student success

Learning through failure

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A college’s Open Campus resource allows students to learn from their mistakes and move toward success.

It’s okay to fail, says Allison Martin, director of institutional effectiveness initiatives at Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Louisiana. In fact, the college has a whole initiative that helps students succeed through failure. Martin was recently interviewed about it for AACC’s new podcast, Community College Voice.

The learning starts through gamification of instruction. In gaming, there are levels. Nobody gets through all the levels the first time; at some point, they fail. But that doesn’t stop them from going back to the beginning and trying again and again, picking up new tricks along the way.

“Failure is a part of the learning experience,” Martin said. Games wouldn’t be considered exciting or engaging if the player won the first time.

That’s the same way instruction should work, according to Martin. So the college created the Open Campus mobile program, which is used as supplemental instruction to help students in developmental math and writing courses, and for those gearing up for placement testing. There’s content and video instruction in short “chunks” (videos are not more than five minutes, and focus on one topic). It’s also intuitive to navigate – or frictionless, Martin said.

“We have to remember our end user is a student,” she said.

Students take 10-question quizzes to assess their learning. If they fail the quiz, they take it again – and again.

It’s no wonder then that the tagline for Open Campus is “Success: It’s About Practice.”

And there has been success. For example, students who use Open Campus are testing in to college algebra at a higher rate.

Of course, building Open Campus took a lot of practice, too. You can learn about that, and more about the science of failure, by listening to the podcast online. Also available are episodes about apprenticeships, working with millennial staff, food insecurity among students, inclusiveness on campus, and more – all recorded at the AACC Annual Convention.

Community College Voice will officially launch this fall. Subscribe now.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.