Learning Resources

Academic Services & Learning Resources Division


Very unfortunately, we need to cancel this visiting speaker event.  
One of our speakers needs to attend to a minor but urgent medical issue
and cannot come.  Andrew LaManque and I will
reschedule, probably for Fall quarter 2012.

Thanks in advance for understanding and please look forward to
next year's Visiting Research Speaker Series.


2011-2012 Research Speakers Series #3


Bob Gabriner and Ian Walton

Wednesday, May 23    3–4:30 pm

MCC Conference Room


Join us for a lecture and workshop with Bob Gabriner, Director, Ed.D Program Education Leadership at SF State University, and Ian Walton, Math Instructor Emeritus from Mission College. They conducted research, along with others from across the state, visiting 14 California Colleges to look at specific innovations and to examine the quality of instruction in basic skills. The paper below is one of a series of articles produced from the research. After we hear a brief lecture based on the research, we will engage in an open discussion with faculty, researchers, and administrators in regards to the article.

See below for an abstract, and click here for the full article.


Sponsored by:

Learning Resources Division

Office of Institutional Research and Planning

Abstract of "Student Support Services: Their Possibilities and Limits"

Basic Skills Instruction in California Community Colleges, Number 4

Policy Analysis for California Education

Community colleges provide a substantial array of student support services, designed to help students master basic subjects and to learn “how to be college students.” However, the use of these services by instructors and students varies substantially. Some instructors rarely or never mention the availability of such services; others make the use of some services mandatory. But the largely
voluntary nature of student services means that many students do not use these
services, for reasons ranging from competing demands for their time to avoidance of stigma or stereotype threat. The result is general consensus that the students who most need support services fail to get them — except where colleges have moved to portray such services as “what all good students do.”

Like other forms of instruction, student support services have their own pedagogy. But, in observing tutoring services and students labs, it becomes clear that many student services replicate the remedial pedagogy of basic skills instruction itself — repeating the procedures used in class and helping students find the right answers but without additional conceptual understanding. This is, to be sure, not universally true, and Supplemental Instruction and more student-focused forms of Student Success courses depart substantially from remedial pedagogy. However, the use of remedial pedagogy sometimes leads to conflicts between student services and conventional instruction.

This problem highlights the problem of competition between instruction and student services, in place of the complementarity usually assumed. Pedagogical and philosophical differences, the inevitable competition for resources and for the limited time of students, the ambiguity of what centralization and coordination mean, and the different approaches to “rigor” all exacerbate the sense of competition over cooperation and integration.

Guidance and counseling is a student support that is particularly important, particularly in helping students and “experimenters” plan their educational programs. But guidance and counseling suffer from limited resources, from limited contacts with students, from the fact that many students– again, often those most in need — don’t use these services, and from poor reputations among instructors and students about the weaknesses of counselors in providing the information students most need. As in other areas of student services, there are several promising directions for guidance and counseling that would strengthen these crucial services.

More generally, student services suffer from certain structural problems.
One is related to funding, since students services (unlike conventional
instruction) do not generate additional revenues for colleges. The large number
of adjunct faculty members, especially in developmental education, also
complicates contact between instruction and student services. The nature of most
colleges as laissez-faire institutions, reluctant to place requirements on either
students or instructors, contributes to the voluntary use of student services.
Various ways of reshaping student services therefore require challenging
conventional practices and norms of community colleges, but the results have the
promise of making the entire enterprise of developmental education more

Division Office

Contact: Annette Corpuz Division Assistant        Phone: 408.864.8313


Last Updated: 5/22/12