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  • 1.  IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 05-01-2024 15:00:00

    What soft skills (such as time management, test-taking, note-taking, etc) do you find your students struggle with the most?  What strategies, tools, and resources have you implemented or used to improve your students' soft skills?



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    Kim Granger
    Professor
    St. Louis CC - Wildwood
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  • 2.  RE: IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 05-06-2024 08:18:00
    Edited by Frank Marfai 05-06-2024 08:21:09

    Thank you for bringing up this important topic.  While I find students struggling with different soft skills you had mentioned, I find that the issue of time management commonly emerges.  We have students trying to balance work, school, and family commitments, but time is a finite resource. The graph below is a visual that I show in class during the first week of class, from a source I use to support students in developing critical soft skills (cited below).

    A graph showing balanced and non-balanced distributions of time with regard to academics and work

     from Turning on the Lights, pg. 123

    However, when I see students struggling with doing their assignments in a timely manner or keeping up with assignments, and by then I have developed a good rapport with them, I will ask them what else is happening in their lives. Specifically about how much are they working and other non-negotiable time commitments they are experiencing.  I offer to sit down after class or during office hours to make a weekly schedule (for example, one have I downloaded and printed copies of is a weekly planner from the Turning on the Lights website.  For the students who participate, their self-assessment of the usage of time when going through this process is oftentimes characteristic of the first graph  - not balanced.

    The student does a draft schedule during this session, where they account for the time spent in their week based on prompts I ask (in addition to budgeting time for in-person classes, online classes, studying and homework, work hours, and family obligations, we have to eat, do laundry, pay bills, etc...)   A second (blank) copy of the week planner is given to them that can transcribe after the initial meeting, and I also recommend them using reminders on their phone calendar based on the schedule grid they developed.

    I mention to them that the schedule represents a baseline, and should be adjusted if it not is accurately reflecting what a typical week is, with the understanding that the time needed for school is not the part to be trimmed - if their current course load is maintained.  Oftentimes the outcome of the reflection is that student realizes on their own they are working too many hours per week and need to reduces those hours, or they are taking too many credits with their current work load, as looking at the schedule they made helped with the realization. In short, I approach I use to time management is personalized to the student. The individualized approach has helped the students I have the opportunity to work with.

    I am sure there are other ways colleagues on this thread have approached the subject of time management that can be leveraged to a larger group of students, or with the shyer students in class who might be intimated regarding meeting with their professor, so I am curious about their thoughts and perspectives.

    Source:

    Alvarez, R. D. 2011.  Turning on the Lights: Using Learning Culture to Increase Student Success.  Available at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/turning-on-the-lights .



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    Frank Marfai
    Mathematics Faculty
    Phoenix College
    Maricopa Community Colleges
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  • 3.  RE: IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 05-15-2024 14:49:00

    This is a GREAT resource, Frank.  Thank you so much for sharing it with us.  This is the first time I have visited the "Turning on the Light" website, but I am going to share this with students and colleagues.  I hope that others that stop by to visit this discussion will share additional support tools!



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    Kim Granger
    Professor
    St. Louis CC - Wildwood
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  • 4.  RE: IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 30 days ago

    I feel it is very important to teach our students soft skills to be successful in the course during the semester. I teach my students in quantitative reasoning class to create  excel sheets with their study time plan and budget sheet as a part of in-class activities. I also use a excel sheet to track their grade during the semester. Sometimes students miss many daily or major assignments during the semester and ask of extra credit options at the end. My goal is to tell them how they can improve their learning by managing their time regularly and keeping up with the course. I would like to see excel sheets for grade/GPA tracking that you are using. 



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    Chamila Ranaweera
    Mathematics and Statistics Lecturer
    James Madison University
    Harrisonburg VA
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  • 5.  RE: IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 23 days ago

    because we use Canvas and students CAN see their grades, what they turned in and what has been graded so far, I don't use outside webistes or Excel. I did in the past before Canvas and before Blackboard. 

    I do have a mid semester assignments (a google form survey) asking questions that students need to view their grades, compute their percentage in the class and reply with their reflection on how they are doing in the class. I  made the questions have several answers, some serious and  some of them designed make the students laugh 



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    Valerie Chau
    Adjunct Instructor, Math
    San Diego Miramar College
    San Diego CA
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  • 6.  RE: IMPACTful Discussions (DM): Support Students by Integrating Soft Skills into Your Math Course

    Posted 26 days ago

    I find that students take no time to read a textbook or even online website materials. They simply try out homework and then say Oh I  don't know how to do it. Even though I explain and give examples during class, this isn't enough becuase students are not willing to do any outside class work or self learning. 

    In addition my calculus and even college algebra students lack basic algebra and fraction knowledge. 



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    Valerie Chau
    Adjunct Instructor, Math
    San Diego Miramar College
    San Diego CA
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