Interventions that help students to the correct path

By Lance Boyd

In the classroom, setting goals early and using interventions can send students on the path to success.

As a facilitator at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., I use interventions that will direct students to the path to their personal best in my mathematics classroom. Students are asked the first day of class to write their realistic numerical goal grade for the course on their syllabus. I then ask the students make a commitment that they will meet with me if they make below that grade on a test during the semester. The path to their goal grade may be straight with few interventions or may have several turns to get back on course. I also ask all students that if they receive below a 75 on a test to commit to meet and go through interventions: Grade Improvement Checklist, Time Management, and Anxiety Issues.

Grade Improvement Checklist. Individualized meetings are encouraged with each student that does not meet their goal grade or any student that makes below a 75 on a test. The Grade Improvement Checklist is 12 items that have been constant themes from former students and research that have a demonstrated increase in learning. The list is fluid and has changed over the years with best practices and student demands. Technology such as Tegrity and Blackboard has been a technology addition to the checklist that students comment they utilize to maximize their grade. The one-on-one sessions are very informal and allow students to discuss how they could use the Grade Improvement Checklist to meet their individual learning styles.

Time Management. If a student is taking a Monday/ Wednesday class, I ask him or her to tell me a typical Monday/Wednesday in their life. Then I ask them to tell me their normal Tuesday/Thursday and then weekend schedule. No two student schedules are the same and I help them prioritize time to study each day of the week. Students are encouraged to devote 30 minutes to one hour a day for the semester to improving their math scores and not work on their math only one time a week. To show them I can “walk the walk,” I demonstrate how I commit 30 minutes of each day to a particular area in my life because it is important to me and they must also have the same commitment to achieve their goal grade. There are only 24 hours in the day and allowing students to tell me their typical days lets them see that they do have 30 minutes each day to work on math. I stress my favorite quote: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” And I help students develop a daily schedule to use their time wisely as they prepare for next test.

Anxiety Issues. I load two anxiety handouts each semester on Blackboard for students to read. We discuss the handouts and then I ask students if they feel it would help taking their test in a room by themselves. I also tell students the first day of class to send me an email letting me know if they would like me not to call on them in class for questions. It is amazing how these interventions help a handful of my students each semester and improve their learning experience. Some students by the end of the semester tell me that they feel comfortable enough to answer questions and giving them time to acclimate to the class helped relieve their anxiety issues.

I have found that these three interventions have helped my students improve their grades. It is such a blessing to read my evaluation comments from students each semester telling me how they also have used the interventions in other classes. It is my goal to bring out the best in each student and these interventions have demonstrated that they help students reach their destination which ends with the best possible grade in my class.

Lance Boyd

is a mathematics instructor at Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, Alabama.