- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1240091
- First Name Allison
- Last Name Wilson
- Discipline Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Niina Ronkainen, Benedictine University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Wangler, Benedictine University, email@example.com
Andrew Wig, Benedictine University, firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com, Benedictine University, firstname.lastname@example.org
The initial academic success of students is important in terms of foundational learning for future success of students in their chosen curriculum and to the University for retention purposes.
The Department of Biological Sciences piloted a Success Seminar for students who were ‘at risk’ of not meeting the academic requirements for entrance into the College of Science and/or dropping out.
Selected ‘at risk’ students were asked to attend a week-long seminar after their first semester in the College of Science. Students participated in active sessions on study skills, expectations unique to the sciences, how to read/use a textbook, mathematics used in chemistry, chemistry basics, academic advising and career exploration. Faculty that taught freshman level courses and representatives from the New Student Advising Center, Career Services and Student Life led the sessions. LAs helped facilitate the activities. LAs also were asked to lead their own session on their experiences in learning and tips for success. LAs helped in the follow-up of these students three weeks into the next term- checking on the three specific things that each student said they were going to do to be more successful in the next term and again, offering their support.
Although students initially were not pleased to be singled out for participation in the Success Seminar, they all saw the wisdom of the intervention by the end of the week. There was a noticeable mindset shift towards positivity, new motivation and direction. Some students improved academically and some changed majors. The impact of the LAs on the success of the seminar was overwhelmingly positive. Freshmen felt more comfortable talking with their peers than the faculty and staff about their limitations and their frustrations with the learning process. LAs also provided valuable insight into what aspects of the sessions worked and how to improve for the next time.
The College of Science will offer an expanded version of the Success Seminar after the first term of the next academic year. It is hoped that this intervention will promote foundational learning in the sciences and enhanced retention of students. The seminar has already been written into a grant proposal with an appropriate assessment plan. The University has noted the Success Seminar in its retention efforts for ongoing AQIP accreditation. The chemistry department has taken the initiative to now offer a remedial chemistry course for students with weaker mathematics skills to foster success in the subsequent freshman chemistry course sequence. LAs are being used to facilitate active learning in this course.