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NDSU joins pilot program to improve student performance

NDSU is one of 12 institutions selected to take part in a pilot program aimed at improving student success, retention and completion rates. The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education invited NDSU for its Gateways to Completion process. The program provides tools for faculty and staff to analyze student and institutional performance in introductory gateway courses.

By accepting the invitation, NDSU will analyze up to five high-risk courses, which will be identified using evidence collected during the first year of the three-year Gateways to Completion process. The analysis will lead to the creation and implementation of evidence-based course transformation plans.

“Gateway courses enroll large numbers of undergraduate students,” said Drew Koch, executive vice president of the Gardner Institute. “Research studies, such as Clifford Adelman’s ‘Answers in the Toolbox’ and ‘The Toolbox Revisited,’ show that students who do not succeed in gateway courses are significantly less likely to complete their stated programs of study and they also are less likely to complete college degrees anywhere.

Nationwide failure rates in these courses can reach 50 percent, Koch said. “NDSU clearly recognizes the need to improve student learning and success in gateway courses,” he said. “We are quite pleased that its faculty and staff will use the program as part of their ongoing efforts to intentionally and positively address the issue.”

NDSU Provost Bruce Rafert said the project is suited to NDSU because “student success and retention is integral to our core business and are first and foremost in everyone’s current strategies and tactics. Ideally, this project will become a permanent activity that is integrated into the institution.”

NDSU is organizing its preliminary steering committee, which will include two college deans, the director and a research analyst from the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, the director of General Education and representatives from the Council on Improving Advising and the Council on Improving Retention. Faculty from the selected high-risk courses also will be added to complete the committee.

NDSU faculty will play a significant role in the process. They will generate plans with their academic and student affairs colleagues and will be supported with Gateways to Completion predictive analytics and dashboard tools. NDSU also will join other participating institutions at the annual Gateways to Completion Community of Practice meeting and the annual Gateway Course Experience Conference.

Other founding institutions include American Public University System; Arkansas Tech University; Ashford University; Florida International University; Kennesaw State University; Lansing Community College; Lone Star College – North Harris; Metropolitan State University – Denver; Nevada State College; University of Houston – Downtown; and the University of Rhode Island.

“The cohort’s composition shows that this is an issue that spans all of academe,” said John Gardner, president of the Gardner Institute. “We applaud NDSU for its willingness to take action on this issue.”

The Gateways to Completion process was developed with input from the 32-member G2C National Advisory Committee.

The Gardner Institute is a North Carolina-based, federally recognized non-profit organization. Since 1999, the institute has worked with hundreds of postsecondary institutions around the world to improve undergraduate student learning, success, retention and completion rates.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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