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Kennesaw State University Campus Plan Update 2021


Kennesaw State University is one of four comprehensive universities in the University System of Georgia (USG) and the third-largest university in the USG. KSU is a Carnegie-designated doctoral R2 research institution. The mission statement affirms KSU’s commitment to student success.

“At Kennesaw State, we serve as a powerful example of the impact a student-centered, research-driven university education can deliver. We help students succeed through exploration, collaboration, and rigor, uniting a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and talents.  At KSU, students become the individuals who people want as colleagues and leaders.”

Two KSU values further exemplify KSU’s commitment to student success. 

“We are student-inspired; we believe in fueling aspiration and delivering pathways – enabling students to stretch and strive, embrace a dream, and create actionable plans.”

“We are promise-fulfilling; we believe in being committed and ready – making promises we can keep to fuel opportunity for every student and spark economic growth for the region.”

After reviewing this update, it will become clear that KSU is converting commitment to action across multiple campus initiatives specific to Momentum Year and Approach. As illustrated in Table 1, KSU enrolled 38,973 undergraduate students in Fall Semester 2021, a 4% increase from Fall Semester 2020. As is demonstrated later in this report, various student success initiatives are underway at KSU to retain these students and ensure a smooth and timely progression to degree attainment. The proportion of full-time undergraduates has remained consistent at roughly three-quarters of the total undergraduate student population. The percentage of females remained consistent at a little more than 51% since consolidation. In addition, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of racial/ ethnic minority identified students. The percentage of racial/ethnic minority identified students increased to 49% in Fall Semester 2021.

Table 1

Fall 2016

Fall 2017

Fall 2018

Fall 2019



Total Enrollment







Number of Undergraduates





















Self-Declared Race/Ethnicity








Black or African American







Hispanic or Latino







Two or More Races














Data Source: Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Office of Research and Policy Analysis, Semester Enrollment Reports


During the 2021 Momentum Summit IV, KSU leaders identified the following four primary strategies for the University’s 2021 Momentum Plan: 1) Learning Analytics, 2) Program Maps, 3) High-Impact Practices (HIPs), 4) Course Transformation Academy (CTA). Moreover,  to these stratagems, KSU’s leadership developed in Spring Semester 2021 and implemented in Fall Semester 2021 one more practice, titled “Presidential Focused Learner,” as an additional effort for improving student success by removing barriers and enhancing the student experience at KSU.

Below is a description of how KSU removed or lessened structural and motivational obstacles that students face and to improve the outcomes for the University in accordance with Momentum year and Approach:

Learning Analytics:

KSU’s “Big Idea” is Learning Analytics. See Section 3 for details.

Program Maps:

The Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and the Associate Vice Provost for Student Success guide and assist all programs with program maps. All programs (with a few exceptions) have program maps available online. A curriculum process is in place requiring any programs making curricular changes to consider the effects on their program maps and update where necessary. Advisors apply interactive program maps to students' DegreeWorks. These plans show the student's progress and proposed courses and especially concentrate on important milestone courses. One-year program maps were created for students in KSU's eight focus areas. These plans make sure every focus area student will be guided to take 30 credit hours, complete Math and English, and explore their proposed area of study (at least three courses) within their first year. 

Additionally, KSU is making strides in getting students into Focus Areas as demonstrated in the table below.

Table 2

Number of Undeclared Students

Number of Focus Area Students

Total Number of Undeclared & Focus Area Students

Percentage of Undeclared Students in Focus Areas

Fall 2018





Fall 2019





Fall 2020





Fall 2021





Further work with programs maps included the implementation of a new statistics pathway in General Education. Beginning in Fall Semester 2021, program maps for 14 KSU degree programs were modified to recommend this pathway with many others allowing it as an option. The statistics pathway will provide a route through General Education by enrolling in STAT 1401 in Area A and DATA 1501 in Area D. This pathway places many more first semester students in the hands of a college that has not previously played a role in General Education, the College of Computing and Software Engineering, the home of the new School of Data Science and Analytics. Faculty in this school and college are eager to deliver these courses, which should connect more clearly to the students’ degree programs. The STAT 1401 course has traditionally had DFWI rates below 20%. These rates jumped to over 25% in FY2021. This rate is still better than the other Area A and D offerings, but there is certainly room for improvement.

High-Impact Practices:

Under the guidance of the Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), KSU is strengthening its three QEP High Impact Practices - undergraduate research, work-based learning, service learning - by expanding access to and participation in the three HIPs that are the focus of KSU’s efforts to date, communicating about HIP experiences to all members of the KSU community, and by improving the quality of its three HIP experiences with expanded reflections and closer adherence to HIP characteristics. For the latter item, KSU recently created and filled the position titled, “Fellow for Reflective Practice in Learning.” During Spring Semester 2021, this person began implementing a year-long Reflective Learning Scholars program for faculty to adopt reflective learning practices and assignments for students in their HIP classes. Additionally, this Fellow is offering workshops, consultations, and a Reflections Course Redesign Institute to complement the current course redesign institutes for each of the three HIPs in the QEP as well as assist individual faculty in creating the final Critical Reflection assignments for their HIP classes.

Since implementation Fall Semester 2019, KSU has seen a 30% increase in HIP courses over the last 2 years and a 13% increase in students taking HIP classes. KSU currently has over 12,000 student touch points with HIP-designated courses, almost 30% of the University’s total student undergraduate population.

Course Transformation Academy:

The Course Transformation Academy seeks to improve student success in courses across KSU by bringing together departments and resources to support the faculty in making student-focused change. General principles for the CTA include that all faculty teaching the course must participate in the efforts and that the department and college administration must be fully supportive and participate as well. This year the calculus-based physics sequence (PHYS 2211 and PHYS 2212) entered the CTA. This sequence is required for many STEM majors, including all engineering majors in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Below is a table of DFWI rates for this course over the past 3 years. There appears to have been some steady improvement in the first course over this time period while the second course exhibits more variability. Currently, the group is working through the self-study phase of the process with great emphasis on incorporating student voice into their analysis.

Table 3

AW 18-19 DFWU % (n)

AY 19-20% (n)

AY20-21% (n)

PHYS 2211

31.5 (1,503)

30.4 (1,150)

27.9 (1,331)

PHYS 2212

25.9 (1,008)

24.4 (987)

27.2 (985)

Presidential Focused Learner:

As a means to address the Mindset component of the Momentum efforts, a cohort of students were identified in Spring Semester 2021 to be in a new program called the President’s Focused Learner (PFL) program. This first cohort of PFL students were students who had come in as first-year students in Fall 2020 and had ended their first semester with between a 2.5 and a 2.99 GPA. These students are not a group that would traditionally receive special attention, but they are (given KSU’s current RPG numbers) quite likely to eventually reach a point where they leave the institution with no degree. Research literature indicates that work put into helping students like this reaps benefits. Statistical analysis was performed to identify pre-matriculation selection criteria to select a new cohort of PFLs from the Fall Semester 2021 first-year class.

Programming ideas for PFL students are still being developed and designed. Some of the early components to the program include schedule checks for continuing students, pre-scheduling for new students, special PFL sections in courses like English composition and mathematics, fun events to create a sense of support and belonging, and workshops delivered by the PFL director and peer mentors on subjects like time management and test anxiety. The PFL program has a dynamic director who is connecting with these students personally to offer her services to help them navigate any aspect of the institution they find confusing or problematic.

Another key component to the program is collaborative work across university units. Chairs, directors, and faculty work to deliver course sections aimed at helping these students. Advisors know about the PFL students and work to check their schedules for potential pitfalls. Tutoring services and supplemental instruction offer special services set aside for PFL students. Data and feedback will be collected on all activities to determine what is working and what improvements can be made. Currently, there are 1600 PFL students.


As noted in Section 2, KSU’s “Big Idea” is Learning Analytics. The Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment oversees and leads this effort. Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners, their learning activity, and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs. KSU has developed micro-learning professional development to grow faculty awareness of and capacity to access, interpret, and act on learning analytics currently available within individual course sections housed in D2L. KSU is in an exploratory phase to determine the best solution to provide faculty with real-time learning analytics that will allow faculty to optimize content and instructional methods of each course and identify individual students in need of instructional intervention.

To further support using data for improving student success, KSU Academic Affairs leadership is hiring four Student Success Specialists. These data analysts will coordinate student success related activities in the assigned degree-granting colleges. They will assist in collecting and tracking data and providing this information to leaders in the respective colleges and the Academic Affairs division.


For this section, KSU describes challenges, successes, support of all students, lessons learned, and next steps to ensure sustainability and resiliency for the new two efforts. The other four efforts were listed in the Momentum Plan 2021 and are well-established at KSU.

Learning Analytics:

  • The D2L data hub structure is limited and lacks a data storage solution. Realtime, quick, repeated, and direct access to custom D2L reporting mechanisms is a challenge as KSU leaders map and test data pulls in order to plan the data architecture of the learning analytics project. 
  • KSU leadership has managed to map which data fields needed from D2L and draft sample reports. KSU is refining and defining in more detail the output goal for its complex D2L analytics. The University has also designed and launched a microlearning tool that teaches faculty how to use the analytics readily available in D2L. This tool is available at
  • This project has not yet had a measurable impact on student success measures for any subgroup. However, learning analytics may help instructors see student behaviors and outcomes differently as new data sets can challenge biases and assumptions.
  • KSU leaders have learned this project will require investment in external expertise. Therefore, they have applied for external funding to accommodate this need.
  • KSU staff have included automation as a design feature in our learning analytics system plan. Currently, the University is planning to use Microsoft Software tools and services to ensure sustainable component integration and minimize the need for additional human resources. 

Presidential Focused Learner:

  • As a new program starting in May 2021, the President's Focused Learner Program is currently compiling and evaluating data on the "Murky Middle" population to determine the areas of most impact based on historical student population data and the creation of new PFL Program support mechanisms. The PFL Program currently includes students that started at KSU in Fall 2020 and completed their first semester with a GPA of 2.5-2.99. After gathering that student population, analytics were used to determine the cohort of Fall 2021 incoming students at risk for falling within that "Murky Middle" college GPA range. The program will continue to grow and include additional students in future academic years. As this is a new and adaptive initiative, the challenges we currently face is determining which areas of their academic experience require the highest levels of support and what mechanisms created have the largest impact on this student population to ensure that the program is running as efficiently as possible to positively improve the overall PFL student experience.
  • KSU has piloted many initiatives on this student population that seem to positively impact their ability to navigate the institution. They seem to have limited understanding of how to navigate the various resources and processes available to them as KSU students and creating opportunities that are welcoming and easy to access and understand seem to be encouraging additional future touch points within the program. Supporting the students at the time in which they hit obstacles seems to increase their participation and having a positive experience at that point increases their participation later. This includes completing/assisting their registration process by major, supporting their proactive use of advising, and understanding various policies and deadlines that occur within a semester. While the approach always assumed that adaptability would be a key feature, feedback from PFL students has assisted in creating immediate and future priorities.
  • Students at risk of falling in the "Murky Middle" often fall within the first generation, underrepresented, and non-traditional student populations. This program works to support students that fall within those demographics within the Murky Middle GPA range. While it is not specifically targeting specific underrepresented student groups, it is capturing them and any student that needs additional support to improve their academic success.
  • Creating mechanisms and programming that supports them when they hit "a wall" is a great opportunity to capture an audience that might not be easily reached through common, informative messaging. By capturing them when they recognize that they need support, KSU is able to welcome and encourage an audience for more proactive participation in things beyond that intervention point.
  • By continuing to internally evaluate and adapt offerings and processes to the needs of the student population by utilizing quantitative and qualitative measures, KSU can ensure that the program continues to grow and develop with the student population.  As KSU leaders build and organize the foundation of the program, baseline data will then assist in future evaluations and awareness of areas of improvement that can be addressed.  RPG of the PFL Program students will be at the forefront of processes for the program.


KSU’s Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing and the University’s Enrollment Management division have employed strategic factors, such as digital marketing efforts, across the institution. These efforts include work like advertising and communication campaigns. Additionally, all work related to Momentum Year and Approach shifted to online and hybrid delivery models during the pandemic. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment as well as other units around the campuses made this pivot possible. Much of this work will continue as the University adapts to the post-pandemic reality.


Optional supplemental updates are as follows:

Mindset Survey:

KSU had 927 respondents to the Mindset Survey. Per the USG email, KSU has the 3rd highest response total in the USG. The administration of the survey was a collaboration between faculty teaching First-Year Composition courses and staff leading the new PFL program. As a result of this partnership, KSU is growing in the number of students completing this survey. Lastly, KSU leaders plan to disaggregate the data of Presidential Focused Learner students from non-PFL students. Hopefully, this data analysis will help identify support services for the new PFL students.

Student Success in Freshman Math and English and other Gateway Courses:

The table below shows the DFWI rates for all students taking the six largest introductory Math classes.

Table 6


AY 18-19 % (n)

AY 19-20 % (n)

AY 20-21 % (n)

MATH 1101

21.1 (1,287)

26.1 (1,376)

29.4 (1,586)

MATH 1160

29.4 (2,417)

28.3 (2,556)

33.8 (1,128)

MATH 1111

29.7 (6,567)

27.7 (4,646)

36.3 (5,875)

MATH 1113

23.5 (683)

24.9 (525)

34.9 (3,591)

MATH 1190

42.3 (2,834)

36.9 (2,784)

38.5 (3,042)

STAT 1401

20.0 (3,497)

16.7 (3,834)

25.6 (4,993)

Notably, all courses experienced an increase in DFWI rates during the past year where each term involved complexities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fall Semester 2020 was uniquely challenging as this schedule was planned prior to the pandemic. With two campuses having very few large capacity classrooms, the challenge to provide courses to a record high number of students while socially distanced meant many classes were either taken online or restricted student face-to-face access to once a week. Non-traditional classroom spaces were created in the Convocation Center and gyms. Some active-learning pedagogies were made more difficult or impossible. Some of these roadblocks could have played a role in decreased mathematics success as past data has shown KSU students generally have less success in online math courses than in face-to-face.

Additionally, results of curricular changes made in FY19-20 can be clearly seen in the above chart. Coles College of Business modified most of their programs to no longer require calculus. This resulted in a large decrease in the number of students needing to take MATH 1160. Many Coles students will now take STAT 1401 or a new DATA 1501 course in Area D. The DATA 1501 course is being offered for the first time in Fall 2021. There was also a tremendous increase in students taking MATH 1113 in AY20-21. This can be attributed to a curriculum change which allowed students to access this course from MATH 1111. Prior to

AY20-21, the only students who could access MATH 1113 were those who placed into it from high school. STEM students who needed to begin their math studies in MATH 1111, were subsequently sent to a College Trigonometry course (MATH 1112) before they could access MATH 1190. It is disappointing but not surprising that this new, larger cohort of MATH 1113 students has not performed as strongly as those in the past.

Other important improvement measures underway in entry-level math courses include course coordination for MATH 1101, MATH 1111, MATH 1113 and MATH 1190. This coordination has already led to common final exams in MATH 1111 with plans to expand this practice to MATH 1113 and MATH 1190. It also led to adoption of a common topics list and a common syllabus and implementation of a peer observation program with almost 100% of faculty volunteering to participate.

The table below shows the DFWI rates for First-Year students taking the two largest introductory English classes.

Table 7

AY 18-19 % (n)

AY 19-20 % (n)

AY 20-21 % (n)

ENGL 1101

14.5 (4,506)

16.8 (5,764)

25.3 (7,330)

ENGL 1102

16.3 (5,909)

18.0 (6,805)

20.1 (7,279)

DFWI rates in the first English composition course increased a great deal in AY 20-21. Much of this increase was due to outcomes in Fall Semester 2020 where the withdrawal rate from this course jumped by more than 8% over the Fall Semester 2019 number. This outcome is likely due to the large number of sections of the course that were online or hybrid due to COVID-19 and social distancing concerns. As was the case with the math sections, the sections were scheduled and enrolled at full capacity, so modifications made with campus room-size limitations involved more online work for students. DFWI rates in online sections of ENGL 1101 have traditionally hovered in the low 30% range. The Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences (RCHSS) is focusing on success in these composition courses as one of their student success initiatives. Enhancements include expanded peer-to-peer academic support in the form of supplemental instruction for all modalities, standard assignment sequences and types across all sections, model syllabi across all sections  and D2L modules developed collaboratively by composition faculty and the RCHSS Office of Digital Education to be embedded in online sections.

The table below shows the DFWI rates for First-Year students taking the CHEM 1211-    1212 sequence required by many STEM majors.

Table 8

AY 18-19 % (n)

AY 19-20 % (n)

AY 20-21 % (n)

CHEM 1211

40.9 (3,050)

32.9 (3,252)

40.7 (2,801)

CHEM 1212

38.1 (1,398))

37.6 (1,675)

40.2 (1,337)

In last year’s budget narrative, the G2C and HHMI grant-funded work resulting in promising course-wide changes in CHEM 1211 and 1212 was highlighted. Updating the data for AY 20-21, it appears that the pandemic may have caused the progress gained to be erased. However, it is heartening to note that the CHEM 1211 DFWI rates only went back to where they were before the changes were made. CHEM 1212 has not yet had a normal semester since its transformation was scheduled to begin in Spring Semester 2020, the first semester impacted by the pandemic. Therefore, there is still reason for optimism about this work.


The main point of contact for this Momentum Plan 2021 is Danielle Buehrer, Executive Director of Institutional Quality and Accreditation, Additional members of the Momentum Plan 2021 Team include:

Marla Bell

Associate Vice Provost for Student Success;

Michele DiPietro

Executive Director for Faculty Development and Recognition and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning;

Ivan Pulinkala

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs;

Scott Reese

Interim Director of the QEP and CTA;

Brenda Stopher

Vice President of Enrollment Services; and,

Anissa Vega

Interim Assistant Vice President for Curriculum and Academic Innovation