Getting Students Ready for College

Summary of Workshop Discussion
Here is a summary of the key ideas that were shared by participants at the workshop (this is a summary of the ideas expressed, the presenter and GCSN do not endorse any particular opinion or view point):
 Engaging students with handson learning is the best way to develop skills
 Students come into courses with greatly diverse skills because prerequisites are not strictly enforced, which leads to less skilled students slowing down the course and getting in the way of the learning of the more skilled students
 Need for better structured progressive pedagogy so that students are taught study skills in a scaffolded manner that is progressive across the grade levels
 Schools and teachers are evaluated on "success rates" that are based on "pass rates" rather than actual assessment of skills attained. As a result, there is great pressure on teachers to lower their standards so that all students pass rather than to maintain high standards to ensure that all passing students have the requisite skills. (true at both K12 and college levels).
 Need some sort of ongoing venue for getting K12 teachers and college professors together to discuss why students are unprepared (lack of training, American culture of education, etc) and to determine what type of skills (study, technical, etc) students should be mastering at each grade level.
 How to deal with students who lack requisite study and technical skills and need remediation (For example, what do you do about 10th graders who don't know how to make and use flashcards? When should students have learned how to do this?)
 Student participants present at the discussion expressed that their favorite teachers are those who have high expectations and push them to work hard; even though they might feel lazy in the moment, they appreciate their success in the long run
 Students lack math literacy; they do not have a true understanding of numbers but rather memorize steps for how to solve problems. As a result, when math becomes very advanced, they are not able to keep with it. Only a third of all students who start STEM majors in college graduate in a STEM major. Many students drop STEM majors because the math gets too difficult for them, not because they loose interest in science.
 Too much emphasis on individual success and not enough emphasis on group success. Students lack ability to truly work collaboratively, which is vital in most STEM professions.
 Competitiveness engages students but must be done in a way that students provide support to one another rather than sabotaging one another.
 Strategies discussed:
 teach students one study strategy per unit (for example, the presenter teaches her students technical reading skills using reciprocal teaching SDAEI strategies during the first unit, then she teaches students how to make flashcards during the second unit, introducing a new study skill with each unit)
 ISBN (interactive science notebooks), based on Cornel notes, are one tool for helping to teach good study skills
 One participant promotes collaboration by having rows of students compete with one another on a series of problems. Each person in a row must either answer the next question, or change the answer of the previous question given by the previous person in the row if they feel the answer given was incorrect. The first row to answer all of the questions correctly is celebrated.
Continue the Discussion
Participate in a discussion about preparing students for the rigors of college. What can STEM educators do to help students enter college betterprepared?