Despite a full plate and not knowing when to say no, Developmental Math Instructor and Interim Department Chair Richard Getso found himself thrust into the middle of the field-study portion of the Global Skills for College Completion project on a $48,800 grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Getso was among 26 faculty members selected in a nationwide application process. The faculty team members each basic skills at 16 colleges in 14 states. The GSCC’s goal is to create a scalable, breakthrough pedagogy capable of achieving 80 percent student pass rates in basic math skills classes.
“The reason for the Global Skills for College Completion project is that the current passing rate is a dismal 30 to 40 percent across the country, and that’s a problem,” said Getso. “The goal is to find out what teachers that have high success rates are doing and figure out what they do to have students succeed.”
The developmental math interim department chair was surprised by the selection, but attributes it to his implementation of technology inside and outside of the classroom as a means of engaging and reaching out to students in the new 24/7 technology-driven world.
“This is a great honor for our institution that Mr. Getso is among 13 developmental math faculty members chosen from across the United States to participate,” said STC Dean of Bachelor Programs and University Relations Ali Esmaeili. “Mr. Getso was the first STC faculty member to incorporate a Tablet PC in his daily classroom activities and created many online video tutorials available to all developmental students.”
The GSCC Project is technology-oriented. It implemented a set of tools and routines to assist faculty in recording, sharing and analyzing their collective practices in order to help the team identify meaningful themes and patterns.
Themes are manifestations of teacher qualities, instructional values and instructional approaches, while patterns are the sequencing or organization of themes, according to the GSCC Web site.
After almost a year of data collection and observation, Getso says that one of the biggest factors in students’ success rates is the “attitude” of the teacher.
“From my perspective, all of us do different things,” he said. “But it’s how we do it, and I think it will be a main theme, not what you do, but how you do it. Attitude. Teachers with a caring attitude are successful, and students can tell. You can’t fool a student.”
Some of the impact the study will have is on the hiring process of instructors and a trickledown effect to high schools, according to Getso.
“We will use what we find to help us in the hiring of other developmental instructors. It’s a good thing trying to get this developed and maybe it can even be applied to high schools. When all is said and done, I hope this has an impact,” he concluded. “Since this is real research, it will carry some weight and South Texas College will be there. The work is going to be valid and well accepted.”