UNT's efforts to attract, retain and graduate students received a major boost with the receipt of a $1.9 million federal Title III grant. It's aimed at strengthening student learning through the development of student support services and a comprehensive tracking program to alert counselors and faculty when a student is having difficulty with classes.
The new five-year U.S. Department of Education grant is a cooperative effort between the Academic Affairs office and the Division of Student Development and will allow the university to develop programs to help students deal with learning in lecture hall environments as well as provide counseling support for students needing extra help in academics. New programs will be designed, tested and implemented incrementally. In addition, the grant will strengthen UNT's Next Generation course redesign program.
"This is exciting news for UNT and our students," says Kelly McMichael, Title III Grant director and associate director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. "This partnership between academic and student affairs gives us the flexibility to develop new programs specifically designed to support our Next Generation course redesign. As we implement, we'll be helping students deal with moving into an unfamiliar environment and coping with new challenges."
UNT's Next Generation program provides an intensive, small-class experience in large lecture courses by blending proven teaching methods with technology. And it's working. Students have consistently shown improvement in learning from 5 percent in biology to 11 percent in chemistry to 23 percent in U.S. history.
Among the first programs that will be developed with the Title III grant is a Student Engagement Program that will include a Student Readiness Inventory, Freshman Year Experience and Transfer Year Experience. The Student Readiness Inventory will be administered during the first two weeks of class in the fall of 2008 to a random sample of students participating in the Next Generation Course redesign pilot test. The SRI analyzes an array of psychosocial factors proven critical to student success with the purpose of identifying students at risk of academic failure early in the semester so that appropriate services can be provided.
A Retention Alert System will be developed in 2008 and tested in 2009-10 to increase the probability that a student will complete the current semester, register the following semester and complete a degree program. Students identified as at risk through this process will be referred to appropriate support services currently available at UNT, including tutoring, personal counseling, financial management planning and career planning.
In 2009, a Student Academic Road Maps data system will be developed to allow students to track their progress in achieving a degree with minimal interruption and lost time because of improper class selection and sequencing. The system will provide students and advisors with timely, informative and persuasive information regarding course requirements and degree completion status.
"The programs we will be designing will allow us to offer university support to individual students to help them progress toward their degree," says Bonita Jacobs, vice president for Student Development. "In addition, students and counselors should find the Road Maps data system to be a very helpful tool that will provide a clear picture of the individual's progress toward a degree."
During the third year, learning communities will be developed to create supportive communities for incoming freshman and transfer students and decrease the likelihood of attrition. Learning communities will incorporate principles proven effective by educators in increasing student success.
The Title III grant also will provide scholarship funds for UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars program.
UNT News Service Press Release
Buddy Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.