Sherri Cummins speaks to her class on Monday at San Juan College in Farmington.
Sherri Cummins speaks to her class on Monday at San Juan College in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — San Juan College staff hope last year's revamp of the school's "Student Success" course will help students stay in college and earn their degrees.

Sherri Cummins-Black, college success instructor, said the course teaches students about personal responsibility, self-motivation and self-awareness to help students make smart choices while attending college.

The course uses an interactive curriculum that tries to avoid lectures and focuses on group and hands-on activities.

"I think so many of us are going through life like we don't have a lot of control," Cummins-Black said. "In this class, we're really trying to show students that their every-day choices affect their lives."

During a Monday class taught by Cummins-Black, students reviewed their journal entries on an assessment they took last week.

The assessment examined their strengths and weaknesses in the eight principles of success — one of the focuses of the course.

Students met in groups of two and discussed their strengths and weaknesses and how they could improve their scores.

In a class discussion afterwards, students talked about the ways they provided guidance to their fellow students and how to focus on their goals.

Student Michelle Delegarito said the assessment showed she was strong in personal responsibility and discovering self-motivation.

"It told me that I'm a person that can accept responsibility for my actions in life and in the school," Delegarito said. "That bad grade is because of me. I either didn't do it or I didn't understand it."

Cummins-Black said the program received a major revamp in the Fall 2013 semester, The curriculum switched from teaching students study skills to the current curriculum and they have increased the number of classes offering the course.

Loryn Harvey, left, works with Tashai Warito on Monday during a student success class at San Juan College in Farmington.
Loryn Harvey, left, works with Tashai Warito on Monday during a student success class at San Juan College in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

Michaele Brandon, senior director of the Center for Student Engagement, said the number of "Student Success" courses increased in the Fall 2013 semester from eight offered during the 2011-2012 school year to 21 sections in the 2012-2013 school year.

The number of students increased from about 140 to about 300 last year. Brandon said enrollment numbers were unavailable this year since the current semester started last week but the number of sections offered is similar to last year.

"We have more students now able to put those kinds of principles together in their life and be successful in their lives," Brandon said.

Brandon described the "Student Success" course as still being in the pilot stage as they work to improve and expand the program.

A version of the course combined with a "Basic Writing Workshop" English course is new this year.

Brandon said the college hopes in the future to embed the "Student Success" curriculum with other courses to reach more students.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.