Adams State College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 170-180
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
STAY (Structured Transitional Academic Year) is a best practices-based program for at-risk students. Students with low placement scores in Reading, Writing and Mathematics are enrolled in the program. The schedule for the program is built on a cohort model, with students needing remediation in similar areas taking classes together. In addition to the academic coursework, there is a seminar titled “Academic Achievement Strategies” which focuses on Critical Thinking, Communication Skills, Time Management, Study Skills, and Note-taking as well as acclimating underprepared students to the culture of higher education, making healthy choices and accessing community resources.

Additionally, students who have low reading and/or writing ability are placed in courses which are rigorous and academic in nature but require more hands-on learning rather than book learning. One such course is titled “Developing a Life Plan” which uses the principles of Social Responsibility Training along with a business plan model to help students identify their core values, long term goals, strengths, challenges and unique attributes. Students then complete a project which supports their long term goals (eg applying for an internship in their career field) and present their “Life Plan” to the class.

Service Learning is also built into the structured schedule. When students complete 300 hours of service, they are eligible for a $1000 scholarship award for the fall of their second year. The program also includes advising, informal socializing, mentoring, tutoring, small group and individual study time.

Many students at our college are at risk because of the following factors: first in their family to attempt college; from low socio-economic backgrounds; have low basic skills; from school districts in low income areas, having fewer resources; from diverse cultural and language backgrounds leading to misunderstandings with communication and feeling unwelcomed at the college; diagnosed to have physical and/or learning disabilities.

Our retention data indicated that students who require remediation in two or more academic areas fare significantly worse than their counterparts who require no remediation or who require remediation in only one area. In the past, these at-risk students took reading-intensive, college-level general education courses and failed those classes, starting them off with an extremely low GPA and academic probation their first semester. For example, several students start out with a 0.0 GPA their first semester, which puts them on academic probation, a status which expects them to then earn a 4.0 the next semester in order to bring their average GPA to the 2.0 threshold for being removed from probation. Students also receive mixed messages from advisors: they are encouraged to start tackling the required general education courses, but their reading skills (some of them test at 4th grade reading ability) makes this virtually impossible.

Expected Results: Students will feel more connected to the college and community because of the cohort model and because of the community service program. With a more structured environment, it is hoped that more students will complete required coursework, succeed in their college classes, increase GPA averages, and return to the college at a higher rate, increasing semester to semester retention, graduation rates, and tuition and fees revenues collected by the college.
innovation, student support in education, research projects, enhancing learning.