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“The Californian Community College Chancellor’s Report provides this data: IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAM Disability Category 2017-18: Number of Students and Percent Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) 4,458 and 3.66%, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 9,382 and 7.71%, Autism Spectrum 8,067 an…”
Insanity, the cliché goes, is doing the same thing over and expecting different results. A quick survey of recently published college writing texts shows that little has changed in the approach of the profession: writing instructors demand a clear, well-organized, grammatically correct essay. Many would rightly argue that this is how it should be: competence in using the structures of grammar and rhetoric has been a part of a professional education for generations, and should remain so because meeting these student learning outcomes is essential to student success.
In California, recent structural reforms of curriculum have boosted student success. California Assembly Bill 705, the legislative reform of community college writing programs, has made some positive, long-term changes based on eliminating needless remedial writing classes. Yet recent research in the California Community College system shows that writing instructors continue to have difficulty meeting these student learning outcomes. My colleague, Dr, Sean Epstein-Corburn, reports that Merced College shows some significant long-term improvement despite an initial drop in success rates.
- Since AB705, first-try 1A course success rates actually went down about 7% (to 49.3%). At the same time, one-year throughput increased from 43.2% to 55%. About an extra 800 students got through 1A in a year than would have before AB705.
- 49.3% of students pass 1A on the first try.
- Of those who re-take it in a subsequent semester, about 25% pass.
- However – the final course success rate for 1A (over 2+ years), including those who re-take it and pass, is 69%.
However, in the two-year window, almost a third of students who attempted the class failed to pass it. While this shows an improvement over the pre-705 performance, a third of the students at our college fail to pass English 1A within two years.
And it is in this group, we find the clearest equity issues. The intersectionality of multiple factors can create a pattern of institution discrimination especially when we use disability as a factor with race. In Kimberle Crenshaw’s idea of “intersectionality,” (((“Intersectionality within CRT points to the multidimensionality of oppressions and recognizes that race alone cannot account for disempowerment. ‘Intersectionality means the examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their combination plays out in various settings.’” UCLA School of Public Affairs)))individuals who fall into more than one category often experience a harsher form of discrimination. Most community college students fall into at least two of the following subcategories:
- gender/sexual orientation
I want to add another category, which I will call “brain” because I don’t admit to the term “disorders.” I have long thought that “disorders” are not “disabilities,” but alternative ways of thinking. Individuals are born with different brains. Roughly one-quarter of our students (perhaps with overlap) have a “mental health” or “learning disability.” Almost 8 percent are on the spectrum; another 8 percent have ADHD. (((The Californian Community College Chancellor’s Report provides this data:
IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAM Disability Category 2017-18: Number of Students and Percent Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) 4,458 and 3.66%, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 9,382 and 7.71%, Autism Spectrum 8,067 and 6.63%, Deaf/Hard of Hearing 4,498 3.69% Intellectual Disability 7,395 and 6.07%, Learning Disability 31,907 and 26.21%, Mental Health 23,805 and 19.55%, Mobility 9,441 and 7.75%, Other (including speech) 19,530 and 16.04%, Vision 3,077 and 2.53% for a total number of sudents of 121,560.
Thanks to Dr. Inga Maples of Merced college for pointing me in the right direction.
Students who are not neurotypical, students with ADD/ADDHD, dyslexia, or on the autism spectrum may respond to instruction differently. They are often also bilingual or first-generation students, students of color, or low-income students. As a result, to create a more equitable classroom and college, different pedagogies need to be developed that take into account these intersectionalities. To be truly equitable, these pedagogies must emphasize what Vygotsky calls “the plus of compensation” as opposed to the “minus of disability”.
By using metacognitive instruction and emphasizing the importance of growth mindset, The Persistent Writer helps these intersectional students develop an individual writing strategy to fit their needs. It presents “mistakes” as information rather than “failure” to encourage a growth mindset. It encourages students to see bilingualism as an asset rather than a deficit, and to recognize imposter syndrome in themselves so that they can better understand their own right to an education.
Share your strategies for creating growth mindset in your students. What techniques do you use for engaging and retaining students who are not neurotypical?