This edition of the CRAfT blog features two brief testimonials from faculty members who field-tested CRAs with their students during the 2012-2013 school year. As you may already know, each of the 50 CRAs on the CRAFTx.org website went through a rigorous testing process in which high school and college faculty implemented them with their students to determine both their usability and their effectiveness in improving students’ college and career readiness across three key domains: cognitive skills, foundational skills, and content knowledge. These testimonials highlight faculty experiences and illustrate that CRAs are valuable tools for educators in both high schools and higher education institutions.
Jay Gowen, Department Chair of English, KIPP Houston High School
The CRA lessons I taught had a positive impact on my classroom in a number of ways. First, my seniors were very interested in seeing how prepared they were for college according to the range of criteria provided in the scoring guide. It's one thing to hear from your high school teacher the importance of contributing to class discussion, it's something else entirely to see that your reticence brings your overall score from “College Ready” to only “Approaching College Ready.”
As my students worked to meet the criteria or improve their score from a previous CRA, their investment resulted in an increase in academic achievement and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the emphasis on research and presentation was of particular interest to the students. Seeing the extent to which the CRAs required students to work in groups, present their findings to the class, then write up their experience in a final paper encouraged me to look more closely at the work I was assigning in class and align it to the expectations of the CRAs.
Dr. Douglas J. Carr, Associate Professor of Journalism & Mass Communication, El Paso Community College
It was just about one year ago when I first learned of the CRAfT program. Faculty at El Paso Community College were invited to participate in the field test, gathering data to help evaluate how these assignments would operate in the classroom. My initial reaction was, “Oh, no… more paperwork getting in the way of time better spent with actual student interaction and instruction.” But once I saw the details in each CRA, and how much flexibility I would have adapting the readiness assignments to my media classes, I was on board.
Student energy and engagement remained high throughout the semester, and with each new CRA I discovered productive alternatives to my previous methods of lecture, discussion and student performance evaluations. Specifically, the “Evaluating Art: What’s Your Favorite Movie?” and “Words, Words, Words: Learning and Using New Vocabulary” CRAs fully engaged students in our study of media and culture. The exercises resulted in students making connections I had not expected, and contributed to changes I’ve made in the delivery of lectures in all my classes.
Being a CRAfT field tester was not easy. I spent hours compiling data, conducting surveys, and attempting to adequately reflect on questions about student readiness. But when all was said and done, I came away with an extraordinary amount of useful material and a profound appreciation for the effort we all need to make helping students prepare for college.
If you have implemented CRAs in your classroom, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and share your story. We appreciate hearing your experiences and may include your comments in a future blog.
The CRAfT team at The University of Texas at Austin would also like to acknowledge the approximately 100 other educators across the state who participated in the field test during the 2012-2013 school year. From their hard work providing thought-provoking and challenging assignments for their students we learned:
- CRAs increase student engagement.
- Faculty found CRAs very helpful and appreciated their standalone nature, inclusion of TEKS and CCRS, challenging assignments, and thorough instructions.
- CRAs contributed to an increase in all 19 measured areas of students’ critical skills (e.g., time management, reasoning, ability to transfer knowledge), 16 of which were statistically significant increases.
Because the CRAs on this site were developed and tested by classroom teachers and revised based on their feedback, all educators can be confident that these CRAs reflect what is expected for college and career readiness and success.