DEFINING ‘SUCCESS’ IN INTRODUCTORY SCIENCE CLASSES: ISSUES FACING TWO-YEAR COLLEGE PROFESSORS
SUNY/WCC is a large community college outside New York City, serving a highly diverse suburban and urban population (enrollment 15,000; 40% ethnic minorities). Approximately 50 students participated in a voluntary survey over academic year 2001-2002 which focused on students backgrounds and goals for the course. The results indicated that many students did not have a clear idea of their own educational goals beyond attainment of a grade or degree. While some individuals showed marked sophistication in navigating the college system, most students appear to be following a social trend pushing them to go to college despite a lack of personal motivation. Clearly there are benefits to exposing these students to higher education in order to spark their imagination and interest, but in what ways might this lack of individual motivation affect the students performance and success? More importantly, how can we as professors teach a rigorous and meaningful science curriculum without losing those students who are already at a disadvantage due to inadequate academic or social preparation?
This talk will be followed by discussion of these issues and suggestions of strategies for overcoming obstacles in the classroom on our way to developing a definition of success that meets both students and professors needs.