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There are many perks to attending community college. From a financial standpoint, a community college education is far less expensive than one from a four-year school. Class sizes at community colleges tend to be smaller, so students can usually count on more individualized attention from your professors. Community college campuses are often closer to home as well, so students have an easier commute if they live off campus. If they live on campus, there are more social and recreational programs available today than ever before.

But going to college can still be a hard transition to make. The coursework is more rigorous than in high school, which can cause some students to struggle to keep pace. Some students enter community college without all the skills they need to be successful as well. Fortunately, community colleges have made student support services a primary focus of improvement over the course of the last twenty years. With academic support services like tutoring and remedial classes, on-campus advising and counseling services, and job-placement and transfer assistance programs, campuses offer assistance for students’ most common needs.
 


Remedial Coursework Revisited

According to a report by the Community College Research Center, about six in ten community college students are referred to some kind of remedial course. For a healthy portion of those students, more than one remedial course is required. Being told you have to take a basic course in college can be surprising – and disconcerting – because most community . . . read more


The virtual classroom is here, but are online college courses right for you?

Thanks to modern technology, students can now attend class from the comfort of their homes. While online courses were once deemed inferior to lecture halls, the stigma has seemed to fade as technology advances and becomes a greater and greater part of a standard academic curriculum. Students, young and old, now have the choice to pursue online learning, whether through a single class or a full online university course load. But are there benefits to online learning? Or is something lost in translation when education becomes virtual? We examined both sides of the equation with several leading educational professionals.

 

The Pros of Online Courses 

 
Flexible Learning  

A flexible schedule is one of the main benefits of taking online courses. Mary Stephens, Founder and CEO of PrepForward.com, points out that online education “allows individuals to study at their own pace and on their own schedule.” Digital “classrooms” can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Mary, who teaches online courses at institutions across the U.S., believes this is a prime benefit to online learning in a world chock-full of so many hectic schedules.  

Professor Linda Williams, Founder and CEO of Whose Apple Empowerment Center, goes on to add, “Online courses do not require classroom attendance that can be disruptive to family and career obligations. The basic requirements in the virtual course room are clearly delineated and meeting deadlines . . . read more

The essential difference between competency-based education (CBE) and traditional programs is that CBE measures learning without regard to time. They utilize direct measures of assessment to determine understanding of content, as opposed to requiring a certain number of credits or contact hours of class time in order to earn a letter grade. Students instead demonstrate what they know when they know it well enough to be deemed competent. In essence, it is much like an AP exam, only on a far larger scale: AP students must pass a test with a certain level of competency in order to earn credit for the course. Students in a competency-based program must do the same for each course they undertake.
 
The first program completely based on competencies rather than credits was green-lighted by the Department of Education in August of 2013 at College of America, a community college associated with Southern New Hampshire University. Since then, there has been a push for this type of system to be implemented at community colleges across the country. This movement is the result of several shifts in the landscape of higher education in recent years. As the cost of a college education continues to rise, community colleges, universities, federal agencies, and private entities have been exploring a less expensive way for students to obtain a degree or certification. The individualized pacing of CBE is seen by many as a solution to this problem, as it is a system of learning completely free of time-based instruction . . . read more

Community college is often the choice for women seeking higher education. These institutions typically provide many features adult female students need, including proximity to their homes and affordable tuition rates. However, one primary barrier consistently interferes with a woman’s ability to complete her community college education, according to a recent report.
 
Primary Barrier for Student Parents: Affordable Child Care
 
The majority of student parents at community colleges today are women who are trying to juggle family, work and school responsibilities as they pursue a higher education. A new report released by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that the largest obstacle facing this student demographic is access to affordable child care. Unfortunately, Raw Story reports that these findings have been released at a time when federal funding for child care is dwindling across the country.

The report, titled, “Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success,” was officially released just before Mother’s Day. The authors of the report, Andresse St. Rose and Catherine Hill, used a variety of sources as they put together their analysis. These sources included a review of community college literature, interviews with college students and leaders, and program materials from select schools. Federal data was also used to compile the report, including facts and figures from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study.
 
Significant Number of Students Impacted by Barrier
 
According to the report, the child care obstacle impacts female student parents most often. The report states, “A majority of . . . read more

Online learning is developing a more widespread presence at community colleges across the country. The ability to offer classes via the Internet allows for a greater number of students to take the courses on their own time. Flexibility is the big buzzword, with online options providing students the ability to work higher education around work and family responsibilities. However, these new online offerings have their drawbacks as well as their benefits, which have prevented students from embracing them as a full-time college choice.
 
Study Shows Online Learning Works in Some Situations
 
A recent study from the Community College Research Center and Columbia University’s Teachers College found that students prefer online classes in some situations, but not all the time. According to Inside Higher Ed, students preferred face-to-face contact with instructors if the classes were especially challenging or the subject matter was complex or important. Students told researchers they did not feel they learned the material in a class as thoroughly when the class was taught online.
 
For the study, researchers talked to 46 students at two different community colleges in Virginia. Students surveyed had taken both online and face-to-face classes on their college campus. While the number of students included in the study was relatively small, researchers believe they demonstrated a valid representation of community college students across the country.
 
U.S. News reported that the students interviewed in this study told researchers they would be willing to take online classes for certain subjects. However, most preferred the face-to-face classroom experience, . . . read more
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