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Academic Affairs Provides Funding to Remove Bottlenecks to Student Success

Oct. 7, 2013

Earlier this year, the California State University asked the 23 CSU campuses to submit proposals for programs that would enhance student success and reduce the number of bottleneck courses on campus. Cal State Fullerton rallied to the request, receiving a total of $359,342 in one-time funding for course redesign.

However, many proposals weren't forwarded to the Chancellor's Office due to limits on the number of proposals that could be submitted. This left CSUF with unfunded proposals that the University had interest in pursuing.

The Office of the Provost committed an additional $325,000 in institutional funding so that some of the ideas for course redesign, and academic and student success proposals that didn't make it to the Chancellor's Office for consideration could still be developed.

At a recent meeting, those who had received the earlier CSU funds, as well as those who have received campus support, gathered for a check-in to discuss their projects and share progress updates with their peers.

"A few years back, when I was a vice president at the University of Puerto Rico System, Amgen (a biopharmaceutical company) was looking to establish a plant in Puerto Rico," said Provost José L. Cruz. "When asked what was the one thing he would do to nurture faculty innovation in the life sciences, Amgen's CEO told us: 'get your people together.'
"This is what we're doing here today," Cruz continued. "We're gathering members of our campus community who are fueling our efforts to drive student success."

"The goals of the new campus-funded proposals are similar to those submitted and funded by the CSU," said Ed Sullivan, assistant vice president for institutional research and analytical studies. "We're looking at ideas related to course redesign, supplemental instruction, peer-assisted learning, high-impact practices, success initiatives and more. The common denominator is that everyone has focused on benefiting our students by offering better pathways for learning and success in our rigorous academic programs."

Among the newly funded proposals:

Course Redesign

  • Economics 201 (Microeconomics)—development of online modules
  • Math 135 (Business Calculus)—increased use of technology enhanced learning support
  • Accounting 201 AB (Principles of Accounting)—expansion of flipped instructional model
  • Asian American Studies curricular redesign to embed high-impact practices in the curriculum
  • Support for physics course redesign expanding on lessons learned at summer e-academy

Academic and Student Success

  • Early detection and intervention supporting success in ISDS 361AB (Quantitative Business Analysis)
  • Peer-assisted learning support
  • Development of transfer pathways to success
  • Support for biological science undergraduate research program
  • Support for establishment of a writing coordinator
  • Support for a graduation specialist to assist humanities-social sciences candidates
  • Provision for CSU e-academy leaders from CSUF to share their findings and best practices within the University

"The check-in meetings provide us with an opportunity to share best practices that can be used across the disciplines," said Sullivan. "We are providing opportunities to enhance communication between departments, colleges and other campus partners."

Some faculty discussed the challenges of developing online courses and how to ensure academic integrity. Others shared perspectives about training of peer mentors.

"These are all great discussion items," said Sullivan. "The point of these meetings is to air these challenges and opportunities and see if we can help one another find an unseen solution."

Some pointed out that computer science student clubs might be interested in helping build platforms for some courses. Others spoke of assistance they received from the Faculty Development Center (FDC), Oasis (Online Academic Strategies and Instructional Support), and Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI).

"We are all coming from different disciplines," said Irena Praitis, professor of English and comparative literature and linguistics who is currently serving as fall 2013 FDC faculty coordinator for innovative and effective technology. "We need to develop new learning environments. We (FDC) can consult with you and discuss the specific course components."

"Another challenge is that each class and instructor is different and has different needs," said Vikki Costa, professor of secondary education. "We have so many tools and choices at our disposal: Titanium, video production, software courses, accessibility rules, MOOC-like modules, face-to-face/online hybrids. That's why a consultation is critical so we can focus on specific concerns."

"These conversations are critical as we move forward," said Sullivan. "We need to share our ideas and recommendations with one another. Ultimately, our students benefit when faculty and staff share information and take it from discussion to practice. Sometimes getting together to discuss a common passion leads to amazing outcomes. I look forward to what our future holds under the guidance of these amazing faculty and staff."

Tags:  Academics & ResearchTitan Pride