The Diamond of College Success

Joe Cuseo, PhD
Aaron Thompson, PhD
Michele Campagna, EdD
Viki Fecas, PhD
 To
equip you with a set of powerful success strategies
you can use immediately to get off to a fast start in
college and can use continually throughout your
college experience to achieve success
 Research
on human learning and student development
indicates four powerful principles of college success:
Active Involvement;
2. Use of Campus Resources;
3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration; and
4. Personal Reflection and Self-Awareness (Astin, 1993; Kuh,
2000; Light, 2001; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Tinto,
Utilizing Campus Resources
Interaction and
Active Involvement
Personal Reflection and
= Supporting Bases for College
= Primary (“Home”) Base for College
Research indicates that active involvement may be the most
powerful principle of human learning and college success (Astin,
1993; Kuh, 2000).
Involves the following pair of processes:
o The amount of personal time you devote to learning in the college
o The degree of personal effort or energy (mental and physical) you put into
the learning process.
of Classes
Final Course Grades
 Studies
clearly show that when college students
spend more time on academic work outside of class
the result is better learning and higher grades
(National Survey of Student Engagement, 2003).
Research on college graduates indicates that the higher their
college grades, the higher
o The status (prestige) of their first job;
o Their job mobility (ability to change jobs or move into different positions);
o Their total earnings (salary).
The best way to apply the principle of active involvement during a
class lecture is to engage in the physical action of writing notes.
Use the following strategies to improve the quality of your
note taking.
 Get to every class
 Get to every class on time
 Get organized
 Get in the right position
 Get in the right frame of mind
 Get it down (in writing)
 Don’t let go of your pen
 Finish strong
 Stick around
Arrive at class prepared
Ask relevant questions
Contribute thoughtful comments during class participation
Taking notes on information that
you’re reading, or on information
you’ve highlighted while reading,
helps keep you actively involved in the
reading process because it requires
more mental and physical energy
than merely reading material or
passively highlighting sentences.
Come fully equipped
o Writing tool and storage
o Dictionary
o Glossary of terms
Get in the right position
o Upright and with light
coming from behind you
Get a sneak preview
o Boldface headings, chapter
outline, summary, end-ofchapter questions
Use boldface headings
and subheadings
Pay attention to the first
and last sentences
Finish each of your
reading sessions with a
short review
Studies show that students who use campus resources report
higher levels of satisfaction with college and get more out of the
college experience (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005).
Learning Center
Writing Center
Disability Services
College Library
Academic Advisement Center
Office of Student Life
Financial Aid Office
Counseling Center
Health Center
Career Development Center
Human knowledge is socially constructed, or built
through interaction and dialogue with others.
Your interpersonal conversations become mentally
internalized (represented in your mind) and are shaped
by the dialogue you’ve had with others (Bruffee, 1993).
Thus, by having frequent, intelligent conversations with
others, you broaden your knowledge and deepen your
Four particular forms of interpersonal interaction have
been found to be strongly associated with student
learning and motivation in college:
Student-faculty interaction
Student-advisor interaction
Student-mentor interaction
Student-student (peer) interaction
Studies consistently show that college success is
influenced heavily by the quality and quantity of
student-faculty interaction outside the classroom. Such
contact is positively associated with the following
positive outcomes for college students:
 Improved academic performance;
 Increased critical thinking skills;
 Greater satisfaction with the college experience;
 Increased likelihood of completing a college degree; and
 Stronger desire to seek education beyond college (Astin, 1993;
Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005).
Can be an effective referral agent who can direct you to,
and connect you with, campus support services that
best meet your needs
An individual you should meet with more regularly than
course instructors
Research in higher education
demonstrates that a mentor
can make first-year students
feel significant and enable
them to stay on track until they
complete their college degree
(Campbell & Campbell, 1997;
Knox, 2008).
• First-Year Seminar
• Faculty in Your Intended
• Juniors, Seniors, or
Graduate Students in
Your Intended Major
• Working Professionals in
Careers that Interest You
• Academic Support
• Career Counselors
• Personal Counselors
• Learning Assistance
• Student Development
• Campus Minister or
• Financial Aid Counselors
• Advisor
Studies of college students repeatedly point
to the power of the peer group as a source of
social and academic support (Pascarella,
As a new student, it may be useful to view
your early stage of the college experience
and academic performance in terms of the
classic hierarchy model of human needs,
developed by American psychologist
Abraham Maslow.
Need to fulfill
potential, to have
meaningful goals
Need for confidence,
sense of competence,
self-esteem, and esteem
of others
Need to belong, to affiliate, to love
and to be loved
Need for security, comfort, tranquility, freedom
from fear
Need for food, water, oxygen, rest
According to Maslow’s model, humans cannot reach their full
potential and achieve peak performance until their more basic
emotional and social needs have been met.
Making early connections with your peers helps you meet these
basic human needs, provides you with a base of social support to
ease your integration into the college community, and prepares
you to move up to higher levels of the need hierarchy.
Collaboration involves true
teamwork, in which
teammates support one
another’s success and
take equal responsibility
for helping the team move
toward its shared goal.
To maximize the power of collaboration, use the following
guidelines to make wise choices about teammates who will
contribute positively to the quality and productivity of your learning
Look for peers who are motivated and likely to contribute to your team’s
success, rather than those whom you suspect may just be hitchhikers
looking for a free ride.
Include peers who differ from you in age, gender, ethnicity, racial, cultural
or geographic background, learning style, and personality.
Form Learning Teams:
Note-Taking Teams
Reading Teams
Writing Teams
Library Research Teams
Team-Instructor Conferences
Study Teams
Test Results-Review and
Assignment-Review Teams
Learning Communities
The final steps in the learning process, whether it be learning in
the classroom or from experience, are to step back from the
process, thoughtfully review it, and connect it to what you
already know.
Personal reflection involves introspection – turning inward and
inspecting yourself to gain deeper self-awareness of what you’ve
done, what you’re doing, or what you intend to do. Two forms of
personal reflection are particularly important for success in
2. Self-monitoring
Self-assessment is the process of reflecting on and
evaluating your personal characteristics, such as your
personality traits, learning habits, and strengths or
Personal Interests
Personal Values
Personal Abilities or Aptitudes
Learning Habits
Learning Styles
Personality Traits
Academic Self-Concept
Research indicates that one characteristic of successful
learners is that they monitor or watch themselves and
maintain full awareness of:
 Whether they’re using effective learning strategies;
 Whether they are comprehending what they are attempting to
learn; and
 How to regulate or adjust their learning strategies to meet the
demands of different tasks or subjects (Pintrich, 1995;
Weinstein, 1994; Weinstein & Meyer, 1991).

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