Walter E. Dennis Learning Center


Strategies for College Success



A Program for Increasing Postsecondary Success Rates Among Urban Students
funded by the US Department of Education.


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Strategies for College Success: A Course for Increasing Postsecondary Success Rates among Urban Students 

Dr. Bruce W. Tuckman, The Ohio State University

Strategies for College Success, an innovative course to help students increase their motivation and learning skills, has been used with great success at The Ohio State University over the past three years, and is being piloted at Columbus State Community College this year and Cuyahoga Community College, Ivy Tech and Gateway Community College next year. We have received a FIPSE grant to demonstrate that the barrier to academic success in college, faced by large numbers of urban at-risk high school and community college students can be overcome by teaching the Strategies for College Success course and are seeking community colleges that are interested in trying it.

The features of this course that distinguish it from others are that it

  • teaches four major strategies (with two substrategies each; see below) that are grounded in psychological theory and research, and can be applied to the motivational and learning challenges that students face in college

  • employs a classroom-based, computer-mediated instructional model that includes over 200 learning performance activities enabling students to master and transfer the strategies they learn

  • results in increases in grade point average that are 0.5 higher and at-risk student retention rates that are 14% higher than those obtained by matched non-course takers (Tuckman, 2003)


Specifically, the program trains students to Take Reasonable Risk, which is exemplified in their willingness to set goals and break down tasks into bite-size pieces; Take Responsibility for Your Outcomes, which encourages students to believe in them-selves and their own efforts and plan; Search the Environment for Information, which stresses the need for students to ask questions and use visualization; and Use Feedback, which encourages students to monitor themselves and give themselves instructions.

The strategies and substrategies used as the basis for the course are aimed at successfully teaching students to meet the motivational goals of:

  • overcoming procrastination

  • building self-confidence

  • becoming more responsible

  • managing their lives

and the cognitive goals of

  • learning from listening

  • learning from reading

  • preparing for tests

  • writing papers

The instructional design of the course is unique and innovative. Instead of instruction in a traditional class setting, the program is taught in a school computer classroom using a blended, web-based instructional model called Active Discovery And Participation thru Technology (ADAPT; Tuckman, 2002 ) that combines the critical features of traditional classroom instruction: (1) required attendance, (2) presence of an instructor, (3) a printed textbook (Learning and Motivation Strategies: Your Guide to Success by Tuckman et al.– Prentice Hall, 2002,) with those of computer-based instruction: (1) class time largely spent doing computer-mediated activities rather than teacher-centered instruction, (2) a large number of performance activities rather than just a few exams, (3) self-pacing with milestones rather than a lockstep pattern. The program software includes over 200 learning performance activities, the instructional purpose of which is to provide (1) an optimal sequence for mastery learning, (2) the necessary practice for changing behavior and (3) opportunities for transfer of the strategies to other settings.

The Project director, Dr. Bruce W. Tuckman, and his staff, are committed to the success of this program and will provide campus administration, faculty and staff, the necessary support to assist in the implementation process.

Each participating school must provide the following:

  • a working contact person(s) within the school to aid in implementation activities (e.g., vice president, dean, assistant dean, department head)

  • an agreement to provide students taking the course with course credit

  • one instructor (or more) who is willing to teach the course

  • a minimum of 15 students per class offering

  • a computer lab with a minimum of 15 terminals (dedicated for four hrs/week, one-semester) with a 1:1 ratio of students to terminals)

  • access to Blackboard or a comparable courseware platform

  • feedback and data for purposes of course evaluation


The project staff will provide the following:

  • a course designed to help students learn strategies for academic success

  • training, continuous mentorship, and technological support for the course instructor(s) via phone and email (and on-site, when possible)

  • the course software (under an R&D site license) and assistance with its use

  • assistance with data collection to assess the success of the project

The course is expected to improve students’ academic success, generate revenues in excess of costs, and bring institutions added recognition for innovation. To find out more about the course, visit our website at and/or contact Dr. Tuckman at or (614) 688-8284.


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