NLC science seeks path to success

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Department’s mission is to raise student’s grades, learning.

By Hillary E. Ratcliff

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

A place at Northeast Lakeview College for students who are struggling in science courses is designed to erase the dark cloud hovering over their heads.

Two professors noticed some of the students enrolled in anatomy and physiology courses were having difficulty in a high-risk course.

The science study center at Lakeview has been designed for students to raise course grades from failing to passing. Biology professor Karla Kosub-Coronado and Thomas Neil McCrary, chair of science and kinesiology, are focused on helping.

Before the center opened, McCrary was taking time out of his office hours to help tutor his students.

A professor formerly at Northwest Vista, McCrary worked out of Lakeview’s temporary setup in an old Albertsons grocery store, until 2008 when the new science building opened.

Once the department was up and running, McCrary and his science colleagues continued to use office hours to help students.

“It is required that we have at least 10 hours of office hours,” Kosub-Coronado said.

Upon moving into the new building, space was allotted for the science study center; where both professors have their tutoring sessions with students.

Kosub-Coronado and McCrary use the center to help students improve grades in labs for anatomy and physiology.

The center provides lab models and other resources. A work-study psychology student monitors the center.

Data collection shows students who stop by the center have considerable changes in grade average.

Out of 469 students who never visited the center, 147 made an F and 111 made an A on lab exams based on data collected through the check-in station in the center.

These students could meet the criteria to fit into the Early Alert System, a system based on class grade, participation, attendance and tardiness.

McCrary said it is hard to accurately know whether a student will potentially fail a high-risk course only three weeks into the semester. By the three-week mark, students have not been administered any exams or many quizzes.

The early alert does allow professors to be aware about students struggling in high-risk science courses, so proper advising can take place early.

Upon detection of who and what classes are at risk of failing, professors start stressing the need to come into the center for help.

Kosub-Coronado’s and McCrary’s only incentive is a student’s grade.

A student who has gone to the center 10 or more times is less likely to receive a failing grade as opposed to an A and a B on lab exams.

They chose not to offer extra credit for showing up for tutoring sessions out of fairness to students who may want to participate but are unable to attend.

Kosub-Coronado said students have dropped or stopped attending her anatomy and physiology course, but still come back to retake the course.

She has had former students who failed the first time come back and make up past mistakes by taking advantage of opportunities in the center.

McCrary recalled two times he went into the hospital and was attended by former students.

“In my mind I’m thinking, what grade did you make in my class?” McCrary said.

In one encounter, the attending nurse told McCrary she did not pass his course, but took some time away and later repeated the course.

Kosub-Coronado said its anatomy and physiology course is a college-level science course, where about 85 percent of the students enrolled are pre-nursing. Passing is vital for students to progress into nursing programs such as the one at this college.

Kosub-Coronado and McCrary said they will never change the pace of their anatomy and physiology course to achieve higher success rates because to them that is not how you learn science.

“Students barely getting a passing grade in the course will not be re-taught the fundamentals taught in anatomy and physiology,” Kosub-Coronado said.

As Lakeview continues its accreditation process, Kosub-Coronado and McCrary are hoping to gain more faculty and staff to support the rigorous science department.

By increasing the staff, the department can start hiring tutors for anatomy and physiology, chemistry and biology.

Someday in the future, Kosub-Coronado and McCrary hope to have a fully equipped center to aid students in passing the rigorous, high-risk science courses.

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