All posts by cwe88

First-Generation College Students

What is a first-generation college student? Institutions define “first generation” in various ways.  However, the Center for First-Generation Student Success states that “ultimately, the term “first-generation” implies the possibility that a student may lack the critical cultural capital necessary for college success because their parents did not attend college” (2020).

It is significant to recognize that first-generation students are an important part of our university community and are both driven and tenacious. First-generation students have unique needs. For example, first-generation students tend to struggle more than continuing generation students with:

  • Knowing how and how much to study
  • Understanding implicit faculty expectations
  • Finding time to study
  • Fear of asking questions or hesitance to approach an instructor 

These struggles can be compounded in an online learning environment. However, there are things you can do in your courses to increase the success of first-generation students. You do not need to identify these students specifically. These recommendations can benefit all students. 

What Strategies Can We Implement in Our Courses?

First, be explicit in the expectations you have for your students. Syllabi should include clear statements about what resources are required and that help seeking is expected and encouraged. 

For every assignment you create, consider the task, purpose, and criteria.

  • what, exactly, are you asking students to do (the “task”);
  • why do the students have to do it (the “purpose”);
  • and how the work will be evaluated (the “criteria”).

Then, explain those things to your students.  (Berrett, 2015)

Be familiar with the University of Canterbury’s psycho-social and academic support resources so that you can refer students appropriately. For instance, those listed here: Finding Support.

Provide information on how students can become connected on campus through major-related organizations, honors societies, undergraduate research opportunities, and social events. Students who feel more connected to their university are more likely to graduate, and it is particularly important for first-generation students to build a network that allows them access to information about tertiary education. 

Finally, reach out to the e-Learning Support team for assistance with student-centered course design and engagement in your online, hybrid, and technology enhanced courses.  

References

Berrett, D. (2015, September 25). The unwritten rules of college. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 62(4). 

Center for First-Generation Student Success (2020). Defining first-generation. Retrieved from: https://firstgen.naspa.org/blog/defining-first-generation

Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge the First Scholars Program at the University of Memphis where I received training and support as a First Generation Faculty Advocate. 

 

HyFlex Course Design: Reaching Students Face-to-Face and Online

The occurrence of COVID-19 has been a driver for many instructors to adopt new teaching methodologies. While emergency online courses undertaken during a global pandemic should not be confused with best practices in online teaching and learning, we should use this time to reflect on what has worked well and what areas were amiss while trying to deliver content and engage students at a distance. Moving forward, the fluctuating New Zealand COVID-19 Alert System Levels give us further cause to prepare to reach learners face-to-face, online, and in some cases, using both modalities simultaneously.

The structure of teaching face-to-face and online simultaneously is referred to as the HyFlex (Hybrid-Flexible) model and was first introduced at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2005 (Beatty, 2006). SFSU defines HyFlex courses as class sessions that allow students to choose whether to attend classes face-to-face or online, synchronously or asynchronously. SF State Academic Senate policy S19-264. The motivation behind the HyFlex model is to support the fundamental values of learner choice, equivalency, reusability, and accessibility (Beatty, 2019). In our case, necessity also drives the adoption of a HyFlex model.

At the University of Canterbury, a HyFlex course modality may be used under Alert Levels 2 and 3, where social distancing is required or attending courses in a face-to-face environment may not be feasible.  HyFlex courses meet synchronously in a face-to-face classroom on campus and online via a web-conferencing platform. The structure of the course must be adapted to meet the needs of face-to-face and online learners and support their engagement with the instructor, peers, and the content. The goal of incorporating this model will be to provide students in fundamentally different environments with equivalent experiences and outcomes (Simonson, 1999). While offering students a choice of modalities is desirable, social distancing restrictions will require a plan for determining the modality a student participates in each class period.

Best Practices

HyFlex courses can vary greatly in delivery. However, there are best practices that can help set you up for success.

  • Distribute lecture slides and handouts before class using LEARN.
  • Create breaks in the course session to engage with all learners and check for questions or comments that are posted online.
  • Collaborative partners and groups should be formed homogenously – either face-to-face or online. (Audio feedback becomes an issue in heterogeneous groups.)
  • Identify a teaching assistant or student volunteer to help monitor the students in the virtual classroom during course sessions.
  • Be sure to repeat questions asked by face-to-face students aloud so that your online students can hear them and read aloud questions posed by online learners for your face-to-face students.
  • In-class assessments should take place online using features in platforms such as LEARN or Qwizdom.
  • Record class sessions so that they can be viewed or reviewed asynchronously.

Support

For more information or help with the development of a HyFlex course, the e-Learning Support team is here to help. We can support you with:

  • Developing courses in LEARN to support a HyFlex course model.
  • Organizing course sessions to effectively meet the needs of students in multiple modalities.
  • Offering tutorials on our web-streaming and web-conferencing platforms (Echo360 and Zoom).
  • Developing knowledge checks and assessments such as polls and quizzes.
  • Usability and concept testing in the TELF Lab.

Click here to contact the e-Learning Support team.

To learn more about the HyFlex model, you can access the book Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Directed Hybrid Classes online here.

References:

Beatty, B. (2006), Designing the HyFlex World–Hybrid, Flexible Courses for All Students, Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2006 Annual International Convention, October 13, 2006.

Beatty, B. (2019) Hybrid-Flexible Course Design: Implementing Student-Centered Hybrid Classes, ed. Brian J. Beatty

Simonson, M. (1999). Equivalency theory and distance education. Techtrends. 43. 5-8. 10.1007/BF02818157.