Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Students of Concern

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This blog post was written by Samm Erickson, TLC Coordinator at the Southeast Campus.

We had a workshop on Friday for the SE faculty about the new Student of Concern process at PCC, and I thought it was useful to provide a few takeaways from the process.

First, it’s important to understand that the process has changed at PCC. Things are very different now than they have been in the past because every campus has a student conduct and retention coordinator whose job is to respond to these concerns. On the web, you can find the student of concern web resource, which includes the report form. On the main page of the web resources you’ll see these type of behaviors or concerns that can be reported.

  • Students struggling with life factors significantly impacting their ability to be successful in school.
  • Students exhibiting a pattern of disruptive behavior in the class or other college setting.
  • Students expressing excessive anger or rage toward other students or college faculty or staff.
  • Students making direct or indirect statements expressing intent to harm themselves or others.

What this means is that there are lots of reasons, and one takeaway from the workshop was that, when in doubt, faculty should report. There are options on the form to prioritize the level of concern.

When filling out the report, it’s important to use objective language and to describe things that actually happened. That means using exact language and describing exact behavior.

Once the report has been filed, it goes the Student Conduct and Retention Coordinator, who has a variety of strategies that they can use to meet the needs of the faculty and the student.

Overall, I walked away with the idea that this is not a process that will “get a student into trouble”; in fact, this kind of reporting process is actually a way to retain students and to help them succeed at the college.

About Heather Mayer

Part-Time History Instructor and Coordinator of the Rock Creek Teaching Learning Center. more »

Comments

There are 8 comment for this article. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by Max 1 year ago

You should use some images on your blog posts.

Max

x by bryan 1 year ago

I am never particularly worried about a student “getting in trouble” but in destroying the trust that I am slowly trying to knit together with that student or that the student is trying to form with the community in the classroom. I feel as if one wrong move, and the student will cut out on me and the class — which I don’t know is warranted or not. I feel still uncertain about this whole topic and that there’s a great deal of pressure on the instructor.

x by Andy Freed 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing Samm. I too hear about a lot of reticence among faculty to engage the Student of Concern process because of unfounded fears. It is a great process and can take a lot of pressure off of the instructor while helping students at critical points of need.

x by Weeze Herr 1 year ago

According to the Disciplinary Process Review Report of April 2014 there were concerns expressed regarding various aspects of this process. Is there is an updated document outlining how these concerns have been or will be met?

x by D. Unkov 1 year ago

I want to raise a concern about the student’s permanent record and the fact that the first bullet point is in the same category with the other three more threatening issues. Perhaps a student who is just experiencing difficult life situations shouldn’t be lumped into a category with those who are acting out in a threatening manner.
I am sure administrators will take care not to get a student in trouble but I have to ask are these records open to other schools? Are they open to other state or federal inquiries?
If a report is deemed to be not credible is the report kept in a file somewhere or is it expunged from the student’s record?

x by Peter Seaman 1 year ago

The college is very fortunate to have the services of talented APs working in the role of Student Conduct and Retention Coordinator! It’s yet another area where specialists are having a positive impact on the mission of the college. Thanks, Samm, for providing a good summary of a complicated area.

x by Kris Fink 1 year ago

One issue that was pointed out is the difference between a conduct issue and a concern issue. As is, I think the current form makes it feel like we’re only reporting conduct issues but,it’s important to remember that the individuals receiving these Letters of Concern (the retention coordinators)are there to help and work with the students and the form seems to speak their language more than ours. It can feel like you’re filling out a police report but it is not received in that spirit (hopefully that makes sense). Bryan, like you, I worry a lot about breaking confidentiality with a student. I also worry about not properly helping a student who has reached out to me. I was reassured that it’s probably better to err on the side of breaking that confidentiality as once these students are on someone’s radar, then they can get help from professional counselors. One distinction that was made was the difference between private and confidential. We can let our students know (maybe via the syllabus) that anything they tell us will be kept private, but not necessarily confidential as we are all mandatory reporters. Or in a more realistic way, “Hey, what you tell me is between you and me, but if you say you’re going to hurt yourself or that someone is hurting you, I’m going to get you some help.”
Finally, our discussion generated topics for a lot of future discussion, so be on the look out for continued in-service or TLC sessions on this topic.

x by Samm Erickson 1 year ago

Hi folks –

Good conversation here. I’m not qualified to address a lot of these questions, but I’ve contacted the folks I’ve worked with to see if they can clarify.

One thing I meant to put in the original post is something that was said over and over again at the workshop; faculty should “trust their gut.” While that has some concerning language and brings some flashbacks of George W. Bush, I get it (you know, in my gut). I’ve definitely had students that were having some acute issue who I didn’t report and I’ve had others whose ongoing concerns I felt were enough to warrant a report.

For me, I feel like this actually takes some of the burden off of me as an instructor. I’m not an expert on services, I’m not a counselor, but I want to help, and this process allows me to put students in contact with folks that are experts.

For what it’s worth, I always tell students I’m going to submit a report, using language something like this:

“I’m really concerned about X that you’ve told me, and I’m worried it’s going to interfere with your successful completion of the course, so I’ve asked our retention coordinators to be in touch with you about some of the other services PCC has to offer.”

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