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Listening Skills?

Yes, career college students definitely have different needs. Sometimes providing those needs is very discouraging; but so very rewarding in many cases.

One of the problems we have faced with our student body over the last year or so is their unwillingness to conform to policies and to follow directions. We try to present policies (rules) in a positive manner; but something they are told today, they won't do tomorrow.

For example, our students know the importance we place upon attendance. They know the attendance policies, yet several are withdrawn each term because of consistent violations of the policies. This is even with the instructors calling the students when they miss, rewarding those with good attendance, etc.

How do you teach them to be "responsible"?

LaVerne Adams
Academic Dean
West Tennessee Business College
Jackson, TN 38301

Hi LaVerne,
Teaching students to develop a sense of responsibility is a challenge. As has been mentioned a lifetime of not following through or modeling proper employment behavior is tough to change in a short span of time. I have found that the modeling of proper behavior by the instructor is effective as is the bringing of graduates back to talk about what helps with employment success. Students really listen to graduates when the grads talk about the challenges they faced and how they over came them to achieve success.
The sad truth also is that some students will "crash and burn" before they reset their goals and find out that they can in fact succeed if they really try.
Continued support by instructors will help many students even after they have dropped out of school and then they rethink their station in life and reenter a career program again.
I approach my classes one student at a time in terms of the support I give and how I try to challenge them to succeed and progress.

We have the same problem here - students know the policies and procedures, yet having a blatant disregard for them. This can be as simple as dress code, food & drinks in the labs/classrooms, etc.

Letting them get by with breaking these policies and procedures sends the wrong message to the students who follow the rules; mentioning something to the students who do not causes problems, too.

Retention, retention, retention! :)

Any suggestions?

Hi D. Preston,
This is a tough area. You want to retain the students yet you need to train them to be professional in their field. I have found that I have my best complaince with procedures and polices when I base them on industrial/business standards. My dress code is based upon what is required in the work world and the students must comply with that. If they don't they are subject to discipline or dismissal. Granted this may seem harsh but I have to maintain the industrial/business standard. When they see rules such as this in the perspective of future employment opportunties they do not object to any major extent. These are not my rules just set up because I can, they are rules for use later in life.
Hope this helps.

It's tough because too many have bad habits that are lifelong-learned. However, As Dr Mears stated, sometimes the best way is to establish rules based on the work world the student is going into. I was having a problem with lateness to class - wandering in whenever, and not even hearing "I'm sorry". So, one morning after the class had gathered I and another student with experience in the office setting did a little forum discussion on what employers want from their employees. In a tactful and professional way, I got the point across that this behavior would not be tolerated long in the work world. Then I restated the rules on tardiness for our school.
Of course, you are always going to have one who can't get it together due to immaturity, etc. unfortunately, it may take a couple time being fired in the real world to learn the lesson. But remember we and the student aren't perfect and can't expect to be!

I think the reason it's so hard is that you are trying to change behavior, rather than to trans-fer knowledge. With behavior, the best approach I have found is to get the "offender" to walk in the other guy's shoes for a while. Discuss a case study about an employer who loses an important account because a worker came late. Or try what an auto mechanics instructor did with a student who constantly turned in slipshod work. The techer created the post of student quality inspector, and assigned the sloppy student to be the first inspector. "You wouldn't believe" he reported, "how much of a change it made when he was responsible for the output of his group".

Hi Fred,
Great approach. As you students really like to discuss case studies and you gave a great example of one.

That is a great approach. For me I just Graded accordinly. These students need to realize that sometimes it is going to be up to them to do this stuff on their own.

Hi Robert,
Career college students are adults and sometimes they forget that. They want to be treated as adults but with high school concessions. They do have to be held accountable for their assignments and skill development.

I have found that poor listening skills are most often due to poor preparation on the students' part. I struggle to not be impatient but rather to point out that reading the material or thinking about the project at hand will insure greater success. I admit to my irritation with their seemingly laissez-faire attitudes.
Any suggestions? I would welcome some assistance on this.

I engage the "unburdening" principle consistently throughout the course with the constant behavioral conditioning of manageable quizzes on a weekly basis. I also typically try to close a lesson on a curiousity so that the students want to come back to class.

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