Learn to SOAR: Students Optimizing Academic Resources
Learn to SOAR emerged from an institutional process that used assessment data to identify key issues. An annual review of institutional-level core performance indicators by the college Planning Council revealed declining student retention and success rates. A Retention Task Force, established to analyze the decline, found that first-time-in-college (FTIC) students who are at risk of academic failure have lower success rates in gatekeeper courses than academically prepared FTIC students. With the data analysis and task force recommendations as a foundation, a literature review, brainstorming sessions, focus groups, surveys, pre-proposals, a debate, and a college-wide election led to a QEP designed to motivate FTIC students to succeed by helping them identify and use academic resources.
Research indicated that only 60 percent of approximately 1,250 academically at-risk FTIC students successfully completed ENC1101: Introduction to Composition, a critical gatekeeper course required of all associate-level students. Learn to SOAR will create and offer a first-year seminar course, SLS1101: College Resources, designed to help students optimize available academic resources to succeed in ENC1101. The two courses will be aligned so that success in one promotes success in the other. The academic resources highlighted by the seminar are Library Services, the Academic Support Center, and the Writing Center. Related professional development opportunities will train faculty to teach the one credit-hour seminar and promote the use of academic resources as a student success strategy throughout the college’s academic programs. The goal of Learn to SOAR is to increase the ENC1101 success rate of FTIC academically at-risk students from 60 percent to 65 percent over five years.
Implementation of Learn to SOAR will be coordinated by the QEP director, an SLS1101 lead instructor, research analyst, and the Learn to SOAR Implementation Team. The first-year budget allocation provides funds for curriculum development, faculty training, and a pilot test of the new course. Full implementation will be reached in year three. Over five years, $1.3 million is budgeted for Learn to SOAR.
The QEP topic selection and development processes involved constituents from all areas of the college and all campuses. The Implementation Team represents multiple academic departments, three academic resources, academic advising, and several other key functional areas. Over five years, more than 4,700 students, 100 faculty and at least 50 support staff will be impacted by Learn to SOAR.
Student learning outcomes have been identified to provide direct measures of student achievement for each of the key academic resources. Program outcomes anticipate increased success rates in ENC1101 for FTIC at-risk students as well as increased faculty focus on developing students’ skills in using academic resources as a tool for success. Formative and summative evaluations are planned with both direct and indirect measures of assessment. Learn to SOAR will be integrated into the institution’s ongoing planning and evaluation process as a component of the School of Student Life Skills.
Dr. Tom Bellomo, QEP Director, BellomT@DaytonaState.edu