Expanding to the Two-Year Programs
Since the consolidation of Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College in January 2014 associate degree graduation rates at Perimeter College have risen by 5 percentage points, the highest increase in the college’s history. Perimeter’s three-year graduation rate, now 11.9 percent, has almost doubled since 2014 when it was 6.5 percent. We will continue to look for ways to bring our student-success programs to all students.
Through administrative budget reductions, targeted staffing increases and a focus on student success we expect to continue the positive trajectory of student graduation rates and student success outcomes at the Atlanta campus and to extend significant gains in these areas to Perimeter College students.
In the year since consolidation, Georgia State officials have begun analytics tracking for Perimeter students, expanded the university’s successful Panther Retention Grant program to hundreds of students enrolled in Perimeter’s two-year programs and begun hiring 30 new advisers to help students and to continue the upward trajectory.
The merger has allowed Perimeter College students who transferred into Georgia State to be awarded associate degrees through the reverse transfer of credits. In 2015-16, more than 1,900 degrees were conferred at Perimeter College. Almost 1,000 students successfully transferred from Perimeter College’s two-year programs to Georgia State’s bachelor’s-degree programs on the main Atlanta campus—an 85 percent one-year increase. This consolidation is making it easier for students to go to college and pursue a four-year degree.
Addressing the Summer Drop-Off
Georgia State is addressing the number of students who are accepted to the institution but do not enroll. The university has been one the first in the country to start a text-message-based system to help new students successfully transition to college. In a randomized control trial, the university saw a four percent decrease in summer melt from students who had access to the system. In the first three months of implementation, students had more than 200,000 interactions with the system.
Addressing Financial Issues to
Help Students Succeed
Georgia State has been recognized as a national leader in data analytics to improve student success, especially for low-income and under-represented minority students. Thanks to a donation from the SunTrust Foundation, the university is revolutionizing the way financial services are delivered to students. Through the use of early alert systems, a comprehensive student financial management center, and campus and community outreach programs, Georgia State is leading the way in financial interventions for students. The university is also looking to build a model for financial interventions that can be delivered at other universities across the country. These interventions look to reduce the debt students incur in college, proactively identify students who might have trouble paying their educational and living expenses, and provide quality financial literacy training for students and community members.
With the goal of helping the next generation of low-income students succeed at even higher rates, Georgia State has partnered with the SunTrust Foundation to support:
1. An Early Alert System for Financial Risk that is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
2. A Student Financial Counseling Center to assist at-risk students in mapping out a sound financial plan for their education going forward.
3. Community Outreach Programs to extend the innovative work of the Financial Counseling Center throughout the community, especially to low-income middle- and high-school students and their families.
4. The Research and Tools necessary to replicate the model across colleges and universities nationwide.
5. Replication of the Model at one or more partner universities with Georgia State serving as a mentor in order to prove the viability of scaling the approach.
Using Tools to Personalize Learning in the Classroom
Deploying adaptive courseware in five gateway courses in Economics, Political Science and Psychology, the project has the potential to make a significant and sustainable impact on retention and graduation rates at Georgia State, particularly for high-risk populations (black, Hispanic, Pell eligible, first-generation and adult learners). Based on an approach that is data-driven and collaborative, the initiative supports faculty members in the targeted departments as they explore, pilot, refine and scale adaptive learning courseware across all sections of the identified courses—with more than 15,000 seats annually. This systematic approach will be complemented and supported by the development of a faculty learning community aided through monthly brown-bag seminars and an ongoing speaker series on adaptive and personalized approaches to teaching and learning. Georgia State has a proven record of scaling innovative student-success initiatives, including the transformation of all sections—more than 5,500 seats—of its introductory mathematics courses to an adaptive format. Our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which provides support for pedagogical and technological innovation, has made adaptive learning a top priority. By using a data-based process to build faculty collaboration and buy-in across the five high-impact courses we have identified, we anticipate building a sustainable model that will improve outcomes for thousands of students.
We have identified promising candidates for conversion to adaptive-learning courseware and delivery according to four major criteria. We have sought (1) high enrollment courses that are as gateways to progression for students in multiple majors (2) courses with high drop, fail, withdrawal rates relative to the institutional average at the undergraduate level (3) courses offered by departments with established records in support of instructional innovation (4) courses that have strong administrative and faculty leadership.
About eight years ago, we began to redesign all introductory math courses—Pre-Calculus, College Algebra and Elementary Statistics—using adaptive learning. Before the redesign, drop, fail and withdrawal rates in the courses regularly topped 40 percent. The non-pass rate in College Algebra averaged 45 percent in 2007. After failing once, students would have to retake the course, often picking up another D or F. Hundreds of students were losing their scholarships and dropping out because of this one requirement. We no longer offer traditional lecture sections of any of these math courses. Students attend class as a group with instructors in one of several computer labs dedicated exclusively to these classes 24/7. Each student sits at an individual terminal working on the same chapter of material using adaptive learning programs and receives personal feedback throughout each class. Under this model, non-pass rates across the three math courses have dropped from an average of 31 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014, with the number down 15 percentage points (33 percent) for Pre-Calculus. All 5,530 seats of introductory math Georgia State offered last year were delivered in this adaptive format, meaning hundreds of additional students are passing their math requirement in their first attempt than was the case eight years ago. The gains from this approach have been strongest for students who are part of at-risk populations.