Changing How Students Learn

Students at Glendale Community College have a unique opportunity to enroll in English 101 classes that have an emphasis on certain majors and areas of interest.

Contextualized Teaching and Learning (CTL) is an interactive way for students to earning general education credit while getting valuable information that can be used in their chosen careers.

Currently, CTL classes are being offered with a specific focus on substance abuse and addiction, music, first responders (fire, police, EMT) business/entrepreneurship, healthcare, political science, the literature of warfare, and even “The Hunger Games” novels.

CTL coordinator David Fulton said he hopes to see the program flourish and wants students to know that the classes fully satisfy their transfer requirements. Additionally, they add specific information students may benefit from such as guest speakers relevant to their fields of study.

Furthermore, students will have the ability to develop skills that will easily transfer into the working world, which may make help students engage in the classroom.

GCC English Instructor Julie Gamberg teaches CTL courses for first responders and administration of justice. She hopes the program will continue as it helps enrich students’ experience on their career pathways.

“Although I teach my students the English 101 skill set of critically reading and analyzing texts, engaging in academic research, and expressing themselves clearly and artfully in writing, we do all of this work with the lens of reading important and compelling texts in their chosen field,” Gamberg said.

“Students learn about some of the most hotly debated issues in disaster survival work; they learn about the lethal results of inadequate fire technology forensic work,” Gambery said. “And they learn how implicit bias can keep first responders from doing the very job they signed up to do, and what can be done about it.”

“For the students who are in these fields, they have been very enthusiastic about being able to analyze, discuss, and write about texts that are so personally relevant to them,” Gamberg said. “The course this summer is totally full and has a sizable wait list.”

The CTL program hopes to add courses in other divisions in future semesters and will ideally offer classes that enable departments that complement one another to be interactive.

“For example, set designers would be able to access 3D modeling in the art department to create stage designs,” Fulton said. “A goal of the program is getting GCC to operate as an integrated campus with students taking advantage of what different departments have to offer.”

English professor Jessica Groper said her students generally respond well to contextualized classes.

“When a class goes well, the students leave feeling like they didn’t just learn how to write an essay, but that they also have a deeper understanding of a specific subject,” Groper said.

Some classes are already offered online and students can expect to see more of this in the future as it makes education for working students more accessible.

“We hope to reach a wider market by offering more distance learning courses,” Fulton said. “It’s a way to expand the program as well as giving it a statewide appeal.”