Lessons Learned: Successes and Challenges of Implementing a Systems Model for Improving Student Success & Student Retention

Wednesday 10:35 am – 11:00 am PT / 11:35 am – 12:00 pm MT / 12:35 pm – 1:00 pm CT / 1:35 pm – 2:00 pm ET Online
Concurrent Session

Judy Awong-Taylor, Georgia Gwinnett College
Allison D'Costa, Georgia Gwinnett College
Clay Runck, Georgia Gwinnett College
Tirza Leader, Georgia Gwinnett College
David Pursell, Georgia Gwinnett College
Cindy Achat-Mendes, Georgia Gwinnett College
Chantelle Anfuso, Georgia Gwinnett College
Nathan W. Moon, Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

The School of Science and Technology at Georgia Gwinnett College attracts a highly diverse student population, many from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM education. However, there is disparity in diversity between the students we serve and those that we graduate. To address that disparity, we received NSF funding to develop and assess a comprehensive systems model aimed at improving student retention, progression, and graduation rates.

Our systems model addresses the complexity and challenges of reforming STEM education by focusing on the entire institution rather than targeted courses, faculty, or departments. Our model includes three interconnected levels: (1) a macro-level that focuses on the institution's objective to increase graduation rates in STEM fields; (2) a meso-level that addresses curriculum reform; and (3) a micro-level focused on faculty development and student engagement and learning. Continuous interactions and assessments occur between the levels, promoting an informed systems approach that positively influences student learning and engagement, faculty development, curricula reform, and decision making processes all at the same time.

What lessons have we learned after six years? There have been many successes and challenges. Our curricula are redesigned, faculty are more engaged in high-impact teaching strategies, institutional support is growing, and as a consequence, our students have benefitted. Assessment is ongoing and results indicate our model leads to improved teaching and student engagement, as evidenced by: (1) improved STEM skills in students, (2) improved student GPAs; (3) increased STEM retention, especially for minority and underrepresented groups; and (4) improved student attitudes about STEM. Additionally, faculty have honed their teaching skills, redesigned curricula, increased collaborations, and published SoTL research. Challenges also exist; project assessment and evaluation is overwhelming, and the work requires a "village". In this presentation, we share the impact, efficacy, successes, and challenges of the model, along with some key findings to date.