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How can retention be Improved

We improve retention by keeping everyone up to speed on new classes.

Jennifer, who is “everyone”, what do you mean by keeping them up to speed and how do you do that?

Making sure the troubled students are indentified as having a problem or issue toward learning, and seek ways to get them over this hurdle. Examples: extra help from the instructor or another student, like in the honor society.

Faith, it seems to me that identifying the students who need support is the easy part. Many have very full and complicated schedules; others don't want to acknowledge the problem. How do you get them to participate in learning support services?

I think retention can be improved by keeping the students attention by having exercises that are fun with learning, a good personality with multi-cultural students, bring in new and up-to-date material that is used in the working world (even if it just means getting new magazines or periodicals). I also think better school support in a crisis situation for a student will help increase retention.

It is important that everyone in the school knows how to handle a crisis situation. There is too much at stake for the student and institution not to. Does your institution have a clear policy, Elaine? If not, what can you do to help develop one?

I don't think there is a written policy on how to handle certain crisis situations. I do know that the previous director of our school (God rest her soul) was a wonderful women who was true and heartfelt to all her students to help them in any situation. She took it upon herself to do the humane things that needed to be done in order to help others. She would help homeless students by finding organizations that would help house them and I think at this school we all try to follow by her example.

Thanks for the response, Elaine. Unfortunately, your situation is not unique. Frequently, when there is a change in leadership the institution is left in a situation where there is no clear direction on how to handle unusual problems. I would encourage you and your colleagues to develop a procedure that will address these issues and identify the resources available to help students.

It's right Loren, it is very easy to identify students with educational and behavior problems. How "we" solve the problem? It is only the Instructor's job? Considering, everybody's schedules. It is easy to say. Is it easy to do?

Like you Elaine, I also think that by improving and adding new educational resources (periodically) to our classes, will give to the students an incentive to stay in school.

Miriam, there's nothing easy about changing lives. Solving problems often requires a coordinated effort among various people and departments. This is much easier when the institution is student focused and committed to providing support to its students.

We can help improve retention as instructors by caring about the students as individuals not as students. When we show our students that we care about them and their problems they gain trust, which is the most important medium in a teachers-students relationship.
When we gain their trust and respect, then we can teach them the subject and be sure that they will retain the information. If the student still continues to do poor, then motivation is the next magic trick which will help students believe in their capablilities and their powers to improve and succeed. We must teach students to bravely tackle their fears and obstacles. We must teach them to use us as a cane for a while and then believe in their own abilities to walk freely.

If any of us can walk today is because we never feared falling as children. If any of us can talk today is because we never feared being laughed at as children. So what has changed, are we not the same individual who learnt to walk and talk some time ago? Students must learn to be brave and face their fears and shortcomings, by getting back up and trying again and again and again until they persistently reach their goal.

Seems simple, doesn't it Katayoun? Successful classroom instructors have a way of getting their students to stretch and grow in a supportive environment.

I try to understand the need of each student and support them for a brighter learning experience.

Rochelle, how do you determine each student's needs?

At Virginia College at Pensacola, we assign all new students to take Career Focus. This is a combination of study skills and Pacific Institute by Lou Tice and Joe Pace. It shows the students how to set goals and change the way they think. It also shows students how to change their thought patterns that may include self-destructing negatives. It is a wonderful program. It gives a foundation of positiveness throughout the school.

Patsy, is Career Focus a separate course? If so, how long does it meet? Who teaches it and how do you evaluate student performance? Do the students buy the Pacific Institute material or does the college provide it as part of course materials?

I believe all of the comments I have read are viable means of improving retention. I think a great deal more focus needs to be placed in the enrollment process, before the student ever begins:

a) The realties of school need to be discussed (this will be will require you to make changes in your daily must attend..etc.).
b) Student expectations should be in line with the reality of what the school/program offers.
c) The student must have a clear focus on and desire to be a part of the career for which they are being trained.

It's hard to argue against these points Robert, but how do you implement them?

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