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Using First-Year Theory and Research to Build Models of Best Practice

2015,Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate EducationEnhancing Student Success and LearningWith Promising (Evidence-Based) Retention Practices

January 14, 2015 | Costa Mesa, CA

Promising Practices for Retention EffortsMoving From Tactical to StrategicQuestions and DiscussionSession OverviewPromising Practices for Strategic Student Retention Efforts

Overview:ContextThe Current Situation From National StudiesWhat We Know (and Dont Know) About New Student ProgramsMoving from Tactical to Strategic



XNo Magic PillFirst-Year SeminarsCommon Intellectual ExperiencesLearning Communities Writing-Intensive Courses Collaborative Assignments and ProjectsHigh Impact Strategies

Undergraduate ResearchDiversity/Global LearningService Learning, Community-Based Learning InternshipsCapstone Courses and ProjectsHigh Impact Strategies

Other Practices / Programs

What We Know (and Dont Know) About New Student Programs

The BigGoals:Increasing students sense of institutional fitAssuring academic and social integration learning the culture*Promoting student involvement*Enhancing student engagement*Building commitment and motivation* Lisa Wolf-Wendel, Kelly Ward, & Jillian Kinzie . A Tangled Web of Terms: The Overlap and Unique Contribution of Involvement, Engagement, and Integration to Understanding College Student Success. 2009., Journal of College Student Development, v50 n4.Do credit hours matter? Is there a perceived difference between required and elective courses?Should courses be pass/fail or letter graded?Do peer leaders have an impact?Is it a good idea to link seminars into a block or learning community?First-Year SeminarsDoes section size influence effectiveness?Does the type of instructor make a difference?Does impact relate to a particular textbook?Whats the bottom line on first-year seminar impact on learning, academic achievement, and retention?First-Year SeminarsAre electiveAre gradedUse peer leadersCarry sufficient credit hours to achieve objectivesAre linked into a learning communitySummary: First-Year Seminars thatproduce better student outcomes!Impact on retentionImpact on academic achievementImpact on student satisfactionInsufficient evidence about impact on student learningInsufficient evidence about impact on faculty and student leadersLearning Communitiesinstitution-specific findings:need clarity about desired learning outcomesStrong anecdotal evidence about the influence of advising, especially intensive/intrusive advisingWeak statistical evidenceLack of clarity about goals for advising Retention? Speed of declaring major? Satisfaction? Time to graduation?The inherent research difficultiesIssues of student expectations of advisors and experiencesAcademic Advising Strong evidence to support link with retentionStrong evidence to support link with academic achievement

Strong (but dated) evidence linking two-day pre-term orientation with retentionResearch lacking that compares different modes of pre-term orientationSupplemental Instruction (SI) & OrientationSIOrientationMany modelsSome local ExamplesLabor Intensive Grades Not Retention AnalyticsEarly Warning Systems

Learner Analytics (A Form ofEarly Warning)Big Market Some Promising DataRetention correlation is spotty at best GradesEarly Warning (Analytics)

Combining Support with AidLead Them to Water and Pay Them to DrinkMDRC Performance-Based Scholarships

On-Campus Employment (Near Campus)10-20 Hours a Week Financial Aid and EmploymentFinancial AidEmployment

Strong impact on expected involvement in civic affairs and improved life skillsLimited-to-no direct impact on retention

A necessary, but challenging, service on a number of levels:Impact is mixed on student outcomesDo developmental courses prepare students for success in regular courses?How is developmental work best delivered? The ongoing debate. Service Learning and Developmental EducationService LearningDevelopmental EducationBasic theoretical models are sound but developed primarily for white, male students

Research today focuses on program outcomes that can be easily counted (e.g., retention, grade point average)Summing UpHow well do these models apply to all of todays students?How can we better understand the short-term and long-term learning that does or does not result from common first-year programs ?Considerations for Retention Planning & Plan Leaders

Moving from Tactical to StrategicContextScale CoordinationA Plan

Four Take-Aways

1. Context

XMany Single Pockets of Excellence? All, Most, or Some?Critical Mass2. Scale

Got a few problems going from lab scale to full-scale commercial.The Benefits of Coordination Exponential CombinationsDownsides to Coordination?3. Coordination

Coordinated CoordinationApplication of Evidence to Action4. A (The) Plan!

Questions and Discussion



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