The John N. Gardner (institute that was foundational in bringing an understanding of the importance of the FYE to the national conversation) Annual Gateway Course Experience Conference March 23-25, 2014 was again well worth the investment to attend (in spite of terrible travel in and out of Indianapolis!)
See my post from last year to get an understanding of the term “gateway” course.
Again, excellent keynote speakers and worthwhile sessions (from diverse institutional contexts) on helping students succeed through gateway courses. Handouts and presentation links here.
1) Jennifer Keup’s presentation on the National Resource Center First Year Experience (FYE) and Students in Transition (SIT) was fabulous. As the Director of the center, Jennifer was articulate and well versed in the research behind best practice as well as current and future trends in both areas. The center is part of the the University of South Carolina and blends the best of research and dissemination to multiple audiences of important lessons learned in the field. Access their resources at http://sc.edu/fye/. Of particular recent interest is their new publication: 2012-2013 National Survey of First-Year Seminars: Exploring High-Impact Practices in the First College Year
2) Onondaga Community College presented Post-Freshman Summer Bridge Program which was really interesting! Students in challenging STEM gateway courses (think A & P, biology, chem, physics, math, computer science) who were not successful during the first year, re-take the gateway course in a 6-week summer intensive program with intensive support. Tuition, textbooks, and lunch were provided for all accepted participants in the program. During the program, students attend class, then attend a 1-hour recitation where a tutor reviews the material. Students then attend a group session for the next hour where they solve problems in groups. A third hour is provided for one-on-one assistance as needed. Wellness sessions and academic coaching sessions were integrated into the program. Chemistry II and Calculus I were offered in the first year with 86% and 94% success rates. Fifty percent of students in the program continued in the following fall semester into advanced STEM courses. Success is being tracked.
3) Roadmap to Hispanic Students’ Retention & Academic Success in Gateway Courses – U. Texas at Brownsville – Mandatory paired courses and supplemental instruction using peer tutors (with careful faculty oversight) for students in gateway courses. Tutors receive 25 hours of training, must have 3.0 GPA and be referred by faculty members. Tutors are paid. Students needing tutoring are placed in mandatory learning communities consisting of 2 linked courses with tutoring for each course. UT Brownsville fall-to-fall retention rate for non-paired students 61% versus 77% retention for students in paired courses.
4) Co-Requisite Experience at Ivy Tech - I saw the ALP model presenters from CCBC last year at Gateway which supported the suggestion to pair our first semester ENGL comp course with a support course with great first semester success. Ivy Tech is working on integrating a complete co-req model across the vast institution. Math and English success rates are not as compelling as they would like in the first iteration. However, this could be due not to the co-req model, but because earlier in their history, they had to cut the number of developmental courses in the sequence, shortening the amount of time students have in developmental courses. I suspect that this could be confounding their findings and they may need to go back to an extended model. I don’t know if funding or political pressure will allow for that in the end…
I should also mention that the conference last year, really set the stage for the project we carried out this past AY on pairing courses, and led to our presentation at this year’s conference and a paper submission… very productive with lots of impact.