It’s no April Fool’s joke. Today is midterm for my two 12-week late start classes, English 0492 Approaches to College Writing II and English 0482 Approaches to College Reading II. There are now 19/20 students in my English 0492 course and 9/20 in my English 0482 course. Only one student dropped in English 0492 who had never logged in, whereas two students dropped in English 0482 (one student withdrew in February and one in March). Filling the English 0482 online course to capacity appears to be a challenge each semester it is offered. Perhaps reading an entire course on screen is not a preferred mode of instruction for students who struggle with critical reading and engaging in literacy related activities.
These 4-credit hour 0-level English courses are required via a student’s placement test score. Most students enrolled in college preparatory classes like English 0482 and English 0492 struggle academically and encounter a range of risk factors including:
Family and community factors: poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, unemployment
Personal factors: physical or mental health issues, substance misuse or dependency, teenage pregnancy or parenting responsibilities
School-related factors: negative relationships with teachers or peers, learning difficulties
At midterm I contact students in order to make recommendations whether or not to continue pursuing the course. In fact, our midterm online grading report in MyAccess has the designation of “Non-Pursuit” of course objectives (“N”) if students have erratic attendance or are missing several assignments. Students are notified and I engage in additional advising with them via e-mail, phone and in person.
If students are not succeeding in the course by midterm, it’s time to be realistic about whether or not to make changes in order to pass the course. Can students turn things around in the remaining weeks of the semester? What is the level of commitment and follow through? Is the style of teaching or structure of the class a mismatch?Would a tutor or additional academic assistance help? What is their course load? Is it too heavy? Did a transition occur (move, death, divorce, illness, unemployment) during the semester that prohibits a student from completing the course?
As an academic adviser it’s my job to help students explore options. I do not want to see students in academic distress and sometimes a “W” withdraw grade is the best option. It may provide more time to put efforts into other classes, keep their GPA strong and readjust their schedule. Every semester is a learning experience.