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Classroom assessment of student performance is particular effective when it is early and is used to trigger to provision of academic support to those whose performance indicates the need for support.
At no time is support, in particular academic support, more important than during the critical first year of college when student success is still so much in question and still malleable to institutional intervention.
A key feature of such support is its being aligned or contextualized to the demands of the classroom, thereby enabling students to more easily translate the support they receive into success in the classroom.
Expectations Student classroom performance is driven, in part, by the expectations that faculty have for their students and that students have for themselves.
Student success is directly influenced not only by the clarity and consistency of expectations, but also by their level.
High expectations are a condition for student success; low expectations a harbinger of failure. A faculty member’s expectations are communicated to students, sometimes implicitly, through syllabuses, assignments, grading metrics, course management sites, and conversations.
Students quickly pick up what is expected of them in the classroom and adjust their behaviors accordingly.If our efforts do not reach into the classroom and enhance student classroom success, they are unlikely to substantially impact college success. First and foremost they must direct their actions to the classroom, especially for those in the first year, and construct classrooms whose attributes are such as to enhance the likelihood that students will succeed academically.Attributes of Effective Classrooms What are the attributes of such classrooms?As applied to basic skills for instance contextualization creates explicit connections between the teaching of reading, writing, or mathematics on one hand and instruction in a subject area on the other, as might occur when writing skills are taught with direct reference to material taught in a sociology class.Assessment and Feedback Students are more likely to succeed in classrooms that assess their performance and provide frequent feedback about their performance in ways that enable everyone -- students, faculty, and staff -- to adjust their behaviors to better promote student success in the classroom.Perhaps the most common is that where study groups are directly connected to a specific course, as they are in supplemental instruction.In this case, leaders of the study groups work closely with the course instructor to ensure that the work of the group is closely aligned to the demands of the course.Several of these deserve special attention, not only because of evidence that supports their effectiveness, but also because of their capacity to reshape the nature of classroom learning, and in turn enhance classroom success -- in particular, but not only, for those who enter college academically underprepared.Contextualized Academic Support Contextualized support can be achieved in a variety of ways.Over the past 20 years, if not more, colleges and universities, states and private foundations have invested considerable resources in the development and implementation of a range of programs to increase college completion.Though several of these have achieved some degree of success, most have not made a significant impact on college completion rates.