Engaging incoming students in active learning and impactful activities right off the bat is critical for student success and improved student retention. At the sixth annual Undergraduate Experience Symposium, Keynote speaker Jillian Kinzie, at right, PhD, associate director of Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and the NSSE Institute for Effective Educational Practice, told a packed room at St. Cajetan’s that students’ habits are solidified in the first semester and “that’s hard to change.”
The Oct. 1 symposium, sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Experiences, the Office of the Provost, and the Center for Faculty Development was titled “The Promise of High Impact Practices to Support Student Retention and Success.” The implied theme of the symposium was, “Retention is Everyone’s Responsibility.”
Within the first month, students should be making presentations to the class, taking part in classroom discussions and/or working in the lab or studio. “They should be participating to a significant degree to recognize, ‘This is going to be what it’s like to be in college,’” Kinzie explained.
Communication is key, she told faculty and staff from both UC Denver campuses. Establishing relationships with classmates in smaller groups, hearing back quickly from faculty and having a solid sense of how they’re doing no more than three weeks into the semester is paramount. “When this is done well, students persist and do well in college,” she said.
Kinzie coordinates research and project activities using student engagement data to promote educational effectiveness. She's co-author of Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter (Jossey-Bass, 2005); One Size Does Not Fit All: Traditional and Innovative Models of Student Affairs Practice (Routledge, 2006), and Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and Recommendations (Jossey Bass, 2007).
They keynote presentation was preceded by a faculty, staff and administrator panel that explored:
- What is retention at UCD?
- How Academic Affairs and Student Affairs work together to implement retention strategies.
- What are retention aspirations for UCD?
Roundtable discussion topics included:
- Student learning as a foundation for retention practices – classroom, department, college, and campus participation beyond the first-year.
- Coordination of new student transition programs – orientation, orientation format, new student advising format, integration with FYS, integration with Convocation.
- Moving forward – prioritization of SEMWorks and FoE Report recommendations, data from departing students, and administration.
The annual event offers faculty and staff many take-aways including improved coordination of new student transition programs, the chance to evaluate UC Denver's retention strategies and compare them to peer institutions and a means to apply the talents and creativity of UC Denver staff and faculty to implement strategies for student success.