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Passing Bootcamp is Just the 1st Step!

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Mrs. Jeri-Lyn  Jacobs, MSAs part of its core mission, CETL issues grants to support faculty engagement in innovative teaching and effective assessment of student learning. In the first of a new series, we check in with 2010 – 2011 Grant Recipient, Jeri-Lyn Jacobs (Communications, Downtown), and learn more about P.A.S.S.: Preparation for the Advancement of Student Success.

Describe your project. Did the project end up being significantly different then the original plan and why?

This was my first time writing a grant. I was encouraged to write this grant even though I only had less than a week to do it and my partner bailed out at the last minute. I had had this idea for a long time and so that is what the grant was based upon. The idea was to have a boot camp, possibly in the summer to work on weak skill areas of incoming students. The grant was called P.A.S.S. Once the students completed the program, they would receive a certificate of completion.( A logo was specifically designed and a certificate of completion was also created. )

Yes, it was very different from the original plan. First of all, since I had never written a grant before, I didn’t really know how it all worked until after the fact. I found out that in order to get this to work, a great deal of funding was needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that. I went to various people in the college for assistance and the most helpful people were Dr. Jerry Cade and Yvonne Ulmer. We tried to use my grant with their student orientation. Instead of being a camp, it ended up being a workshop. The students heard about the program during the orientation. I was there talking about what it could do for them. Unfortunately, we found out that if the program wasn’t part of the orientation for that day, the students failed to come back for the session that they signed up for while at orientation. Then I went to Plan B and used it in my SLS #1101 classes. These were the students that we were really targeting anyway.

What was the chief accomplishment of your project? What problem did you solve?

Instead of using this grant in its original format, I incorporated it in my curriculum with my SLS classes. We worked on the weakest skill areas and that helped the students be more successful in their other classes. There wasn’t one special program. I pulled from various sources.

What were the results? Did you see a numeric increase, a qualitative improvement?

Students became more confident and seemed more comfortable in the classroom. Overall, the majority of their work seemed to improve and they had a better attitude. I intended to try to see if I could re-introduce my idea, but since the SLS#1101 classes have so many requirements they now have to accomplish as requirements for their class, that plan has been put on hold.

Did YOU learn anything from the project? Did you make any changes to your teaching style or content?

Yes, I learned that writing a grant is only one step in a very involved process. I am always changing my teaching style and adjust my curriculum according to the population I am currently working with during the semester.

Can another teacher use your project? How could they implement your learning?

Using the premise of re-mediating weak areas is hopefully what all teachers do. That is what my grant was made to do.

Do you have plans for a follow-up project/additional research? If you did a grant again, what would you do differently?

I hope to further develop this grant in the future. I am always doing research in order to improve student success. If I did a grant again, I would allow myself more time for one thing. I also would do further research to make sure the grant was going to be feasible to implement.

Thanks, Jeri, for sharing your hard work and your insights into the fun and challenges of grants!

Addressing the problem of poor student performance is never easy. This article from the Atlantic Monthly explores the challenge from student attitude to teacher assumptions to pedagogical style. For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs – until the principal implemented very specific curriculum reform and began teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class.

What are your thoughts on the importance of writing to critical thinking? Does it have a place in every discipline? Does a writing assignment contribute to understanding in your class? Feel free to add your insights and share ideas in the comment section below!

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