising is helpful.  Many in the "student success" forum have discussed the importance of well-defined degree paths, but  we also need to be ensuring that requisite classes for these four-year plans are regularly available to students who need to take them.  As an example, a course I teach that is a requirement for a particular major conflicted with a common studio course for that major.  We made adjustments, but only after some communication took place.

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 03, 2014

I agree wholeheartedly Blair. As a faculty advisor, I meet with many students who do not even know who their college advisor is.  People like Brian Marth and Lauren Targ have helped bridge that gap in our department, yet a gap still exists.  

 
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Andrew Causey
on Nov 02, 2014 - 8:01 am

In reading the thoughtful ideas and suggestions on this topic, I begin to wonder: what IS student success? I don't think any one of the entries I read reduced "success" to financial comfort, but we may talking past each other nevertheless. Each of us may be addressing this topic with a set of assumptions which are probably based on our own personal experiences. That is, as a teacher, my definition of success may have a lot to do with academic effectiveness or prowess; a recent graduate from Art/Design might recognize success as the ability to confront and develop their own creativity.

When I finished my B.A. in Anthropology, I certainly never thought my future career would be either in academia or in this field! At age 22, finishing the degree itself was a success, and at that time I supposed I might work in some corporation as mid-management. If I look back now, I see that my "successes" (in great part formed while I was at college) have to do with things such as judicious risk-taking, creative perseverance, and directed curiosity as much as they are about having some standing in my field and maintaining a level of financial security.

It seems to me that the very first effort we should make is to locate as many alumni as possible (both recent and long gone) and ask THEM how Columbia enabled their "success" ...and let them define that word as they see fit. I think this will provide us with a much stronger foundation on which to build our future plans. (It might be useful to note here that my own alma mater never contacts me to ask such a question--which I would answer cheerfully and rapidly. Instead, the emails I get from them only requests for donations.)

 

Responses(5)

Terence Brunk
on Nov 02, 2014

Andrew makes a good point about the slipperiness of abstractions. Everyone at the college can rally to the cause of helping students succeed, but we don't necessarily understand “success” in the same ways, and our definitions of “success” are prone to change over time (research at the university where I did my graduate degree demonstrated that undergrads rated their equivalent of Writing and Rhetoric I and II as strictly middle of the pack in terms of value and importance, but when those same people were surveyed four or five years later as alumni, those writing courses were rated as the most important class experiences those surveyed had had).

Columbia also surveys alumni, and while I don't know the survey well enough to say whether or not it gets at the specific points Andrew raises, it might provide some sense of what alumni value about their Columbia experiences.

The most recent survey report (2011) notes among its “Key Findings” that “Areas of learning that did not meet the respondents’ expectations include 'defining and solving problems,' 'business and marketing skills,' and 'using and adapting to new technology.'”

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 03, 2014

Andrew, thank you for a very thoughtful answer. I like the idea of contacting alumni to ask them those questions. To me, student success has two parts: graduating with a degree in hand and being prepared for lifelong employment. It's that second piece that an alumni survey could really help us with.

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Nov 03, 2014

To those two succinct definitions I would add: the ability to be an inspired lifelong learner.

 
Michael Lawrence
on Dec 02, 2014

Great points here. The question  of "what is success" is not something we should decide on for our students, but rather a question we should help our students answer for themselves. (Even something like lifelong employment is not something we should take for granted as the marker of success — consider, to give just one example, those who commit themselves full time to parenting. And of course there are some famous Columbia dropouts who we might call successful, though they lack a degree.) Developing one's own criteria for what counts as a successful life should be a centerpiece of a liberal arts education. We should help student 'define greatness' on their own terms.

This talk from Alain de Botton does an excellent job raising some of these questions. 

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Dec 03, 2014

I agree very much with Mike that the very question of "What is success?" should be a centerpiece of liberal arts education.  Perhaps the stated outcomes of students graduating with degrees, and being prepared for "lifelong employment" may constitute a college’s success. 

 

 
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Don Peterson
on Oct 31, 2014 - 3:40 pm

It is exciting to participate in the shaping of the future of Columbia College Chicago.

 
Yvonne Sode
on Oct 31, 2014 - 2:55 pm

I join this conversation with the hope that I am able to share a different perspective that may be helpful regarding “Our Commitment to Student Success.”  I have been an employee of Columbia College Chicago for twenty years. I am also a student, a senior.  I am also the parent of a junior in college, so there you have it, my claim to having something to say regarding student success.

Being a student in the category of “older, non-traditional” students who has sat in classrooms with “traditional college age” students, having been one myself, and being the parent to one now I believe that there are some basic answers to today’s question.

It is obvious that there are factors that our stellar faculty, capable staff and administrators cannot control. It is a reality that many colleges and universities are dealing with, affordability. During my years as a student, I’ve heard many students stating that they want to continue in school, but due to their present life obligations and the lack of financial aid available to them, they are not going to be able to continue. This is where being an older student has helped. I am able to speak with students regarding the reality of being my age, back in school and trying to complete my education to graduate. I speak to them about the truth of life, the trials and tribulations they will face, but how absolutely critical it is for them to deal with the obstacles now while they are young, find a way to stay in school and graduate. It’s 2014 and a person with a high school diploma is not going to be very successful in finding a rewarding job. They need their college degree, so it’s time to do some serious google searching for scholarships and alternative loans, whatever it takes to stay in school. We can’t water down the conversation. It’s tough but it’s real and if students are going to persist and graduate, they can do it.

My suggestion is not meant to add additional responsibilities to our excellent faculty and staff advisors, but maybe creating a mentorship opportunity for students to be connected to faculty/staff members who are older, possibly a bit wiser and have traversed the same or similar road the student is going through could assist in helping students persist and graduate. It might be something where faculty/staff are connected to a few students and can keep in touch via email, not an open social network for everyone to see, maybe offering a more private communication opportunity could provide some positive results.

 

Responses(6)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 03, 2014

These are great thoughts, Yvonne. Thank you!

 
Jonathan Kinkley
on Nov 03, 2014

I second the mentorship idea -- either pairing a freshman with a senior or recent alum -- or as Yvonne suggestions a faculty/staff member. Someone who can be called upon at crossroads in a students' academic pursuits and be a sounding board for decision making and advice.

 
Jan Chindlund
on Nov 04, 2014

Yvonne, agreed. Mentors are necessary for success in any endeavor. Finding that person (or multiple persons for differing reasons) who can give advice, lend an ear, provide some direction or guidance is crucial. I've studied mentoring a few times for various reasons and have learned it works well if both parties agreed to the terms for engaging in a mentoring relationship. How long? Contact methods? Frequency? Setting expectations will help make the relationship be meaningful for both parties.

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 05, 2014

This is such an important part of the conversation, Yvonne. Thank you. I think staff members of Columbia also have something to offer to this mentoring conversation and with training and organization could also share in mentoring groups of students.

 
Aldo Guzman
on Dec 08, 2014

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I agree with Yvonne's suggestion.  Peer-to-peer mentoring can be very powerful and a well-structured peer mentor program could greatly benefit both the students and the college.

 
Aldo Guzman
on Dec 08, 2014

Sorry about the previous long post, not sure what happened there.  

 
Expand This Thread
Kristin Howard
on Oct 31, 2014 - 2:02 pm

I think cutting classes that students want to take is something that can hinder the success of students. By cutting the classes that they want to take, you are essentially forcing them to take classes they aren't interested in.  From personal experience, I can say that students are more successful in classes that they are interested in.  Also, when a faculty member has great reviews and great reputation with students and the administration cuts their classes, it can reduce a student's chances of getting into that teachers class. Cutting classes that are very important to students will make it harder for them to succeed at Columbia. 

 

Responses(3)

Michelle Gates
on Nov 01, 2014

I think it is important to distinguish between cutting sections and cutting courses. Sections are cut based on enrollment and is not a reflection on the importance  of a topic but of the number of students who have enrolled , engagement and whether it meets a minimum threshold to pay faculty.

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Nov 03, 2014

The ideas that Timothy McCaskey mentions about feedback FROM advising and communication among constituents to better schedule courses to fit students' needs could alleviate some of the difficulty Kristin Howard describes, and optimize the courses offered. Which should also be more efficient in terms of allocating resources.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 03, 2014

However Michelle cutting sections can also be cutting classes for a student.  We have many single section classes where cutting a section, cuts the class.  And sometimes students cannot rearrange their schedule for the sections that are left.  Another issue can be requirements to graduate for minors.  One of my classes which was cut for the Fall had 8 students (below 50%) but all 8 students needed that class to graduate as part of their minor or major.  We have (as far as I know) figured out ways to help all 8 students continue towards graduation on time but it hasn't been easy.   So sections that look like an easy class to cut can have longer reaching implications.  If advising and faculty are not involved enough in the process, this could become a retention issue.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Peter  Cook
on Oct 31, 2014 - 10:26 am

Many of our students who arrive at Columbia College are often unsure about their majors or unaware of the minors. It may take them a semester or two semesters to realize what they want to focus on- a costly experience especially for the financial stranded students. I think it would be great if we could expand our WOW weeks by incorporating major samplings where the new students can dip into actual class projects and working with our faculty. When I attended the Summer Vestibule Program at my college (National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology), I had to choose at least 4 majors to sample then the following week, narrowing into two majors. By the end of the program, I was able to have a clear idea about my major, which was Graphic Design. I believe this venue will allows our new students to be well informed and instantly become part of the Columbia community. 

 

Responses(6)

Stan Wearden
on Oct 31, 2014

This is a very interesting idea.

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Oct 31, 2014

Can First Year seminar incorporate some of this into their activities and focus? I believe they may already include some sessions thinking about how to "find yourself" and your direction...

 
Michael Lawrence
on Oct 31, 2014

Laurie, FYS does indeed have students working with faculty from areas outside their major, though I wouldn't say our goal is to have students "find themselves." To speak to the possibility Peter raises: FYS could certainly be reconcieved as something more modular, where students might cycle through a series of experiences with several different instructors throughout the semester. That could be very exciting. However, if this happened, I'd hope that the course would still be conceived as a real academic experience and not as an extension of orientation. It’s important that students are getting exposure to other faculty and to other students in the context of engaging with big ideas and with some degree of academic accountability. I’d want the foundational experience of the core curriculum to remain rooted in the school’s mission as an institution of higher learning. 

 
Michelle Gates
on Nov 01, 2014

What an interesting idea-and a way to allow students to both explore but make a choice on where to focus efforts.

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Nov 03, 2014

Absolutely, Michael! I in no way equate "finding yourself" in FYS with a light buffet of orientation-style options! No, for FYS, it's exactly the "big ideas" foundation of inquiry and discovery that can afford both a broad and an in-depth exploration of areas of higher learning within which the student may find themselves. Most students, I would venture, can profit from those inner spark experiences when imaginations ignite during academic exploration and high-level discussion of ideas/topics/disciplines new to them .... these act like signposts for the student's eventual passion-led direction(s).

 
Michael Lawrence
on Nov 04, 2014

It's an interesting tension. From the discussion threads here and in the other conversations, it is clear that there is a real split about whether the Columbia community wants to see FYS evolve into more of a 'student sucess,' 'extended orientation' model, or to keep its roots as an academic experience. It's all up for consideration and re-imagining.

 
Expand This Thread
Sharon Marie Ross
on Oct 30, 2014 - 5:10 pm

I think one important element (to supplement the great points already here) is to provide more robust support for struggling students. I think we still have many students who come in with misguided expectations of what college work "is"--and there is still a stigma attached to asking for assistance (e.g., in terms of basics like taking notes, forming arguments or original ideas, how to research for anythingfrom an LAS topic to a genre of art one is creating within)...Stigma with mismatched expectations is then compounded in larger dpartments and larger classes and in larger classes especially I feel we don't have the support in place to really assist students who are capable of succeeding with guidance. The resulting frustration negatively impacts retention (and graduation of course).

 

Responses(11)

Julie Redmond
on Oct 30, 2014

I agree, Sharon. There is still much good work to do including more intentional (required?) support for incoming students who may find college challenging in that important first year - not Bridge, but a program that emphasizes development of self-efficacy and skill-building etc. to prepare them for the road ahead. There are may reasons of course why students struggle in their first year and building a program for them to be successful (rather than them fitting to our idea of what they need) is one thing to think more about. We have a lot of great resources already available across the college - communicating and organizing what is available to students and helping them build their support net for their first year is critical to this conversation it seems.

 
Bethany Brownholtz
on Oct 30, 2014

This is a great point. One concrete way of supporting students could be joint ventures between the Learning Studio and academic departments.  

 

The Creative Arts Therapies department has a writing improvement initiative that involves the department’s faculty/staff and a departmental liaison to the writing center (a current student that works with our students specifically in the writing center). Students can seek writing consultation within the department through a staff member (me) and/or the liaison at the Writing Center. In addition to writing tutoring, the liaison and I co-facilitate writing seminars on different topics, and these are typically for extra credit. Sometimes they are tied to particular classes and assignments.

 

The program has been running successfully for about 5 years. The model works well in that the students have a friendly face to associate with academic support.  For example, after a recent workshop, a student said, “I felt like I got to know you through the workshop, and it made me want to come in for tutoring.” He then scheduled an appointment. Also students are being tutored by a person who understands their subject matter. Perhaps there is less of a stigma around asking for help under these circumstances.

 

I realize that having a staff member or faculty tutor might not be feasible, but topic-specific tutors based in the Writing Center that collaborate with the department through workshops or other means may work well for some departments. I see potential for more departmental liaisons at Columbia. It’s a great example of centralized and localized academic support.

 

 
Stan Wearden
on Oct 31, 2014

Great thoughts from Sharon, Julie and Bethany in this thread. I'm also interested in hearing peoples' thoughts about students later in their academic careers. There is interesting research from the Education Advisory Board that shows that colleges and universities lose a lot of sophomores and juniors who have between a 2.5 and a 3.5 GPA -- and not for financial reasons. EAB calls this group the "murky middle," students we normally would describe as struggling, but we're losing them anyway. Any thoughts on what we can do to help this group?

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Oct 31, 2014

I'm wondering if it has something to do with the students falling through the cracks in terms of finding those "friendly faces" with whom they can connect more deeply as others have discussed, be they faculty or staff. Sometimes a student who isn't failing enough loses out on the support and relationships that they might otherwise develop out of necessity. Can we provide a "you're doing fine, but let's talk" level of support somehow? Sidestepping stigma associated with getting help seems important also, as Sharon stresses.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 03, 2014

Keeping friendly faces around helps and also having a class size small enough that students really get to know instructors.  Many times students who are falling through the cracks stop responding to email, coming to class, etc.  The EASE system has really helped with these issues.  Also if students have a good relationship with their advisor in the advising office then there's a friendly face that is always available.

 
Bethany Brownholtz
on Nov 04, 2014

Thanks, Dr. Wearden. I have been thinking about your question (regarding the 2.5-3.5 GPA students). I did have one idea, but it might be crazy or impossible.

What if, during the junior year, we offered an exciting and life changing experience to look forward to? I am imagining a mandatory cross-discipline study abroad, internship, or community engagement experience built into the curriculum. I see this seminar as having a shared theme with the first semester seminar. If we are transforming the first semester seminar—could an “upperclassman seminar" be developed at the same time?

Such a unique opportunity might inspire students to persevere (and perhaps graduate) and be a marketing talking point for Undergraduate Admissions. Further, depending on the seminar, it could fold in some of the other strategic goals—like community engagement and diversity.

I realize that we have many separate programs like this per major, so forgive me if this is out of the question. 

 
Julie Redmond
on Nov 05, 2014

I like these suggestions! I think it is true that much effort is placed with high risk students in freshmen and sometimes sophomore years, but the "murky middle", with a little extra support, can have a higher rate of success. Engagement is the key here: faculty engagement, international exchange experiences, coaching and mentoring with industry alums - things to build their momentum to push to finish. This is also a time when students need to pick up part-time jobs etc. and this diminishes, sometimes, their ability to focus on school. Understanding how to support working students in their degree completion is important to this conversation as well.

 
Andre Foisy
on Nov 06, 2014

I agree wtih these suggestions. Each student that comes here goes through a period of initial culture shock to a certain extent and we have plans and structures in place to help them to acclimate to life at the college. We tend to forget the in-between years are just as confusing and daunting and sometimes more so. It's important that students in these "betwixt and between" stages feel like they are part of th ecommunity be that through faculty engagement, meetings with their advisor(s), internship, etc.

Although students are quite polarized in their feelings about the first-year seminar class, one positive aspect of the course is that students are required to collaborate with other classmates. Regardless if a student loved or hated the course, they leave the course with a network of people in their same stage of their education who shared a common experience.

Many of our courses have some collaborative aspect and I think that it should be even more embedded in our curriculum since it helps students to form a sense of community beyond the first-year. 

 
Daniel Jordan
on Nov 07, 2014

As teachers, how often have we heard and said that if we expect more of students they'll rise to the occasion. So here's a crazy two-birds with one stone idea, stolen whole cloth from Yvonne Sode: student-to-student mentoring. As a freshman you're assigned a peer mentor. Late sophomore year, a one or two hour training session to prepare for becoming a mentor as a junior. Then as a junior, you're paired up with a freshman. New students get the benefit of some (hopefully) wisdom. The murky middle students get told, in effect, "you've been around the block, you know how to be successful by now, so now you're expected to model that for new students." Maybe telling these murky students that we believe in them and backing that message up by entrusting them with some responsibility could help empower them.

 
Soo La Kim
on Nov 07, 2014

Jumping off what's been said so far about the importance of peer-to-peer connections and friendly faces, I think faculty need to be reminded of the importance of fostering that sense of community in the classroom. Those of us in the CiTE who also teach hear from our students on a regular basis that they don't know the names of other students in their other classes, which means instructors haven't fostered those connections. And this isn't just about large lecture courses. 

In all our workshops, we model and talk about the importance of fostering classroom community AS a pedagogical practice, not as just a nice add-on or touchy-feely frill. When students feel connected, they learn more, they have a support network, they're more likely to show up for class, less likely to slip through the cracks. I think empowering students to help each other can start in the classroom and move beyond in some of the ways mentioned above.

 
Kristin Pichaske
on Nov 13, 2014

Sharon makes some very important points about students not wanting to ask for help and fear of being stigmatized.  I often find that the students in my classes who need the most help are the most relutanct to ask for it, or even accept it when offered.

I'm attaching a link to an interesting NYT article that addresses some of these issues.  It's about a successful program implemented at the University of Texas that identifies at-risk freshmen (based on some statistical parameters like SAT score and parental income) and invites them to partiake in a program that includes smaller classes, tutoring, mentoring and support. What's interesting to me and different from the types of supports that we provide at Columbia is that 1) the college identifies these students from the get-go not based on poor performance or abilities but based on statistical probablilities that they will struggle; 2) they are not merely encouraged to get help, they are invited to join a group; and 3) the group is not identified as being behind or at risk (labels which have been shown to decrease performance and lead to dropping out), but rather give a sense of elevated purpose.  I.e. there is no stigma attached.

This program achieves a lot of the goals being discussed here at once: the students not only receive additional supports, they build relationships with faculty AND EACH OTHER so they have a support network that makes them feel like they belong and motivates them to keep going.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Brian Marth
From the Moderator: Brian Marth
on Oct 30, 2014 - 11:54 am

My name is Brian Marth and I am one of the sub-committee members and moderators for our discussion regarding "student success" at Columbia.  We have developed several questions regarding student success at Columbia and they are primarily organized into the following four categories: academic success, student support, career preparation, and how our campus space and facilities can contribute to the success of our students.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts, please join the conversation!

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Oct 29, 2014 - 8:09 pm

As an institution, what absolutely needs to happen to increase the number of students who persist and graduate?

 

Responses(28)

Katie Paciga
on Oct 30, 2014

Ensuring leadership is informed, articulate, and organized is key. This is inclusive of materials we provide students electing to select a particular major/degree program. A "in additon to your regular tuition and fees, and time spent in class and on homework, you can expect the following financial and time commitments." When students receive little notice about additional time required and/or additional fees/costs in terms of trips abroad, fingerprinting, licensure assessments, it becomes burdensome and overwhelming on a shoestring budget in a city as expensive as Chicago with a full time school schedule and little time/possibility to keep or manage a part-time position.

 
Brian Ritchard
on Oct 30, 2014

One thing that needs to happen to improve our graduation rate is improved advising at both the college-wide and faculty level.  At the risk of stating the obvious, when students are well advised, they feel a greater connection to the college.  College-wide advisors have been historically underfunded and undervalued at Columbia, and are currently handling giant caseloads that everybody agrees are too high to do the type of across the board "retention" advising that is needed to improve our grad rates.  In regard to faculty advising, I will defer for now to other folks.  But I will say that students are still frequently confused by the college's advising model, and unsure about the role that faculty advising is supposed to play.  Of course, this varies greatly by department.  Peace out.

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Oct 30, 2014

In addition to clear communication of expectations and improved advising, we need to do a much better job of communicating what the path to degree looks like for every program of study, including options for how that program can be built with connections to minors and even other majors. A list of requirements is not a roadmap to graduation; a suggested, sequenced schedule for every semester to graduation is. And, if our degree programs are designed to allow space for electives and minors, providing such a roadmap does not limit a student's flexibility, instead it offers a clear pictiure of how and when experimentation with other courses/programs is possible and how it ultimately affects degree progress.

 
Susan Marcus
on Oct 30, 2014

In 2012 a committee of faculty and staff from Student and Academic Affairs was tasked with answering a similar question.  I have uploaded the document and here is the guiding principle we set forth for our work "Any and all plans and programs aimed at improving student success and persistence must add measurable value to the student curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular experience at Columbia.  Student success and retention will improve when the student experience inside and outside the classroom consistently meet student expectations and as often as possible exceed them.  Everyone on our campus must be able to clearly and succinctly articulate that value and in turn make sure that Columbia delivers on promises made.

 
Brian Marth
on Oct 30, 2014

Susan - Thanks so much for your contribution.  Would you mind trying to attach the document again, it appears to have not successfully downloaded. 

 
Lee Gerstein
on Oct 30, 2014

I want to echo Suzanne's thoughts.  How can we ask a student to navigate a path to graduation, if we haven't built a clear path to get there?

Without a roadmap, or with one that offers too many possible routes or is hard to decipher, a student may choose to get to their destination using a completely different institution's easy-to-read map.

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Oct 30, 2014

To offer another viewpoint based on my own college experience, while a clear roadmap clearly seems desirable, an overly constricting pathway through a course of study can be as detrimental as a confusing or directionless way. Having no room for electives can stifle personal growth and discovery. With looser guidelines so that one's passions and enthusiasms can be sparked--often in surprising ways--a student can explore more widely, finding what most gives them joy and new ideas and what makes them impatient to get back to the College to get their hands on what they were doing the day (or night) before.

 
Will Vautrain
on Oct 30, 2014

What about improving the overall student experience, in addition to the academic path to graduation? It seems to me the path from first day to graduation day (and hopefully new day on the job) is fraught with organizational silos and separate, sometimes conflicting or overlapping communications. Can this be improved?

 
Will Vautrain
on Oct 30, 2014

Also, I completely agree with Suzanne's remarks. A list of requirements is not a roadmap to graduation. A well-written, clear roadmap to graduation can help as much with recruiting new students as it can with ensuring the success of students already here. 

 
Brian Marth
on Oct 30, 2014

Great stuff, thanks everyone!  I also think we need to determine the best balance between "exploring your options" and "remaining on the path to graduation."  My assumption is that many of our students are seeking opportunities to "explore" but they are fearful of this exploration because it may take them off the path to graduation, and in many cases they are right. Building in intentional opportunities to "explore while on the path" might create that balance. 

 
Erica  Cosentino
on Oct 30, 2014

What kind of exit surveying do we currently conduct with students who choose to leave the institution and our seniors upon graduation? I feel like this would be opporutnities to gather data to help inform why students do not persist to graduation and also why they do. I think that there is some proactive work we could do particularly with incoming students comparing their experiences and expectations in high school or at their previous institution with what they expect to experience here and based on this data do some very intentional advising with their specific needs in mind toward their success. I feel like many models we use are reactive in nature but many proactive measures could be utilized that woud support students from day one. 

 
Julie Redmond
on Oct 30, 2014

Roadmaps are important and necessary to chart a course - but meandering and exploration are part of a journey, too. Building both into the Columbia experience is important with more exploration early in the journey leading to a more specific path.

 
Brian Marth
on Oct 31, 2014

Great discussion yesterday. I'd love to hear more comments about "exploration" on this pathway.  What is the best way to create exploration opportunities and to encourage students to take advantage of them?

 
Dayle Matchett
on Oct 31, 2014

I think as we consider opportunities for exploration on a curricular pathway that the college keep in mind our graduate communtiy. Many of our graduate students have expressed to President Kim, that while they are here and ready to go deeper in their respective disciplines, they too want some curricular flexibility and that the graduate curriculum does not easily support this. 

 
Laurie Lee Moses
on Oct 31, 2014

It seems to me that at the graduate level, there can be a larger expectation that students be able to explore and determine where they wish to go deeper on their own. On the other hand, guidance can be very helpful where a field has many specialties--you can't do it all, and choosing among options can be wrenching.... In both of my graduate programs, there was a foundation of shared theory and knowledge that was built on later through core concentrations and/or specialization. A common model, of course--but I'm curious as to how the bounds of "foundational" knowledge, theory, and skills are delineated in different fields of endeavor? Might it vary widely by the work involved? Are there areas of theory/knowledge that ALL graduate students could be expected to know? That way, cross-fertilization could occur in interactions and discussions among majors/core activities, which is really important in creative work in particular.

 
Daniel Jordan
on Oct 31, 2014

I really like this idea of a roadmap. It makes me think that our current advising guide could be enhanced. Currently you see the requirements you've completed and what needs to be done, but how about a feature that lets students and advisors play "what if" with the future? So there'd be space for entering the classes you plan to take semester by semester. And then OASIS could do a check that the plan actually completes all the requirements. Maybe also allow the plans to be saved and updated throughout the student's time here. Each major could have a default plan autopopulated for freshmen, perhaps.

 
Brian Ritchard
on Oct 31, 2014

Hi Daniel- I believe there actually is an Advising Guide function similar to the one you describe.  Students, advisors and faculty can do "what-if" scenarios to explore optional pathways.  Oasis will automatically show how completed credits would factor into an optional pathway.  It is not exactly as you descibed, but close.

 
Jenn Jones
on Oct 31, 2014

I don't think it will be a groundbreaking thought for anyone -- but I want to 2nd what I believe Daniel is talking about here.  We need a way for advisors - both professional and faculty -- to help the students create different 4-year plans and see what fits the best.  I know many departments already create "suggested 4-year plans", but these are generally in paper format and are not easily saved in OASIS. If the College were to purchase an academic planning tool that worked with OASIS, we could have students identify specific LAS/CWE courses they'd like to take each semester and that plan could be shared/viewed by any advisor the student may see.  This type of program, as opposed to a piece of paper, is "alive" in a way that could really be useful for students' academic success. 

 
Louis Silverstein
on Oct 31, 2014

A. Acknowledge and reward faculty for working with students beyond the classrooom in both their academic and persoanl lives. As the academic skill level of our students has risen over the years, I now find that most of my students who are not working up to their level are doing so due to:

1. Having to work too many hours to pay for both college expenses and living expenses, resulting in their bekng highly stressed and tired. The college must continue to increase institutional financial supports to lessen the burden.

2. Emotional fallout  due to personal and/or familial issues. College needs to increase  counseling servicies. Faculty need to recognize/accept that this is an issue in the lives of their students and counsel students to seek out support services. Faculty who are comfortable dealing (not as therapists) with such aspects of student lives are to be seen an contributing a valuable service to the college community.

B.Reflect the diversity of our student body in our faculty for role modeling and connecting pourposes.

C. Over the years, Columbia has become increasingly bureaucratic and, pardon the expression, "tight-assed." Such an institutional milieu serves to disconnect the nature of our students from the college. What is needed is less bureaucracy including a tidal wave of rules and regulations and more faculty, adminstrators and staff "let loose--such as dan