Dr. Rory L. Bedford, director of Service-Learning and Dr. Ellen D. Smiley, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of Grambling State University recently traveled to Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. to conduct a one day workshop entitled “Teaching Strategies for Greater Student Success.”The workshop was developed to assist faculty representatives from the various academic departments at Alcorn to strengthen gatekeeper courses that have been identified to promote student retention and success. The team of professors and resource persons has been charged to work in concert to enhance the academic performance of their students.
The strategies presented by Dr. Bedford and Dr. Smiley included: supplemental instruction, strategic placement of classes, student success workshops, tutorial programs, learning communities, effective use of technology, cooperative learning, and service-learning.
Dr. Bedford explained that gatekeeper courses are “courses that normally follow a set sequence.” These courses may have large enrollments and high failure rates. Some universities refer to the courses as “general education courses.” At many universities, the most recognized technique used to enhance gatekeeper classes is tutoring. However, Dr. Smiley explained that while most campuses have tutorial programs, they may not be as successful as one would hope. A successful tutorial program should be equipped with trained tutors who understand learning styles and have some knowledge of educational psychology, as well as a clear perceptive of the academic subject. There are other essentials as well, but these can truly boost a university’s tutorial program.”
Another informative portion of the workshop was the discussion of GSU’s effective use of Title III funds to enhance the academic quality of the university’s programs with technology. Dr. Smiley provided pictures of the Earl Lester Cole Honors College’s electronic classroom that supports enhanced instruction.
The classroom is supported by an Elmo document’s reader, DVD/VCR, CPU hard drive, wireless connection, retractable screen, laptop upper console connector, projector, and over 25 workstations for student online interaction. She explained that the technology that is available to members of the honors college and their professors has been made possible because of Title III funds.
Winfred Jones, associate vice president for information technology works in concert with Beverly Hill-Hercules, executive director of Title III Programs/Sponsored Programs to ensure that each activity has access to the best technology available and that the technology adequately supports the specific goals and objectives of the program. Their support and guidance ensures that Grambling State’s technology is always a step ahead of many other universities. These types of technological innovations contribute to student success.
Dr. Smiley and Dr. Bedford engaged the Alcorn faculty representatives in a number of activities that can be used in their respective classes to assist with implementing the specific strategies.
The workshop received an overall rating of excellent and is an approved faculty development workshop for the Alcorn faculty through the United States Department of Education Strengthening Non-STEM Disciplines,’ Gatekeeper Courses Project.