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On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life, 8th Edition

Skip Downing

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2014, 2011, 2008
  • 336 Pages
Starting At 60.00 See pricing and ISBN options


ON COURSE: STRATEGIES FOR CREATING SUCCESS IN COLLEGE AND IN LIFE, 8th Edition, empowers students with the tools they need to take charge of their academic and lifelong success. Through short articles and guided journal entries, Skip Downing encourages students to explore and develop eight non-cognitive qualities that help them make wise choices and create success: personal responsibility, self-motivation, self-management, interdependence, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, lifelong learning, and self-esteem. Unique to ON COURSE is the CORE Learning Process that guides students to employ study strategies that greatly enhance their learning. The new "Toolbox for Active Learners" helps students identify and implement the effective study skills that they need to excel academically. The 8th Edition also features expanded coverage of interdependence (including discussions of co-dependence, dependence and independence) and self-management (avoiding procrastination) as well as a "College Smart-Start Guide" that will help students make wise choices in the first week of college. The Annotated Instructors' Edition guides instructors to relevant exercises and materials in the newly revised ON COURSE Facilitator's Manual.

Skip Downing,

Skip Downing is an international consultant in the field of faculty development and student success strategies. Dr. Downing has earned degrees from Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Santa Monica, and Carnegie Mellon University. He holds advanced degrees in English and counseling psychology. He was professor of English at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) for 32 years. In addition to his role as an academic instructor, Dr. Downing created and coordinated BCCC's Student Success and Learning Community Programs. These programs teach students how to apply proven success strategies to achieve their full potential in college and in life. The College Success Program resulted in a significant increase in both student academic success and retention. Dr. Downing has made numerous presentations at national conferences and conducted faculty development workshops at many two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands. Dr. Downing's teaching, writing, and consulting are all guided by his belief that the greatest mission of any educational institution is to empower its students to live rich, fulfilling lives. Since 1996, he has facilitated the On Course Workshops, intensive four-day retreats for college educators focusing on proven strategies for helping students become active, responsible partners in their education and achieve greater success in college and in life.
  • College Smart-Start Guide. Too many students get off course in their first week of college. Author Skip Downing polled nearly 2,000 college and university educators asking them, "What do you recommend that your students do in the first week of college to get off to a good start?" He then sent the top 20 suggestions back to these educators and asked them to vote for their top 10. The resulting Smart-Start Guide provides students with the top 13 actions recommended by the collective wisdom of this large group of educators. A new activity in the ON COURSE Facilitator's Manual engages students in figuring out which of the 13 actions these instructors thought were the most important. When students follow through on these actions, they will lay a foundation for their academic success.
  • Conversation with the Author. Since the first edition of ON COURSE more than two decades ago, many students have contacted the author with thoughtful questions. This section includes some of those questions and Skip Downing's answers.
  • Understanding the Expectations of College and University Educators. This essay and related journal entry help students better understand how to succeed in the culture of higher education. In this section, they learn "Eight Key Expectations" and "A Dozen Differences Between High School and College Culture." This information helps students quickly understand which behaviors they can continue doing and which they will need to modify, change or abandon.
  • Tech Tips. Many websites and apps are available to help students achieve greater success. Each chapter now contains a Tech Tips section that provides suggestions for free websites and apps that can help students employ the soft skills of personal responsibility, self-motivation, self-management, interdependence, self-awareness, lifelong learning, emotional intelligence, and believing in oneself, as well as hard skills related to effective studying.
  • Discussion about Avoiding Procrastination. Procrastination is the bane of many students' success. This discussion helps students understand why procrastination is so tempting and offers specific methods for not putting off until tomorrow what they would benefit from doing today. Included in the discussion is research from Dr. Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.
  • A Sign of Maturity. This discussion offers an explanation about the various kinds of relationships in which people engage: dependent, co-dependent, independent, and interdependent. Advantages and disadvantages of each are explained, and students are urged to use college to develop independence but also to recognize that there are many occasions when choosing interdependence is a true sign of maturity (not to mention improving one's chances of achieving a goal or dream).
  • Increasing Happiness. This new article and accompanying journal entry explore the emotional intelligence skill of maximizing happiness. Drawn from the scientific research of positive psychologists, students learn a number of choices they can make to increase their happiness. This topic has recently gained much interest on college campuses. For example, when a course in Positive Psychology was first offered at Harvard University, it immediately became the university's most popular course.
  • Toolbox for Active Learners. Many ON COURSE instructors asked that the study skills be presented in one section (instead of distributed throughout the book). Unlike texts that present a long menu of study options, ON COURSE organizes study skills based on the logical learning steps as identified by research on the brain and effective methods for learning. This section begins with a presentation of the CORE Learning Process, the four principles that— consciously or unconsciously—all good learners employ that lead to deep and lasting learning. Students learn how to use these four principles to create their own system for learning any subject or skill. In doing so, they learn effective techniques for reading, taking notes, organizing study materials, rehearsing and memorizing study materials, taking tests, and writing college-level assignments.
  • Study Skills Self-Assessment. This edition heeds the request of experienced ON COURSE instructors to place all study skills in one section. It also offers a new Study Skills Self-Assessment. Students can take this self-assessment before learning about study skills and discover areas in which they are weak. At the end of the course, they can retake the test to see where they have grown as learners and where they may still need to improve. Students have the option of completing the assessment in either the text or MindTap®.
  • Seven new "One Student's Story" Essays. A popular feature in earlier editions, these short essays —now numbering 28 in all—are authored by students who used what they learned from this book to improve the quality of their outcomes and experiences in college and in life. Videos of student-authors reading their essays may be viewed in MindTap®.
  • Self-Assessment. ON COURSE begins and ends with a self-assessment questionnaire of important non-cognitive skills ("soft skills"). Scores are provided for self-responsibility, self-motivation, self-management, interdependence, self-awareness, lifelong learning, emotional intelligence, and belief in oneself. Imagine working with students who develop strengths in all of these inner qualities! Imagine how these qualities will affect the choices the students make and the outcomes and experiences they create. By completing the initial questionnaire, students immediately see areas of weakness that need attention. By completing the concluding questionnaire, students see their semester's growth. Students have the option of completing the self-assessment either in the text or online in MindTap®.
  • Guided Journal Entries. A guided journal entry immediately follows each article about a success strategy, giving students an opportunity to apply the strategy they have just learned to enhance their results in college and in life. Many instructors of the course say the guided journal writings are extremely powerful in helping students make new and more effective choices, thus improving their academic success and persistence.
  • Case Studies in Critical Thinking. Case studies help students apply the strategies they are learning to real-life situations. As such, they help prepare students to make wise choices in the kinds of challenging situations they will likely face in college. Because case studies don't have "right" answers, they promote critical and creative thinking.
  • On Course Principles at Work. These sections show how important the On Course success strategies (soft skills) are for choosing the right career, getting hired, and succeeding in the working world.
Travel with Me.
College Smart-Start Guide. What to Do Before the End of Your First Week in College. Get Familiar. Get Organized. Get Serious. Money Matters. Managing Money: The Big Picture. Increase Money Flowing In. Decrease Money Flowing Out. Tech Tips: MONEY. Understanding the Culture of Higher Education. The Surface Culture of Higher Education. One Dozen College Customs. Write a Great Life. Journal Entry 1: Understanding the Expectations of College and University Educators. Eight Key Expectations. A Dozen Differences Between High School and College Culture. Journal Entry 2: Understanding Yourself. What Does Success Mean to You? Ingredients of Success. Assess Your Soft Skills for College Success. Forks in the Road. A Few Words of Encouragement. Journal Entry 3: One Student's Story Jalayna Onaga. Soft Skills at Work.
Case Study in Critical Thinking the Late Paper. Adopting a Creator Mindset. Victim and Creator Mindsets. Responsibility and Culture. Responsibility and Choice. Journal Entry 4: One Student's Story: Taryn Rossmiller. Mastering Creator Language. Self-Talk. The Language of Responsibility. Journal Entry 5: One Student's Story: Alexsandr Kanevskiy. Making Wise Decisions. The Wise Choice Process. Journal Entry 6: One Student's Story Freddie Davila. Personal Responsibility at Work. Tech Tips: Personal Responsibility. Believing in Yourself Change Your Inner Conversation. The Curse of Stinkin' Thinkin'. Disputing Irrational Beliefs. Stereotype Threat. Journal Entry 7: One Student's Story Dominic Grasseth.
Case Study in Critical Thinking Popson's Dilemma. Creating Inner Motivation. A Formula for Motivation. Value of College Outcomes. Value of College Experiences. Journal Entry 8: One Student's Story: Chee Meng Vang. Designing a Compelling Life Plan. Roles and Goals. How to Set a Goal. Discover Your Dreams. Your Life Plan. Journal Entry 9: One Student's Story Brandon Beavers. Committing to Your Goals and Dreams. Commitment Creates Method. Visualize Your Ideal Future. How to Visualize. Journal Entry 10: One Students' Story James Terrell. Self-Motivation at Work. Tech Tips: Self-Motivation. Believing in Yourself Write a Personal Affirmation. Claiming Your Desired Personal Qualities. Living Your Affirmation. Journal Entry 11: One Student's Story Tina Steen.
Case Study in Critical Thinking The Procrastinators. Acting on Purpose. Harness the Power of Quadrant II. What to Do in Quadrants I and II. Journal Entry 12: One Student's Story: Jason Pozsgay. Creating a Leak-Proof Self-Management System. Time and Culture. Weekly Calendar. Monthly Calendar. Next Actions List. Tracking Form. Waiting-For List. Project Folder. The Rewards of Effective Self-Management. Journal Entry 13: One Student's Story: Allysa LePage. Developing Self-Discipline. Staying Focused. Being Persistent. Avoiding Procrastination. Journal Entry 14: One Student's Story: Holt Boggs. Self-Management at Work. Tech Tips: Self-Management. Believing in Yourself Develop Self-Confidence. Create a Success Identity. Celebrate Your Successes and Talents. Visualize Purposeful Actions. Journal Entry 15: One Student's Story: Ashley Freeman.
Case Study in Critical Thinking Professor Rogers' Trial. Creating a Support System. A Sign of Maturity. Seek Help from Your Instructors. Get Help from College Resources. Create a Project Team. Start a Study Group. The Difference between Heaven and Hell. Journal Entry 16: One Student's Story: Mitch Mull. Strengthening Relationships with Active Listening. How to Listen Actively. Use Active Listening in Your College Classes. Journal Entry 17: One Student's Story: Teroa Paselio. Respecting Cultural Differences. Showing Respect. Journal Entry 18: Interdependence at Work. Tech Tips: Interdependence. Believing in Yourself Be Assertive. Leveling. Making Requests. Saying "No." Journal Entry 19: One Student's Story: Amy Acton.
Case Study in Critical Thinking Strange Choices. Recognizing when You Are Off Course. The Mystery of Self-Sabotage. Unconscious Forces. Journal Entry 20. One Student's Story: Sarah Richmond. Identifying Your Scripts. Anatomy of a Script. How We Wrote Our Scripts. Self-Defeating Habit Patterns. Journal Entry 21. One Student's Story: James Floriolli. Rewriting Your Outdated Scripts. The Impact of Outdated Beliefs. Doing the Rewrite. Journal Entry 22. One Student's Story: Annette Valle. Self-Awareness AT WORK. Tech Tips: SELF-AWARENESS. Believing in Yourself Write Your Own Rules. Three Success Rules. Changing Your Habits. Journal Entry 23. One Student's Story Brandeé Huigens.
Case Study in Critical Thinking A Fish Story. Developing a Learning Orientation to Life. Growth Mindsets and Fixed Mindsets. How to Develop a Growth Mindset. Journal Entry 24. One Student's Story: Jessie Maggard. Discovering Your Preferred Ways of Learning. Self-Assessment: How I Prefer to Learn. Journal Entry 25. One Student's Story: Melissa Thompson. Employing Critical Thinking. Constructing Logical Arguments. Asking Probing Questions. Applying Critical Thinking. Journal Entry 26. Lifelong Learning at Work. Tech Tips: Lifelong Learning. Believing in Yourself Develop Self-Respect. Live with Integrity (i.e., No Cheating or Plagiarizing). Keep Commitments. Journal Entry 27.
Case Study in Critical Thinking After Math. Understanding Emotional Intelligence. Four Components of Emotional Intelligence. Knowing Your Own Emotions. Journal Entry 28: One Student's Story: Lindsey Beck. Reducing Stress. What Is Stress? What Happens when Stress Persists? Unhealthy Stress Reduction. Healthy Stress Reduction. Choose Your Attitude. Journal Entry 29: One Student's Story: Jaime Sanmiguel. Increasing Happiness. Limits on Happiness. Savoring Pleasures. Gratitude. Engagement. Contribution. Strawberry Moments. Journal Entry 30: Emotional Intelligence at Work. Tech Tips: Emotional Awareness. Believing in Yourself Develop Self-Acceptance. Self-Esteem and Core Beliefs. Know and Accept Yourself. Journal Entry 31: One Student's Story Wynda Allison Paulette.
Planning Your Next Steps. Assess Your Soft Skills -- Again. Journal Entry 32: One Student's Story Stephan J. Montgomery.
Assess your Study Skills for College Success. How the Human Brain Learns. Three Principles of Deep and Lasting Learning. The CORE Learning System. Exercise: Active Learning. One Student's Story: Kase Cormier.
Reading: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Reading. Exercise: Reading.
Taking Notes: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Taking Notes. Exercise: Taking Notes.
Organizing Study Materials: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Organizing Study Materials. Exercise: Organizing Study Materials.
Rehearsing and Memorizing Study Materials: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Rehearsing and Memorizing Study Materials. Exercise: Rehearsing and Memorizing Study Materials. One Student's Story: Michael Chapasko.
Taking Tests: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Taking Tests. Exercise: Taking Tests. One Student's Story: Ashley E. Bennet.
Writing: The Big Picture. Strategies to Improve Writing. Exercise: Writing.
Assess your Study Skills for College Success--Again.
Conversation with the Author.
Each MindTap product offers the full, mobile-ready textbook combined with superior and proven learning tools at one affordable price. Students who purchase digital access can add a print option at any time when a print option is available for their course.

This Cengage solution can be seamlessly integrated into most Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Brightspace by D2L, Canvas, Moodle, and more) but does require a different ISBN for access codes. Please work with your Cengage Learning Consultant to ensure the proper course set up and ordering information. For additional information, please visit the LMS Integration site.

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"Using the ON COURSE curriculum has impacted retention in a positive direction at our school. The textbook is engaging and diversified, and the format appeals to students at all levels of collegiate study. The topics are relevant to "real life," and students readily see the value of applying ON COURSE principles in their lives—from a personal, academic, and/or career-related perspective. ON COURSE provides valuable tools for pursuing success, and the textbook is replete with visuals, cartoons, quotes, tips, and testimonies that the students love."

"ON COURSE is life-changing for my students. I have seen students evolve in ways they never imagined in a matter of a semester thanks to ON COURSE. I cannot imagine using another book. No other book encompasses the reflective, introspective, and success attributes that ON COURSE does. ON COURSE walks students through their journey of self-discovery and allows them to grow into the student they have always wanted to become."

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Instructor's Companion Website

ISBN: 9781305633520
Everything you need for your course in one place! This collection of book-specific lecture and class tools is available online via Access and download PowerPoint presentations, images, instructor's manual, videos, and more.

Facilitator's Manual

ISBN: 9781305647671
This detailed manual provides sample syllabi, course guidelines, in-class exercises, and chapter objectives to assist instructors in teaching the course.