Social Sciences Discussion Summary

Defining Student Success in Our Disciplines

  • Use Blooms taxonomy to find appropriate level for a particular class.
  • What is the level analysis that is needed coming out of high school vs what is the level that is needed at a 2 year school vs what is the level for a 4 year school ?
  • Need to offer theories for teachers to answer this.
  • Depth of Knowledge chart that may help answer that.

Common Core

  • Noted difficulty of defining the words “Common standards” to be used as a framework. As it becomes refined it will need to include metacognition strategies
  • Question: Is there a gap that K-12 level students are getting to vs where standards say they should be? Answer: There are so many changes in curriculum delivery right now (Common Core) so we do not know precisely where the gaps are right now.
  • Some of these changes involve a complete change in how students are being asked to think and how they are being assessed.
  • Noted gap between what students expect from community college teachers and the core learning skills that community college teachers expect first year students to already have.
  • Re: training of teachers making an emphasis on looking at research in the classroom, best practices
  • What about learner vs. sponge? Paradigm shift from passive to active learners?
  • Note that where the difference is being made with transitional studies students is in the metacognitive and the affective areas. Need to infuse more of those into the discussions with students.


  • Concerns about teacher evaluations because some of the evaluation questions are not relevant or miss important nuances; being judged simply on content knowledge, no student exams on cognitive strategies or transition of knowledge and skills, concern about who is designing the evaluation (too top-down from the state) and how do those of us on the ground work with that.
  •  Recent evaluation was more on student interactions, letting students guide their learning process. But with APPR (Annual Professional Performance Evaluation) there is frustration about what is actually expected re interactions between teacher and students.
  • Concern: very few people can learn on their own without guidance, that guidance often needs some form of direct instruction, so students taking responsibility for their learning. Is it about taking responsibility for students to work on learning strategies or expectation that students should know how to teach themselves without direct instruction? Response: Can’t let students just look at text/knowledge on their own, need to help them gain the content as direct instruction, the idea is that students can take responsibility, but note that there is a breakdown in the class at this point, some related to identifying which learning strategies to use, and a bigger piece is motivation.
  • Available statistics: 41% of students come into college ready for college level math. Only 53% of ENG 101 students achieve a C or better.
  • Frustration for high school teachers about the mixed message between demand to make student college ready and policy of having to give them pens every time they need one. Students have no idea that will have to buy their books or even pay for college. Note that MCC orientation not helping that gap because of how orientation is designed.

Career Focus

  • Skill mismatch: lots of available jobs that do not require a 4-year degree. Is this a piece where we can use motivational strategies to drive high school students toward different tracks (skilled AND unskilled)?
  • Attitude of some high school students who go to college, view themselves as consumers and expect to be hired at an unreasonable salary, but at the end they cannot find a job so college is worth nothing.
  • Is part of college prep the implicit and explicit expectation that high school students will go to college?
  • Emphasize the knowledge and the skills gained from post-secondary education, rather than just go to college because they are supposed to.
  • Need to connect what they want in life with what job supplies those things through career knowledge.
  • Question: Do students understand the importance of test scores (APs, Regents, etc) for their future? Some yes, some no. Some families send their children to relatives in other states for last two years of high school to avoid regents. Comment that many students take the Accuplacer at MCC without preparing for it.

“College Knowledge”

  • Where do students get admissions information from colleges? Dual credit students are given some individual information on that. Counselors and teachers through a system at some high schools. Some places are focusing simply on college admission rather than focusing on likely college success. Students do not realize how these test scores will follow them and impact their admission and what classes they are eligible to enroll in.
  • For students who do not have parents at home to help students keep the ball rolling, they are often at a loss. Could MCC’s COS 133 be modified for high school seniors as dual credit classes? May happen at Rush-Henrietta within the next two years. Possibly has been done as dual-enrollment.
  • How to increase time management skills? Launching a discussion of how college is different than high school. How to inspire students to identify their goals and succeed.
  • Sending high school students to MCC to sit in on a class at the college level, may be able to get buy-in from the department
  • Question about when are students able to think about consequences of decisions on their future? Acknowledgement that students have the capability, but there are so many other factors interfering. One suggestion to think about the goal and determine the steps to get there. Another suggestion: at end of semester ask what would you do differently? Next semester, show the results of what previous semester students said they would have done differently.
  • Note that in order for kids to be college ready there are systemic issues: e.g., social promotion through elementary school, US culture re: education.

Reading Instruction

  • Areas of concern: how to read text, take notes, utilize resources effectively, awareness of next level
  • When does reading instruction stop in the high schools? Answers suggest that those resources have been cut out of high school and most middle school budgets. Note that there needs to be a stronger priority in school districts to address reading for learning.
  • Suggestion to refine the standards for each course to include strategic reading of course material and note taking.
  • In one district, learning to read moves to reading to learn from 3rd to 4th grade. Some students may not be ready for that shift.
  • Example of the reading gap re: PSY 101: They know how to read but they do not know how to read for the textbook in that discipline, also noted in business classes.
  • Note of frustration of 9th grade teacher whose entire class is reading at 2nd and 3rd grade level and she is supposed to teach them history, seniors reading at 4th & 5th grade levels.


  • Student engagement: understand pre-knowledge, stimulate interest, close gaps in understanding of context.
  • Students who only attend high school in US after moving from other countries are having difficulties of this being their first exposure to many facts (e.g., US history) but they have the desire to learn. US born students have the basic information but not the motivation.
  • International students’ often have inaccurate expectations and stereotypes about what education looks like in US, due to media and other cultural factors.
  • Student persistence over time is required for them to gain academic understanding and meet college-level expectations.
  • Problem with motivation is that high school students have what they need for today and they do not see the need to think about a day when they will not have everything they need.
  • Good analogy re: students thinking they are consumers Coming to college is like a gym membership. You’ve paid to have the right to put in the effort. If you do not attend and put in the effort, there will be no gain.
  • Rotary clubs vocational service opportunities for students to be connected.

Ideas for Solutions

  • Suggested approaches to work on identified problems: learner-centered teaching, collaborative learning, leverage technology, problem-based learning, project-based learning, relevance—use of current events.
  • Research suggestion: Have high school AP teachers grade papers with college professors to see where there are gaps in standards, track these students from high school through college, and to their employability
  •  Have high school and college teachers in the same disciplines to join a blog and use each other as resources to continue this dialogue.
  • Need to work on consistency of curriculum from high school to college.
  • Thought that it would be a valuable part of MCC assessment to have high school and 4 year college participants to help guide the assessment questions. Composite to learn where is error being committed, where is it not being committed, where are students meeting standards of skills and where they are not. Broadening the scope to bring in more stakeholders to get a more comprehensive assessment.
  • Try to get access to data on test questions of various exams (Regents questions, AP questions, SAT, etc) to get some idea of what the questions are, where the errors being made at the college level. This information would give college professors information about specific need for remediation.
  • Telling students about personal biography helped increase connections with students, establishes rapport early on, similarity increases persuasiveness. Also helps students learn to advocate for themselves. This may be different in college than it is in high school.


  • Time magazine cover story on Millenials.
  • Visible Learning by John Hattie.
  • Angela Duckworth and her research on Grit as a resource, 17 item Grit test available online. Grit skills are the ones that suggests success in life, not GPA or test scores.