MCTC

The MCTC News Blog

MCTC Psychology Instructor Identifies How to Determine Where a Student is Struggling

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

MCTC’s Troy Dvorak is at it again! The MCTC Psychology instructor was recently featured in an article from the Better Weekdays blog about the “nontraditional student.” Dvorak provides experienced advice about how to make students feel at ease as well as tips for student success. The instructor and recently published author is also a self-taught drummer, guitar student and a self-proclaimed fan of 80s rock and hair metal. You can read this original story here. The story is also posted in its entirety below.

How to Determine where a Student is Struggling

Written by : Aja Frost

How to Determine where a Student is Struggling

The “nontraditional” student may be the new “normal” student.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) defines “nontraditional” in three different ways: delayed enrollment, familial responsibility, or financial constraints and lack of high school degree. And under this definition, the NCES found that around half of all students enrolled in U.S. postsecondary institutions are moderately or highly untraditional.

It’s important for career counselors to be aware of this statistic, as the NCES has also found that the more “nontraditional” characteristics students have (including age, job status, dependency status and so on), the more likely they are to leave school before getting their degree.

To help these students succeed, you’ll want to create an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable. Once they trust you, work with them to identify and overcome potential obstacles.

Establish a Relationship

“Rapport is one of the most important parts of any counseling session,” says Troy Dvorak, adjunct professor of psychology at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the author of “Psychological Keys to Student Success.”

He advises making sure you leave plenty of time in your day for the appointment so that you don’t seem rushed or preoccupied.

“You don’t want to communicate that you are just squeezing the person in between other things,” Dvorak says.

To further put students at ease, remember to smile, be friendly and show you’re interested in them as people. The first couple questions you ask should be unrelated to school. Try openers like: “How was your weekend?” “What are you looking forward to?” “Is your day going well?”

Pinpoint the General Problem

After you’ve made the student feel a little more relaxed, you can start getting into the actual issue.

“I like to start by asking about his or her situation rather than delving immediately into what he or she is personally doing or not doing,” Dvorak says. “This reduces defensiveness.”

If you don’t immediately get an answer, he recommends gently bringing up the reason why the person booked the appointment. To engender trust, make sure you remain patient.

The Job Search

Dvorak assesses a number of factors to determine why a student’s efforts to find employment aren’t working. First, he asks practical questions, like “Do you have a resume?” or “What resources are you using?” and “What types of work are you applying for?”

If the student’s answers raise any red flags—for example, maybe he or she doesn’t have a well-crafted resume—you can start making a list of ways to help.

But you may have to go a little deeper. Dvorak will also inquire about students’ schedules, interests, transportation options, which can limit their ability to go on interviews, and what exactly they’re doing to find a job.

“Sometimes students say they are looking, but this means they surfed the Internet for 10 minutes one day,” he says.

He suggests asking how much time they’re spending looking and where they’re looking—but not too early in the session, as these questions can make students feel defensive.

Academic Success

“I personally want the person to know that there are many challenges associated with getting good grades. Some of the challenges are personal, while some are situational,” Dvorak says. “As a show of respect, I let them know that I am interested in learning more about what those challenges might be, and I ask if they are willing to share some of their personal experiences with me to help me understand how I might be able to help them.”

You’ll want to look into whether or not the student is supporting anyone or raising children, and if so, whether he or she has access to day-care. In addition, ask whether the student is working while he or she goes to school.

Dvorak also recommends asking:

  • Does the student have family or social support? Does he or she live with someone?
  • Is English the student’s first language?
  • Does the student have transportation? Is he or she regularly attending class?
  • Has the student recently experienced a hardship (loss of a home, death of a loved one, divorce/relationship break-up, etc.)?

The student may also be struggling with personal factors such as study skills and habits, time management abilities, self-confidence, mental health, previous academic experiences, and motivation and goals. To get to the root of these issues, Stacy Haynes, a licensed clinical psychologist and the chief executive officer of Little Hands Family Services in Turnersville, New Jersey who has a doctorate in education and helps people of all ages with academic struggles, likes to ask questions such as:

  • What subjects are you having a difficult time in?
  • What makes learning difficult?
  • What in the learning environment makes it difficult to learn?
  • Is there something the teacher is doing or not doing that is making it harder to learn?
  • What’s your favorite method of learning something?

Show Respect

No matter what, make sure you’re always showing respect for the student.

“These people have significant life experience,” Dvorak says. “Many have worked for a long time. Many are from other countries. They speak many different languages. They have children to support. They have limited time. And they are often trying to better themselves and the opportunities for their families.”

To allow students to open up, he believes you should always spend more time listening than talking. If you’re too quick to offer suggestions, the person you’re talking to will likely become non-responsive.

If you use these tips and questions, you’ll be able to discover why students are struggling, which will make finding solutions to their challenges that much easier.

MCTC Names Patrick Troup Interim VP of Student Affairs

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

patricktroup-200Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) announces the appointment of Patrick Troup as its interim vice president of student affairs. Troup comes to the college from the University of Minnesota, where he has held the roles of director of retention initiatives in the Office for Equity and Diversity, director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and associate director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Programs since 2002. Troup will begin his duties at MCTC Nov. 3.

In his new role at MCTC, Troup will oversee the planning, operation and administration of the College’s student affairs division. He will lead efforts to strengthen college readiness among entering students and transform internal support, resources and processes that lead to student retention and graduation. Troup led similar efforts during his time at the U of M, and has published and presented nationally on issues related to support services for students of color, peer-assisted learning and all-male living-learning communities of color.

As the interim vice president of student affairs, Troup will provide vision, leadership and strategic direction for all student affairs functions including recruitment, admissions, orientation, student life, multicultural student services, services for students with disabilities, career and job placement services, and TRIO programs at one of the state’s largest, urban two-year colleges. “I am delighted that Patrick has agreed to join our College to lead efforts in providing the care and support that our students need to achieve their dreams,” said Avelino Mills-Novoa, interim president. “He brings the long-range planning and enrollment management skills that are needed to lead this division of the College.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join this wonderful institution,” said Troup. “Much of my education and professional life has been dedicated to access, equity and multiculturalism, as well as student development within higher education. Higher education is the primary pathway for individuals to participate fully in our society and empowers individuals who historically have been relegated to the margins. I am looking forward to collaborating with everyone to promote the success and development of MCTC students.”

MCTC Launches 10 Learning Communities

Posted on: June 17th, 2011 by insidemctc No Comments

What is a Learning Community?

A learning community is made up of students who enroll in two or more courses together. The coursework is integrated and coordinated to ensure students have an engaging learning experience. Learning communities provide a supportive environment for students and are designed to lead to higher student success. Students gain skills and knowledge relevant to career development and living in a diverse world.

What can a Learning Community do for me?

Participants in learning communities enjoy:

  • Higher academic success
  • Specially designed courses, resources, programs and events
  • Enhanced working relationships with peers, advisors/counselors, and faculty
  • A more positive college experience
  • Clear pathways connected to certificates, transfer (MnTC goals), graduation or career success.

What are the Learning Communities offered at MCTC?

MCTC is offering 10 learning communities this fall, including the following:

For more information about specific Learning Communities courses, visit the Class Schedule and then click on Learning Communities (LCOM) under Subject.

Who is eligible to enroll in a Learning Community?

Any student who meets the prerequisites for the Learning Community may enroll. Some Learning Communities may have additional requirements. First-time, full-time students are strongly encouraged to enroll.

Who do I contact for more information?

For more information about learning communities at MCTC, please contact: Julie Chi at Julie.Chi@minneapolis.edu.