student success

Activity: Problem Solving with The Five Steps

Contributor: Laura Bracken, Lewis-Clark State College.  Laura Bracken writes: “There is much more to the art of teaching than just presenting examples from the textbook. It is a balancing act of tools, strategies, textbooks, and persistence to find the correct equation for student success.” Try this activity, based on the work of George Polya, to engage your students in their study of mathematics. Do you have unique suggestions for activities to use in the developmental mathematics classroom? Respond via the comments section below, or submit it to [email protected].
The Five Steps Understand the Problem
Make a Plan
Carry Out the Plan
Look Back
Final Read More…


Conquering Distraction In and Out of the Classroom

For all its benefits, our use of technology has introduced certain challenges into our modern lives, including an increased sense of distraction and information overload. Of course, technology in and of itself is not the problem. In order to keep from feeling overwhelmed, we must master technology, rather than allowing it to master us. Many of the students who enter your classroom are “digital natives” quite accustomed to communicating and finding information online — and also quite attached to their technology devices. Fortunately, you as an instructor can play a role in raising these students’ awareness of how they can use this Read More…


Keeping Online Students On Course

In recent years, you’ve likely seen that your institution is paying increased attention to student retention rates. In fact, if you are like many instructors, you have been tasked with identifying specific ways you can address this issue in your course and on your campus. At Cengage Learning’s recent 18th Annual Course Technology Conference, Sandy Keeter and Melinda White shared their creative best practices for increasing retention, participation, and student success in their online Office Applications course. In this video, you’ll see them discuss the benefits of team teaching in the online environment, as well as ways that retention specialists, tutors, and embedded Read More…


The Art of Teaching Problem Solving

Contributor: Laura Bracken, Lewis-Clark State College.  In my elementary algebra classes, we use a problem-solving organizer called The Five Steps that I developed based on the work of George Polya. Since this is an algebra class, I emphasize the use of equations to represent and solve problems. In one of my classes earlier this semester, my students practiced using more than one property of equality to solve a linear equation in one variable. We began to do the following problem together as a class. A trucker has fixed annual costs of $27,600. The average non-fixed costs are . If the Read More…


Tips for Students: Setting a Strategy for Success

Do you find that your best students have a strategy for success in mind as they work? What do they do that you think would help their fellow learners succeed? Share in the comments section below.  Likely, your students are enrolled in college as part of a larger path toward the goal of future success. But like all roads not yet traveled, this particular journey would be well served by mapping out a path to the destination. Today, we share tips for your students on how to set a strategy for accomplishing their goals. It’s advice that should be Read More…


MISSION POSSIBLE: Promote Active Reading of Textbooks

Contributors: MAJ Josh Helms, former Assistant Professor of Mathematics, United States Military Academy at West Point and current analyst at the Center for Army Analysis; and Dr. Kimberly Turner Helms, US Army Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness, Directorate of Curriculum Lead for Educational Delivery & Learning Enhancement. MAJ and Dr. Helms were recently named Cengage Learning Developmental Studies “Innovative Educators of the Year.” Dr. Helms will be attending the 2013 Cengage Learning’s TeamUP  2013 Developmental Education Conference: The Challenge of Change   When MAJ Josh Helms started teaching an introductory mathematics course at West Point, he was surprised how many of his first-year Read More…


Tips for Students: Navigating Your School’s Resources

There is no shame in needing or asking for assistance. However, your students may require guidance in identifying the people and places that can help them chart a path to confidence and success. In her text Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach, Christine Harrington writes, “Research has shown that students who access help perform better (Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins, & Herman, 1999; Strage et al., 2002). Learning when and how to access the right type of support is a skill that will benefit [students] in college and beyond” (p. 21). She offers a number of Read More…


Financial Skills as College (and Life) Skills

Though not strictly a “study skill,” wise money management certainly plays an important role in students’ ability to plan and provide for the expenses related to their college education. This activity, drawn from the Instructor’s Manual for Joel English’s Plugged In: Succeeding as an Online Learner, can help students become more aware of their financial resources and responsibilities. Though these particular questions pertain to school-related expenditures, the awareness and experience that students gain by thinking about these issues today can prepare them for the types of decisions they’ll need to make once they graduate. Read More…


Addressing Interdisciplinary Digital Literacy

What does “digital literacy” mean to students as it applies to your courses? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, digital literacy is an essential tool for preparing students for their future workplaces. When you teach students how to be digitally literate, you’re not only instilling important technical skills, but also an understanding of appropriate use of that technology. But being digitally literate doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Depending on a student’s field of study, his or her needs in understanding certain technology skills could Read More…


Helping Students Prepare for Online Courses

In some ways, having someone set a schedule for us makes our lives somewhat easier, doesn’t it? When we’re young, our parents and teachers schedule our time for us, but as we get older, we gradually become more responsible for making our own good decisions for how to manage our time. Online learning can present challenges to some students in that it doesn’t come with the same type of structure an on-ground course would. You aren’t typically expected to be in a physical location for a predetermined period of time to take part in learning online. In Plugged Read More…