Plan for FrLv! March 29, 2019

Planning Session for FridayLive! April Series:  

“Killer” Gateway Courses & LTAs

Brainstorming and Stone Soup Discussion 

“Safety and Caring”  [Steve parked on curb…. Mistakes…]

2pm ET Intro, Warm-Up – Steve  Gilbert

Introduction – Begin recording

Do we have a VOC today?

Start “clock” to keep Steve Gilbert closer to schedule!

[Minimum goal for each “quick help” we identify:  it would be a good thing if it “went viral”?     How decide if something has actually gone “beneficially viral”?  

See _Diffusion of Innovation_  Everett Rogers,  …  goal… beyond the early adopters,  well into the “mainstream”…  approx more than 15% of potentially beneficiaries…

Which improvements in teaching/learning that take advantage of technology have reached beyond 15% within ….  3 years?  10 years?  6 months?    Almost none!??? 

Role of fear and approval and trust in ….teaching, learning, ….everything…  

Need for “safe environment” ;  hard to rebuild trust, once it has eroded.. avoid risk of shame, comparisons of rate of progress, …

Fundamentals:   Notation, Vocabulary, Rules of Syntax, ….

Quick Help to Get Thru Killer Gateway Courses?

For students, faculty, and those who support them who are currently trying to “get thru” these courses or course requirements….

  • Who cares? Why bother? 
  • Gateway vs. Gatekeeper? [Stumbling blocks, *barriers*, deterrent ….
  • Killer vs. Stumbling vs. Difficult

“Gateway Courses” Series Definition/Scope  [What will we include/exclude?]

Confirm/Clarify working definition, title:  “Killer” Gateway Courses = “Courses with high rates of unsuccessful outcomes (DFWI rates – Drop Fail Withdraw Incomplete) … Courses with DFWI rates of 30% or higher– These courses ‘kill’ a student’s GPA, motivation, academic progress, etc.– Serve as ‘gatekeeper’ to further study and degree completion” 

Slide 3 from  “Analytics and Gateway Courses: Understanding and Overcoming Roadblocks to College Completion,” Andrew K. Koch, Matthew W. Pistilli, IHE Webinar 09/27/12 Slideset, Slide 3:
  • Include:  “101”; First-Year College Undergrad;  Credit-bearing; …;  assessment resources for determining if a student has most of the basic skills needed to succeed in the course – use the results to guide the student to withdraw before end of drop/add period OR suggest some resources that such students could use simultaneously with beginning weeks of course;
    Include:  Online courses in which faculty seek to encourage students’ engagement & participation, especially via use of “essential” features of the online resources used in the course.;  [AVOID REINVENTING THE WHEEL… REFER TO COLLECTIONS, ETC. THAT ARE GOOD SOURCES FOR THESE PURPOSES]
  • Exclude:  Non-Credit; General Education (Gen Ed);  Adult Basic; Remedial/Developmental; Pre-College; Significant curricular changes (outside of the course);  Prerequisites usually included in high school courses;   ….
    • Include/Exclude Current Issue?  Integrated vs. Pre-Reqs [E.g., Kuckkahn Welding sequence]
      Integrated First Year Course:  include “prereq” content within “101” course vs.
      Pre-Req Requirements:  Students to must complete pre-req developmental course (e.g., high school algebra) or demonstrate equivalent competencies BEFORE taking “101” Gateway Courses Accounting, Math, etc.
      Are faculty who teach the gateway course REQUIRED/ENCOURAGED to address “remedial/pre-requisite”  skills?   e.g., For Math 101  assessment of basic pre-req skills required to be successful in that course;  for Chem 101 – include algebra I WITHIN the course?

WHICH “Killer” Gateway Courses First?
Select from the Usual Suspects (alphabetic order):
Accounting, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, History, Math, Psychology, Writing.

  • “Math 101” (NOT Gen Ed)- _pre-algebra_, algebra, not statistics,…?
  • “English 101” “Writing 101”  (NOT Gen Ed; NOT literature; NOT “reading”) – composition, writing, editing, “effective reading skills”, literature…?
  • “Chemistry 101″(NOT Gen Ed) notation, …? Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer original version (with him on piano) Sadly, elements not listed in order; Music from Gilbert & Sullivan,  Pirates of Penzance

  Elements in order;  Offenbach music;  …

  • “*Computer Literacy*” “Information Literacy”  … Other commonly used title for this course?]
  • Other?

Low-Threshold Improvements [Clarify, examples]

“Brief intro enables participants to reject or commit to use;  includes online component; non-intimidating; relatively low-cost”

LTA (Low-Threshold Application or Activity)

  • 2-10 minute introduction is adequate to enable students and faculty to reject or commit/use.
  • Includes application of information technology
  • Technology used is reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-intimidating and incrementally low-cost in time, money, and stress.  
  • Benefits are easily observable right away (students do better in a Gateway Course within 2 days to 2 weeks).

Low-Threshold Programmatic Course Improvement (LTPCI)

  • 10-20 minute introduction is adequate to enable faculty and academic support professionals to reject or commit…
  • Commit to prepare to launch for the next academic term or year.
  • Includes an improved use of online resources integrated throughout a course;
  • Benefits to most students are apparent and well-documented.
  • Structural changes that are incrementally low-cost in time, money, and stress .
  • [“Tweaking a course” …  e.g., getting info about the students who are usually in the course and using it to adjust… reduce fear;  increase trust….]

[Caveat:  Each of these improvements should support other important long-term improvements in teaching and/or learning;  at least, they should not interfere!]

WHICH LTA Categories First?

  • Google Search
  • Zoom Meetings
  • Digital Annotation
  • Memory Practice Tools (e.g., flash cards, Quizlet, )
  • Visualization Practice
  • Self-Learning (Pre-Requisite skills, e.g., subject-verb agreement in complex sentences, pre-algebra; …)
  • Study/Learning Skills;  e.g.,
    • Google search use of quotation marks
    • Lucy McDonald’s website, e.g., reading skills
    • Saundra McGuire’s Chemistry learning advice & Metacognition suggestions
    • MERLOT
    • Roberta Sullivan’s  EmTechWIKI from SUNY
  • Assessment of Readiness/Prep for the Course

WHICH LTPCIs Programmatic Course Improvements First?

  • Sources?
  • Examples?

How focus, structure every(?) FridayLive! session in series? 

Essentials for every FridayLive! Sessions

  • Helpful to some students in a specific “Killer” Gateway Course
  • Something a teacher of a specific “Killer” Gateway Course could recommend to or require of students
  • Something participants in the FrLv session could recommend to colleagues
  • Participants  feel their time was well-spent

Include one (or two or …) of each of the following?

  1. “Killer” Gateway Courses?
  2. Instructional Bottlenecks?
  3. One (or two, or, …) bottleneck-widening online LTA?
  4. Requests from participants for additional specific bottleneck-widening LTAs?
  5. SMALL selection of useful resources?  People? Organizations? Events? Publications?
  6. Cameos (5 minutes; volunteers)

“Straw man” Proposal for First of Series: April 5, 2019 ?

  • Gateway Course:  Math – Algebra
  • LTA Math-Focused
  • LTA Killer Course Focused (Memory Practice?)
  • Cameo?


  • John Gardner Institute…
  • CATs Classroom Assessment Techniques
  • Dana Foundation   
    “Most first-year college students are funneled into algebra or pre-algebra course sequences, whether or not algebra is relevant to their major or future career. Even worse, only half will pass.1 The New Mathways Project replaces existing models of math education with three rigorous pathways to increase student success and degree completion rates at both two-year and four-year colleges. Our funding supports the model’s expansion across Arkansas.”
  • NSF


Low-Threshold Applications and Activities (LTAs)

Incrementally Low-Cost in Time, Money, Stress

An LTA is an activity or application of information technology that is “low-threshold” i.e., reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-intimidating and incrementally low-cost in time, money, and stress.  Each LTA has easily observable benefits right away, and is likely to support important long-term improvements in teaching and/or learning.

It is often useful to extend the definition of LTA to include Apps, Applications, Activities, Resources, Web Sites, …  LTA’s need not depend on any specific information technology.

Additional LTA Resources (Collections of low threshold and higher threshold teaching resources, Examples, Slideshows, etc.)


2:45pm ET  Closing


  1. What was most useful today?
  2. What was not clear enough?
  3. What would be a useful follow-up?
  4. How might you contribute to the follow-up?

Next Week:  THEME:  ….

Clarify a Topic, Issue:  Articulate a

Useful Question

Request for Resource

Identify, Share Resource

At least one strategy, online tool, etc.

Shareable, Shareworthy (almost immediately useable/useful)


Decide Unnecessary

Identify Specific Activity, Date, People


Describe your "Free Online Shareworthy Interactivity"

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