Using pedagogical innovation to improve student success in first-year courses

Presentation Date: 

Monday, January 14, 2013


2013 International HETL Conference, University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL, USA)

Presentation Slides: 

Student retention is a higher education problem that penetrates diverse contexts, including institutional types, subject matter, and geographic region. Theories have historically linked increased retention rates to concepts such as campus involvement and institutional engagement (Tinto, 1993). Most higher education retention interventions thus focus on keeping students who are already at university, enrolled. Attrition is at its highest at the end of the first year of study (Tinto, 1993). One reason students drop out at this stage is because they are struggling academically in large, gatekeeper courses. We suggest that early attrition rates require earlier interventions that will better prepare students to succeed in their freshman year. We are engaged in a major initiative to improve college student retention by targeting curricular and pedagogical interventions for seniors in high school. The initiative has convened strategic partnerships with subject-matter experts, instructional designers, educational technologists, college readiness scholars, and national experts in research-based pedagogy. We have prepared a set of 51 college readiness assignments that cross the core subjects of science, math, english language arts, and social sciences. The assignments incorporate current science about how students' learn best and promote the development of non-cognitive skills. Finally, we will present our model for testing our hypothesis that these assignments will contribute to increased success in first-year gatekeeper courses at flagship institutions.