National Conference on Effective Transitions in Adult Education Conference

Ruth Clark

National Conference on Effective Transitions in Adult Education
Sponsored by World Education

  • How would you rate this conference overall on a scale of 1-5?
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  • Location
    • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Date   
    • 11/14/2016
  • Focus   
    • Innovation and Effective Transitions in Adult Education
  • Reason for attending
    • Exposure to nation-wide current thinking in the areas involved in assisting students establish personal academic goals and persue these goals.
  • To what degree did the conference meet your expectations?
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  • Who should attend
    • Faculty, Administration
  • Key takeaways
    • While all of the sessions I attended were interesting and valuable, four stood out to me as mindsets to begin with for all of us assisting students achieve their goals.
    • Self-Efficacy Matters: Improving Educational Outcomes of Students who are Criminal Justice-Involved, presented by Tonya VanTol. VanTol used a re-entry program, Project PROVEN out of Wisconsin, to illustrate some of the necessary steps for student success including: Education; recovery; mental health; planning next steps; and support, including family group if possible. The ramifications are big: personal issues include housing, transportation, childcare, and support services; career considerations include, “What is a good fit?” using personality tests, and which opportunities are available for an individual with a criminal history; handling college, including academic readiness, writing, showing up for class, communication with instructors, and support systems; and employment, which includes finding a job (job search, networking, overcoming barriers, completing application) and keeping the job (involving learning soft skills and overcoming barriers). Self-Efficacy is achieved through mastery experience (successes increase and failure decreases); social modeling (seeing others similarly situated achieve goals); social persuasion (positive affirmations by those surrounding them-but must be used correctly); and the individual’s physical and emotional state (regulating one’s emotional state around stress).
    • Smart Learning: A Curriculum to Empower Students, presented by Sarah Lynn and Ana Roche of the Harvard Bridge Program. This material was developed to engage ESL/ELL students (at different levels) to see themselves as students able to learn independently, specifically because of the lack of contact time. It was clear to the instructors that the students saw themselves as workers, but not as students. The instructors used a simplified slide show (Learn How Your Brain Works) to visually engage the students, and the vocabulary for the lessons was introduced during the prior class.  Students completed a brief survey (Part !: About You) about themselves over a 24 hour period as follows: How many hours do you sleep? How many glasses of water do you drink? How much exercise do you get? What food do you eat? The instructors found that the students were engaged with the material as interesting, and also because learning about the brains need for sleep (brain cleans up and organizes memories), water (easily dehydrated because brain is 70% water), exercise (oxygen), and food, helped students determine they  could learn more quickly, retrieve learning more effectively, and build on their learning with repetition and readdressing subjects (Recall and Review). A second brief survey (Part 2: Comprehension)was used with the students to help emphasize the material presented about the brain and neuro- and cognitive functions.
    • The Contact Interview: Structured Conversation for Handling Problems with Students, presented by Linda Wolfson and Gail Huber, from Vita Education Services. Provided handouts. This session provided  “a process for addressing problem [student] behaviors through the use of a structured conversation.” Vita Education Services is a community-based, non-profit, assisting in the community and incarceration, including ESL/ELL students. The purpose of the Structured Conversation is to make clear who is control of what, and what is “Not Our Role”. It is also about helping students clarify their goals. The presenters explained the four D’s as problems: Decorum, Disrespect, Disruption, and Danger. Under the category of “Not Our Role” they cited examples that would indicate the instructor, administrator, advisor as taking the position “I know best”,  the “shoulds”, taking on the burden of “the story”, scolding, or lecturing. Their experience tells them none of these options work. The goal is that the student be clear about the problem, that the student is responsible, and the student can make the choice to change the behavior. The Structured Conversation is a fixed format interview, which can be used in a scheduled or a spontaneous situation, beginning with easy questions and moving on to the heart of the matter. The conversation begins with: stating the problem; then asking “What’s going on?”, “Is your goal the same?”, “How can you get what you want?” “What will you try?” “How will you do this?” and summarizing/clarifying the student’s response each time.
      The message aimed at student is that you have a commitment to a plan to observe correct behavior, and the further message is that “you are fair, focused on goals, and respect the student’s ability to find a solution.” To be effective, the coordinator, advisor, teacher, needs to be clear in his/her own mind what the specific problem is, and keep focused on it when in discussion with the student. In addition, it is necessary that all students are aware of the individual program rules and requirements. The final step of the interview is to reaffirm the student’s plan with encouragement.
    • Strategies for Successful Students, presented by Sharma Priyanka, from World Education, Inc.  Provided handouts. In addition to the strategies handout, Priyanka provided a survey sheet for the participants to gauge personal mindsets about ourselves and the potential to change as a tool to encourage the changes to better retrieval of academic effort and job success. This session again emphasized the importance of the brain, this time specifically when you are asleep. The presenter outlined five strategies aimed at helping students remember what they have studied to be successful academically, but understanding how quickly we forget new thoughts or material. Strategy 1: Let your brain do the work while you sleep. She suggested reviewing notes before going to sleep, and explained that, like muscle memory the brain requires pure sugar to operate, and long-term memory is crated as you sleep. Strategy 2: Check your understanding by reviewing, a maintenance rehearsal, to short-term memory, encoding to long-term memory. Strategy 3: Make every effort count and most of us have both fixed and flexible mindsets that we would benefit from by being aware, as in learning from mistakes. Strategy 4: Manage your learning process by giving study the time it needs, and by brainstorming methods of saving time were we can. Strategy 5: Practice Positive self-coaching, as mentioned in another workshop session, personal affirmation can change our mindset, literally “talking ourselves into it. (“The power of Yet! As in, Not yet, but I can learn.” Priyanka added a bonus strategy: Drink water.
    • There were many positive overlapping ideas shared at the NTCN conference that reinforced and I would recommend this conference to all educators, particularly those working in transition situations of any kind!

      Ruth Clark, Coordinator
      Links Program
      Middlesex Community College

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