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Access at Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Ed., D. Arendale   Click this web link to learn about my recent book

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     Access at the Crossroads Blog

    These blog entires identify best practices to increase success for historically-underrepresented college students including excerpts from my book, Access at the CrossroadsClick here to subscribe to this blog.


    New Publication: Understanding the Peer Assisted Learning Model

    Since 2006, the PAL program at the University of Minnesopta has contributed to improved academic performance of participating PAL students in rigorous introductory-level college courses.The program is built upon best practices from previous international peer learning models like Supplemental Instruction, Peer-led Team Learning, Emerging Scholars Program, and others.  PAL is also guided by learning theories such as Universal Design for Learning to make the model more culturally-sensitive and embedded within the courses to increase its effectiveness for all students.  Both quantitative and qualitative studies of PAL validate its effectiveness for increasing academic success of participating students and fostering development of personal and social skills.  In addition to benefits for the participants, the PAL experience benefits PAL facilitators through deeper mastery of rigorous course material, increased confidence in public speaking and small group management skills, and encouragement to pursue a teaching career.  While the PAL program was started to address the achievement gap in courses, it has bloomed into one that also enhances personal and professional skills for all that are involved.Built upon principles identified by other academic support programs and innovations of its own creation, PAL is an integral part of UMN’s overall academic support efforts.

    Arendale, D. R. (2014). Understanding the Peer Assistance Learning model: Student study groups in challenging college courses. International Journal of Higher Education, 3(2), 1-12. doi:10.5430/ijhe.v3n2p  Retrieved from

    <Click on this link to download the article>


    Postsecondary Peer Cooperative Learning 2014 Annotated Bibliography

    Postsecondcary Peer Cooperative Learning 2014 Annotated Bibliography. Compiled by David Arendale.

    <Click on this web link to download the document.>

    I just updated my annotated bibliography on peer learning programs.  The bibliography is 160,000 words and 340 pages in length.  It features every article or report published on six of the major peer learning programs in higher education:  Accelerated Learning Groups (developed by Sydney Stansbury at University of Southern California), Emerging Scholars Program (developed by Uri Treisman at UC-Berkeley), Peer-led Team Learning (developed at City Univeristy of New York), Structured Learning Assistance (developed at Ferris State University), Supplemental Instruction (developed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City), and Video-based Supplemental Instruction (developed at UMKC as well).

    Peer collaborative learning has been popular in education for decades. As both pedagogy and learning strategy, it has been frequently adopted and adapted for a wide range of academic content areas throughout education at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels due to its benefits. The professional literature is filled with reports of individual professors integrating this approach into postsecondary classrooms in diverse ways. Increased attention has been placed on this practice due to claims by some programs that carefully coordinated and managed learning programs with specific protocols can increase student persistence rates towards graduation, supporting both student goal aspirations as well as bolstering institutional revenues..

    This annotated bibliography does not attempt to be inclusive of this broad field of literature concerning peer collaborative learning. Instead, it is focused intentionally on a subset of the educational practice that share a common focus with increasing student persistence towards graduation. At the end of this overview, several suggestions are made for differentiating the models from each other and the level of institutional resources and resolve with implementing them.

    The six student peer learning programs included in this bibliography meet the following characteristics: (a) the program must have been implemented at the postsecondary or tertiary level; (b) the program has a clear set of systematic procedures for its implementation that could be replicated by another institution; (c) program evaluation studies have been conducted and are available for review; (d) the program intentionally embeds learning strategy practice along with review of the academic content material; (e) the program outcomes include increased content knowledge, higher final course grades, higher pass rates, and higher college persistence rates; and (f) the program has been replicated at another institution with similar positive student outcomes. From a review of the professional literature six programs emerged: Accelerated Learning Groups (ALGs), Emerging Scholars Program (ESP), Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), Structured Learning Assistance (SLA), Supplemental Instruction (SI), and Video-based Supplemental Instruction (VSI). Some of the programs share common history and seek to improve upon previous practices. Other programs were developed independently.

    <Click on this web link to download the document.>


    An Hour Makes a Difference By Scott Jaschik

    For years, studies have found that first-generation college students -- those who do not have a parent with a college degree -- lag other students on a range of education achievement factors. Their grades are lower and their dropout rates are higher. But since such students are most likely to advance economically if they succeed in higher education, colleges and universities have pushed for decades to recruit more of them. This has created "a paradox" in that recruiting first-generation students, but then watching many of them fail, means that higher education has "continued to reproduce and widen, rather than close" an achievement gap based on social class, according to the depressing beginning of a paper forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science. But the article is actually quite optimistic, as it outlines a potential solution to this problem, suggesting that this approach (which involves a one-hour, next-to-no-cost program) can close 63 percent of the achievement gap (measured by such factors as grades) between first-generation and other students.

    What is the solution? A one-hour program for new students that is called a "difference-education intervention."
    In the program, college juniors and seniors from a range of backgrounds talk about how they adjusted to college, and how they sought out resources and people to help them with decisions, issues they didn't understand and so forth.

    First-generation students talked about their specific challenges. For example, one student said something like this: “Because my parents didn’t go to college, they weren’t always able to provide me the advice I needed. So it was sometimes hard to figure out what classes to take and what I wanted to do in the future. But there are other people who can provide that advice, and I learned that I needed to rely on my adviser more than other students.”  To avoid stigmatizing the first-generation students, the programs were described as being for all students, with a range of backgrounds, and the panelists speaking were from a range of backgrounds. And in a control group (which did not see the same results when first-generation students reported on their experiences and success at the end of the academic year), panelists did not relate their adjustments to their own backgrounds.

    Among the areas where they found a notable impact from participants in the program: higher grade-point averages and significant increase in the odds of using various campus resources that help students with a range of issues.  The authors of the paper are Nicole M. Stephens, associate professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; MarYam G. Hamedani, associate director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University; and Mesmin Destin, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University. Their findings are based on a study involving 147 students (who completed the project) at an unnamed private university. First generation was defined as not having a parent with a four-year college degree. Most of the first-generation students (59.1 percent) were recipients of Pell Grants, while this was true only for 8.6 percent of the students with at least one parent with a four-year degree.  Their thesis -- that a relatively modest intervention could have a big impact -- was based on the view that first-generation students may be most lacking not in potential but in savvy about how to deal with the issues that face most college students. They cite past research by several authors to show that this is the gap that must be narrowed to close the achievement gap.

    Many first-generation students "struggle to navigate the middle-class culture of higher education, learn the 'rules of the game,' and take advantage of college resources," they write. And this becomes more of a problem when colleges don't talk about the class advantages and disadvantages of different groups of students. "Because U.S. colleges and universities seldom acknowledge how social class can affect students' educational experiences, many first-generation students lack insight about why they are struggling and do not understand how students 'like them' can improve."


    NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education

    Following are just a few of the upcoming trends in technology use.  Some seem obvious, others not. <To read the complete report, click on this web link.>

    Fast moving trend likely to create substantive change (or burn out) in one to two years:  Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning
    Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models.  Students already spend much of their free time on the Internet, learning and exchanging new information.  Institutions that embrace face-to-face/online hybrid learning mode ls have the potential to leverage the online skills learners have already developed independent of academia. Online learning environments can offer different affordances than physical campuses, including opportunities for increased collaboration while equipping students with stronger digital skills. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented successfully, enable students to travel to campus for some activities, while using the network for others, taking advantage of the best of both environments.
    Fast moving trend likely to create substantive change (or burn out) in one to two years:  Social Media Use in Learning
    Social media is changing the way people interact, present ideas and information, and judge the quality of content and contributions. More than one billion people use Facebook regularly; other social media platforms extend those numbers to nearly one third of all people on the planet. Educators, students, alumni, and even the general public routinely use social media to share news about scientific and other developments. The impact of these changes in scholarly communication and on the credibility of information remains to be seen, but it is clear that social media has found significant traction in almost every education sector.



    White House Report on Efforts to Support Low Income College Students

    <Click this web link to download the entire report.>

    Executive Summary.  With the growing demand for college educated workers, a college education is one of the surest ways into the middle class.  To help more students afford and graduate from college, the Administration has taken steps to address these challenges doubling Federal investments in Pell Grants and college tax credits, reforming student loans, and taking new steps to reduce college costs and improve value. But while the President continues to push for changes that keep college affordable for all students and families, we can and must be doing more to get more low income students prepared for college, enrolle d in quality institutions, and graduating. success. Low income students face barriers to college access and Each year hundreds of thousands of low college, apply to the best fit schools, apply for financi al aid, enroll and persist in their studies, and ultimately graduate. As a result, large gaps remain in educational achievement between students from low- income families and their high income peers. Increasing college opportunity is not just an economic imperative, but a reflection of our values. We need to reach, inspire, and empower every student, regardless of background, to make sure that our country is a place where if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. Under the President and First Lady’s leadership, the Administration and the Department of Education engaged with leading experts to identify the barriers to increasing college opportunity

    Some of the most promising actions are to help and encourage low income students to apply, enroll, and succeed in college. Based on the existing evidence, we identified four key areas where we could be doing more to promote college opportunity. On January 16 the Administration is announcing new commitments from colleges and university presidents, nonprofits, leaders of philanthropy and the private sector in these four key areas. These efforts mark the beginning of an ongoing mobilization that will work to promote evidence based techniques, continue to understand what works, and expand successful efforts.


    Behind Summit, Access, Affordability, and Completion Pose Conflicting Goals

    Behind Summit, Access, Affordability, and Completion Pose Conflicting Goals  By Beckie Supiano

     The policy goal at the heart of the recent White House summit—college access—has become more complex as it has evolved. While increasing college access remains a key national goal, it must now compete with two other higher-education priorities: completion and affordability.  While higher education is now the only reliable way to enter and stay in the middle class, that wasn't always the case. Our national focus on expanding college access dates to a time before anyone thought everyone should go to college.  Expanding access became a major policy concern in the 1960s, says Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation and a higher-education economist.  "We as a nation were thinking at that time expansively about how we could solve social problems with federal policy," says Mr. McPherson, who is also a former president of Macalester College

    When the Higher Education Act of 1965 was signed, its first two goals were access and choice, says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

    At the time, "whenever you said 'access,' you said 'choice,'" he says. Those terms were paired partly for political reasons, Mr. Carnevale says. Private colleges could get behind a student-aid system that allowed students to carry their money to whichever institution they liked.  That was also an era before soaring costs and other concerns dimmed higher education's luster. Back then—really until 15 or 20 years ago—higher education was seen in a much more positive light, says Thomas R. Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College  When people thought of college, they thought of the country's elite colleges, the best in the world. So it was only natural, Mr. Bailey says, for the focus to be on "who got access to these wonderful institutions." No one was thinking much about whether those who got access graduated..


    When Robert M. Shireman started the Institute for College Access and Success, in 2004, he was deliberate in choosing its name. At the time, he recalls, student success was not yet the hot topic it has become, and he wanted to raise its profile.  Questions about success were becoming more pressing on the ground. When the National College Access Network began tracking what happened to students it had helped send to college, it was surprised at how many of them weren't graduating. For the last seven years or so, the group has expanded its focus to include students' time in college, says Kim Cook, its executive director.

    Others were paying more attention, too. College had become the main steppingstone to a middle-class life, raising the stakes for a wider spectrum of individuals. The federal commitment to higher education grew tremendously, raising the stakes for society. (Total federal student aid stood at $170-billion in 2012-13, up from $1.7-billion in 1963-64, in 2012 dollars.)  Attention began to turn to what happened to students after they arrived on a campus. Once graduation-rate data became available, it became clear that there was "tremendous variation" among colleges, Mr. Bailey says.  The Lumina Foundation announced in 2008 its "big goal": to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Soon after, President Obama announced a similar goal: for the United States to have world's highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.


    Conversations about access didn't die off when completion became the big issue, but they did change. The goals of access and success are in tension. If getting students to graduate is the overriding concern, many observers worry colleges will avoid taking a chance by admitting students who might struggle  Affordability has long been seen as a barrier to college access. After all, the federal government's approach to improving access centers on offering students grants and loans.

    But as college has gotten more expensive, and family incomes have leveled out, paying for college has become a more pressing worry for families who are relatively well off. That has made college affordability an issue that resonates with the middle class, and many of the policies intended to improve it are designed with them in mind.  It's certainly possible for the government to care about access, affordability, and completion all at once. But in a world of limited resources, those goals do compete with one another. If nothing else, that should make a White House meeting about college access in 2014 a little more interesting.


    Commitment by University of Minnesota for Low-Income Students

    During the recent summit called by the White House for low-income college students, the University of Minnesota was represented at the meeting and made the following commitment to build upon current support to low-income students.  You can check out commitments by other colleges by clicking on the following web link provided by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  <Click on this web link>.

    In summer 2014, the University of Minnesota will begin a new initiative, Retaining all Our Students (RaOS), that will focus on closing or eliminating the first-year retention gap between Pell-eligible students (86.9 percent), and non-Pell eligible students (91.3 percent). This three year $300,000 initiative is designed around four key components, including: (1) an enhanced financial literacy program with new materials focusing on the specific financial planning and information needs of low-income students and their families; (2) strong incentives for low-income students who are also in the President's Emerging Scholars (PES) program to participate in a PES summer bridge program; (3) the development of better success tracking tools for advisers to monitor academic progress and enhance the advising of Pell recipients students, including a targeted communications campaign; and (4) further leveraging the resources of the SMART Learning Commons tutoring centers by promoting the available services and connecting low-income students with peer tutors. Building on Existing Efforts: The University of Minnesota Promise Scholarship program, which began in 2007, now provides over $30 million annually in scholarships to more than 13,000 low- and middle-income Minnesota resident students who enroll on any of the University's five campuses. Eligible freshman and new transfer students with family incomes of up to $100,000 receive a guaranteed, multi-year scholarship. The PES program is designed for students who have faced challenges that may have impacted their high school metrics, but whose personal experiences and high school records indicate potential for collegiate success. The majority of the 500 PES students in this program are low income, students of color, and/or first-generation. PES provides nearly $1.5 million to support services that address the needs of PES students.