Part II – KNOW: Comprehending Content


Not every student that walks through your doors has all the tools that they need to be successful. In fact, many of them probably don’t. It’s no surprise to you, sure. But is there more you could be doing to move them from the drop out danger zone to graduation success?

Not every student that walks through your doors has all the tools that they need to be successful. In fact, many of them probably don’t. It’s no surprise to you, sure. But is there more you could be doing to move them from the drop out danger zone to graduation success?

This year, we’ve been out and about talking with some institutions about exactly that. Facilitated by Cyanna Curriculum Manager, David Grimes, school staff and faculty have been discussing ways to identify risk factors as well as strategies to help course-correct students who are at-risk.

We’ve organized this information into three parts to share with you.

Part I – GO: Transitioning into college
Early intervention is key. In this part, we’ll explore what you can do right off the bat.

Part II – KNOW: Comprehending content
Understanding course material is (obviously) key to students graduating. What can you put in place to make sure students are getting it?

Part III – FLOW: Getting into the groove
Although knowing the actual facts and figures is important, it’s also just as vital for students to manage their learning. Part III talks techniques that help students maximize organization and understanding.

If you missed Part-I you can check it out here. And now that we are caught up, let’s get continue with Part II.

Part II – KNOW: Comprehending content

Comprehending content is one of the key factors enabling students to achieve their goal of graduation, and perhaps more importantly, gaining a career. Learning the skills, knowledge, and abilities presented in the curriculum is what student focus on when they walk through your doors each day. So, it is vital to empower students to effectively learn the materials. If you haven’t already, ask yourself, “What issues do students have when it comes to comprehending content?” The good news is that most, if not all, issues can be overcome by focusing on how your courses are designed, empowering your faculty members, and providing career connections within the curriculum. Follow these tips to help at-risk students find the momentum to continue down the path toward success

Be on the lookout for students who:

  • Appear unmotivated
  • Require academic support
  • Have a fixed mindset
  • Procrastinate continuously
  • Lack of self-efficacy
  • Are 1st-generation college students

If a student shows any of the above qualities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is at-risk. But, it does provide a sign for you to look a bit deeper and make sure the student feels comfortable with the content and understands how to succeed in your program.

Here are a few strategies that have worked at other institutions to empower students.

Smart Course Design

  • Scaffold the learning so that topics build upon each other
  • Chunk the materials so that each piece is manageable, rather than overwhelming

Empower Faculty

  • Compliment curriculum with credentials; no matter your curriculum, make sure your faculty have experience
  • Share clear daily objectives or goals to set the stage for student learning
  • Start off class with bell-ringers to engage students immediately
  • A bell-ringer is a brief activity to engage students as soon as they enter the class but before diving into the core of that day’s lesson
  • Provide opportunities for informal and immediate feedback
  • Bring in industry-experts to talk to students
  • Offer a variety of group work
  • Arrange hands-on opportunities whenever possible
  • Conclude class with a recap and a “what’s next?”

Always Be Career-Focused

  • Share personal, topic relevant stories about working in the field
  • Use case studies based on real-world scenarios
  • Implement role-playing activities
  • Contextualize learning by adding a career tie-in to each lesson

Remember, to turn ideas and strategies into an action plan, follow these steps:

  • Identify risk factors common at your school
  • Determine the strategy you’ll use to address them
  • Communicate the plan and get buy-in from all faculty and staff
  • Implement the plan and evaluate results; use this information to continue to improve the plan
  • Reinforce the role everyone plays in retention efforts – it’s an ongoing group effort

Let us know how you do with Part II. We’d love to hear your success stories or find out more about what issues are still giving your trouble.

And be sure to check back in for the final section, Part III – FLOW: Getting into the Groove.

Let us show you what Cyanna can do for you.

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