UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) supports a number of initiatives that impact student success and completion. For example, it coordinates an Open Education Resources (OER) program for classes with large enrollments and traditionally expensive textbooks. CTL staff also hold regular workshops to help faculty design or redesign courses to include high impact teaching strategies such as flipped and blended classrooms, “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy, active learning, and problem-based learning; and they run a variety of fellows and mentoring programs that help faculty utilize these and other high impact strategies. In addition, the Department of Mathematics has initiated a supplemental instruction program to increase student success in the pre-Calculus class that is often an early barrier for student success and delays time to completion. UGA is also investing $4.4 million annually to reduce class sizes by hiring faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections in 81 majors across campus; these include high-demand courses in growing fields such as engineering, business and public health, courses that historically have high failure rates, and “bottleneck” courses that students must take but have a hard time getting into because of limited classroom slots.
Supplemental Instruction in Pre-calculus: The Department of Mathematics has, for the past several years, offered several sections of Intensive Pre-calculus (MATH 1113) for at-risk students (those who matriculate with low scores on the departmental placement test). These sections meet two extra hours each week and are smaller in size (25 students vs. 40). Students take the same exams as students in the regular course and receive three credit hours as in the regular course. The homework and (proctored) exams are administered online through WebAssign; thus grading standards are nearly uniform across sections. Data show that these intensive courses are successful, and that there is a need for more of them. Therefore in spring 2015, the department piloted a program that used an undergraduate peer teaching assistant (UTA) to conduct the extra class hours in close contact with the course instructor. In this pilot, much of the extra time was spent working on worksheets or at the computer, usually in small groups. Beginning this academic year, the pilot is being expanded and three of the intensive sections will use UTAs to provide supplemental instruction. In addition, CTL will help train the UTAs. Small Class Size Initiative: Beginning this fall and continuing next year, UGA will hire 56 new faculty members to enhance the learning environment by reducing class sizes. The addition of these new faculty will add a total of 319 new course sections across campus. Faculty will be strategically placed to affect 81 majors, about 59% of the areas in which students can major at UGA. A significant number of these classes are high-demand courses in growing fields, courses with high “Drop/Fail/Withdraw” rates, and “bottleneck” courses that students must take but have a hard time getting into because of limited classroom slots or scheduling problems. The smaller class size and increased number will help students be more successful and decrease the time it takes for many to graduate. Other Programs: This summer UGA used the waitlist feature in Athena to help academic departments keep abreast of course demands/bottlenecks when building their course schedules to prevent students from being shut out of courses they needed for degree completion. We will continue to use this feature during the academic year. In addition, we expect finally to launch the DegreeWorks Planner sometime this fall. This program offers students an online set of academic planning tools that help them and their advisors see what courses and requirements they need to complete their programs of study; once students learn how to use the Planner effectively we expect that it will both increase the number of degrees awarded overall and decrease excess credits accumulated by students. Also see Appen