Featured from Enrollment
New Mexico Military Institute
MG Jerry Grizzle
When I arrived at NMMI in July 2009, the school was in the tenth consecutive year of declining enrollment. When I started to research the issue the first thing I found was that everyone believed enrollment was the total responsibility of Admissions and that no one had any involvement. My first experience at matriculation was a disaster. We had no idea how many total students would show up, we had no idea how many returning students would show, etc.As we started to address the issue we first had to create an environment where everyone was a recruiter and a retainer. We had to talk the benefits of attending NMMI to prospective student and talk the benefit of staying and returning to existing students.The next step was to separate the thought of recruiting into two distinct pieces, recruiting; the act of attracting new students to enroll at NMMI versus retention; the act of causing our existing students to return. When I studied the ten years of decline I saw a clear pattern. We were consistent in bringing in approximately 500 to 520 new Cadets each fall. Where we were significantly lacking was in convincing our existing Cadets to return. They would stay the entire year at NMMI but then not return for the following year.My first year at NMMI we began with 833 Cadets, returning cadets totaled 330 and new Cadets totaled 503. We have 968 beds so we were 135 Cadets short or only 86% of capacity. We began to work on a recruiting strategy that embraced the internet as well as physical in the field recruiting. We used the internet to tell us where to go. The hits we received from a given market area determined if the market was worth going there and hosting a recruiting event.At the end of my first year I conducted focus groups with a diverse cross section of Cadets. One of the questions I asked each group was what made a difference in their decision to return to NMMI. The answer was simple, yet shocking. There were two answers to my question. The first was simply that no one had asked them to return. No one simply said we would like you to return to NMMI. The second answer was equally disturbing, no one ever said thank you for making the decision to come to NMMI in the first place.Thanks to a suggestion from my wife, we started hosting old fashioned ice cream socials by class. We told them thank you for coming to NMMI. We told them we wanted them to return. We shared the benefits of reenrolling early, member of Cadre, room selection, etc. The Academic Dean got involved and created the top 10 list of why you should return to NMMI. The Cadets responded and from their responses we have been able to address each of their positive suggestions about why you should return to NMMI. In summary I would just say that overall enrollment has to be everybody's business. There is a distinction between recruiting and retention and you need to develop a strategy for both. Our average enrollment for the last four years has been 946 with an average of 540 new Cadets each year and 406 returning Cadets.
Please Login to see 18 Best Practices Results
- Change Panel - Taibl, Gilmore & Murray
- Content Marketing - Andrew Erickson
- Design for Enrollment - Kate Persons
- Enrollment Reports and Annual Plan - J Michael Turnbull (Culver)
- Improving Student Communication with Texting - Andrea Palmer
- Interviews - Billingsley (FUMA) & Smith (NMMI)
- Re-Recruitment Plan - Alison Lescarbeau (Farragut)
- Recruiting the Whole Student - Sherri Gilmore
- Video Strategies - Hans Mundahl
- Sizing up the Competition - Dave Taibl
- TABS - Buxton
- Turnarounds and Chaos - Col Jim Benson, USMC, Ret. (Riverside)
- Matriculation - Captain Mark Black, USN, Ret. (FMS)
Marketing - Brig Gen David Wesley
The best schools, military or otherwise, effectively market their unique characteristics in a clear and concise way that enables prospective students and their families to rapidly assess and react to those characteristics, so that they can visit the campus or ask for further information, if the school is a good fit for that individual student.
Is your marketing plan effective?
There are many ways to assess your marketing plan and, as we'll see later in this chapter, an outside perspective can be helpful in making that assessment. Internal methods include qualitative and quantitative comparisons of the current student body with: 1) historical norms for the school, 2) Board-stated goals for enrollment, and 3) physical plant/staffing limitations. It does little good to pursue an enrollment level your campus and staff cannot adequately educate and care for. What will you do if the students actually show up? What if the now larger student body is made up of students who are a poor fit for your mission?
Resolve in the first instance to obtain genuine agreement between the Board and the head of school on the appropriate goal for your marketing efforts and then move out to define that plan in terms all can understand and execute.
What makes a strong marketing plan?
A strong plan is a comprehensive set of techniques designed to use available channels (Internet (including, but not limited to: social media outlets, blogs, and other venues that specifically appeal to today's student audience), print media, word of mouth, radio, television, and other outlets) to make the public aware of what your school offers. The most effective plans develop detailed intelligence about the locations where prospective families might be found and what the demographics of those families are. This enables targeted advertising of the school's characteristics to those who, based on a number of demographic facts, are likely to be favorably disposed to utilize that information to learn more the school and, ultimately, to enroll students there.
Like so many other areas of military school administration, marketing should be the primary responsibility of a single senior staff member with the authority to plan and execute and effective marketing campaign that is consistent with the school's mission and its heritage. Reporting directly to the head of the school, this senior staff member must be resourced with sufficient staff and budget to reach, influence, process, and admit the right number and quality of students. Determining this level of staffing and funding is not an easy task and industry standards are of little help, given the myriad circumstances that combine to make each school unique.
When funds are available, the head of school should hire an outside consultant to evaluate the marketing effort and provide fact-based recommendations on the staffing and budgetary requirements to attain the school's stated enrollment goals. There are a host of firms and more than a few individuals who offer this service and their prices can vary widely, as can the ways in which they conduct their data gathering and analysis.
Who are we?
Central to this marketing effort must be a dedicated effort to clearly state the school's identity. Yes, you're a military school...but why? Yes, you're a college prep school...so what? These things are givens on some level, but what do they say about your institution and what it will deliver to families about to part with hard-earned dollars in an effort to prepare their children for a bright future?
Devote a block of time to an internal staff discussion to refine who you are as an educational institution and why you provide a unique value to your students. This isn't a "pie in the sky" aspirational discussion - who you are determines, for good or ill, what benefits you can reasonably expect to provide to your students. Those benefits are what parents truly seek when they opt to pay for a private school education.
Compare your internally-perceived image with your public documents (your Bylaws, your Strategic Plan, those glossy magazines mailed out to alumni/ae, your local town's impression of the school, and more). When you are confident you have the genuine character and values of your school in mind, discuss these things with your Board to ensure they see things in the same way and normalize any disconnects. With these things in hand, you can begin to craft (or re-craft) marketing efforts that let the public know, "If THIS is what you're looking for, WE are your school!"
Accrediting bodies, consultants, fellow heads of schools, and others can help you think through next steps as you align your now-current vision of the school with the vehicles you've established to convey that image to those who might soon select you to educate their children.
Where are the other resources?
Beyond the excellent background and research AMCSUS provides, you can glean a remarkable amount of marketing intel and guidance from the National Association of Independent School's (NAIS) online databases and the materials provided by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). Of particular utility are the demographics you can obtain through the use of the NAIS database found at http://dasl.nais.org/.
Membership (and access to these materials) is not inexpensive, but provides a wealth of insight into all aspects of administering and marketing an effective private school, as well as superb treatment of important topics like governance, safety, discipline, health guidelines, employment law, management of physical assets, among others.
Socratic Leadership - Dr. Frank Giuseffi
Missouri Military Academy
Incorporating the Socratic Method in Leadership Development at Military Schools.
This is an exciting time in education. Educators must continually be aware of a global market that is demanding non-routine work and employees committed to a service sector that requires innovation, problem-solving and creativity in the work force (Kay, 2010). Associated with this reality, is a pivot in leadership that requires, as one military scholar noted, the qualities of a Lewis and Clark (Thomas, 2009) the explorer, risk-taker and discoverer. School leaders, at the secondary and college level, must be ready to develop curricula that equips students with the necessary skills to become leaders for such current demands. The military school, whether at the high school, junior college, or four-year college level, is in a unique position to take advantage of the current educational landscape and workforce requirements. Military schools have always been identified as places for leadership training. Yet, while the concept of leadership remains constant in military schools, the methods and programs concerning leadership are changing. Successful professionals in this century must possess character, creativity, problem-solving, communication skills, teaming and leadership (Basset, 2009). Ironically, analyses of the ways we, as educators, can best lead our developing cadet leaders toward these skills of the future is by looking to the past, to the work of Socrates. As one scholar noted "If we harness them correctly, we can blend the best of our traditional intellectual linear culture Socrates' wisdom of the 5th century BCE with the current digital culture, creating a new learning environment consistent with the cognitive and expressive demands of the 21st century" (Cookson, 2009). It behooves military school leaders to consider employing the Socratic method in order to prepare students to become productive leaders.
In this chapter I shall present a brief overview of the Socratic method. I will then offer practical information on conducting Socratic discussions. We will then look at a research study I conducted that investigated how sustained use of the Socratic method influenced cadet leadership skills. Lastly, I will present my findings and recommend future work military schools can do to improve cadet leadership skills through the Socratic method.
The Socratic Method
We obviously find early traces of this ancient technique in the teaching of Socrates. Socrates asked probing questions to his interlocutors and tested answers "against reason and fact in a continual and virtuous cycle of honest debate" (Cookson, 2009). As the facilitator of conversations, Socrates analyzed the relationship between ideas, played the devil's advocate and was conscious of the feelings and dynamics of the group (Gose, 2009). This "virtuous cycle of honest debate" is also known as the elenctic method questioning and answering through cross-examination (McPherran, 2011). In several dialogues Socrates' elenctic method showed this consistent pattern: First, Socrates asked the interlocutor a question, for example from the dialogue, Meno "Can virtue be taught?" Once the interlocutor answered the question, several other questions were asked by Socrates that led the interlocutor (depending on which dialogue one reads) to modify his original answer, state a new answer, be unable to speak to what he actually knew, claim ignorance, was replaced with another interlocutor, or left in anger and bewilderment (Benson, 2011). We find examples of the above in the Euthyphro, Hippias Major, Charmides, and the Gorgias (Benson, 2011). Knowledge of these Platonic dialogues would be helpful to the serious Socratic practitioner.
Although educators may have knowledge about Socrates and his method, it is nonetheless essential that instructors who wish to be Socratic practitioners have, at their disposal, working definitions of the technique. Ultimately, the Socratic method is "a shared dialogue between teacher and students in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning" (Reich, 2003). The facilitator of the discussion, whether that be the instructor or student, uses a variety of techniques in order to ensure that he or she is advancing (pushing) the discussion. In my experience, these techniques have included:
- Opening the discussion with an overriding, essential question
- Asking several other questions that supports the overriding question
- Including "real-world" examples in the supporting questions
- Paying attention to the body language of students; ensuring they are not always looking at the facilitator when speaking
- Caring for the dynamics of the group; helping develop mutual respect and civility
- Starting with a shorter, relevant text before assigning lengthy readings
- Including spontaneous questions when appropriate in the dialogue As someone who regularly used the Socratic method in his classes, it dawned on me that along with improvement in critical thinking, thoughtful questioning, civility and intellectual confidence, this same method may be able to enhance leadership. This led me to a dissertation topic that asked if the Socratic method could influence the leadership skills of JROTC cadet leaders. The following is a description of my research study. Research Study on the Socratic Method and Leadership In the Spring of 2012 and the Fall and Spring of 2013, I, as the action researcher, set out to discover if the Socratic method influenced five of my students in my Western Intellectual History course. All cadet participants were JROTC leaders. As the action researcher, I collected data in the following ways: 1) a pre- and posttest using The Student Leadership Practice Inventory developed by Kouzes and Posner (2013); 2) weekly journal entries based on writing prompts; 3) a videography; 4) a Socratic method observation instrument, and 5) end of the year interviews. The Student Leadership Practice Inventory, a leadership instrument I would recommend military school educators consider using, is comprised of five "leadership practices." These practices are Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart. Each one of the leadership practices was further defined by six characteristics. This inventory was the pre- and post- test each cadet participant took in order to reflect on their leadership skills. The intention
was to see if the emerging themes discovered through the other data collecting mechanisms (journal entries, videography, Socratic method observation instrument, and the end of the year interviews) aligned with the five leadership practices.
Journal entries were assigned every Friday. The prompts usually dealt with the philosopher's thoughts being studied and its relationship to leadership. An example of a writing prompt was "How could Aristotle's concept of the "mean" help leaders make informed decisions?" The videography consisted of video-recording four class sessions. The intention was to see if there were any emerging leadership themes that could be recognized. The Socratic Method Observation instrument consisted of "Socratic educational themes" the researcher deemed important; they were: critical thinking, listening skills, respectful behavior, probing questions, encourages thinking and participation in others, ethical behavior, and values and principles. Every Friday I would grade each cadet participant on each of these skills, giving them a grade of 1 (No evidence), a 2 (Some evidence) or a 3 (Full evidence). Lastly, the End of the Year interviews consisted of nineteen questions that included biographical data, experiences as a cadet leader, the relationship between ethical decision-making and class discussions, and the influence, if any, of the class discussions on their personal leadership development.
Readings in the Western Intellectual History course consisted of a survey of Western Philosophy, beginning with the works of Plato and ending with the thoughts of Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. Students were assigned nightly readings and had to discuss those readings the next day in class. As mentioned, I exclusively conducted the class using the Socratic method, and usually was the facilitator, though, at times, I gave opportunities for students to lead the class discussions.
At the end of the research time period, these themes emerged from the cadet participants:
Emerging themes Journal entries
- Connection as a leader to people's interests
- Understanding of "self" and others
- Everyone working together
- Being a just leader
- Respect for subordinates Emerging themes End of Year interviews
- Helping and caring for subordinates
- Improved confidence
- Intellect preceding will (thinking before acting)
While both the videography and Socratic Method observation sheet helped me reflect on my pedagogy, neither data collecting instrument indicated enough consistent, thematic information to articulate any coherent findings. Although a small sample, the findings were no less significant. Three out of the five cadet participants in this research study felt, after the pre- and post test, that they had improved their leadership skills as defined by the five leadership practices. The emerging themes found from the journal entries and end of the year interviews aligned with the five leadership practices which was the question I, as the researcher, initially wanted to know.
Along with these results, there were other unexpected findings that should be noted. First, the importance of journaling. Based on my experience, students master information and reflect on their own thinking and actions when they write down their thoughts. This keeps students focused on the material and connected to what is being covered in the course. Interestingly, the philosophers' ideas specifically those from Aristotle and Machiavelli made a direct impact on the cadet participants' ideas on leadership. Indeed, the cadet participants seemed to appreciate Aristotle's ideas on the "mean" in ethical behavior and Machiavelli's analogy of the prince depending on the situation, act as either a lion or a fox. A question for military school leaders and educators to ask when developing a leadership curriculum is: Can Western philosophy assist in leadership formation? Based on this study, the answer would be yes.
This essay looked at Socrates' teaching style that has come to be called the Socratic method. It also offered a practical working definition of the teaching method along with detailed information on implementing the method in class. Lastly, a specific research study that saw improvement in leadership skills through the Socratic method was presented. Although this was just one study, it would be beneficial for military school leaders, educators and instructors to begin research on how the Socratic method could influence leadership development among cadets. Military schools, through their JROTC and/or leadership departments, can use the Kouzes and Posner leadership inventory to gauge cadet self- perceptions of leadership while participating in Socratic dialogue. The action researchers can also inquire as to whether actual cadet leadership behavior based on real-world scenarios changed in any way after regular participation with the Socratic method. Military school Deans, Curriculum Directors and Instructional Designers can encourage classroom teachers to be action researchers, investigating the impact their use of the Socratic method can have on their cadets' leadership skills.
I began this essay with the assertion that it is an exciting time in education. Military school leaders can benefit from this excitement by turning their schools into learning laboratories where teachers and administrators become researchers and inculcate in their cadets a desire to participate in deep, thoughtful Socratic discussion. The experience can enhance their leadership in a world that is calling for intelligent, productive leadership.
Bassett, P. F. (2009). Demonstrations of Learning for 21st Century Skills. Independent School Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nais.org/Magazines-Newsletters/ISMagazine/Pages/Demonstrations-of- Learning-for-21st-Century-Schools.aspx
Benson, H.H. (2011). Socratic Method. In D.R. Morrison (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Socrates (pp. 179-201). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Chafee, J. (2012). Thinking critically (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Cookson, P.W. (2009, September). What would Socrates say? Educational Leadership, 67(1), 8-14.
Gose, M. (2009). When Socratic dialogue is flagging: questions and strategies for engaging students. College Teaching, (57)1, 45-49.
Kay, K. (2010). 21st century skills: rethinking how students learn. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Why they matter, what they are, and how we get there (pp. xiii-xxxi). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2013). Student leadership practices inventory. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.
McPherran, M.L. (2010). Socrates, Plato, Eros and liberal education. Oxford Review of Education, 36(5), 527-541. doi: 10.1080/03054985.2010.514433
Reich, R. (2003, Fall). The Socratic Method: What it is and how to use it in the classroom. Speaking of Teaching, 13(1), 1-4.
Thomas, J.J. (2009, October). Leader development in the U. S. Department of Defense: a brief historical review and assessment for the future. Paper presented at the International Military Psychology Conference, Tel Aviv, Israel.