The Challenge

Many students in Student Success Courses are unprepared to succeed in college courses. So delivering a conventional college course on learning how to learn won’t work for them. For you, the instructor, this means unmotivated students, low completion rates, lots of work and worry, and not much satisfaction or appreciation from students and the administration.

Coaching in a Learning Center Format

Suppose instead of preparing and delivering lectures, leading discussions, and grading assignments and tests, you did something very different. Suppose you tell your students that they are to do assignments in your class rather than outside of class. The assignments will be some combination of assignments from their other courses and assignments from our Power Learners Handbook. With your guidance, students choose what assignment to do and learn the assignment to mastery using best known methods.

A student works on an assignment for as long as it takes to master it. Since the students are working at different rates on different assignments, they will never all be on the same assignment. As the students study, they will occasionally get stuck on something. When they do, they can ask you or a classmate for help. The classmate can help or not, as he or she chooses. You provide the help requested by an individual as quickly as possible. Then you move on to the next request. As time permits, you also proactively talk to students who seem to be stuck.

When a student finishes an assignment, he or she comes to you to demonstrate their mastery. If you and the student both think the student has mastered the lesson, you and the student record the accomplishment. Then the student moves on to another assignment. If the student has not fully mastered the lesson, then you guide the student in deciding what the student should do to reach mastery. The primary purpose of this progress checking is not to track the student. The real purpose is for the student to learn how to self-check for mastery, and to choose the best methods of learning various kinds of content.

With this Learning Center format, you can provide individual coaching as weak students do the exercise necessary to become strong learners. You don’t need any special equipment or facilities. You may not even have to tell anyone about the shift you are making from “sage on the stage” to “guide by your side.”

Power Learners Instructor’s Guide

This free Guide contains suggestions for conducting this Power Learners course. The Guide covers your role in managing and delivering the course, enlisting students for peer tutoring in your class, and adding group discussions and occasional lectures. Instructor’s Guide for Power Learners Handbook for College Success

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