When Delilah La Pietra was placed on Academic Probation for her grades during the spring term of her freshman year at Cal State Fullerton, she felt defeated leading to a dislike for the term “probation.”
During the same time, Dr. Elizabeth Boretz, assistant vice president for student success and the director of the academic advisement center, had been assessing some of the inclusive and equity-minded language used in her department. Her assessment found the words “academic probation” to lack the culture of support and encouragement that she was trying to foster in her department.
“I didn’t like the words – academic probation – it’s criminal language,” exclaimed Boretz. She continued, “evidence suggests that such language has an effect on underrepresented students’ sense of belonging and perceived ability to thrive as learners and future leaders.”
After La Pietra conducted a student survey for a research project, Boretz and La Pietra, with the backing of the Academic Advising Center Team and then associate vice president, Dr. Karyn Scissum Gunn, recommended using a term that didn’t hold the same negative connotations and suggested, “academic notice.”
“If you have students at risk of failing, it doesn’t make sense to scare them into doing better, we should be motivating them,” La Pietra added. She says the term academic notice serves as a checkpoint rather than a harsh punishment.
“I have shared our argumentation and the details of the campus-wide collaboration required to implement this change with my peers system-wide. Other CSUs have already begun taking early steps to adopt this change toward normalizing academic difficulty.” Boretz said.
To learn more about Cal State Fullerton’s inclusive and equity-minded transition from Academic Probation to Academic Notice, please click here.
About Cal State Fullerton: The largest university in the CSU and the only campus in Orange County, Cal State Fullerton offers 110 degree programs, and Division 1 athletics. Recognized as a national model for supporting student success, CSUF excels with innovative, high-impact educational practices, including faculty-student collaborative research, study abroad and competitive internships. Our vibrant and diverse campus is a primary driver of workforce and economic development in the region. CSUF is a top public university known for its success in supporting first-generation and underrepresented students, and preparing all students to become leaders in the global marketplace. Our It Takes a Titan campaign, a five-year $250 million comprehensive fundraising initiative, prioritizes investments in academic innovation, student empowerment, campus transformation and community enrichment. Visit fullerton.edu.