California colleges transform remedial courses to raise graduation …



Before Aida Tseggai could major in biology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, she had to catch up in math.

She passed a non-credit remedial math class in the fall and then was offered a new pathway – a for-credit course in college-level algebra that provided extra class time, tutoring and review of more fundamental material.

Such combination classes – known as co-requisites, bridges or hybrids – are seen as a crucial tool to help hundreds of thousands of CSU students climb out of the remedial education hole in which some feel trapped. Part of a national reform movement, such courses also are aimed at helping students graduate faster.

“It saved me time and money,” said Tseggai.

Nervous at first about the spring co-requisite class, she wound up passing with a C grade. The combination of catch-up work and college level material, she said, was “very helpful. Like killing two birds with one stone.” Without that opportunity, her initial placement test results would have required her to take yet another non-credit remedial course.

CSU system administrators earlier this year said they want to turn all non-credit remedial classes into college-level credit bearing ones by 2018, with the co-requisite classes as the likely model. That move is an important part of the CSU campaign to bolster the system wide four-year completion rate for first-time freshmen to 40 percent from the current 19 percent by 2025. More than a third of entering CSU freshmen are found to need some remedial work.

Cal State Dominguez Hills serves a student body of 15,000, 75 percent of whom are Latino or black. Many are from low-income families, are first in their families to attend college and juggle school with jobs.

The campus has been a pioneer in moving toward the co-requisite model in both English and math. Most remedial students still must participate in a no-credit Early Start summer program that bolsters their academic skill. But over the past few years, the campus has been replacing the next levels of remedial math with credit-bearing co-requisites.

Results have been encouraging, officials say. However, as the spring algebra class showed, some students continue to fail.

Of the 960 incoming Dominguez Hills freshman placed in the remedial math track last summer, about 80 percent completed their remedial work and a co-requisite credit course in algebra or statistics in their first year. That compares to about 64 percent who finished remedial courses under the prior system without receiving credits, campus statistics show. Many who failed a co-requisite algebra or statistics class last fall retook it and passed in the spring, meeting a deadline to do so.

•••••

“It has definitely worked well for us. This is a lot better than where we were at before,” said math department chairman Matthew Jones.

Timing and tutoring are among the biggest differences between a bridge class and a traditional one.

For example, a traditional for-credit college algebra class usually meets three times a week for 50 minutes. In contrast, the co-requisite Tseggai attended met for an hour and ten minutes three times a week for instructor Cassondra Lochard’s lectures; in addition, students had an extra group hour weekly with a teaching assistant plus one-on-one tutoring. In contrast to regular classroom protocol, the teaching assistant circulated among the desks during lectures, softly giving advice and reviewing students’ calculations and algebra formulations.

Remedial students need the extra time, help and structure of a co-requisite class since many “lack the foundation” in algebra even if they received decent grades in it in high school, according to Lochard. Many students either forgot basics or did not pay attention in high school and feel the ideas “are brand new to them.” And if they do recall some concepts, “they mix them up in strange ways,” said Lochard, who is the campus coordinator for developmental, or remedial, math.

Just as important, she said, are work ethic and ability to complete assignments on deadline. Some freshmen have not yet mastered the demands and pace of college compared to high school’s more forgiving nature. “I think it’s more of a mentality change for them than an inability to acquire the skills,” she said.

While an increasing number of CSU campuses and California community colleges are starting or exploring co-requisite classes in math and English, several other states such as Tennessee, Indiana and Colorado have moved faster, experts say. Wider adoption across the country is likely over the next few years as state legislatures try to reduce spending on remediation and public colleges seek better graduation rates, said Chris Thorn, director of knowledge management at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching which is located in Stanford, Calif. “It is the writing on the wall,” he said of the spread of such bridge courses.

Early evidence shows those classes help more students complete remedial paths. But it is not clear yet how those students perform in subsequent math or science courses and whether graduation rates are improved, added Thorn, who has helped Carnegie develop its own alternative college math courses to speed remedial education. And, he added, co-requisites probably won’t help everyone: “It’s not a panacea.”

CSU students feel the pressure: they could be forced to leave the university if they don’t complete required remedial work within a year, including the chance to retake a class at a CSU or community college during summer if need be. Across the 23-campus CSU system, 13 percent of students in remedial courses were not allowed to return for a second year in 2016 because of such failures, according to a system report. Many others say they feel they wasted a year of time and a lot of money.

Two math tracks are available at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Students in the humanities, social sciences, and arts usually take statistics – and passing that class often fulfills their sole general education requirement in math. College algebra is the route for science, engineering and math students who likely need additional math classes such as pre-calculus.

In both tracks, co-requisite classes review more basic topics and push forward into new, college level material. Jones insists that the classes are not watered down and that the material and pass rates are similar to traditional algebra and statistics classes.

Lochard’s spring semester class had the ungainly name of “College Algebra with Intermediate Algebra Review.” She spent much time writing equations on the board, walking students through solutions and egging them on to discoveries in polynomials, quadratic equations, radicals and factoring. Besides a textbook, she assigned work from online platforms and her own supplemental material to keep the students “cycling” from review subjects to higher level work.

The course seems to have improved passing rates in subsequent math requirements for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM courses, she said.

Her teaching assistant Muhammad Albayati, a sophomore, helped the algebra students too. A math and computer whiz who emigrated with his family from Iraq when he was 10 years old, Albayati was a supportive peer. While Lochard lectured or assigned exercises, students at times called out for “Muhammad” and he crouched over their work sheets and gave advice. He led a weekly study group without Lochard.

The students’ skills varied widely, but most need some emotional boosting to build their confidence, Albayati said. He and other peer tutors “provide understanding and acceptance. We show them we accept them for where they are.” He said co-requisite courses like this “give those borderline students the resources to pass the class….and a lot respond and will do whatever it takes to get through it.”

Still, some skip required study sessions and don’t turn in homework, he noted. Some “still have a high school mentality” and think they can “mess around and pass the class and that’s not the case in the university. The material is a lot harder and the professor does not have to take care of a student the way a high school teacher does,” said Albayati, who is transferring in the fall to UC Irvine to study video game design.

Many students in Lochard’s recent spring semester class were repeaters: they had failed a similar class in the fall and needed at least a C minus to pass. After some early drop-outs, 60 percent of those who remained passed. The record was better in the fall, when nearly 80 percent passed the co-requisite college algebra first time out and the rate was even higher for the statistics courses.

Raquel Herrera, a Dominguez Hills freshman, failed the spring class. She complained the course went by too fast yet also blamed herself for not completing some homework.

Facing a possible forced withdrawal from the university, she might have taken algebra in summer school. But she instead appealed, was found to have a learning disability and was given the chance to take a substitute course, likely in statistics, in the fall with more assistance.

Still, she said she resents the placement system that tested her without allowing calculators on forgotten material from high school. She remains “really annoyed” that her college education might have been ruined by one math course. “It’s not fair because I worked really hard to get where I am,” said Herrera, who is switching her major from biochemistry to liberal studies, with a goal of becoming a teacher.

In contrast, Aida Tseggai appreciates how Lochard and Albayati helped her and is proud she improved her grade as the semester went on. While she originally resented being placed in remedial math, she said she now views the system as “fair” and knows she received solid preparation for pre-calculus next spring.

“Mixing together remedial and regular algebra helped us get ahead,” she said.

BCC first in state to win gaming designation

FALL RIVER — Bristol Community College’s casino management program has blackjack tables, surveillance labs and now an official gaming school certification from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. 

The commission said BCC is the first in the state to be awarded certification.

Official certification requires BCC to observe some regulations, such as offering courses on dealing games, CPR training and customer service. BCC’s new casino management program came about after the Expanded Gaming Act passed in Massachusetts, opening the door for more casinos in the state. 

The casino management program at BCC is part of the college’s larger CATCH Institute, which offers concentrations in culinary arts, tourism management, casino management and hotel management. Institute director John Caressimo said the opportunity for new jobs in Massachusetts spurred the creation of the gaming track for students. 

“It’s not as if these jobs were out there on the periphery and only now we’re coming to realize that we should be educating and training these people,” Caressimo said. “These are new jobs coming to the commonwealth, so we need to actually gear up and prepare these people for those jobs.” 

Casino management is a four-semester program at BCC where students complete general education courses and topic overviews on the four concentrations, and then choose to focus further on one. Students who choose casino management receive hands-on training at BCC’s Galleria Mall campus in Taunton, where the college operates a “casino lab” outfitted with four blackjack tables, two poker tables, a surveillance lab and more. 

“If you walk in the door, you would think you were in a small casino on a cruise ship,” Caressimo said. 

The certification comes as the state’s gaming industry is preparing to see a significant increase. 

Full-scale resort casinos are under construction in Springfield and Everett, while a third casino in Taunton that would be operated by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, is facing a delay due to federal land in trust issues. Plainridge, a slots parlor, is already in operation in Plainville.

Additionally a casino is moving forward just over the Massachusetts border in Tiverton that will be operated by the same entity that runs the Twin River casino in Rhode Island. 

With the industry growing, the gaming commission’s Chairman Steve Crosby said the BCC program is an important piece of the puzzle. 

“Preparing a local workforce to meet the demand of casino hiring is central to maximizing economic opportunity and job creation in the Commonwealth,” said Crosby, in a statement. “It is exciting to note this milestone as we strive to achieve the Gaming Law’s intent of establishing a highly-skilled and diverse workforce for the state’s emergent gaming industry.”

California colleges transform remedial courses to raise graduation rates



Before Aida Tseggai could major in biology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, she had to catch up in math.

She passed a non-credit remedial math class in the fall and then was offered a new pathway – a for-credit course in college-level algebra that provided extra class time, tutoring and review of more fundamental material.

Such combination classes – known as co-requisites, bridges or hybrids – are seen as a crucial tool to help hundreds of thousands of CSU students climb out of the remedial education hole in which some feel trapped. Part of a national reform movement, such courses also are aimed at helping students graduate faster.

“It saved me time and money,” said Tseggai.

Nervous at first about the spring co-requisite class, she wound up passing with a C grade. The combination of catch-up work and college level material, she said, was “very helpful. Like killing two birds with one stone.” Without that opportunity, her initial placement test results would have required her to take yet another non-credit remedial course.

CSU system administrators earlier this year said they want to turn all non-credit remedial classes into college-level credit bearing ones by 2018, with the co-requisite classes as the likely model. That move is an important part of the CSU campaign to bolster the system wide four-year completion rate for first-time freshmen to 40 percent from the current 19 percent by 2025. More than a third of entering CSU freshmen are found to need some remedial work.

Cal State Dominguez Hills serves a student body of 15,000, 75 percent of whom are Latino or black. Many are from low-income families, are first in their families to attend college and juggle school with jobs.

The campus has been a pioneer in moving toward the co-requisite model in both English and math. Most remedial students still must participate in a no-credit Early Start summer program that bolsters their academic skill. But over the past few years, the campus has been replacing the next levels of remedial math with credit-bearing co-requisites.

Results have been encouraging, officials say. However, as the spring algebra class showed, some students continue to fail.

Of the 960 incoming Dominguez Hills freshman placed in the remedial math track last summer, about 80 percent completed their remedial work and a co-requisite credit course in algebra or statistics in their first year. That compares to about 64 percent who finished remedial courses under the prior system without receiving credits, campus statistics show. Many who failed a co-requisite algebra or statistics class last fall retook it and passed in the spring, meeting a deadline to do so.

•••••

“It has definitely worked well for us. This is a lot better than where we were at before,” said math department chairman Matthew Jones.

Timing and tutoring are among the biggest differences between a bridge class and a traditional one.

For example, a traditional for-credit college algebra class usually meets three times a week for 50 minutes. In contrast, the co-requisite Tseggai attended met for an hour and ten minutes three times a week for instructor Cassondra Lochard’s lectures; in addition, students had an extra group hour weekly with a teaching assistant plus one-on-one tutoring. In contrast to regular classroom protocol, the teaching assistant circulated among the desks during lectures, softly giving advice and reviewing students’ calculations and algebra formulations.

Remedial students need the extra time, help and structure of a co-requisite class since many “lack the foundation” in algebra even if they received decent grades in it in high school, according to Lochard. Many students either forgot basics or did not pay attention in high school and feel the ideas “are brand new to them.” And if they do recall some concepts, “they mix them up in strange ways,” said Lochard, who is the campus coordinator for developmental, or remedial, math.

Just as important, she said, are work ethic and ability to complete assignments on deadline. Some freshmen have not yet mastered the demands and pace of college compared to high school’s more forgiving nature. “I think it’s more of a mentality change for them than an inability to acquire the skills,” she said.

While an increasing number of CSU campuses and California community colleges are starting or exploring co-requisite classes in math and English, several other states such as Tennessee, Indiana and Colorado have moved faster, experts say. Wider adoption across the country is likely over the next few years as state legislatures try to reduce spending on remediation and public colleges seek better graduation rates, said Chris Thorn, director of knowledge management at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching which is located in Stanford, Calif. “It is the writing on the wall,” he said of the spread of such bridge courses.

Early evidence shows those classes help more students complete remedial paths. But it is not clear yet how those students perform in subsequent math or science courses and whether graduation rates are improved, added Thorn, who has helped Carnegie develop its own alternative college math courses to speed remedial education. And, he added, co-requisites probably won’t help everyone: “It’s not a panacea.”

CSU students feel the pressure: they could be forced to leave the university if they don’t complete required remedial work within a year, including the chance to retake a class at a CSU or community college during summer if need be. Across the 23-campus CSU system, 13 percent of students in remedial courses were not allowed to return for a second year in 2016 because of such failures, according to a system report. Many others say they feel they wasted a year of time and a lot of money.

Two math tracks are available at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Students in the humanities, social sciences, and arts usually take statistics – and passing that class often fulfills their sole general education requirement in math. College algebra is the route for science, engineering and math students who likely need additional math classes such as pre-calculus.

In both tracks, co-requisite classes review more basic topics and push forward into new, college level material. Jones insists that the classes are not watered down and that the material and pass rates are similar to traditional algebra and statistics classes.

Lochard’s spring semester class had the ungainly name of “College Algebra with Intermediate Algebra Review.” She spent much time writing equations on the board, walking students through solutions and egging them on to discoveries in polynomials, quadratic equations, radicals and factoring. Besides a textbook, she assigned work from online platforms and her own supplemental material to keep the students “cycling” from review subjects to higher level work.

The course seems to have improved passing rates in subsequent math requirements for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM courses, she said.

Her teaching assistant Muhammad Albayati, a sophomore, helped the algebra students too. A math and computer whiz who emigrated with his family from Iraq when he was 10 years old, Albayati was a supportive peer. While Lochard lectured or assigned exercises, students at times called out for “Muhammad” and he crouched over their work sheets and gave advice. He led a weekly study group without Lochard.

The students’ skills varied widely, but most need some emotional boosting to build their confidence, Albayati said. He and other peer tutors “provide understanding and acceptance. We show them we accept them for where they are.” He said co-requisite courses like this “give those borderline students the resources to pass the class….and a lot respond and will do whatever it takes to get through it.”

Still, some skip required study sessions and don’t turn in homework, he noted. Some “still have a high school mentality” and think they can “mess around and pass the class and that’s not the case in the university. The material is a lot harder and the professor does not have to take care of a student the way a high school teacher does,” said Albayati, who is transferring in the fall to UC Irvine to study video game design.

Many students in Lochard’s recent spring semester class were repeaters: they had failed a similar class in the fall and needed at least a C minus to pass. After some early drop-outs, 60 percent of those who remained passed. The record was better in the fall, when nearly 80 percent passed the co-requisite college algebra first time out and the rate was even higher for the statistics courses.

Raquel Herrera, a Dominguez Hills freshman, failed the spring class. She complained the course went by too fast yet also blamed herself for not completing some homework.

Facing a possible forced withdrawal from the university, she might have taken algebra in summer school. But she instead appealed, was found to have a learning disability and was given the chance to take a substitute course, likely in statistics, in the fall with more assistance.

Still, she said she resents the placement system that tested her without allowing calculators on forgotten material from high school. She remains “really annoyed” that her college education might have been ruined by one math course. “It’s not fair because I worked really hard to get where I am,” said Herrera, who is switching her major from biochemistry to liberal studies, with a goal of becoming a teacher.

In contrast, Aida Tseggai appreciates how Lochard and Albayati helped her and is proud she improved her grade as the semester went on. While she originally resented being placed in remedial math, she said she now views the system as “fair” and knows she received solid preparation for pre-calculus next spring.

“Mixing together remedial and regular algebra helped us get ahead,” she said.

38 Community Colleges Share What It Takes to Launch an OER …

Electronics Fundamentals program now enrolling for fall

CRANE — At the beginning of the year, WestGate@Crane Technology Park and Vincennes University joined forces to help meet the needs of local employers by creating the Electronics Fundamentals Program offered at the Battery Innovation Center near Crane.

Now it’s time to enroll the next group of students in the program that gives students an insider’s look into everyday object and prepare then for jobs in advanced manufacturing.

Kimberly Frazier, director of business operations for STIMULUS Engineering, said the next round of the program will begin Aug. 21 and classes will again be held at the Battery Innovation Center as part of a partnership between WestGate, VU and Daviess, Greene, Martin and Lawrence counties.

“There are 16 slots available for the class,” said Frazier adding that those interested in enrolling should contact STIMULUS.

Ben Wrightsman, the chief operations officer for the BIC, said recruiting local, qualified technical workers who can perform well in the advanced manufacturing setting has proven to be a struggle but that’s quickly changing.

“By offering a program such as this, we are seeing the results of growing the much needed talent locally,” Wrightsman said. “Our most recent hire, Jonathan Pace, is attending the courses while working fulltime at the Battery Innovation Center, and we are already seeing the fruits of his skill up training with improved capabilities and understanding.”

Pace is now halfway through the electronics certification program and said he can already see how the program has been a benefit.

“I can see the major benefits in not just the classes, but being able to apply the skills as I learn then in my position at the BIC. After this, I plan to further my education with a Bachelor’s of Science in electrical engineering so that I can continue my own personal growth and benefit the BIC long-term,” said Pace, who served seven years in the military.

Students earn a certificate after one year in the program, but it can lead to a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.

Classes will meet Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and no previous experience in electronics is required. Spring session classes will meet at the same time but will only meet Monday through Thursday. All four classes must be completed in addition to the general education courses, also offered through VU, to receive the certificate.

During the classes, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to all areas of electronics including AC/DC, digital circuits and linear electronics as well as hands-on use of multi-meters, oscilloscopes, function generators, power supplies and soldering techniques.

Frazier said all the tools and parts needed for the class are provided. All that’s required to enroll in the program is a high school diploma or equivalent except for current high school students who are applying. Some students may have the certification paid in full with grant funding available.

For more information on the Electronics Fundamentals program offered through VU and WestGate, contact Kimberly Frazier at 812-863-2756.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the Electronics Fundamentals program offered through VU and WestGate, contact Kimberly Frazier at 812-863-2756.

OU ISE Department to offer ‘Learning How to Learn’ course this fall

“Learning How to Learn,” the massively popular course focused on giving students “powerful mental tools to master tough subjects” will be coming to an Oakland University classroom this fall.

The course, which was developed by OU Professor Barbara Oakley, has been offered exclusively online since it was launched three years ago and has become the most popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in the world, according to Online Course Report

 

This fall marks the first time that students can experience the course in person. Dr. Oakley, a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), will teach the course at Oakland’s Rochester campus.

 

“This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports and many other disciplines,” Oakley said.

 

“We’ll learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates information. We’ll also cover illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects. Using these approaches, no matter what your skill levels in topics you would like to master, you can change your thinking and change your life.”

 

Oakley teaches the MOOC course with Terry Sejnowski, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

 

“The idea for the MOOC came because I enjoy watching and learning from video and online,” Oakley said.

 

With nearly 2 million students enrolled to date, “Learning How to Learn” has been featured in The New York Times and is the leading online course by enrollment in the world.

 

The OU course – ISE 1170 – satisfies the university’s general education requirement in the social science knowledge exploration area.

 

“It was natural for our department to offer this course,” said Robert Van Til, Pawley Professor of Lean Studies and Chair of the ISE Department. “ISE is the domain of engineering that is people-focused, and it’s important for industrial and systems engineers to get people to learn how the systems they work in behave in order for them to help improve system performance. ‘Learning How to Learn’ is important to both industrial and systems engineers, as well as the people they work with.”

 

For more information about the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, visit oakland.edu/ISE.

 

To learn more about Professor Oakley’s work, visit her website at barbaraoakley.com.

Hannibal High dual-credit program expands to include juniors; online, summer courses added

The first big leap in Hannibal High School’s (HHS) Dual Credit program is poised to offer classes during summer for the first time, preparing more students for the college experience while they receive higher-education credits at a reduced rate.

The first big leap in Hannibal High School’s (HHS) Dual Credit program is poised to offer classes during summer for the first time, preparing more students for the college experience while they receive higher-education credits at a reduced rate.

Assistant Superintendent Darin Powell said college dual-credit courses have been available for about 15 years to seniors, but this is the first time the opportunity has opened up for juniors. And for the first time, summer and online courses are offered through partnerships with Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) and Moberly Area Community College (MACC), at a rate of rate of $70 to $80 per credit hour — compared to figures that can range from $300 to $1,200 per credit hour in a traditional college setting, Powell said.

He said the new online classes offer a great way to prepare for online classes and assignments in college, and juniors can earn between 24 to 36 college credits before they graduate from HHS — stretching parents’ college budgets and allowing students the chance to complete general education requirements before pursuing studies tied to their chosen major. Powell said he anticipated seeing more students graduating from college in three years, coupled with the potential for more students to pursue advanced degrees due to increased financial opportunity.

“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

At Hannibal-LaGrange University, officials said they are excited to offer expanded summer courses — providing several benefits to high school students who enroll.

“Students who take advantage of our summer online course receive the benefit of focusing on one or two classes at a time versus taking them along with their high school course load,” said Kayla McBride, Assistant Director of Graduate and Online Programs. “The courses are offered in an eight-week format allowing the student to earn college credit in a shorter amount of time.”

Carolyn Carpenter, Director of Public Relations, said the new course format can help students and their parents through an often hectic chapter in their lives.

“We truly enjoy the opportunity to offer college courses to area high school juniors and seniors,” she said. “We are thankful so many have taken advantage of the summer online classes. Getting a few classes knocked out during the summer definitely helps ease the stress on the student and possibly the parents as well.”

Powell encouraged parents to contact the Hannibal High School Booster Club if they need financial assistance. Scholarships are available, and HHS Guidance Director JoAnn McCollum said a couple students used the scholarships this summer.

On Friday, June 23, Junior Alec Mundle logged onto a desktop computer at HHS, preparing for an upcoming mid-term exam in front of his College Algebra professor at HLGU. He said he planned to enter the medical field and he looked forward to the chance to get a jump on general education credits amid a lengthy course of study. The online experience is new for Mundle, but he said he enjoys the format.

“So far, it’s been nice to work at my own pace and not be rushed, or I can speed up when I’m going through parts I already know,” he said. He said he plans on taking another online course next year.

Senior Grace McIntosh was also taking her first Dual Credit course online through MACC — American History to 1865. So far, McIntosh is about half-way through. She said Professor Kristine Zauke regularly keeps in contact with her regarding the calendar of assignments and providing feedback. She happily noted that Zauke rescheduled her mid-term exam so she could attend a summer camp. McIntosh said the online layout gives her greater access to the textbook and related information.

“I feel like I learn knowledge more easily, just because I have an actual online book to read. We have books in history class in school, but sometimes when you’re lecturing students, they don’t get the full experience — they don’t get all the information,” she said. “With it being online, I can see everything, and I can go back and check things and use it when I’m writing my responses.”

McCollum said she felt excited about these new educational opportunities for a high school students who are focused on success.

“We really have good kids here, and it’s great that they can take these classes and have these opportunities to compete with others,” she said.

To find out more about dual-credit course offerings through HLGU and MACC or financial assistance opportunities, please visit the Hannibal High School webpage at https://sites.google.com/a/district.hannibal.k12.mo.us/hannibal-high-school-athletic-booster-club/ , or call Powell at 221-1258 or McCollum at 573-221-2733 Ext. 2168. The Booster Club’s website is https://sites.google.com/a/district.hannibal.k12.mo.us/hannibal-high-school-athletic-booster-club/ .

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com

Mass. Gaming Commission approves certificate program at BCC

FALL RIVER — Bristol Community College’s casino management program has blackjack tables, surveillance labs and now an official gaming school certification from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The official certification requires BCC to observe some regulations, such as offering courses on dealing games, CPR training and customer service. BCC’s new casino management program came about after the Expanded Gaming Act passed in Massachusetts, opening the door for more casinos in the state.

The casino management program at BCC is part of the college’s larger CATCH Institute, which offers concentrations in culinary arts, tourism management, casino management and hotel management. Institute director John Caressimo said the opportunity for new jobs in Massachusetts spurred the creation of the gaming track for students.

“It’s not as if these jobs were out there on the periphery and only now we’re coming to realize that we should be educating and training these people,” Caressimo said. “These are new jobs coming to the commonwealth, so we need to actually gear up and prepare these people for those jobs.”

Casino management is a four-semester program at BCC where students complete general education courses and topic overviews on the four concentrations, and then choose to focus further on one. Students who choose casino management receive hands-on training at BCC’s Galleria Mall campus in Taunton, where the college operates a “casino lab” outfitted with four blackjack tables, two poker tables, a surveillance lab and more.

“If you walk in the door, you would think you were in a small casino on a cruise ship,” Caressimo said.

The certification comes as the state’s gaming industry is preparing to see a significant increase.

Full-scale resort casinos are under construction in Springfield and Everett, while a third casino in Taunton that would be operated by the Mashpee Wamponoag tribe, is facing a delay due to federal land in trust issues. A slots parlor is already in operation in Plainridge.

Additionally a casino is moving forward just over the Massachusetts border in Tiverton that will be operated by the same entity that runs the Twin River casino in Rhode Island.

With the industry facing such an increase the gaming commission’s Chairman Steve Crosby said the BCC program is an important piece of the puzzle

“Preparing a local workforce to meet the demand of casino hiring is central to maximizing economic opportunity and job creation in the Commonwealth. It is exciting to note this milestone as we strive to achieve the Gaming Law’s intent of establishing a highly-skilled and diverse workforce for the state’s emergent gaming industry.”

Fresno State prioritizes south Valley students – Visalia Times-Delta – Visalia Times

Many years before Luz Gonzalez became the dean of Fresno State’s Visalia Campus she was born into a family of migrant field workers.

Traveling to follow the harvest, she received little education and never attended high school.

Raised in Cutler-Orosi, Gonzales witnessed the potential that comes from the south Valley. She was the first person in her family to receive a college degree.

Now, she and other Fresno State faculty want to ensure students coming from Tulare County are provided with accessible and affordable education at Fresno State’s Visalia campus.

“I want to make sure the barriers that I had, they don’t have,” Gonzalez said. “They are the ones that are going to be our doctors, nurses and social workers. Removing those barriers help students succeed.”

More than 6,000 students recently graduated from Fresno State in June. One of the biggest barriers facing students is the daily commute.

“We have 4,600 students at Fresno state just from the south Valley,” said Laura Whitehouse, director of development for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. “Now, some of them move to Fresno but some stay with their parents and commute every day and that’s quite a drive.”

For some of those students, the 100-mile round trip commute to school every day can become tiring and costly, Whitehouse said. 

“The impact of that on our economy, air and travel is obvious,” said Bob McKellar, owner of McKellar Family Farms. “It is my understanding Fresno State’s south Valley plan, when fully implemented, will make it possible for students to live at home while pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees locally.”

McKellar hosted Fresno State’s President Joseph Castro, faculty members, farmers, elected officials and educators at the Historic Seven Sycomore Ranch in Ivanhoe to discuss the commitment of the Visalia campus.

The plan is to give south Valley students, who don’t have the means to relocated or travel to the main campus, access to higher education. The Visalia campus, which opened last fall in a newly remodeled 10,000-square-foot, four-classroom building at College of the Sequoias, is hoping to enroll 2,000 students by August 2018.  

Over the next five years, the Visalia campus will offer five baccalaureate and masters degrees in business, health, and education. Agriculture courses including ag economics, veterinary technicians and ag science are also in the works. 

It will also offer an expansion of upper division general education courses, professional development workshops for working professions and lifelong learning courses for community members. 

“The college-going rate in the Valley and in Tulare County is lower than we want it to be. We want to promote those opportunities for students, knowing that everyone doesn’t always want a college degree but if they did that it’s accessible to them,” Castro said.

Certainly to also strengthen the partnership with College of the Sequoias and the school districts here to make it easier for talented students in the south Valley to make it to Fresno State.”

At $6,313, Fresno State has the lowest tuition rate in the California Sate University system. The idea to have a campus in Tulare County is to give the bright-minded, affordable, lifelong learning experiences and keep them in their hometowns to build a strong community, Gonzalez said.

“By removing as many barriers as possible, collectively as a community, we are able to ensure the success of our future,” Gonzalez said. “But, we have to do it collectively within our communities.”

Small class sizes are crucial for academic improvement

A huge incentive for a larger price tag on private universities is smaller class sizes and a higher student-professor ratio. Yet at universities across the nation, students find themselves in general education or introductory classes of 100 students or more. Not only can these classes scare students away from subjects they might otherwise excel at, but the students also do not absorb information in the same way that they could in a small class setting. For this reason, universities with the resources of a school as large as USC, should continue to make progress to introduce active-learning techniques to replace large lecture-style classes.

In recent years, USC has made an active effort to restructure the courses that students take, especially during their freshman year. These have included the recent reform of the general education courses, with GE seminars which are capped at 19 students, two-unit freshman seminars and the expansion of the Thematic Option program.

USC has worked toward creating a more intimate learning environment that has the resources and opportunities of a large research university. Students are often pleasantly surprised that a school with the undergraduate size of USC can provide these small classes. However, general education courses, which USC requires quite a few of, remain predominantly large and
lecture hall-style.

According to a study done by the National Academy of Sciences, “undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, active learning methods.”

In an article from the University of Vermont, Dr. Charles Prober, senior associate dean for medical education at Stanford University said, “Even if we [have] the best lecturer in the world, the number of students who choose that [educational] delivery method is low.”

When the professor likely doesn’t know their name and they can easily attain notes from peers, many students fail to see the value in attending these classes. While some professors have been successful at facilitating conversation and student participation in these type of classes, the content of other classes inhibits the discussion and project-based learning for which experts have advocated.

Physicist and education professor at Stanford University Carl Wieman describes active learning as a “focus on projects and problems.” Weiman said he “orients his philosophy around helping students learn how to ‘think’ inside a particular scientific discipline.”

Lecture-style classes have been largely centered around memorization and templates, rather than absorption and critical thinking. This style of teaching limits discussion and the development of critical thinking skills that shape the intellectual curiosity and abilities of students.

At a school that prides itself on students’ pre-professional excellence, USC has made a significant and successful effort to encourage students to explore courses and subjects outside of their schools. The general education program is absolutely essential to this.

According to the University of Laverne, 50 to 70 percent of students will change their major at least once, and having a general education curriculum allows students to take other courses without feeling like they are wasting units. However, the general education structure can continue to be reformed to ensure that students are absorbing the same amount of information, whether it be an intro class or an upper division seminar. GEs should not be seen as just a hurdle to get to the interesting and relevant classes — even if a GE is not in a student’s chosen academic path, it should still be useful.

USC has the resources to invest in the restructuring of the curriculum, and will find itself at the cutting edge of education if it revitalizes the current archaic system. The changes that have been made thus far have proven to be effective and popular among students. Integrating more innovative teaching techniques will only further the University’s momentum in recruiting high-performing students. New revolutionary classrooms will make strides in preparing students for the real world, rather than teaching them how to slide under the professor’s radar.