Thanks Anne--I can definitely use some of this with our second semester probation students as well.  Hope you are getting some rest and feel better soon.

>>> Pat Scheib <[log in to unmask]> 1/6/2009 6:42 PM >>>
Your Academic Progress assignment is really wonderful Travis!  I'm scrambling to add it to my list of assignments for my class that starts next Wednesday. 

I teach a one-credit, 15-week required course (Penn College Transitions) for students on academic probation, also using the On Course textbook.  Most of my students are returning to the college after being academically dismissed a year or more ago.  I had previously been checking academic progress by sending questionnaires to faculty myself, then sorting through about 150 or so completed questionnaires, some of which are not returned to me until 4-6 weeks after midterms (way too late to be of help to the student).  I have been bothered by how this process seems to minimize the student's accountability, even though I would meet with each of them later to discuss what their profs had said on the forms.  

I love how your assignment shifts the responsibility onto the students and the face-to-face discussion with the instructor will help students get that much-needed reality check of exactly how they are doing.  Sometimes I'm really baffled by the vast difference between my students' perception of how they are doing in a class and the actual grade they are earning in the grade book.  I think many are still in high school mode where as long as they show up for most of the exams and do a few of the homework assignments, they think they can slide by with a C. Several seem to believe that simply attending every class should be rewarded with an A or B, regardless of their actual test scores.  I think they will benefit from discussing these perceptions with their professors. 

I've modified your Academic Progress assignment to dovetail with a Semester Goals assignment (see attached) that my students complete in the second week of classes.  I have them set goals for the specific grades they want to achieve in each class (having explained to them that since they are on probation, they need to be earning at least B grades to bring up their overall GPA, so more than one C grade this semester will not be acceptable). Then they set more detailed short-term goals/strategies they will employ daily or weekly to actually achieve those higher grades. 

Students will complete the Academic Progress sheet 3 weeks later.  The first question on their Academic Progress sheet is "Are you achieving the goals/grade you set for this course?"  When I meet with them to discuss their progress, we will identify their strategies for improving their grades as additional short-term goals they have decided to add to their list, or perhaps goals they already said they wanted to achieve but have not successfully done so.    

I also added a few potential "problem" areas to your list, like preparation and use of tutoring/SI.  Students who refuse to read, or even skim through their textbooks are pretty common around here so I do a lot of preaching about how a little preparation before a lecture can make it easier to follow what the Prof is saying and helps them take better notes.  I also assure them that most boring lectures actually become more interesting when one has read the chapter prior to class. We are a technical college, so our math curriculum is rigorous and we tend to attract students who have not spent a lot of time developing their writing skills, so one way or another they usually need some tutoring.  

Thanks for sharing this innovative assignment and for helping me "go creator" to find a new solution to my own teaching challenges.  


Pat Scheib
Academic Skills Specialist, Academic Support Services
Adjunct Faculty, School of Integrated Studies
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Williamsport, PA 17701-5799
570-326-3761, x7575

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Travis Ramage
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 1:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: 1st year, 2 semester support programs

Dear all: 

I would also be interested in what others are doing. 

As you all know, I am always one to share with the you go... 

In the past, the STAR program (for conditionally admitted students) at Aurora University (AU) consisted of a four-day STAR orientation (required) a week before the semester began and then individual follow-up with the students during fall and spring based on Academic Progress Reports (see attached -- Progress Report (Fa07) ) that the students' instructors were asked to complete during week four of the semester and return to me. The progress reports were sent with an introductory letter to the instructor (see attached -- Introductory Letter (Fall 2007) ) both fall and spring. 

Since last year (07-08) was my first year at AU, I followed the model that was in place. I found the process to be ineffective for my personal work style. So, rather than be a "victim" to the existing program, I was a "creator" (notice the OnCourse language -- :-) ) and made changes to the program. I have attached a presentation I recently delivered at a regional conference that outlines my program and the changes I made. 

In brief, here is the new structure I put into place this year (08-09): 

Fall -- 

STAR Orientation a week before the semester begins (required)
(NEW) Sixteen week, first year experience (FYE) course (1 credit) (required) 

-- I used OnCourse as the text/curriculum for the course . 
-- I also discussed study strategies through out the course . 
-- The class met once a week, for 65 minutes (I offered three sections). 
-- There were four non-STAR students who were enrolled in the class b/c they wanted to take the class or their parents thought they should take the class. 

Spring -- 


I incorporated the Academic Progress Reports as an assignment into the FYE course. Rather than the instructor completing the form, giving the form to me, and then me following up with the student to review the form...the assignment for the class was for the student to meet with the instructor to complete the form (see attached -- Assignment 5 ) and develop a plan to improve in the class with the instructor. I still sent an introductory letter to the instructors to let them know the change in the process (see attached -- Introductory Letter (Fall 2008 ) ) As part of the assignment, the student was then required to meet with me to go over the progress reports to discuss how they were doing in their classes and the plans they developed with the instructor to improve in the class. Of the 31 STAR students in the class, all but 2-3 students met with me. I found this process more effective than for me tracking down the student on my own as I did the previous year with little success. This new process made the students more accountable and responsible for their performance in their classes. 

I know I want to at least use the Academic Progress Reports for the students during spring semester. By developing a relationship with the students in the class this fall, I am expecting that when I contact students in spring to complete their progress reports with their instructors, that the students will follow through with the assignment, or at least I will be more effective in contacting and following up with the students because we know each from the class. I will also be developing bi-weekly events (e.g., pizza parties, guest speakers, etc) where I can connect with the students and help them stay on track during spring semester. I am going to be meeting with the director of our counseling center over the holiday break to work with her staff in developing programming over the spring semester as well. I have also had the brainstorm to possibly require next year's STAR students to take a fall AND spring FYE class. I would keep the fall classes curriculum the same. The spring class could be a careers exploration course to help students either identify a major they may want to pursue or to explore their current major in more depth. I still need to iron out the bugs and present this new idea to my supervisor and the admissions office, who obviously make the admissions decisions on the STAR students. 

To give you some data from 07-08 to 08-09... 

Fall 2007 

41 STAR students (avg ACT - 18.46; avg HS GPA - 2.59) 

-- 29 students (70%) were earning a D/F in at least one class at mid-term
-- 9 students decided to "check-out" or leave after fall semester (22%)
-- 8 students earned a 3.00 or higher (20%)
-- 16 students earned a 2.00 - 2.99 (40%) 

Fall 2008 

31 STAR Students (avg ACT - 18.35; avg HS GPA - 2.77) 

-- 18 students (58%) were earning a D/F in at least one class at mid-term (some of these students have since dropped the class they were not passing at mid-term)
-- no one has "checked out" or is planning to leave after fall semester
-- final grades are not available at this time; I am optimistic that their GPA's are going to be stronger than last year's students given their better performance at mid-term and their success in my class this fall. However, there are some students who managed to earn a D or an F in my FYE class. 

Feel free to contact me off-list if you would like more details about the class, orientation, or anything else related to the STAR program. 

Travis Ramage 

Academic Advisor / STAR Program Coordinator Aurora University
347 Gladstone Avenue
Aurora, IL 60506
PH: 630-844-5141
FX: 630-844-7813
AIM: trav7374
E-mail: [log in to unmask] 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Barbara Kirkwood" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 10:48:57 AM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Subject: 1st year, 2 semester support programs 

I am turning to the listserv to help me in locating any information about schools that are doing two semesters of support programs for conditionally admitted or students testing into developmental classes. 

The first semester might include a freshman seminar that really focuses on student responsibility, self management, attendance, deadlines, and so on. 

The second semester might include developmental reading or study skills. 

I have searched our library data bases and can find support for freshman seminar, linked classes, learning communities, developmental courses, but nothing that focuses on this two semester approach. 

Is there anyone out there who has a two semester program? Is there any research on this approach or does anyone have statistics from their school? 


Barbara L.S. Kirkwood
Associate Director for Group Academic Support CASA - Center for Academic Support and Advancement Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
(260) 481-6881 

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