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CEHSP Retention Committee

December 19, 2007

Present: Pat Sundin, Jean Stevenson, RaeAnn Johnson, Kim Riordan, Bob Lloyd, John Keener, Jackie Millslagle, Lynette Carlson.

Absent: Dan Glisczinski, Sue Darge (ill).

Set spring semester meeting time for 3:00 Tuesdays. (Janaury 29, February 26, April 1)

Jackie reviewed several items from the agenda and led a discussion to help clarify the role of the committee. The agenda included:

Review Strategy Map's CORE PROCESS AREAS – what areas can this committee impact?  Where shall we direct our efforts? 

    1. Fit:  Interests and educational goals of students are aligned with UMD, its programs, and regional setting.
    2. Financial:  Students have access to sufficient resources to plan for and invest in their education.
    3. Learning:  Students are engaged in challenging learning activities leading to timely degree completion.
    4. Support:  Students are connected to a strong network of caring faculty, staff, and students.
    5. Culture:  Students, faculty, and staff are valued participants in, and contributors to, a diverse and inclusive community that is educationally purposeful.

Is the purpose we've stated appropriate? The purpose of the CEHSP Retention Committee is to develop a strategic approach to increasing retention and graduate rates by

  • analyzing retention data on our students to identify problem areas where we are losing students;
  • deciding if there is opportunity to increase retention at an identified point in time (do we have any control?);
  • identifying best practices that apply to the problem;
  • advising on interventions; and
  • measuring impact of interventions.

Or… should this faculty group concentrate on the learning area?  There are numerous initiatives across campus that focus on student support issues that impact retention:  expanded orientation; graduation planner; learning communities; etc.  Should this predominantly faculty group focus on student-learning issues that relate to retention?  What objectives/recommendations should this committee make for Spring 2008 and beyond?

To help focus on student learning issues, selected readings were attached to the agenda. Jackie explained her thoughts on attaching each, and suggested this set of documents as a start to help focus efforts on the impact of the student learning experience on retention.

    1. A new paradigm for undergraduate education, Robert B. Barr and John Tagg
    2. Promoting student success: What faculty members can do, Jullian Kinzie
    3. Engaging students: an examination of the effects of teaching strategies on self-efficacy and course climate in a nonmajors physics course, Heidi Fencl and Karen Scheel
    4. Newsletter from the Collaborative for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning.  A conference is planned for June – anyone interested?  If you have time, check out the discussion about deep learning; perhaps a topic for a spring meeting.
    5. Text of an email discuss that took place in the last week – anonymous.
    6. UMD NSSE survey results.

Summary statements from Sue Darge's review of literature:

    1. Would people in other professions, such as medicine or the law, not employ best practices or pay attention to research in their field?  As practitioners of teaching and learning, how can faculty become more knowledgeable about the best pedagogies for college student learning and implement them? 
    2. Students themselves may initially resist active learning, especially in large classes. They are accustomed to being passive learners and may at first not want to have to "do something".  When instructors are clear about their goals and expectations for an activity or assignment, and let students in on why it will help them, they can get past this resistance.  In smaller classes it is usually not a problem to get students to engage willingly.
    3. One way to start is to get a department to rethink its desired learning outcomes for students, and then work together to create a pedagogy and curriculum to achieve these goals -- measuring the learning, not the instruction.

The following statements/questions/recommendations came from the discussion.

  1. If the statements in the NSSE survey are considered benchmarks for active and collaborative learning, they should be called to the attention of the faculty group currently reviewing the teacher evaluation documents. There is a need, in a much more tangible way, to take seriously the evaluations of students. How much does good teaching "count" in P & T and merit considerations?
  2. After a listing of some of the retenton and enrollment management activities ongoing across campus, the question was raised about where/how everything is being coordinated? Jackie explained the roles of Bruce Gildseth and Randy Hyman, but admitted the associate deans have also expressed some concern about where/how the various initiatives are coordinated.
  3. UMD students have participated in the NSSE survey for 4 years; the raw data is available to analyze. As with all other datasets available, a good set of "questions" is essential before attempting to mine the data.
  4. In addition to NSSE, data warehouse, and ACT data, surveys that attempt to get at students intentions for degree completion, and their motivation toward academic work, would be helpful in better reflecting our true success at retaining students.
  5. It might be useful and interesting to survey both faculty and students using open-ended questions to get perceptions of why retention rates are as low as they are; and what interventions would help to raise the retention rates.
  6. If academic dissatisfaction is a reason why students leave the institution, where does it rank in terms of all reasons why students leave (e.g., is it the #1 (or #2, or #3) reason?)
  7. Can we get some retention data by degree to see if there is some program that is very good at retaining?

Members agreed to read and consider the materials distributed, as well as share any other pertinent literature with other committee members, to develop a foundation for further work in spring semester.

Jackie Millslagle, Recorder