April has seen our video team (Mass. Comm. students, aided by team member Michelle Gonzales and Mass. Comm. instructor Jin Tsubota) jumping into student interviews and filming. May has added on our English basic skills student co-inquirers, who are recording oral interviews with students currently in the basic skills program. I have uploaded our questions to the media library so that you all can poach them–it has been *so* valuable to hear what our students have to say to student interviewers! Finally, our counselor team member, Nancy Wright, has been calling students who have dropped and asking them a series of questions. A few of the students she called walked right over to her office and got some very valuable help! She wishes she could make a personal connection with every student. I have uploaded Nancy’s questions to the media library as well. All questions were drafted with the help of our student co-inquirers and the two student filmmakers.
Four students taking precollegiate math classes give their theories about why soooo many students HATE math. This is a short excerpt from a series of student interviews at Los Medanos College posted on YouTube.
Roy Robles asked why we weren’t posting anything so here I am. Our group is a bilingual (Spanish-English) ESL and Wood Technology (cabinet-making) program. We work together in the shop and classroom and do contextualized teaching/learning.
Here are a few of our challenges: Getting to the inquiry question and documenting student concerns. I am constantly amazed at how hard it it is to get to a researchable inquiry question. Katie Hern worked with our FIN group not too long ago and we spent a lot of time describing different lessons finally identifying a research question that might be more specific than “how does contextualized learning work for students?” For example, in a specific lesson what evidence do we have of student learning–written or through interviews. Then we could analyze that.
We realized that often students would not be completely honest on video even if the interviews were conducted by fellow students on learning. Our student inquirers told us of instances where students said more to them once the video camera was turned off, almost confidentially. We discussed interviewing student inquirers after they do the interviews of students to gather more information. If confidentiality is a problem, names could be left out and the student inquirer could say: “One student I interviewed said…” Anyway it’s an interesting problem and a good way to get more documentation.
Another interesting challenge that came up during out FIN meeting was this: Esdras, one of our student inquirers, mentioned the “roughness” of communication at the workplaces and how students don’t get prepared for this in our program. We thought about conflict resolution methods or simply having some discussion on discrimination and ways of reacting/responding (role-playing). This is a very difficult situation to replicate or prepare students for.
I myself have worked in shops and factories (as a woman machinist) where life or death questions have come up on the shop floor, or where people say some of the most horrible things about women, blacks, Latinos, gays or lesbians. These are real situations that I was so glad were brought up–a result of student involvement in our FIN project. These are just some thoughts and reflections I wanted to blog about.
The proposed project will focus on enhancing the contextualized basic skills curriculum in Fresno City College’s Career Advancement Academy. The faculty team, comprising English, Math, and Automotive instructors, will examine current contextualized Math and English courses in the Automotive strand of the Career Advancement Academy. The team will evaluate the effectiveness of the current model through pre- and post-course assessments, student interviews, faculty consultation, and data analysis, and will revise course content and structures as appropriate to enhance student success in the Career Advancement Academy and beyond.
Tamara Glover / Career Advancement Academy Coordinator
559-442-4600 x 2113 Fax: 559-498-8350
Debbie Ockey / English
Rebecca Benas / English
Rosemarie Bezerra-Nadar / Math
Michael Chicconi / Automotive Technology
Michael Haney / Automotive Technology
Fresno City College Proposal
The Faculty Inquiry Network’s (FIN) purpose is to support professional development which includes: conducting faculty inquiry; revisiting basic skills assumptions; interpreting and integrating data; accessing student voices; developing students as co-inquirers; making visible; using technology for teaching and learning; creating and supporting new initiatives, curriculum and program development; constructing educational tools using digital media; and hosting dialogue around student and faculty learning.