Mental Health Issues in College Students

As professors and educational professionals, we are expected to be experts in our discipline, but may lack the skills and knowledge to help students who struggle with mental and emotional health issues. This is not a new concern, but studies show that the number of college students with both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness is increasing. Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct 5-11) at GCC has raised our consciousness of the issue and stimulated discussion about meeting the needs of all our students.

In 2011, The Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled, A Serious Illness or an Excuse? Looking at the issue of mental health and college students by Andrea Petersen This article highlights some of the common challenges for both students and faculty as they try to navigate these often stormy waters. Take a few minutes to read this article– you will gain a fresh perspective on what it is to be a student who is struggling.

If you think mental health issues are isolated or overstated, look through the National Alliance on Mental Health’s report, College Students Speak, A Survey Report on Mental Health. In essence, this organization has found a significant demonstrated need for support for college students face a variety of mental health issues such as depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety and PTSD. The report includes a section on what students should know and what faculty & support staff need to know.

While it might be somewhat easier to identify students who are struggling when we see them in person and work face-to-face, online students are often a different story. In Identifying and Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Online Students in Higher Education, Bonny Barr provides some common clues that students may need extra support. Just as valuable as her insights and research are, the links she provides at the conclusion of the article to mental health resources are ones to bookmark. Keep in mind that resources are available for online GCC students, just as they are for traditional students. Think about adding a link to the GCC Wellness Center to your online class.

Here at GCC, many faculty and staff have worked with students who are dealing with mental health issues in our classrooms and offices. Don’t go it alone.  There are specific resources to help students create paths to learning and being a part of the GCC community.

 

Using Real Time LMI in Decision Making Across the College – a workshop for administrators, research & career staff

Using Real Time LMI in Decision Making Across the College – a workshop for administrators, research & career staff
Register online today!

WHEN:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014. 8:30 AM – 3:45 PM

WHERE:

Mt. Wachusett Community College, Gardner Campus

444 Green Street, Gardner MA

(directions: http://mwcc.edu/about-mwcc/our-campuses/gardner/)

 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Community College Administrators; Institutional Research; Academic Planning; Project Managers; Advising staff; Career Counseling and Development and anyone interested in learning more about this powerful data.

 

WHY: Facilitated by Jobs for the Future staff, this all day, in-depth training will focus on the value of real time labor market information (RT LMI), through tools like Help Wanted Online, and explore ways to leverage this data to impact college services.  JFF has helped to launch and integrate this tool at community colleges.  Their in-depth, hands-on training session will help make the most of this powerful data. This workshop will have personalized, hands-on working sessions. Bring your laptop and username/password for your college’s HWOL account. Join us for this valuable training. Space is limited and registration is required.  Reserve your space online today!

 

AGENDA:

8.30am – 9.15am  Breakfast & Registration

9.15am – 9.30am Welcome

9.30am – 9:45am LMI – How can it be used for better decision-making?  Mary Wright, Program Director, Jobs for the Future

9:45am – 10:45am LMI – What are the tools and how to best apply them. Jeremy Kelley, Senior Project Manager, Jobs for the Future

11.00am -12.00pm Practical Applications & Lessons Learned from the Front-Lines of Real-Time LMI

•         Michael Bettersworth, Associate Vice Chancellor

•         Isabel Weeden, Risk Analyst

•         Texas State Technical College System

•         Edgar Padilla, Director of Career Services, Texas State Technical College Waco

12.00pm -12.30pm Lunch

12.30pm -1.00pm Why is LMI Important? – Putting theory into practice – from the Bay State.  Beth Ashman, Workforce Research Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education

 

1.30pm – 2.30pm  Choosing a focus – Attendees will choose one of the following and use HWOL to address the topic.

•         Program Selection

•         Curriculum Alignment

•         Employer Engagement

•         Student Counseling

2.30pm – 3.30pm Creating a strategy – Colleges will meet together to outline a plan to address their needs

3.30pm – 3.45pm Next steps

3:45pm Adjourn – JFF staff will be available after the session to answer any additional questions

5th Annual New England Conference for Student Success at UMass

Teaching for Student Success

The demand for technological competencies is expanding in higher education. From blended and fully on-line classes, to flipped classes, MOOCs and SPOCs, instructors have a variety of options to consider. As the impact of technology increases, however, it also invites us to reconsider past and current practices.
How do we know what really works to enhance student learning while maximizing accessibility and affordability in higher education? Which technologies are demonstrated to be effective? Are recently identified “high impact practices” consistent with technology-based course designs? How should our student affairs and student services programs respond to the evolving needs of today’s students? Since student learning is our goal, what kinds of assessments reveal where and how that learning takes place, both in the classroom and out of the classroom?

Technology also comes in many forms—from cutting-edge learning analytics platforms to face-to-face discussion. The multi-modal nature of technology invites us to investigate the underlying reasons for the instructional decisions that we make in and beyond the classroom. Are there particular strategies and approaches that work nearly universally? Should anyone only “stand and deliver?” What are some of the supplemental programs and services that enable students to get the most benefit from what goes on in a course, and, in particular in the classroom? Is advising also a teaching process that could be informed by effective instruction techniques? Should we be trying to ensure that best practices are used in all courses and in all instructional formats? Inherent in the answers to these, and similar questions, is the likelihood that some approaches are more valuable for some students than for others.

To encourage exploration of the diverse answers to these questions, this conference will provide opportunities for participants to learn about and share various strategies in teaching and learning that appear to have the most positive impact on student learning.  Participants – tenured professors, contingent faculty, and student affairs staff alike – will discuss how we can encourage and support each other to learn about different strategies, to focus on student learning, to experiment with different course designs and to adopt and retain best practices.

8:00 – 9:00 am Registration and Continental Breakfast, UMass Amherst Campus Center Concourse
9:00 – 9:45 am Welcome
10:00 – 11:15 am Invited Addresses and Concurrent Sessions, Campus Center Lower Level and 9th Floor
11:30 – 12:45 pm Keynote Address, Campus Center Auditorium
Dr. Mary Deane Sorcinelli
12:45 – 1:30 pm Lunch, Campus Center Auditorium
Dessert will be available on the Campus Center Concourse
1:45 – 3:00 pm Invited Addresses and Concurrent Sessions, Campus Center Lower Level and 9th Floor
3:15 – 3:45 pm Conference Wrap-up, Campus Center Auditorium
3:45 – 4:30 pm Wine and Cheese Social, Campus Center Concourse, Lower Level
Come follow up with presenters, and catch up with colleagues

*Schedule is preliminary and subject to change. 

Keynote Speaker

Mary Deane Sorcinelli is a well-known researcher in the areas of academic careers, faculty professional development, and higher education teaching and learning. She has written more than 100 articles, book chapters, and books in a wide range of sources. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she founded the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development (CTFD). The Center supports the professional development of UMass faculty across all career stages and disciplines with a wide range of programs and resources focused on teaching, mentoring, scholarly writing, career advancement, and work/life balance.  Under her direction, the CTFD has promoted instructional and faculty development innovations that have been recognized with a range of national awards and externally funded grants.

In 2013, Sorcinelli was named the inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Mount Holyoke’s Weissman Center for Leadership. She was honored with the University of Massachusetts’ 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from Massachusetts/ACE Network of Women Leaders in Higher Education.  In 2006, she was awarded the Bob Pierleoni Spirit of POD (Professional and Organizational Development) Award for outstanding lifetime achievement and leadership in the enhancement of teaching and learning.  She also served as president and executive board member of the POD Network (2000–2004) and as senior scholar to the American Association for Higher Education.

Sorcinelli has provided faculty development teaching and consultations in international settings that include Canada, China, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan.

She holds a B.A. in English from Westfield State University, an M.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College and an ED.D in Educational Policy from UMass Amherst.

Increasing Motivation: Let’s Go!

It has been a long winter—the cold and dark days affect motivation and commitment to academics. This is true for students and if we are honest, it is true for faculty and staff. At midpoint of the spring semester, there is a certain level of fatigue that needs to be addressed.

First, let’s tackle students:

For a theoretical orientation to motivation and science of motivating learners, look here.

Although this link is to the Geoscience Department at Carlton College, the information here about motivating students is applicable to any department and any population of students.  Take a look at how faculty behaviors can directly impact student motivation. You make a huge difference in your classroom!

Not to be outdone, Vanderbilt University examines the types of motivation students possess and how we can tap into these in ways that encourage success and GRIT when the going gets tough.

Now, let’s address the needs of faculty and staff. If you feel like your “get-up-and go” got up and went, then this link is for you:

Perhaps, there is a 12-step program for motivation, but maybe 7 steps are all you really need. Or maybe 8 steps are better.

 

 

 

 

 

True Grit: The Key to Success?

Like researchers, many of us who work with students often hypothesize about what it takes for students to be successful in college. Why and how do some students overcome adversity when others collapse under the weight of these challenges? And, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to foster the skills and resilience that college requires? Angela Lee Duckworth says it comes down to grit. Images of John Wayne may come to mind with good reason—true grit may be rare, but it is out there for us to discover and develop.

Ted Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth with a introduction to grit and what it means.

She has also written an excellent journal article on grit and the ability to reach long term goals.

Her work is so potentially important in education and our approach to student struggle that the Chronicle of Higher Education has focused on her work.

In Feb 2013, the Department of Education released a draft report on Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.

This report includes interesting strategies to foster a sense of stick-to-it-ness in our students and why it is deemed to be so important for creating students who have the ability to reach long term goals.

Explore ideas for your classroom here.

 

 

Wrapping up the Semester

At the end of the semester we are often preoccupied with crossing the finish line and getting grades submitted. We may overlook opportunities to wrap up the semester in a meaningful way for both our students and ourselves.  Faculty struggle over what has been left out and how to make sense of all the ground that has been covered from day one until now. By providing course closure and acknowledging student learning, we can promote a sense of achievement and recognize next steps in the learning process.

The last day of class is a time to praise students, examine teaching effectiveness and plan for the future–everyone deserves and needs a pat on the back!

Read what some faculty do to end the semester on a high note and ideas for the last day of class and  think about how you can adapt these ideas to fit your students, discipline and teaching style.

 

 

Targeted Populations

Our classrooms are more diverse than ever and as instructors and staff we need to respond to the needs of all students through our teaching approaches, the creation of strong community of learners and the availability of resources to make learning available to all. Josephine Scott offers some ideas for meeting the needs of diverse learners.

VetNET

VetNet is GCC’s club for student veterans. Our primary goal is to generate a campus-wide culture that embraces the leadership, discipline, and high standards veterans bring to our campus while translating their military experience to student success. Learn more about student veterans in Alison Lighthall’s article for NEA’s Thought and Action, 10 Things You Should Know About Today’s Student Veteran.

Scuttlebutt Sep 2014 for staff

Peer Tutoring

Peer tutoring offers students the opportunity to look at how they learn. Students enrolled in any GCC course are welcome to meet with peer tutors in the fall and spring semesters. In tutoring sessions, students explore ways to study and problem-solve, and they apply these strategies to specific course assignments. Students meet individually with tutors in our offices in the 4th floor of the Core. In many introductory math and English courses, peer tutors assist students in the classroom.

Disability Services

The Office of Disability Services works with students, faculty, and staff to promote universal design and to remove barriers to access on campus.

Disability Services collaborates with the GCC counseling staff to provide ongoing support for students with a variety of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, mental illness, low vision/blindness, deafness and traumatic brain injury. Disability Services also serves as a resource center for medical and legal advocacy, information, and referrals. Disability Services is also responsible for verifying student eligibility for accommodations, coordinating accommodations across campus, and providing consultation and training about disabilities for faculty and staff.

For more information on Universal Access and learning how to make materials available to all learners, visit the National Center on Disability and Access to Education.

Some tips for working with students at GCC:

ü	Always speak to the student privately about their disability or accommodation(s).<br /><br /><br />
ü	Avoid allowing other students or faculty to hear these private conversations. This includes conversations regarding testing accommodations, class absences related to disability, etc.<br /><br /><br />
ü	Arrange for students to pick up copies of notes for class materials that have been put into accessible format in a time and manner that protects their confidentiality.<br /><br /><br />
ü	When in doubt as to what to do to protect the student’s right to confidentiality ask the student how they would prefer something to be handled or call the Office of Disability Services.<br /><br /><br />

Communication and Writing Resources

Using Motivational Interviewing to Communicate with Students

Teachers and advisors who use motivational interviewing (MI) enhance their listening and problem-solving skills to become more effective communicators and create better rapport with students. MI has been shown as an effective method for creating dialogue, rapport and ultimately helping to motivate students. Following specific techniques and a methodological approach, motivational interviewing can help students move forward, see alternative paths toward their goal and take ownership.

Motivational Interviewing Thought & Action

WAC:  Writing Across the Curriculum 

Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing across the curriculum, or WAC, is an approach for teaching college composition that extends the focus of writing beyond the borders of the English Department, where it has been traditionally located, and into other disciplines. This allows students to reinforce the writing skills they learn in dedicated composition courses while studying other subjects. While instructors in other disciplines do not necessarily provide the same type of feedback on writing assignments that composition instructors do, research suggests that integrating writing assignments into curricula can improve student learning as well as overall course success. Furthermore, WAC helps students master discipline-specific writing conventions early in their college career, which can improve their engagement and performance in upper-level classes later on. Read more about the history of WAC and why it is important for today’s students What is WAC?

Integrating WAC theories and practices into your classroom can me relatively easy using the suggestions and ideas provided here: WAC Theory and Practice. Many resources are available online for both instructors and students: Online WAC Resources

WAC Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I already have SO much material to cover in my course. How can I add yet another assignment without causing other course work to suffer?

A: WAC assignments needn’t be complicated or labor-intensive, for students or instructors. WTL assignments can supplement or, in some cases, even substitute for short evaluations such as quizzes. Course material can usually be incorporated quite easily into a no- or low-stakes writing assignment that does not impose an extra grading burden or displace essential curricular elements. Look through the Sample Assignments section for inspiration as well.

Q: I’m not a writing expert – that’s the English Department’s job! How can I be expected to evaluate student writing skills?

A: WAC assignments don’t necessarily involve evaluation of or feedback on writing skills. Instead, many WTL assignments are used as a way for students to reinforce their own learning in a course. For upper-level courses, WTD assignments can be used to reinforce writing skills by making the students responsible for carefully revising and proofreading their own writing.

Q: My course focuses almost entirely on technical/scientific/mathematical content. Where does writing fit in here?

A: Writing well is a fundamental skill that all educated persons need to master; students who plan to go into a technical or scientific career will be expected to write reports, technical documents, and other sorts of texts that articulate something about their work. Including writing assignments on technical material can also help contextualize it within a broader frame for students.

Q: What WAC resources would be available to me if I wanted to start including writing assignments in my curriculum?

A: See the Online Resources tab here for links. There are many well-established WAC programs at excellent institutions across the country, and many of these programs make some materials available online. Look for professional development workshops on campus as well!

WAC Materials submitted by Trevor Kearns, GCC English Department

Academic Advising

Resources for advising about online classes:

Use this online learning assessment tool from the University of Houston to help students determine if online learning is the right fit for their skills and learning style. The assessment tackles different areas related to learning style, skills and need for online classes. It takes about 5-10 minutes and offers students feedback about their strengths and areas for additional strengthening related to distance education.

When students are in the office and talking about online learning, this worksheet,  Is Online Learning Right For You?, can help students determine individual strengths and areas for improvement related to the skills needed for online learning.

Advising for the Workforce

One of our goals as advisors is to help students start and follow a path that leads toward a fulfilling and viable career. This advising checklist from Andrew Baker can provide a road map for students as they move from the classroom to the work world. Career Skills Checklist for Students and Advisors