Spring 2019 Student Success Update

Our ambitious Quest for Student Success has provided an effective roadmap to guide our efforts to improve retention and graduation. The Quest has helped redefine and refocus our efforts and investments in recruitment, advising, and classroom teaching to better meet the needs of our students.

Driving those increases are a number of new initiatives created over the past few years. One of those is the Office of Student Success. While MTSU has always targeted at-risk populations for support, the Office of Student Success now is boosting every student’s chance to succeed. Working collaboratively, the University has overhauled student advising, developed fresh options for academic help, and redesigned courses that are traditional stumbling blocks to graduation.

At the same time, it’s using predictive analytics—an approach more commonly associated with health care than higher ed—to fight attrition in a highly surgical way. Predictive data can help identify students who are at statistical risk of attrition even if they don’t fit any traditionally “at-risk” population. Armed with this knowledge, faculty and advisors can watch these students to spot any problems early and get them back on track.

Here are some updates from that office:

  • MTSU is one of 130 institutions that have joined together to increase student success as part of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) “Powered by Publics” Initiative. This is the largest collaboration in history designed to increase access and degree completion. The initiative includes the creation of 16 “transformation clusters” of change-ready universities. Our participation in this initiative complements student success work already underway at MTSU.
  • Under the leadership of Provost Mark Byrnes, work continues to revise and update MTSU’s Quest for Student Success 2013–2016. Input is being solicited from across the University for the revised Quest for Student Success: with Distinction 2018–2025. Current members serving on the Quest committee include:
    • Mark Byrnes , provost (committee chair)
    • Joe Bales , vice president for university advancement
    • David Butler , vice provost for research and College of Graduate Studies dean
    • Jeff Gibson , Theatre and Dance professor and chair
    • Pippa Holloway , History professor and 2018–19 Faculty Senate president
    • Mary Hoffschwelle , History professor and MT Engage director
    • Faye Johnson , associate provost for strategic planning and partnerships
    • Marva Lucas , University Studies professor and chair
    • Susan Myers-Shirk , History professor and General Education director
    • Ken Paulson , College of Media and Entertainment dean
    • David Schmidt , vice provost for international affairs
    • Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic and enrollment services
    • Rick Sluder, vice provost for student success and University College dean
    • Chris Brewer and Sylvia Collins, of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research
  • Our campus-wide tutoring initiative has added ePortfolio tutoring to its menu of offerings. In addition, mobile portability is an option for classes that meet in areas without a designated nearby kiosk.
  • Supplemental Instruction (SI) remains a core component of MTSU’s comprehensive approach to learner support. This program is in its third year at MTSU and reaches into 119 individual course sections across five academic colleges in the current academic year. This large and nationally recognized program has grown to support thousands of students in 14 of MTSU’s most challenging and commonly attended courses, delivering nearly 10,000 hours of academic support through approximately 6,000 student contacts in the previous 2017–18 academic year. Similar impressive numbers are being compiled during the current academic cycle.
  • A record number of participants (444) attended the Scholars Academy’s Freshmen Summer Institute this past August. For at least the last four years, 90 percent of Scholars Academy students registered for the spring semester. By the end of the semester, 93 percent of the Fall 2018 cohort registered for Spring 2019. The Fall 2018 cohort also had 275 students (62 percent) earn a grade point average of 2.75 or above, with 123 of those students (28 percent) achieving Dean’s List status.
  • Letters were sent to 520 freshmen over the holidays encouraging those students to participate in our national award-winning REBOUND program. Historically, those students who qualify (having earned less than a 2.0 GPA their first semester) and participate in the program stand a 50 percent-better chance of returning to MTSU for their second year than do students who qualify for the program but do not participate.
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