When Homework Isn't Working

Video created by Allen Cooper on Oct 29, 2019

    Macmillan Learning has been a proud partner of many hundreds of first-year experience programs across the country, working to develop innovative textbook, courseware, and custom publishing solutions to support success and retention in higher education. From the John Gardner textbook program by the founder of the modern FYE course to groundbreaking new editions like Connections and the ACES assessment, Macmillan has continued to be the company of innovation and partnership to help institutions achieve their FYE goals.


    Yet over the past year, I’ve talked with a handful of institutions and instructors who shared with me similar experiences:


    • “I don’t require a textbook or assign publisher courseware”
    • “Many of my students have real obstacles that prevent them from completing assignments before coming to class”
    • “Textbooks are just for reference”
    • “Students learn best from engaging, in-class activities”


    Does any of this sound familiar to you?


    That some instructors and institutions are struggling to get students to complete homework lines up with some data we have from a recent review. We asked 16 first-year experience instructors and administrators how much of the assigned reading do your students complete? Half of the respondents said most or all. But half of the respondents said 50% or less.


    For those of you where homework isn't working, we hear you. Over the past 6 months, our college success editorial team has listened, brainstormed, and developed a prototype for a new kind of in-class learning product for courses where the classroom means everything.


    The result is a robust set of lesson plans that drive experiential, in-class learning delivered through the number one student response-system, iClicker. It is called Designed Learning Experiences for College Success.


    There are 15 Designed Learning Experiences for College Success (DLEs)—one for each of the main topics typically covered in the FYE course, such as Goal Setting, Time Management, and Career Planning.


    Each DLE consists of:


    1. An editable, ready-to-go lesson plan (sample), designed for a 45-60 minute class period, than can be easily customized or tweaked by the instructor or institution
    2. An accompanying, interactive slide deck (sample) that drives the lesson


    DLEs are built with cutting-edge pedagogy, with checks for prior knowledge, self-assessment, opinion polling, and a variety of constructivist learning activities such as think/pair/share, jigsaw, research, role-playing, SMART goal-setting, and fun competition—all designed to create powerful classroom experiences, with minimal planning time, where real learning is ensured for every student.


    This fall, we have instructors reviewing and piloting the Designed Learning Experiences. We’d be happy to have feedback from any instructor/institution that might be interested in reviewing or trying DLEs in their FYE programs. If you're interested in learning more, please reach out to me at allen.cooper@macmillan.com and Amy Haines, marketing manager, at amy.haines@macmillan.com


    The complete, final Designed Learning Experiences for College Success is scheduled to be released this spring, available for use in fall classes using iClicker. Stay tuned!