Can we afford to leave this glass half full?

Can we afford to leave this glass half full?

A lot has been written about the challenges of helping first-year, post secondary students persist to graduation.  Low persistence rates mean fewer students graduate and enter the workforce as skilled workers. In this sense, our ability to increase persistence has a direct impact on the quality of our workforce and our ability to compete in the future global economy. We’ve written a white paper on this subject, The Need for First Year Experience Programs, that summarizes research on the effectiveness of First Year Experience programs for those institutions still on the fence about offering a robust, accredited program to all entering freshmen. In short, here’s what we learned: According to the Lumina Foundation, there will be a consistent, and widening, gap between the millions of jobs in the future requiring at least a 2-year degree, and the supply of college graduates to fill those jobs. The economic opportunity glass, if you will, will be left unfilled if we do nothing. Filling this gap will require that we prepare more high school students to be “college ready” and increase their persistence on to post secondary graduation. A review of literature on robust, first year programs designed to support students and increase their persistence suggests that these programs are effective. A non-empirical review of the programs currently available to students reveals that many institutions offer a freshman orientation course, usually taking a single day of information on healthy living habits and reviewing the institution’s student conduct code.  Other institutions offer remedial courses in math or English and consider this enough. In our opinion, neither approach is completely adequate. The first year programs that...
Social emotional learning is at the center of improving student achievement

Social emotional learning is at the center of improving student achievement

We’ve all heard about Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. Usually they are considered augmentations to curriculum intended to improve standardized test scores.   However, there is growing empirical evidence that SEL programs can significantly impact student academic performance. In a recent article in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development, the authors from Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago provide a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning programs involving 270,034 K-12 students. According to the analysis, “Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social emotional skills, attitudes, behavior and academic performance that reflected an 11 percentile-point gain in achievements.” Given the positive impact SEL has on student achievement, we believe more schools should be adopting robust, measurable SEL programs aimed at addressing the student’s social and emotional learning as a core to curriculum. TransformingEd, a nonprofit that supports districts and states in implementing programs to equip students with the mindsets, skills and habits they need to succeed,  identifies four factors in building strong emotional and social skills with students: Developing a Growth Mindset – students with a growth mindset believe that ability can change as a result of effort, perseverance and practice Self Management – the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors effectively in different situations Self Efficacy – the belief in one’s ability to succeed in achieving an outcome or reaching a goal Social Awareness – the ability to take the perspective of, and empathize with, others from diverse backgrounds and cultures The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has developed its own SEL standards in its ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success, aimed at building student...
Student success isn’t just about college attainment

Student success isn’t just about college attainment

Much has been written about the need for us to increase attendance and graduation rates at today’s two- and four-year institutions in the national quest to have 60% of Americans holding a degree, certificate or other high quality credential by 2025. According to Lumina Foundation, an independent foundation focused on expanding student success and access to postsecondary education, we’re making progress. The proportion of the U.S. population between the ages of 25 and 64 who hold a two- or four-year college degree reached 40.4% in 2014, a 2.1% increase since this measure was first reported in 2008. Degree attainment has increased even faster among adults aged 25 to 34 during the same period, equal to 42.3% in 2014, a 4.5% increase over the same measure in 2008. As encouraging as these trends are, most experts agree they are not enough to reach our 2025 goal. Lumina projects 35.7 million Americans will earn postsecondary credentials that will count toward Goal 2025. However, they also project an additional 10.9 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 54 would need to be added to reach the 60% goal by 2025. It’s no wonder college attainment is on every educator’s mind these days. But there are those who see the educational challenge as going beyond college attainment to include encouraging development of specific skills that will be necessary for students to thrive and persist in college and in the coming century. Organizations like the Partnership for 21st Century Learning are hard at work partnering with states to make sure K-12 students develop the deeper, critical skills they will need to be productive and...
In the push to measure student success, some schools are getting it right

In the push to measure student success, some schools are getting it right

You can’t run a Google search for “student testing” without turning up over half a billion references, almost all about the swirling waters around standardized tests and their pros and cons.  And yet, a recent article in The New York Times describes another growing movement to help students succeed: understanding, teaching and measuring K-12 students’ emotional and social skills. It’s about time.  Educators have long known that measuring the 3Rs only evaluates a part of what makes students successful.  Not only do we know that having engaged parents makes a huge difference, but a growing body of evidence also shows how building strong social skills as early as kindergarten can have a dramatic impact on success and satisfaction later in life. Organizations like  CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) and ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) are hard at work integrating this important focus on emotional and social intelligence in their programs. It makes sense.  We all have learned through experience how important social and emotional behavior skills are in getting along in life.  Now there is empirical evidence that focusing on these skills in the classroom serves our students well. At Human eSources, we’ve long believed that increasing self-awareness of their personality, preferences, skills and talents brings students tremendous confidence in their ability to navigate the everyday challenges they face.  Our products have helped millions of K-12 students understand how to leverage their strengths, gain clarity over their school and career goals and find greater satisfaction in the classroom and in life. If you are a parent of a K-12 student and are interested in...
A New Year’s resolution for your job or career

A New Year’s resolution for your job or career

The first of the year is always a great time to take a moment and explore where you are in your job or career and entertain taking steps to change your direction. And yet, for every one person who takes a moment to consider their next steps, there are ten others who never actually take the plunge. So why is this? Perhaps its because the road to a new career is pock-marked with any number of hazards and missteps. Or maybe friends and family question your thinking, or fail to understand your yearning for more satisfaction in your job. Or maybe, you haven’t taken some time to really understand yourself, your strengths and how to leverage them into a career or job where you’ll find more satisfaction. This might sound like a tall order, especially if you don’t know, or can’t afford a good, qualified career coach. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five steps you can take now to jump the gap between yearning for a new career and actually having one. Make sure you now why you are looking for a new direction. Often we mistake feeling the need for more money for much deeper dissatisfactions with our jobs and careers.   Research report after research report confirms that an increase in salary rarely results in greater job satisfaction. You need a clear-eyed, deep understanding of just what is really dissatisfying to you before you can honestly search for a new direction. Understand your unique personal strengths. This involves looking at your personality type, work style preferences and skills and talents. This needs to...
Finding the right career shouldn’t depend on luck

Finding the right career shouldn’t depend on luck

What do you want to be when you grow up? Who hasn’t been asked that question? When we’re little kids we can dream big about being a pro athlete, a doctor, lawyer, musician, scientist, world leader, pilot, video game producer or just about anything else we can imagine. But the thing is, as we grow older, the answer to that question is often more difficult to answer. Back in the day, you picked a career and, if you were lucky, you were good enough at it to make a living for a lifetime. If you were lucky, you actually liked what you did. If you were even more lucky, you loved what you did. If you were lucky.  Today, more people than ever are asking that same question as the working world changes under their feet, seemingly every five years. How can anyone steer a steady path in this kind of environment? We believe a key to answering this challenge is in understanding who you are first, then applying this insight to searching out what you want to be when you grow up, or where you want to go next. Over the past 40 years psychologists have taught us that we each have a unique combination of personality traits, skills and talents and view of the world, and that unique combination that is you drives how you interact with others, how well you perform certain tasks, and, ultimately, determines how satisfied you feel with your life. Today we have clinically proven tools that can help you understand your unique combination of personality, talents, skills and preferences, and translate that insight into...