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South Georgia State College-2016--Tutoring, Transition to College

Year: 
2016
Demonstration of Priority and/or Impact: 

The “Strategies to Emerge, Progress, and Succeed” (STEPS) initiative began in fall 2012 as a collaboration between Academic Affairs, Academic Support Services, and Residential Life as an effort to increase the persistence and retention of residential students.  The student profile of those students who are primarily focused on and monitored is as follows:

First-year residential students enrolled in at least one Learning Support course at SGSC or who had a high school GPA of ≤ 2.5.  These “at risk” students who reside on campus are targeted because of proximity, ease of staff contact, and high percentage of Pell-grant recipients and learning support requirements.

Summary of Activities: 

The STEPS strategy involves numerous activities: student success workshops, Academic Success Center tutoring, STEM Center tutoring, academic coaching provided by faculty and staff members, course grade monitoring throughout the semester, and individual academic, personal, and disability counseling. 

A section of SGSC 1000, the first-year-experience course, was formed for first-year residential students meeting the STEPS student criteria and offered in fall 2014. This course was led by a team of instructors from the Division of Student Success, including the Vice President for Student Success, Director of Campus Life, and the Director of Academic Support.  In addition, the team of instructors served as academic coaches for the course enrollees.  Another cohort of STEPS-eligible students from fall 2013 was selected as a comparator group, since they had participated in non-STEPS sections of the SGSC 1000 first-year experience course, in order to generate data on the apparent effects of the STEPS intervention.  In fall 2015 there were two sections of the SGSC 1000 course for STEPS students, and again there are two STEPS sections in fall 2016.  The STEPS orientation class differs from other sections of the orientation class in that it is a skills-driven class focused on goal setting, time management, reading, writing, mathematics, and “soft” skills.  It also focuses on academic advising, academic standards, grade point average calculation, and other topics related to student success.

Metrics and Measures: 

Metrics/Data Elements: 

  1. fall to spring persistence rate for fall STEPS cohort compared to fall to spring persistence rate for fall non-STEPS first-time freshman residential cohort;
  2. fall to fall retention rate for fall STEPS cohort compared to fall to fall retention rate for non-STEPS first-time freshman residential cohort;
  3. fall term grade point average for STEPS cohort compared to fall term grade point average for non-STEPS first-time freshman residential cohort;
  4. fall term percent of STEPS cohort in good standing at the end of fall term compared to the fall term percent of non-STEPS first-time freshman residential cohort in good standing;
  5. course success rates for fall term for the comparator groups;
  6. spring term grade point averages for the comparator groups;
  7. spring term percent of comparator groups’ students in good standing; spring term course success rates for the comparator groups.

Baseline Status

Baseline measures for all eight metric/data elements above come from the performance of the fall 2013 entering cohort of non-STEPS residential students—those students whose academic performance was not affected by the STEPS strategies initiated with the fall 2014 entering cohort.  The baseline measures are as follows: 

  1. fall 2013 to spring 2014 baseline persistence rate:  87.50% persisted;
  2. fall 2013 to fall 2014 baseline retention rate: 48.96% were retained;
  3. the fall 2013 baseline grade point average is 1.85;
  4. a baseline of 78.13% of students were in good standing at the end of fall term 2013;
  5. the baseline course success rate for fall term 2013 is 67%;
  6. the spring term 2014 baseline grade point average is 1.51;
  7. a baseline of 46.43% of students were in good standing at the end of spring term 2014;
  8. the baseline course success rate for spring term 2014 is 50.13%.

Interim Measures of Progress

  1. The fall to spring persistence rates for the STEPS cohorts are 88.89% (fall 2014) and 87.50% (fall 2015).  These rates are extremely close to those for the non-STEPS baseline cohort, demonstratingthat both groups had a good persistence rate from fall to spring. 
  2. The fall 2014 to fall 2015 retention rate for the STEPS cohort is 63.04%,a 14% higher rate than that of the non-STEPS baseline cohort.  The fall 2015 STEPS cohort retention rate of 43.75%,a 19% decrease from the fall 2014 cohort rate, is an indicator of the necessity for new leadership and strategy stabilization.
  3. The grade point averages for the STEPS cohorts are 2.12 (fall 2014) and 1.99 (fall 2015),both of which are higher than the 1.85 for the non-STEPS baseline group. 
  4. STEPS students remained in good standing at rates of 73.33% (fall 2014) and 71.88% (fall 2015),slightly below the rates for the non-STEPS cohort (78.13%); however, as is demonstrated in the data for #7 below, by the end of a full academic year the STEPS cohort far out-performed the non-STEPS baseline cohort in terms of remaining in good standing. 
  5. The course success rates for the STEPS cohorts are 67.74% (fall 2014) and 68.42% (fall 2015),rates quite comparable to those for the non-STEPS baseline cohort (67%); however, as is the case with end-of-academic-year good standing rates, #8 below demonstrates that by the end of a full academic year the STEPS cohort far out-performed the non-STEPS baseline cohort in terms of course success rates. 
  6. The spring term grade point averages of STEPS students are 2.30 (fall 2014 cohort) and 1.89 (fall 2015 cohort),well above those of the non-STEPS baseline cohort (1.51).  
  7. The percent of STEPS students in good standingat the end of a full academic yearis 75% for the fall 2014 cohort and 60.71% for the fall 2015 cohort,well above the 46.43% for the non-STEPS baseline cohort. 
  8. The course success rates for STEPS studentsat the end of a full academic yearare 72.14% for the fall 2014 cohort and 60.93% for the fall 2015 cohort,well above the 50.13% for the non-STEPS baseline cohort. 

Measures of Success

The interim measures of progress demonstrate that, for the most part, the STEPS cohorts have been performing at a level above the baseline performance.  “Success” for each of the eight measures of progress above is defined as follows: 

  1. a fall to spring persistence rate of 89% for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort;
  2. a fall to fall retention rate of 70% for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort;
  3. a fall term grade point average of 2.15 for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort;
  4. 79% of the fall 2017 STEPS cohort in good standing at the end of the fall 2017 term;
  5. a fall 2017 course success rate of 70% for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort;
  6. a spring term 2018 grade point average of 2.30 for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort. 
  7. 75% of the fall 2017 STEPS cohort in good standing at the end of spring term 2018;
  8. a spring term 2018 course success rate of 70% for the fall 2017 STEPS cohort.
Lessons Learned: 

This strategy has been standardized and provided consistent leadership to address the downward trend in STEPS cohort course success and retention rates, fall 2014 to fall 2015.  

There must be a great deal of coordination and communication among those working on this strategy, both of which appear to be in place for fall 2016 at no additional cost to SGSC.

Strategy: 
Strategies to Emerge, Progress, and Succeed
Point of Contact: 
Amber Wheeler, Academic Support Director
Contact email: