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BCFS/AFYE Roundtable Series 2012-2014: Fresh Connections

Freshmen and Academic English: What's Language Got to Do with It? (2014)

Fragment of Rosetta Stone touched by four fingers of a human hand.

New freshmen face many challenges as they transition into college. Some are basic: how to get to class on time, or how to acquire the books, for example. Others are more complex: how to study for different classes, how to communicate effectively with the instructor, how to understand the readings (including textbooks, articles, electronic materials, and even syllabi), and how to write assigned "summaries," "responses," "blogs," or "papers."

Meeting these challenges requires students to use language in new ways—beyond the language(s) already familiar to them from high school and home, they must move into and use the less-familiar language of "academic" English. And the goal of supporting students as they meet such challenges requires us to think about a range of topics, including:

  1. making clear to students what we want them to know, learn, and do;
  2. thinking about how we explain things to students—and ways of making our explanations work;
  3. tapping in to students' existing language resources to support their learning; and
  4. addressing some of the questions and issues that faculty ask about language.

Dr. Sharon Klein (Linguistics/English/WRAD)talked about how faculty can use their awareness of language to contribute to student success. She shared a rich collection of resources for faculty.

Selected, publicly available resources from this roundtable
  1. Sharon's slides: Freshmen and Academic English: What's Language Got to Do with It? (pptx, 2.5 MB)
  2. Some BICS and CALPS Notes: slides by Jim Cummins, U. of Tornto, 2013.
  3. Faculty resource on reading: Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful by Sarah K. Clark. 2009. Rpt. in Faculty Focus, 2011.
  4. Generation 1.5 Students and College Writing by Linda Harklau, 2003.
  5. Funds of Knowledge: Learning from Language Minority Households. Digest of an article by Luis C. Moll et al. 1994.
  6. Language, Diversity, and Learning: Lessons for Education in the 21st Century by Sonia Nieto. 2010.
Additional resources

Sharon has an extensive bibliography of additional readings on the intersections between language and higher education classroom. Topics include BICS and CALP, more Faculty Resources for Reading, Feedback to Students, Gneration 1.5, Getting into the Disciplines, Language Diversity, Multilingual English Learners, Navigating and Crafting Writing Assignments, Student Reading Guides, and "Errors" and Grammar.

(Image of Rosetta Stone from

Advising in Brief: What You Need to Know to Help Your Freshmen (2014)

A CSUN student in conversation with her advisor.

Have you ever wondered what goes on in a freshman advising appointment? Would you like to learn how your first-year students decide which classes to take? Join us for "Advising in Brief" to learn more about working in partnership with CSUN's advising staff to support freshman success.

In this roundtable--a repeat of the fall 2013 sessions with Conchita and Elizabeth--participants learned how collaboration between academic advisors and faculty can support the success of freshmen, as well as what happens to freshmen at advising appointments: what do advisors do and say? We were also given an overview of the resources advisors draw on in working with freshmen--and we were invited to draw on them as well. It's difficult to sum up the hour-long conversation--but here are two interesting points:

  1. While all of the SSC/EOP Satellites offer similar baseline information to students, each has distinctive and different approaches tailored to the particular groups of students served.
  2. Faculty might want to consider that for students--especially new students--a trip to faculty office hours has many of the anxieties attendant on a visit to the doctor. (Thanks to Whitney Scott, CADV, for this analogy.)
Resources: copies of these handouts are available on request to AFYE, x6535
  1. Excerpts from "Mentoring on the Run" and "As a faculty member, you're mentoring when . . . . " by Glenn Omatsu (EOP and AAS) (two pages)
  2. CSUN's Student Services Centers/EOP Satellites with location and contact information (one page)
  3. Family Educational Righs and Privacy Act (FERPA) overview for CSUN, including information about disclosures to parents of students (two pages)
  4. General Education summary (one page)
  5. Satisfactory Academic Progress: overview (one page)
  6. CSUN Disqualification Policy: overview (two pages)
  7. Resilient Scholars Program: Supporting Foster Youth Along the Way (trifold brochure)
  8. AB 540 Safe Zone: overview of resources for students (one page)
  9. Veterans Affairs program at CSUN: overview (one page)
  10. The Early Warning System (TEWS): Facts for Faculty and FAQs (two pages)
  11. Computer labs at CSUN: locations and hours (one page)
  12. Campus tutoring centers at CSUN: locations and hours (one page)
  13. Student Resource List: contact information and locations for key offices (one page)

Time Management and Student Engagement (2012)

A meme called the "Uber Frosh" shows a photo of a smiling young man in a college sweatshirt wearing headphones and holding a cell phone.  Surrounding him are phrases like "Pulls an all-nighter/ Misses Exam," "Actually tries to do all the assigned reading/ Dies," or "'Dude, I have no time for homework'/ Stays up all night playing Call of Duty." 

Smiling toung man in a college sweatshirt wearing headphones and holding a cell phone; the caption: Pulls an all-nighter; misses exam

This image, designed to satirize the problems of "typical" freshmen, reveals the challenges that first year students have in managing their time.  Their challenges include technological multitasking; balancing school, work, and home lives; and procrastination.   As faculty, we can help our freshmen develop positive strategies for managing their time successfully, including improving their single-task awareness.  Highlights from this roundtable: new strategies for teaching time management (including this Academic Planner assignment, updated 9/21/12) and for engaging freshmen in the classroom.

Presenters: Erin Delaney (English and BCFS/AFYE) and Kim Henige (Kinesiology and BCFS/AFYE).

Resources on Time Management and Student Engagement from this Roundtable (and Beyond):
  1. Delaney, Erin. "Mental Toughness Training." Adapted by Erin from a Feb. 2012 First Year Experience Conference presentation by Alex Chambers: "Knowing When to Press the Off Switch: Integrating Prioritizing and Technology in an Effort to Manage Anxiety Among Incoming First-Year Students"; based on a Navy SEALs exercise used to ensure that new soldiers are psychologically prepared to succeed.
  2. Delaney, Erin. "Multitasking Class Experiment." This classroom exercise lets students experience and reflect on how brains function at the outer limits of multitasking.
  3. Delaney, Erin. Academic First Year Experiences and Department of English. "Teaching on the Run: Technological Multitasking and Single-Task Awareness. " CSUN, 2012. Video with transcript. 3 minutes, 25 seconds.
  4. Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier. PBS Frontline video, Feb. 2010. Recommended by CSUN faculty member Roxanne Moschetti (CADV and AFYE). From the introduction: "I teach the most brilliant students in the world," says MIT professor and clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle, who describes the challenges of teaching students who are surfing the Internet and texting during class. "But they have done themselves a disservice by drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that a multitasking learning environment will serve their best purposes. There are just some things that are not amenable to being thought about in conjunction with 15 other things."
  5. Dweck, Carol. "Brainology." Independent School Magazine. Winter 2008. Online: "[W]hat students believe about their brains — whether they see their intelligence as something that's fixed or something that can grow and change — has profound effects on their motivation, learning, and school achievement."
  6. Henige, Kim. CSUN A.S. Academic Planner Assignment: useful in any class with freshmen or other students who are struggling to balance competing demands on their time.
  7. Henige, Kim. Department of Kinesiology. "Teaching on the Run: Motivation in the Classroom." CSUN, 2012. Video with transcript. 4 minutes, 36 seconds:

Effective, Engaging Group Work for Classes of Any Size (2012)

CSUN students at work in groups This roundtable session focused on effective and engaging group work techniques that faculty can use in CSUN classes of any size. The presenters adapted strategies learned at the 2012 Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience in San Antonio, where they were part of a CSUN team sponsored by Building Connections for Success.

Presenters: Mary-Pat Stein (Biology and BCFS/AFYE) and Alexa Dimakos (English and BCFS/AFYE)

Resources on Effective, Engaging Group Work for Classes of Any Size from this Roundtable (and Beyond):
  1. Session handout (.doc, 44kb) including "Send a Problem" (critical thinking and problem solving exercise that lets students practice ways to evaluate and discriminate among multiple solutions) and "Stations" (an alternative to lecturing: students engage with learning materials in the room and are asked to examine, question, exchange ideas, respond to prompts, and formulate independent thoughts and commentary).
  2. Build-your-own cartoon or comic (first of two): (free): grading single-frame cartoons or short comic strips (one per student or one per group) could save you time and might be more fun than grading traditional assessments.
  3. Build-your-own-cartoon or comic (second of two): grading single-frame cartoons or short comic strips (one per student or one per group) could save you time and might be more fun than grading traditional assessments. (free and sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, Marco Polo, and the International Reading Association; seems to target younger audiences (if that matters to you)
  4. Putting students in groups: use colorful 3 x 5 cards you have previously filled with paired terms (from your class); ask students to find their matching term and discuss. Later in the same class or a subsequent class, put students in same-color groups. Or ask students to join a rainbow group (one in which no color is repeated). Still later, students can choose their groups. Or if your class has taken the Career Center's StrengthsQuest assessment, assemble groups with complementary strengths (analogous to the rainbow group).
  5. Rubrics for group work: useful to get student input on each member's contribution. Students may make their own rubrics (though you will want to give them a model rubric first). Here are three sample rubrics from Alexa Dimakos:
  1. Student response system without clickers (students use cell phones instead): (free for up to 40 participants per poll): engage students and assess understanding quickly; display whole-class results in real time and ask students to discuss the variation in responses
  2. Video slideshow maker (with music): (free): one memorable way to teach something small you want students to remember
  3. "Teaching on the Run: Student Engagement Strategies." Alexa Dimakos, AFYE, CSUN, 2012.. Video (with transcript). 1 minute, 53 seconds.
  4. "Teaching on the Run: Working Effectively with Large Classes." Mary-Pat Stein, Biology, CSUN, 2012. Video (with transcript): 2 minutes, 15 seconds.
  5. "How a Stanford Professor Liberates Large Lectures." Teaching Professor Blog #1223 (11 Jan. 2013).
Group Project: Time to relax while you watch someone who cares do all the work.