Recent studies show that student retention and success hinge upon numerous nonacademic and academic factors including student engagement in the campus community, performance in foundational coursework, learner-centered delivery, and targeted student support services. How can we most effectively and efficiently redesign and offer academic programs that will improve student retention, success, ease of transfer (where appropriate), and graduation rates?
Student engagement in class is an essential factor in determining student success and persistence. Students who become engaged learners are more likely to successfully complete courses and make satisfactory progress towards graduation. Traditionally delivered courses, such as large lecture format courses, courses that follow a traditional academic schedule, or single-discipline courses, may work against helping students become engaged learners. Preliminary reports on Texas Course Redesign projects indicate that redesigned lecture format courses that substitute on-line and face-to-face problem solving exercises for portions of the traditional lecture format produce significantly higher pass rates than non-redesigned sections of the same course. Academic success in key core subjects such as college-level math also has a strong correlation with retention and persistence according to a 2006 Department of Education report by Clifford Adelman. Finally, engagement in overall campus life also plays a significant role in student success. Recent National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) data indicates that students who met with an academic advisor two or more times during the academic year were more engaged on all five of the NSSE benchmarks than other students.
The need for redesigned courses and programs is not limited to new students. The 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 2,969,594 Texas adults over the age of 25 have some college credit but hold no post-secondary degree. For these returning students who struggle to balance family, work, economic, and education commitments, program flexibility and an attention to unique adult learning styles and challenges is crucial. A 2007 Lumina Foundation study, "Returning to Learning: Adult Success in College is Key to America's Future," recommends that institutions wishing to enhance adult learning and success should: (a) develop pre-baccalaureate certificate programs that include both academic credit and workforce development credit to increase the ease of transferability, b) develop part-time degree programs, c) develop year-round, accelerated degree programs, and d) improve degree mapping and advising to assist students in timely graduation.
Issue 1: Increasing faculty involvement in and out of class, including creating faculty incentives and increased professional development opportunities
Issue 2: How do we develop effective partnerships among institutions that will help students succeed?
Issue 3: How do we develop effective use of internal and external data instruments? This includes data sources, use of data for planning and redesign, and data sharing between institutions.
Issue 4: How do we redefine the entering college student who may already have college credit and provide appropriate support services for those students?
Issue 5: Ensuring the credibility of Associate’s Degrees and the core curriculum so that students have incentives to complete Associate’s Degrees.
Issue 6: How do we develop programs that will assist returning adult students in completing their degrees?
Issue 7: How do we best apportion resources to assist institutions with at-risk students?