• How to keep nontraditional students enrolled and on track

    by Mandy Baldwin, Senior Student Support Specialist, Pearson

    A man with headphones on and a woman in a plaid shirt sit on a gray couch typing on laptops while a little girl in a yellow dress kneels over a coffee table drawing with colored pencils.

    When every enrollment matters to the health of an institution and, more importantly, to the dreams of every student, keeping them on track to graduate is vital. And when you have a nontraditional student body, they need a student support services team to step in to play a central role, helping students transition back to the classroom.

    As student support specialists at Pearson, my team has the privilege of connecting with online students, supporting their goals, and providing resources for their success.

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked closely with our retention managers and institutions (we call them academic partners) to alleviate some of the additional stress this pandemic has placed on students.

    Along the way, we learned three key lessons that can help your team whether your student support services are provided by a partner or from an in-house team.

    Help nontraditional learners balance school and life

    When nursing student Mary* called me in March 2020, she was in her final semester and didn’t know how she was going to earn the remaining credits she needed to graduate. With elementary-school age children and a newborn, she was already juggling a lot. And with facilities closed, she struggled with figuring out how to meet her program’s clinical requirements.

    We worked with her institution to communicate the school’s policies with Mary. But, more broadly, our student support services team became a crucial lifeline for students. We reached out proactively to:  

    • educate students on how credits for the clinical portion of the program would work
    • share the university’s plans for a virtual graduation ceremony
    • ease their fears about how colleges and universities could continue to operate seamlessly and safely

    Nontraditional students tend to be older than traditional college students. They have careers, marriages, and children to contend with on top of managing their studies. The students we support reflect this reality as well. According to the 2020 Pearson Enrollment Experience Survey, for enrollments in our graduate programs: 

    • the average age is 37, compared to a traditional graduate student at 32 years old
    • over half (53%) are married and have children 
    • students are working/experienced, with 78% of students working full-time and 50% having at least 7 years of work experience 

    Focus on student mental health and wellbeing

    Like everyone everywhere, our nontraditional learners grew weary as the months dragged on and the pressures mounted. They had jobs, kids, and life stressors on top of working toward completing their degrees. Their previously mapped out routines of school, work, and family had dissolved. Some students continued to juggle homeschooling kids with work and school. Others struggled to find work while keeping up with their education.

    While online courses remained constant, the balancing act became harder. We spoke with students, employed as front-line workers, who contracted COVID-19. We became the ear for many, helping students cope with all the changes. We realized that we needed to:

    • direct students to mental health resources
    • advise them on time management and organizing tips
    • encourage students to keep going or take time off for self-care when needed

    Serve nontraditional students in novel ways

    When nursing student Josefina* needed to find a clinical placement, she faced a roadblock that could have derailed her studies. She was living overseas with her military spouse and didn’t have many options for placement since the country where they were based was in lockdown.

    Our solution? Josefina participated in a Zoom session with her academic advisor and student support specialist to develop a plan that would help her lock in a clinical placement on the base.

    We learned to:

    • tailor solutions to the student
    • connect students with program staff
    • coach them on options to complete program requirements  
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  • Leading students through a changing career landscape

    by Pearson

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  • Yes! I am ready to start my career

    by Donna Butler

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    Have you ever congratulated a graduating senior, asked about future plans, and been surprised by the answer “I have no idea”? Several years ago, this answer was common. Fortunately, today, educators and employers have identified the career readiness gap and now intentionally equip students to be ready for the “dream job.”

    While pursuing degrees, students can engage in Career Exploration courses which provide the necessary tools, resources, and experiences to promote Career Readiness. Some of these courses are offered as standalone courses, and some are paired with discipline specific courses.

    Wherever institutions offer these courses, students are given the opportunity to discover careers, develop skills, and demonstrate skills to stand out in the interview process.

    Get the big picture

    Discovering and exploring careers through research enables students to begin learning about the job market. Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight is an example of a resource students can use to find data on local labor markets.

    Many people become so focused on a specific “job title” they don’t realize the vast employment opportunities available within a profession. Although it’s important to research salaries within the career, determining which employers are recruiting can also provide valuable information.

    As students mature through their educational journey, matching personal preferences with specific employers can guide graduates. Discovering where a job is located, if it is a large or small employer, and the projected salary can provide insight for career choices.

    Building skills for success

    Developing and identifying career skills are other key factors for success. As students engage in career readiness courses, they begin learning how to create an online portfolio such as a Linkedin profile, which enables communication within the profession.

    Interview techniques and resume writing build confidence for those entering the job market. Through these real-life experiences, students learn if professional certifications are required and how they may be obtained. Becoming aware of the entry level basic skills needed for a profession allows students to enter the job market prepared and with confidence.

    Once the career research has been completed and students possess the basic entry level skills needed, they are ready to demonstrate their acquired skills. Being aware of employer expectations provides students an advantage when job searching.

    Students who possess the online portfolio can showcase college projects and badges earned while relating them to the career they are pursing. Employers will immediately see the teamwork and collaboration skills. Demonstrating these valuable skills will enable the graduate to stand out during the interview process.

    Ready for the future

    Entering the job market can be an overwhelming time in anyone’s life. Knowing the jobs available and skills needed can produce confidence for the future employee. Engaging in Career Readiness courses can equip students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to land that dream job. Discovering careers, developing skills, and demonstrating these skills can help transition students to career ready candidates.

     

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  • Arming students with the tools for lifelong career success

    by Donna Butler

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    Do graduating seniors and incoming college freshmen know what career path they should choose, and do they have the necessary skills to be successful? Many educators and employers agree this is an area where students could use more resources.

    Pearson Career Success (PCS), an online preparation platform, provides access to a roadmap that helps students explore and understand where they want to go, how they’re going to get there, and what they need to do to stand out from the crowd. Instruction and learning experiences are also provided to help students acquire the skills and capabilities they need to be successful.

    PCS provides the bridge between academic readiness and career readiness. Academic Success Modules such as Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Test Taking Skills give students opportunities to engage in learning and scenarios to apply the necessary skills for success. Educators can choose curriculum relevant modules for students to work on.

    Also, PCS provides Career Success Modules such as Building an Academic Plan, a Career Portfolio, and developing networking skills. Guided instruction and practice equip students with real life skills necessary to be successful in a chosen career. The modules are not just assignments, but self-discovery tools provided to students as they mature through their academic journey.

    Pearson is committed to understanding and identifying the needs of employers hiring new college graduates, and serving the needs of institutions preparing students for college or the workforce. The broad suite of assessments and instructions within the PCS platform is built upon decades of cumulative research by prominent leaders in this field.

    Finally, PCS provides state-of-the-art coaching and tools for “presenting” themselves to employers as desirable employees. Engaging students in opportunities to develop career readiness skills can assist them in career success for life.

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  • Direct online tutoring help to students in need

    by Kirk Benningfield

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    The recent disruption to education extends well beyond those trying to keep up with normal coursework. Senior year has also been interrupted for thousands of students whose focus has shifted toward internships, career preparation, and employment. With campuses and career centers closed across the country, online tutoring is a valuable tool to support all students as they prepare for the end of the term.

    Improving engagement with targeted help

    Once education transitioned to full-time virtual environments, many students lost the face-to-face interactions that made up the core of their classroom support. Online tutoring can provide the help students need, right when they need it, helping to avoid the possibility of them giving up when they hit a roadblock. And these one-on-one sessions can bolster a student’s confidence, giving them more freedom to ask questions and delve into discussion that they might never approach in a full-class setting.

    In addition, Smarthinking can help faculty identify at-risk students using alerts and session mapping to drill down to specific concepts where they’re seeking assistance. Instructors can see whether students are keeping pace with course requirements, and recommend supplemental help from an online tutor to get them back on track.

    Helping students prep for careers

    For this year’s seniors, going virtual is affecting much more than just classes. Many who were in the midst of completing career programs and solidifying internships when career centers and university-provided services closed down are left asking, “Now what?”

    The spring term is always a busy time for those in programs focused on preparing for the workforce. Smarthinking online tutors have emerged as a go-to resource for live interview coaching and assistance honing presentation skills. In fact, for those students who may be introverts or just plain nervous to get up in front of a classroom, an audience of one can be a much more comfortable environment in which to practice these skills than a class full of their peers.

    Resume and career writing help is also in high demand among this year’s graduates. Smarthinking supports students with 24/7 resume and cover letter help, personal branding consultation, and business writing reviews. Tutors are trained and monitored to ensure they do not proofread or edit student papers; instead, their writing review centers on leading students to a broader comprehension of the fundamentals of writing (both higher-order issues as well as lower-order skills) and key strategies for revision.

    Insider advice

    “Employers and recruiters in 2020 are looking beyond applicants who simply have the required educational experience. Employers want new hires who can think creatively and who are fluid in the use of technology and adept at writing well. Smarthinking tutors can help students develop effective career materials for this new world of work, whether that be a strategically-focused cover letter or eye-catching details to polish a LinkedIn profile.” — Michael Goodfellow, Sr. Lead Writing Tutor

    How else can online tutoring support your virtual classroom?

    Get the infographic and explore three other ways online tutoring can empower your students to succeed, no matter where they are.

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  • New ideas to grow tomorrow's critical thinkers and problem-solvers

    by Pearson

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    Thick skin in junior english class

    Matthew Ventura, Ph.D., recalls a high school English teacher who taught him a hard but important lesson.

    “Mr. Davidson was really tough,” he says. “He felt no shame ripping apart our essays.”

    “Despite the criticism, he spent so much time giving us detailed feedback,” Matthew says. “It really affected me.”

    “Not only did I become a better writer,” he says, “I realized that a Mr. Davidson-like level of feedback can help improve critical thinking skills like few other things.”

    Important skills, better teaching

    Matthew went on to study and develop new ways to teach and assess 21st century skills like critical thinking.

    An early collaboration, the Physics Playground, was a digital game that walked students through complex physics concepts with outcomes and processes that mimicked real-world experiences.

    It was a breakthrough.

    “These kinds of natural, playful simulations,” Matthew says, “help students strategize their way through tough subjects—and provide an opportunity for teachers to provide feedback based on where each student is in the learning process.”

    “Imagine a class of 400 students,” he says. “How can a teacher be like Mr. Davidson and provide such granular, one-on-one feedback to everybody?”

    Innovative digital platforms, he says, provide a trifecta of benefits:

    They teach effectively. They lead to one-on-one feedback for students. And they’re scalable.

    The need for problem-solvers

    “It was an opportunity to explore some basic questions about critical thinking,” Matthew says. “What do we mean by ‘critical thinking? How can we improve it?”

    It’s part of a conversation, he says, that’s been batted around by academics for decades.

    “More and more employers want to hire good problem-solvers,” Matthew says.

    Good problem-solvers, he says, can spot opportunities for innovation thanks to critical thinking skills—”so these questions were important to try to answer,” he says.

    Critical thinking in specific disciplines

    “Skills for Today” reviews the history of definitions around critical thinking. It summarizes leading research on the various methods of teaching and assessing critical thinking.

    The paper also takes the discussion about critical thinking in a new direction.

    “There is so much talk about broad critical thinking skills,” he says. “What we want to start exploring is: How can we improve critical thinking in particular disciplines?”

    A speech class might employ new critical thinking teaching methods in debate exercises, he says.

    An IT course might show students how to find bugs in computer code.

    A business or economics class might guide students to weigh issue pros and cons in order to make tough decisions.

    “We want to provide an actionable framework for educators in this new approach,” Matthew says, “so we can reach more learners and prepare them for tomorrow’s workforce.”

    Next-generation teaching tools

    Matthew emphasizes that critical thinking skills are skills—and that they are only improved with practice.

    He hopes his paper can be a part of making this practice more effective.

    “We hope this research helps us develop new learning tools that benefit learners,” he says, “and, at the same time, guides teachers to bring new teaching approaches into their classrooms.”


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  • Kayleen's story: From building fences to building a successful career in construction - and helping others do the same

    by Pearson

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    A Famous Face

    If you’ve ever watched the DIY Network on television, Kayleen McCabe’s is a face you may recognize.

    She is the host and star of “Rescue Renovation,” a show that helps homeowners who are in over their heads. Renovation projects turn from disastrous “befores” into jaw-dropping “afters.”

    When Kayleen is not in front of the camera, she’s traveling the country telling students the story of how her long-time construction hobby turned into a successful career.

    Growing up different

    “As a little girl, I was always building stuff with my hands,” Kayleen says.

    “My dad was a welder by trade, so I learned a lot of what I know from him.”

    “We did repairs around the house, built fences, and worked on cars together.”

    “I didn’t realize how unique that was until high school,” Kayleen says.

    Kayleen says most of her classmates had no idea what they wanted to do after graduation.

    Kayleen was different.

    “I knew, even then, that I wanted to work in the construction trades,” she says.

    Trusting her instincts

    Although knew she wanted a career in construction, Kayleen didn’t enroll in trade school after high school.

    “I made good grades,” she says, “and I felt pressure to do what the other ‘good students’ did: go to college.”

    One year and two schools (Red Rocks Community College and Colorado State University) later, Kayleen called her parents with some news that ultimately wasn’t a surprise to them: college wasn’t for her.

    “I could’ve saved a lot of tuition money by following that instinct earlier,” Kayleen says.

    “I am so grateful that when I eventually did, my parents were supportive.”

    The first foray into television

    Shortly after graduating from high school, Kayleen says, her cousin called her with a proposition.

    “She was a producer on the TV show ‘Trading Spaces.’”

    “She knew I liked working with my hands, and she said she could help me get a production assistant job.”

    From her very first day on the set, Kayleen says she was hooked.

    “I would bounce of out of bed at 5 am, vibrating with excitement about whatever we got to build next.”

    “It was the first time I fell in love.”

    The mentor of all mentors

    On the set of “Trading Spaces,” Kayleen met a master craftsman named Frank.

    “He was this grumpy-looking older guy with a big bushy mustache that was permanently stained from tobacco,” Kayleen says.

    “But he taught me more than I could ever explain.”

    “I could ask him anything, and he encouraged me to learn, to try, and most importantly, to fail,” Kayleen says.

    “Being in an environment where I felt so safe to do that was the best gift I ever received.”

    “Learning the way that I did—on the job—was more of an education than I could ever have gotten from going to college.”

    “Rescue Renovation”

    “Rescue Renovation” is currently in its fifth season on TV.

    Kayleen says she is immensely grateful for her continued success—especially in a field that is traditionally dominated by men.

    “When the show first started, I was one of the only female hosts on our channel—or any other one.”

    “It’s different now, and I cannot wait for that to keep changing.”

    When she travels for her show, Kayleen says, she is often able to help drive that change.

    “I like to leverage a plane ticket as much as possible.”

    “I’ll find out what schools are close to the airport and call them up. I say, ‘Hi, I’m a woman in the trades, can I come talk to your kids about career opportunities in my field?’”

    “To the best of my ability,” Kayleen says, “I will continue to leverage what fame I’ve garnered to help recruit more and more young women into the construction trades.”

    Connecting with audiences on smaller screens, too

    In her spare time, Kayleen produces short, instructional videos for her followers and fans. She hosts them on her personal web page.

    Topics range from cabinet building, to clamps and fasteners, to drill skills.

    “I want to get them into the hands of middle and high school teachers so they can show their kids what working in the trades is really like.”

    “Growing up, my teachers had nothing like that. In terms of recruitment, I think it could be game-changing.”

    Something to strive for

    Kayleen says she is constantly thinking about the future—for herself and for construction trades overall.

    “I want to double the number of students I talk to every year … until that becomes impossible.”

    Already this year, Kayleen has made incredible progress towards her goal. She has trips planned to Indiana, Ontario, Nebraska, Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, Abu Dhabi, and Mississippi—all in the next few months.

    “Someday, I hope I am able to travel full-time, speaking to students and giving them scholarships to study the trades.”

    “I want to be the Bill Gates of power tools,” Kayleen says.

    “And my passport has a lot of room in it.”

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  • 5 tips for being a leader in the virtual world

    by Jessica Yarbro

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    Being a leader can be challenging at the best of times, but even more so in a crisis situation like the current pandemic. Transitioning Survey findings from Pearson identified that people’s satisfaction with the work from home experience has declined: Only 82% of those in the US are currently satisfied with working remotely versus 93% in early March.

    But how do you lead well when you can’t physically meet with the people you are leading? Here are our tips for effective leadership in a virtual world

    1. Focus on inspiration and motivation, rather than just managing or controlling

    Motivating and inspiring leadership strategies are especially important when leading virtually because we lack many social cues and tools we usually use to influence others. Be more mindful and practice this.

    Examples of these types of strategies include:

    • Displaying ethical and inspiring behavior, taking a stand, and acting with conviction.
    • Supporting others and attending to their individual needs.
    • Motivating others by projecting a positive vision.
    • Supporting innovation and creativity.

    2. Be optimistic, but honest

    In times like these, people look to their leaders for hope, while also expecting honesty and transparency. This can be a difficult balance, when you might be experiencing personal stress and worry and often have to communicate bad news.

    We recommend:

    • Delivering information in a timely manner, and in a compassionate, caring, and straightforward way. Here is a checklist from the CDC on how to communicate in a crisis.
    • Giving others an opportunity to process the information, and a space to share their thoughts and experiences.
    • Finding opportunities for realistic optimism, pointing toward the future and highlighting ways that everyone can work towards it.

    3. Support trust and cohesion within virtual teams

    It can be challenging for virtual teams to develop trust and cohesion.

    As a leader, you can:

    • Set norms and processes around communication.
    • Encourage and schedule time for personal and social conversations as well as work discussions.
    • Include regular opportunities for video conferencing, which allows for much richer interaction.
    • Be a role model for these strategies.

    4. Provide frequent and explicit opportunities for coordination

    Because virtual teams have fewer opportunities to spontaneously interact and coordinate work, it is particularly important to provide clear channels and expectations for communication and coordination.

    Leaders play a key role in establishing these norms and expectations, such as:

    • Plan regular calls so that everyone in the group can share their progress.
    • Use instant message or chat functions to take the place of impromptu in-person meetings.

    5. Take care of your own mental health

    Leaders are not immune to experiencing worries, stress, anxiety, or sadness at times of uncertainty. In fact, you may experience a unique set of stressors, making it all the more important for you to take the time to take care of yourself. For strategies to do this, read our blog on wellness.

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  • Creating a customer-centric culture

    by Pearson

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    The higher ed model has traditionally been focused on delivering the final product — well-educated graduates. However, as learner demographics evolve and lifelong learning becomes, well, a way of life, institutions are recognizing the need to shift focus by turning to customer service models outside of higher ed to make it happen.

    Student success is on the line, but so are increased enrollments and graduation rates — along with affinity among alumni and donors.

    We understand there’s heavy debate over whether or not learners are, indeed, “customers”, and a perception that the application of customer service models in higher ed undermine the altruistic values of academe. At the end of the day, both camps can agree that student success is the ultimate goal. Let’s examine an institution that’s reinventing the student experience through corporate inspiration, and see what some of the best companies are doing.

    What do a progressive healthcare system and a grocery chain have to do with student success?

    Just ask American University.

    When new students arrive at American, as is the case at many colleges, they confront a complex aggregation of offices and practices. Traditional university structure and advising isn’t set up to respond to today’s digital natives who expect access and resolution at the click of a button.

    When leaders at American began the university’s Reinventing the Student Experience (RiSE) project in 2015, they discovered that “the comprehensive nature of what we were trying to imagine was a bit easier to spot in the corporate world,” said Jeffrey Rutenbeck, then dean of the School of Communication.

    They turned to the renowned Cleveland Clinic and high-end grocery chain Wegmans for a look at their approaches to improving customer satisfaction. They found that, in both instances, the “customer” was at the center of the experience, with the overarching goals of anticipating and exceeding expectations.

    This is accomplished through continued customer service training at all levels of the organization during standing monthly meetings that explore various topics and celebrate employee success. Data is also a critical component in measuring “customer” success, and it is employed throughout to measure everything from communication to employee satisfaction.

    In the development of their RiSE project, students remained at the forefront of their plans. American understood that students have unique goals, needs, and challenges throughout their experience. In their meetings with students, four unique types of student themes evolved, and personas were developed from this feedback to serve as a guide in the reinvention.

    Another key component to ingraining this “customer-centric” ethos throughout the culture is listening. By providing training that fosters this key skill, American gives their employees (and learners) an active role to play in improvement initiatives and the opportunity to have ownership of the experience.

    “The kind of excellence you can achieve with technical proficiency is very different from the kind of excellence you can achieve if you build a culture that connects everyone to the same mission,” said Rutenbeck.

    Best practices

    Here are some best practices from corporate customer service models that you can apply at your institution:

    1. Understand who your “customers” are
    2. Deliver a consistent, seamless experience throughout the learner journey
    3. Make the experience convenient
    4. Set and manage expectations
    5. Align services with your overarching mission and values
    6. Personalize the experience
    7. Listen
    8. Be responsive
    9. Ask for feedback
    10. Establish accountability across all services

    Wondering where to start looking?

    Here are 10 companies delivering outstanding customer service:

    1. Zappos
    2. Apple
    3. Wegmans Food Markets
    4. Hilton
    5. Costco
    6. Amazon
    7. Trader Joe’s
    8. Lexus
    9. Google
    10. Publix

    Learn how you can stay competitive and improve retention rates through the adoption of innovative practices.

    Information from this article comes from “The Innovation Imperative” by The Chronicle of Higher Education 2019.

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  • What does it take to be a super innovator?

    by Pearson

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    Institutional leaders are looking for the next big idea — the ability to leave behind a legacy of innovation and student success. But what does innovation mean? For some it means scaling high-tech platforms that promote personal learning approaches, for others it’s redefining traditional course materials to more modern, affordable and sustainable options.

    In a recent report published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled, “The Innovation Imperative”, they share information and insights on the topic of innovation, including what it looks like in higher education, barriers to progress, and an in-depth look at what students really think about it.

    Arizona State University (ASU)

    How can you integrate online with the rest of your institution, and align everyone’s incentives for success?

    It takes the ability to scale

    Ranked #1 in the nation for innovation by U.S. News and World Report for five years running, ASU provides a number of opportunities for its students to get the most out of technology and creativity.

    Innovation at work:

    • ASU Online, a fully online degree program, scaled from 8,200 to 41,000 students in six years, as its portfolio of programs has grown from 33 to 173.1.
    • Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an innovative partnership with a large corporation, covers tuition for students who work there 20 hours/week.
    • ASU Prep Digital, a college readiness program, allows high school students to start prepping now through a blend of high school and university coursework.

    A centerpiece of ASU’s innovation strategy is that scaling isn’t just about the number of programs. It’s about evaluating your marketing efforts to recruit ever-larger numbers of students.

    Michael M. Crow, the university’s president since 2002, believes the role of institutions like his is to “find ways to massively innovate” to ensure that growing numbers of students can have high-quality educational opportunities.

    Western Governors University (WGU)

    How do you set costs to optimize enrollment, serve students, and sustain your program?

    It takes return on investment

    Gone are the days of brick and mortar as the only model for higher ed. As the nation’s first online nonprofit university, Western Governors University’s programs are delivered solely online, meeting the needs of today’s non-traditional student body, allowing them to graduate faster and at a lower cost.

    Innovation at work:

    • The University only offers degrees in business, IT, teacher education, and health care. Through this specialization, WGU is able to serve more students at lower costs.
    • A competency-based education model allows students to advance upon mastery making education accessible to more students, and better preparing America’s workforce.
    • A unique faculty and instructional model where different people are responsible for monitoring a student’s progress helps lower administrative costs.

    Low tuition is one of WGU’s hallmarks because, as its president, Scott Pulsipher, has said, affordability “increases the access for so many to be served.”

    Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    How can you differentiate and future-proof both new and existing online programs?

    It takes adaptability

    The world we’re in right now requires adaptive change, particularly when it comes to lifelong learning — no matter what that looks like. To meet this demand, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has established one of the biggest online-education operations of any college in the country, with an enrollment of more than 120,000.

    Innovation at work:

    • SNHU has been recognized for its pioneering work in serving refugees overseas.
    • Its Shapiro Library Innovation Lab & Makerspace supports students, faculty, and staff in exploring new technologies, learning new skills, and developing innovation.
    • College for America, its partnership program with employers, provides low-cost, high-quality education for working adults.

    The university aims to be ready for the changing needs of students by, in the words of its president, Paul LeBlanc, “future proofing” the institution.

    Learn how you can make your mark through the adoption of innovative practices.

    Information from this report comes from The Innovation Imperative by The Chronicle of Higher Education 2019.

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  • 5 role models and the lessons they continue to teach generations

    by Pearson

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    We teamed up with researchers from Nesta and the Oxford Martin School to understand the top skills that every student will need to flourish in their careers — learning strategies, psychology, instructing, social perceptiveness, and sociology and anthropology. See how leaders throughout history have best exemplified these skills while making an impact on our lives through their actions, ideals, and messages  — whether we knew it or not.

    Learning Strategies: Fred Rogers

    On May 9, 1969, during an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers asked black police officer, Officer Clemmons, to cool his feet in his wading pool. At first, Clemmons declined, saying he didn’t have a towel, but Rogers offered his. This small act broke the color barrier that existed at the time as racial tensions were rising. By sharing both the water and the towel, the men exposed the bigotry of not allowing black people access to pools and other establishments.

    In 2018, Clemmons said, “It was a definite call to social action on Fred’s part. That was his way of speaking about race relations in America.” This small act is just one example of the messages of love, kindness, and acceptance that Rogers taught children (and adults), while at the same time sending a much larger message to the public via media. 1

    Psychology: Dr. Joyce Brothers

    During the 1960’s, sexual satisfaction and menopause were considered taboo subjects for television and radio, but Dr. Joyce Brothers knew they were front and center in women’s minds. As a result, she started her television show, where she gave out psychological advice on relationships, family, sexuality, and self-empowerment, while also answering audience questions.

    Brothers created the “The Brothers System,” which stresses that if a woman is self-loving and takes care of her own needs, then she will be able to better care for her husband and family. She also encouraged equal relationships that allow for wives to ask their husbands for what they need to be personally satisfied in a marriage. 2

    Instructing: Anne Sullivan

    When Anne Sullivan was only 20 years old, she helped Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, make associations between words and physical objects. Sullivan finger-spelled the word “water” on Keller’s hand as she ran water over her other hand. Keller made a major breakthrough, connecting the concept of sign language with the objects around her. With Sullivan’s help, Keller was able to learn almost 600 words, most of the multiplication tables, and how to read Braille in only a few months. 3

    Social Perceptiveness: Nelson Mandela

    During the 1950s Steve Bloom’s parents, who were anti-apartheid activists, knew Nelson Mandela. They told their son the story of the time Mandela saw a white woman stranded with her broken car in Johannesburg. He stopped and offered his help. After he was able to fix her car, she thanked him by offering a sixpence. He declined, saying he was just happy to help. She asked why a black man would help her if it wasn’t for the money. “Because you were stranded at the side of the road,” he replied. Mandela’s life as an anti-apartheid activist, politician and philanthropist was full of moments of kindness, humility, and courage like this one. 4

    Sociology & Anthropology: Dr. Jane Goodall

    While studying chimpanzees in Tanzania in 1960, Jane Goodall saw a large male chimpanzee take a twig, bend it, strip it of its leaves, stick it into the nest, and spoon termites into his mouth. This was the first time any creature, besides a human, was seen making and using a tool.

    “It was hard for me to believe,” she recalls. “At that time, it was thought that humans, and only humans, used and made tools. I had been told from school onwards that the best definition of a human being was man the tool-maker — yet I had just watched a chimp tool-maker in action.”

    As her work continued, Goodall found that chimpanzees (our nearest evolutionary cousins) also embraced, hugged, and kissed each other, as well as experienced adolescence, developed powerful mother-and-child bonds, and used political chicanery to get what they wanted. It is thanks to Goodall and her work that we now know the many similarities between humans and chimps and have much greater knowledge of chimpanzee behavior. 5

    Contemporary role models

    Today, people in various fields are exhibiting these same skills and making their own impact.
    Learn more about these skills and the modern people we can look to as examples.

     

    Sources:

    1. Kettler, Sara. “Fred Rogers Took a Stand Against Racial Inequality When He Invited a Black Character to Join Him in a Pool,” Biography, May 24, 2019.
    2. Isaacs, Shalyn. “Joyce Brothers,”Feminist Voices, 2016.
    3. Biography.com Editors.“Anne Sullivan Biography,” Biography,April 12, 2019.
    4. Paramaguru, Kharunya. “5 Great Stories About Nelson Mandela’s Humility, Kindness and Courage,” Time, December 06, 2013.
    5. McKie, Robin. “Chimps with everything: Jane Goodall’s 50 years in the jungle,” The Guardian, June 26, 2010.

     

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  • What's next for education? Voices of career and technical education students and teachers

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    Career and Technical Education (CTE) is emerging as a platform for educational innovation in schools. CTE and academic courses are now part and parcel in preparing students for the rigors of learning, living, working, and playing in the 21st century.

    On June 17, 2019, Pearson CTE Specialists Deborah Noakes and Jim Brazell presented a workshop titled Certified Futures at Certiport’s 2019 Certified Conference. Certiport,® a Pearson business, is dedicated to helping learners excel and succeed through certification.

    At Certified, teachers were asked to write haiku poems where the first stanza reflects the state of learning, the second line illustrates a key change, and the third line exhibits the final state of learning after the change. A haiku is a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. Below are select Haiku from students and teachers:

    Student Haiku

    My mom made me come
    My teacher cares about me
    Now I want to go

    My phone is my life
    I learned how to innovate
    Tech is my life line

    I’m not an artist
    Teacher, teach me Photoshop
    I am an artist now

    Teacher Haiku

    Code on screens
    Inanimate life takes shape
    Building the future

    Technologies
    Here, there, and everywhere
    Everyone needs to certify

    The test is a bore
    Entertainment we implore
    Too stressed for high stakes tests

    Certification
    Empowering students
    Embrace the future

    Apathy vs Enthusiasm
    Daily grind of change
    Students seek relevance
    Teaching relevance is key
    Real world experiences
    Certify them all

    The world is ready
    Education is behind
    Time to shift the mind

    Students bored in class
    Active engaging lessons
    Transform the classroom

    Graduation sparks
    Those that certify before
    They face the future

    These haiku exemplify the key shift in 21st century learning: The shift from axiomatic (self-evident truth) to inductive (using observation and experience to move from specific to broader conclusions) presentation of curriculum. This strategy worked in the 1960’s as a platform for the United States to reform teaching physics as a national priority motivated by the Space Race.

    The shift in pedagogy engender improvements to education by modeling the way experts work and think affording students the opportunity to approach the content knowledge in the same way that experts approach problems in the field. Today, we call this inquiry-driven, project-based learning and for many states and schools the method of assessment is industry certification. CTE is answering this call for innovation. Learn more about Pearson CTE programs.

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  • Four tips for living more mindfully

    by Rebecca J. Donatelle, Emeritus, Oregon State University

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    It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially this time of year. We invite you to pause, and take a moment to look at the world and really see it. Focus on the present and live in that moment — tune in, calmly, and with awareness of your surroundings and sensations. Here are four tips based on content from Access to Health, 16e that are designed to help you live a more mindful life.

    1: Live more compassionately

    • Be there. When others are down, be kind and offer support. Compassion is so much more than helping others through grief or pain — it’s the good and bad.
    • See the good in others. Listen to your inner critiques of others, their appearance, or actions, and block the negative and focus on the positive.
    • See the good in you. Practice self-compassion (cut yourself some slack).
    • Remember that compassion is a skill. You can consciously foster your capacity for compassion for others and yourself.

    2: Live with purpose/meaning

    • Carve out “me” time. Start with 30 minutes of quiet time per day. Disconnect from media intrusions, meditate, play calming music, walk in nature, listen to the silence, and block any outside “chatter” in your life.
    • Think about what’s important to you, and ask yourself, “What makes me happy?” Jot it down and ask yourself whether you did anything today that made you happy.
    • Say “no” to things or events that are “downers” for you or those things you do out of guilt or a need to feel needed.
    • Engage in activities (like volunteering) that help others and bring you satisfaction.

    3: Live with gratitude

    • Make a list of the things that you’re thankful for in life.
    • Consider the “lessons” you’ve learned through pain, loss, adversity, or challenges. Think about how something that seemed like a bad thing in life may have actually shaped who you are today, and how you have moved ahead.
    • Think about the people who are positive influences in your life and how you might “pay those actions forward”, and make a difference for others.
    • When you wake up each day, try to say to yourself, ”Today will be a good day, because…”

    4: Lean in, tune in

    • Wake those sleeping senses. Hear more, see more, taste more, smell more. Slow down on your walks — hear the birds, smell the air. Take the time to savor your food.
    • Do your part to reduce your environmental footprint — live simply, waste not, and walk the talk when it comes to planet survival.

    It only takes minutes each day to live a more purposeful life. Use these helpful tips to make the most of your summer, and be ready to enter the next school year refreshed.


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  • Technical skills in high demand

    by Pearson

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    Data literacy skills are no longer reserved for data scientists. Organizations today look for employees who can comprehend data, generate insights, and put it to actionable use for their business. But there’s a gap. According to a recent report by the Data Literacy Project and Qlik, only 21% of 16–24-year-olds are data literate. This suggests that schools and universities aren’t providing opportunities for students to gain the skills they need to enter the working world.

    Business school programs can play a pivotal role in helping their students develop the technical prowess to wrangle data. Here are the three data literacy skills that every business school graduate should have in their skill set.

    Analyzing and interpreting data:

    Combing through sales data—transaction systems, customer interactions, and demographic data—to uncover trends and identify gaps can give sales teams a competitive edge.

    Making data-driven business decisions:

    Translating data into usable insights for a business—for developing new practices and driving decision-making—can give individuals in finance and operations roles a leg up.

    Communicate data insights:

    Telling data stories to different audiences effectively—visually and with words—is a valuable skill that helps individuals formulate and employ successful marketing strategies.

    Help your business school students advance their careers by complementing their curriculum with skills training in data literacy. To learn more about the technical and professional skills your students need to succeed, download our ebook, “Preparing career-ready students.”

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  • Why your students should be fluent in Microsoft Office

    by Pearson

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    At technology-driven workplaces, employers expect employees to have a working knowledge of Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Ensuring your students are taught how to use these programs will set them up for success when they enter the workforce.

    Here’s how the Microsoft Office suite can arm your students with the technical skills they need to flourish in the real world.

    Organizing data and insights with Excel

    Not only should students be able to organize, analyze, manipulate, and present data within Microsoft Excel, they should be able to communicate their insights in a way that helps build a business’s competitive advantage.

    Creating polished business documents in Word

    There’s more to Microsoft Word than word processing. Business students can harness intuitive editing features, advanced formatting options, tables, lists, and sleek design elements to create documents and proposals.

    Presenting ideas to a group with PowerPoint

    Business school students are no strangers to PowerPoint. But understanding the ins and outs of the software can turn a basic slideshow into a dynamic presentation that lets their professional skills shine.

    Staying connected and organized with Outlook

    Whichever industries your students pursue, a solid grasp of Outlook is likely to come in very handy. The ability to manage emails, calendars, and tasks will help them stay organized and productive.

    Support your students by helping them sharpen their technical skills in Microsoft Office. Discover more technical and professional skills your students need to succeed after business school in our ebook, “Preparing career-ready students.

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  • Soccer lessons

    by Robin Beck, Contributor, Pearson

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    Diversity, communication, and other learnings that companies and higher education can take away from the World Cup.

    The 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament is taking place in Russia from June 14 – July 15 and England is bringing the most diverse team it has ever taken. England has players ranging in age from 19-32 and nearly half of its players are black or of mixed identity.

    Bringing together 32 nations with players speaking more than 20 languages, the World Cup is celebrated for its diversity and multiculturalism. While billions of people will watch the matches to see who will be declared winner, there is something else that businesses, in particular, should pay close attention to — team diversity and culture.

    A recent article in the Harvard Business Review notes that a strong culture is implicit, pervasive, and enduring. Senior executives and HR professionals know this well. According to Deloitte Insights, 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. Creating a diverse workplace with a strong shared culture is hard to build, but the rewards are far-reaching.

    Avid soccer fan Ikechukwu Odum says the World Cup is his favorite sporting event. Having traveled to Brazil for the 2014 matches, he said what he enjoys most is the competition, the talent, and learning about the players’ backgrounds. “The World Cup means so much for the players and for the countries, communities, and the people they represent. Every player brings different abilities and talents, but they come together and try their best to win.”

    In this way, FIFA soccer teams resemble the modern-day workplace, where different groups of people must work together to outperform the competition and reach a shared goal.

    Diversity not only brings different experiences and skills to a team, but it also drives team performance. England midfielder Dele Alli said, “We’re all confident in ourselves and the team we have. We have a young, very talented squad…we just have to play as well as we know we can.” The same spirit of teamwork and collaboration should be present in the workplace.

    Shideh Almasi, Director of People at Feedvisor, an algorithmic commerce company, said, “Teams at work function quite similarly to sports teams. They need to be diverse, they need to be adaptable, and they need to work together. You, of course, need the technical skills, but it’s the skills like communication, leadership, resilience, and interpersonal skills that help teams push forward to reach their goals.”

    And CEOs, much like head coaches, must embrace soft skills like empathy to help guide employees to achieve success. Former Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz was well-known for his inspirational and touching messages to employees, driving big wins for the global company.

    German soccer coach Joachim Low has a similar success story. During the 2014 World Cup championship, he told player Mario Götze, “Show the world you are better than Messi and can decide the World Cup.” Götze went on to score the game-winning goal for Germany.

    Talent is the prerequisite, but the interpersonal skill of communication is what set Germany apart from the competition. Soft skills for both players and coaches prove to be crucial, driving results and positive outcomes.

    Reflecting on the victory, Götze said, “…We can be happy that we have so many great and skillful players and a real good mixture of young guys and experienced players.” While there is no gender diversity among the all male soccer teams, the different ages, languages, and backgrounds make teams stronger, more agile, and more competitive.

    The referees who govern the game are not exempt from using strong communication to work through language barriers and cultural differences. The 36 referees and 63 assistant referees were picked based on their skills and personality. Prior to refereeing the games, they were required to attend workshops and seminars.

    FIFA Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca said, “…the referee has to prepare himself in the best possible way in all areas…Knowing the different football cultures will help him in his performances.”

 Similarly, companies like Pearson offer employees ongoing training to help them develop a global mindset and understand cultural differences.

    “It’s not always pretty if the teams aren’t organized or if there’s not a shared philosophy,” Odum says. “But you hardly see bickering or egotism, because the players know they represent more than the game.” Companies that take time to build their culture with diverse teams and shared values have employees who work effectively with others toward the mission and vision of the organization.

    Almasi adds, “There’s so much you can learn by working with people who share common goals and values, but who think differently and maybe even look differently than you.” Soccer teams competing in the World Cup understand this and use diversity to their advantage. Businesses tuning into the World Cup may do the same and prioritize investing in a more diverse workforce. That’s a winning strategy — on or off field.

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  • New report: Demand-driven education

    by Caroline Leary, Manager, Pearson

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    A new report responds to The Future of Skills by exploring its implications for education systems and offers up practical solutions for higher education to more closely align with what the workforce needs.

    We are excited to share a new report by Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Pearson that explores the changing world of work and provides recommendations for shifting from the traditional route to employment to a network of pathways that is flexible, dynamic, and ultimately serves more learners.

    Released at the Horizons conference in June, Demand-Driven Education: Merging work and learning to develop the human skills that matter looks at what is required for transitioning to the third wave in postsecondary education reform – demand driven education.

    The first wave – access – was focused on getting more people to enter higher education. The second wave was focused on improving achievement – getting more students to earn degrees and certificates.

    In this third wave, the worlds of education and work will converge producing programs that ensure students are job-ready and primed for lifelong career success.

    Adapting to the needs of both the learner and the employer, “demand-driven education takes account of the emerging global economy — technology-infused, gig-oriented, industry-driven — while also striving to ensure that new graduates and lifelong learners alike have the skills required to flourish.”

    The report states, “as the future of work unfolds, what makes us human is what will make us employable.”

    While technological literacy is critical, learners need educational experiences that cultivate skills, including fluency of ideas, originality, judgment, decision-making, and active learning, all supported by collaborative academic and career paths.

    Higher education and employers are making headway in this arena with innovative programs like University of North Texas’s Career Connect and Brinker International’s Best You EDU.

    In a recent interview, Joe Deegan, co-author of the report and senior program manager at JFF, said,“although technology such as digital assessment might enable educators to make programs faster and more adaptive, the most significant change is one of mindset.”

    The future is bright. And there’s a lot of good work to do through active collaboration and partnership to create rewarding postsecondary learning experiences that are responsive to our changing world and inclusive of all learners.


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  • Teaching collaboration skills from cradle to career

    by Emily Lai, Ph.D, Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D, Peter Foltz, Ph.D

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    We’ve heard from Emily Lai, Ph.D., twice before. Last year, she shared the story of her work in Jordan to improve learning opportunities for the children of Syrian refugees. More recently, she offered her tips for parents and teachers on helping students improve their information literacy.

    The Components of Collaboration

    “Most of us know what collaboration is, at least in its most basic sense,” says Emily Lai, Ph.D.

    “It means working with others to achieve a common goal.”

    Emily is Director of Formative Assessment and Feedback for Pearson. Her work is focused on improving the ways we assess learners’ knowledge and skills, and ensuring results support further learning and development.

    “We’ve been reviewing the research, trying to figure out what we know about collaboration and how to support it. For example, we know that collaboration skills have an impact on how successful somebody is in all kinds of group situations—at school, on the job, and even working with others within a community to address social issues.”

    Teaching Collaboration in the Classroom

    Teaching collaboration skills in the classroom can be harder than expected, Emily says.

    “When a teacher assigns a group project, oftentimes students will divide up the task into smaller pieces, work independently, and then just shove their parts together at the very end.”

    “In that case, the teacher likely had good intentions to help develop collaboration skills in students. But it didn’t happen.”

    Checking all the Boxes

    “Tasks that are truly supportive of collaboration are not easy to create,” Emily says.

    Digging deeper, Emily says there are three sub-components of successful collaboration:

    Interpersonal communication – how you communicate verbally and non-verbally with your teammates.

    Conflict resolution – your ability to acknowledge and resolve disagreements in a manner consistent with the best interest of the team.

    Task management – your ability to set goals, organize tasks, track team progress against goals, and adjust the process along the way as needed.

    Emily says she understands how difficult it can be for educators to check all three boxes.

    Before beginning an assignment, Emily suggests teachers talk to students explicitly about collaboration: what makes a good team member versus what makes a difficult one, as well as strategies for working with others, sharing the load responsibly, and overcoming disagreements.

    During group work, she says, observe students’ verbal and non-verbal behavior carefully and provide real-time feedback.

    “Talk with them about how they’re making decisions as a group, sharing responsibility, and dealing with obstacles,” Emily says.

    “In the classroom, it’s all about the combination of teaching collaboration skills explicitly, giving students opportunities to practice those skills, and providing feedback along the way so those skills continue to develop.”

    “The research shows that students who develop strong collaboration skills get more out of those cooperative learning situations at school.”

    Teaching Collaboration at Home

    Emily is a mother of two daughters, 4 and 8.

    At home, she says, there’s one part of collaboration that is especially valuable: conflict resolution.

    “Most often, it comes in handy on movie nights.”

    “The 8-year-old tends to gravitate towards movies that are a little too scary for the 4-year-old, and the 4-year-old tends to gravitate towards movies that are a little too babyish for the 8-year-old.”

    “It would be easy to intervene and just pick a movie for them, but my husband and I do our best to stay out of it,” Emily says.

    “We’ve established the procedure that they have to negotiate with each other and agree on a movie, and now they have a collaborative routine in place.”

    “They know they get to watch a movie, and we know they’re learning along the way.”

    “Taking turns in conversation is another big one for the four-year-old,” Emily says.

    “She doesn’t like to yield the floor, but it’s something we’re working on.”

    “I know from the research that if my daughters learn these collaboration skills, they are more likely to be successful in their future careers.”

    Sharing the Latest Research

    This week, Emily and two of her colleagues are releasing a research paper entitled “Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Collaboration.”

    The paper will be jointly released by Pearson and The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21), a Washington, DC-based coalition that includes leaders from the business, education, and government sectors.

    “We teamed up on this paper because we both believe collaboration is too important for college, career, and life to leave to chance,” Emily says.

    It is the first in a four-part series on what is known about teaching and assessing “the Four Cs”: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication.

    “P21 is the perfect partner for this effort,” Emily says.

    “Our partnership signifies a joint commitment to helping stakeholders—educators, parents, policy-makers, and employers—understand what skills are needed to be successful today, and how to teach them effectively at any age.”


    To download the full version of “Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Collaboration,” click here.

    Three executive summaries of the paper are also available:

    Pearson LearnEd originally published this article on April 24th, 2017, and it was re-posted here with permission.

     
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  • Tapping into G-R-I-T to enhance students' 'burn to learn'

    by Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D.

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    Helping students effectively harness their GRIT comes down to the difference between telling them about it and equipping them with the tools to acquire and grow it. I recently experienced the stark contrast between mere advising and actual “equipping” when I failed my own godson at a critical time.

    How? Well, instead of helping him tap into his GRIT in substantive and productive ways, I fell into the “sympathetic (if meaningless) advice trap.” Let my failure illuminate our path.

    As a first-term, out-of-state freshman at a challenging four-year university with a rigorous major, my godson has plenty on his plate and no shortage of distractions. But when the deadliest fires in California’s history surrounded his hometown of Napa, being away from home took on new meaning to him.

    Even though his family and pets were safe and their most precious possessions secured, summoning the drive and the discipline to slog through calculus homework seemed overwhelming and unimportant to him. He simply stopped doing it, and even when he tried to apply himself to him, his commitment soon waned.  This was understandable given the circumstances, but not ideal.

    So, what did I do? I checked in with him, offered some mouldy cliches and bland old platitudes like, “Thank goodness they’re safe”; “Don’t hesitate to call me anytime”; and “It’s always good to remember: It could be so much worse.”  Nice? Yes. Heartfelt? Definitely. But I could have done so much better by him. I missed my moment.

    What I didn’t do was serve up the harder truth. I didn’t take this critical opportunity to help him realize that “stuff happens,” adversity strikes, and moments like these—when it feels like life is grabbing you and strenuously pulling you away from your educational goals—are both the key tests of your GRIT and the opportunities to significantly grow and apply it to things that matter.

    Every student experiences some combination of rigorous academics, relational breakups, family issues, health concerns, roommate dramas, bureaucratic headaches, personal injustices, scheduling conflicts, emotional hardships, financial stress, external pressures, and existential angst while pursuing a college degree. This is a long list, but worthy path is strewn with struggles!

    My godson didn’t need my warm but vague advice as much as he needed the essential, practical tools to truly own—to dig deeper and better in order to unwaveringly pursue—his learning and his goals in the midst of his struggle. How could I have helped? I should have pointed him to the GRIT questions.

    Each and every component of GRIT—Growth, Resilience, Instinct and Tenacity—is critical, and individuals must fully engage with them to truly own and achieve worthwhile educational goals.

    Consider these four facets of GRIT and the questions I, a teacher, a counselor, or anyone can ask about each one to help students own their learning, their goals, and their lives in good times and bad.

    G–Growth

    The propensity to seek out fresh ideas, perspectives, input, and advice to accelerate and enhance one’s progress toward one’s long term, difficult goals.

    Growth is about going after one’s goals and finding out what one needs to know in order to get there better and faster. It shifts a student from being a victim or a passenger to being the driver at the helm of his journey. This dimension of GRIT accelerates growth, learning, and momentum, while reducing the kind of frustration and exasperation that lead many to fall short or quit.

    • What new resources might you tap into to get some clarity and support around your goal?
    • Who could you talk to, both inside and outside of school, who could offer you the best, freshest wisdom on this issue or concern?
    • Do you notice that as you keep attempting to achieve your goal, the effort seems to be making you stronger and allows you to imagine new strategies to get where you want?

    R—Resilience

    One’s capacity to not just overcome or cope with, but to make constructive use of adversity.

    One of the big wake up calls in education is: Adversity is on the rise everywhere, and resilience truly matters. Support and resources are external. Resilience is internal. Resilience is not about bouncing back. That’s not good enough.

    It’s about harnessing adversity, using it as fuel to end up better off because of the increased strength and knowledge that comes from working through and overcoming a difficult obstacle. There is no better place for a student to learn and master this distinction than in higher education.

    • While you perhaps can’t control this situation, what facets of this situation can you at least potentially influence?  Of those, which one(s) matters most to you?
    • How can you step up to make the most immediate, positive difference in this situation?
    • How can you use your experience of struggling against this adversity to actually fuel your next attempt to reach your goal?

    I—Instinct     

    One’s propensity to pursue the best goals in the most effective ways.

    Arguably one of the most consistent and potent contributors to student failure, dropouts, or underperformance is a lack of Instinct. The vast majority of students waste tremendous energy, time, and effort pursuing less than ideal goals in less than optimal ways. That’s why so many lose their way or quit. That’s why it’s important to ask:

    • What adjustment(s) can you make to your goal to have it be even more compelling and clear for you?
    • What specific tweaks or shifts can you make to how you are pursuing your goal to best accelerate and/or enhance your chances of achieving it?
    • As you think about your goal (e.g. graduation), in what ways might you be wasting your precious time, energy, and/or effort?  If you could do less of one thing and more of another to most dramatically enhance your chances of success, what would that look like?

    T–Tenacity

    The sheer relentlessness with which one pursues one’s most important, long-term, difficult goals.

    This is the classic, traditional definition of basic grit. But as the world education wakes up to the hard reality that more tenacity is not always a good thing, we have an opportunity to infuse the qualitative aspects of GRIT. These include two continua, Good versus Bad GRIT, and Effective versus Ineffective GRIT.

    Pretty much every student has expended considerable Tenacity on the wrong stuff, or in less than optimal ways. The more students master how to funnel the right of Tenacity and overall GRIT toward their most worthy goals, the more likely they are to thrive and succeed.

    • If you utterly refused to quit, and were to give this goal your best-ever effort, how would you attack it even better this time?
    • How can you re-engage toward and go after your goal in a way that is most beneficial, even elevating, to those around you?
    • If your life depended on you sticking to and achieving this goal, what steps would you take now, that you’ve not yet taken?

    How do we equip students to stay on path, no matter what occurs—from natural disasters to simple, everyday adversity?  Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity spell more than GRIT. They spell ownership. And they transcend plain old advice (even the god-fatherly kind).

    While each of these dimensions is powerful on its own, when we weave them together they become the four, actionable facets of GRIT that not only fortify students, but can also permanently instill in them a lifelong sense of ownership for learning, making important decisions, and for contributing something of value to their own lives and their society.

     
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  • 3 steps to upgrade your GRIT in education

    by Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., Author

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    Grit, it is a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals, but as we know, it can sometimes fall short. Worse yet, using it the wrong way can backfire, even lead to real trouble. Consider this “fall short” and “backfire” conversation I overheard just last week.

    “What’s your grit and resilience strategy?” the Provost at a premier regional college asked his cross-town colleague at a college fundraising dinner I recently attended. The question instantly caught my ear and my eye. I was struck by both the ease with which this clearly loaded question fell from his lips, as well as the relaxed assumptiveness with which it was received.

    “Ah, well, you know, there’s so much talk and information about grit out there now, but honestly, we’re not sure what we think about it yet. Of course we’ve had our people watch the videos, read the books, start talking about to each other it more…at least the basics, you know? But frankly, results seem mixed, at best.

    Get this! We had one student repeatedly camp on the doorstep of the Registrar’s Office, apparently in an effort to get his grade changed, because he thought he could get what he wanted just be refusing to take no (or a bad grade) for an answer. When it was explained to him repeatedly that this wasn’t the best strategy and his grade was actually determined by his professor, the student somewhat deafly responded, ‘Got too much grit to quit!'”

    “That’s an amazing story,” the Provost replied. “Good to know. Honestly, you’re way ahead of us. We’re still exploring all the options on what we’re might pursue with grit, but your example will definitely help.”

    So what’s your grit and resilience strategy for your institution? And how do you avoid the dreaded and increasingly common “mixed results” or backfire conundrum? How do you minimize the potential downside of students misusing their and maximize the vital upside that will make them successful and productive? Here are three simple steps to Upgrade Your GRIT™ in Education.

    Step One: Shatter the “More is Better” Grit Myth

    Arguably one of the most dangerous assumptions when it comes to grit is the burgeoning belief that “more is better, more is more”. It’s nearly everywhere. “We just gotta show more grit!”, Dabo Swinney, Clemson University’s football coach declared after a heartbreaking loss.

    In another instance, I was asked by a faculty member at a Texas university, “Dr. Stoltz, how do we help our students grow and show more grit?” This is not an uncommon question. One I hear more and more.

    However, if just having more grit is so desirable, consider this simple provocation. First, think of the most dangerous person you’ve ever heard of or known. Second, ask yourself how much grit—determination, passion, and effort—they showed in pursuit of their nefarious goals. Next, ask yourself, is grit always and necessarily a good thing? For everyone? In all situations?

    The truth is that helping  our students build higher and higher levels of grit guarantees next to nothing. Worse yet, it can lead to disaster.  In truth, many students have plenty of grit. That’s not the issue. Their quantity of grit is not  what’s getting in their way. It’s the quality of their GRIT that may be hobbling their efforts, progress, and success.

    To free yourself from the “more is better” myth, ask yourself and/or your team a simple question. What matters more – the quantity or quality of your students’ grit? When it comes to the kind of students we want to grow, the kind of lives we’d like them to live, and contributions we’d like them to make in the world, do we want them touse their growth mindset, resilience, instinct and tenacity to not merely achieve their goals but also to show their consideration for other people, for their environment, and for the general good?”

    Ready for a bizarre, if not impossible statistic? I’ve asked this exact question of more than 500,000 people across six continents, and one hundred percent respond resoundingly with “Quality!” 100 percent. That’s stunning. And each time I test it, I get the same result: When it comes to GRIT, remember– Quantity is what we require, but Quality takes us higher.

    Step Two: Foster Smart GRIT

    “But I worked really hard on this!” How many times have students used said that do defend work or a test wasn’t as good as it should be. Don’t forget its anemic sibling, “I stayed up all night (or “spent all weekend’) studying for this test!” “Doesn’t my effort count?” they complain.

    What I sometimes call “Smart” and “Dumb” GRIT can be re-labeled “Effective” and “Ineffective” GRIT. Does urging our students to just try harder, to pour more effort and energy into the task always lead to the best results? More importantly, does it best serve our students as they try to make progress in an occasionally puzzling world? What if, instead, we taught them how to use ever-more thoughtful, intelligent, effective GRIT—the kind that accelerates and enhances their success—especially for the most daunting, long-term, challenging assignments, projects, and tasks?

    Shifting students’ focus from a concern with “how much or how hard can I try” to asking the questions “How else can I achieve my goal?” and “How can I do this even better?” can lead to profound revelations for them. By encouraging them to consider rational, creative, or more efficient alternatives when they get stuck or new ways to solve problems that might yield an even greater result, we begin to equip our students for the adversity-rich, highly demanding world of work, where they will be rewarded mainly for how well they achieved their goals, not the how much sheer effort or drive they expended in their pursuit.

    Step Three: Grow Good GRIT

    Ever see that high achieving student whose classmates find him hard to be around or to work with? What about the ones who, the higher their marks, the lower their classmates’ desire to pay attention to their comments or be part of that student’s group project?

    We’ve all experienced the boss, colleague, or student who has plenty of GRIT but goes after goals in ways that hinder, even hurt others. Consider the powerful difference between Bad and Good GRIT. Bad GRIT happens when a person goes after goals in ways that are intentionally or unintentionally detrimental to others. Good GRIT is of course the opposite: its hallmark is pursuing goals in ways that take other people and their goals into consideration or working in teams in ways that allow all participants to benefit. Pretty much everyone I know, me included, has demonstrated Bad GRIT, despite the best of intentions. That’s pretty humbling.

    Good GRIT happens when we go after our goals in ways that are ultimately beneficial, and ideally elevating to those around us–this attitude is often described by none other than rock star  Bruce Springsteen as he ends his concerts: “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”

    Teaching students the difference between Good and Bad GRIT is arguably one of the most potent and important lessons we can impart. Awakening them to the power and potential of Good GRIT is elemental to us graduating not just decent students, but good citizens.

    Long after they return their caps and gowns, it is the quality of our students’ GRIT that determines how they will navigate life’s ups and downs and what kind of mark they will make in their community, their workplace, and their world.

     

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