Redefining the Classroom

Title III, Part A, Strengthening Institutions Program Grant 2013

The U. S. Department of Education'sTitle III, Part A, Strengthening Institutions Program provides funds to improve and strengthen college and university academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability, as well as build a framework to help students complete their degrees. Lake Superior State University has received a $1.86 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Institutions Program that will enhance faculty teaching and strengthen student advising.

Teaching and Advising through Learning and sharing Knowledge (TALK)

Lake Superior State University (LSSU) is a four-year, comprehensive, undergraduate, public university, primarily serving students in the rural region of Northern Michigan. It is known as an institution with a strong emphasis on student learning. Dedicated faculty and staff provide a nurturing academic environment for our students. Our Learning Center provides support services recognized as statewide models. Our students have unique learning opportunities in- and out-of the classroom. We can track and respond to students not making adequate academic progress. Our challenge is to ensure we can provide excellent experience to all our students.

Key Overall Goals for the Institution

The University has developed the following key goals to address these challenges:

  1. Improve the success rates of LSSU's first Year Students
  2. Identify and remove policies and procedures that unnecessarily act as barriers to degree completion
  3. Improve cost efficiency in use of Learning Management System (LMS)

We propose five strategies for addressing these goals:

  1. A Faculty Center for Teaching (FCT) will provide faculty development in teaching and in advising.
  2. Advising support for students and faculty will be provided through development of better information resources and peer mentoring.
  3. A Student Learning Commons (SLC) will enhance learning and student engagement via peer-mentoring, access to technology, and opportunities for shared experiences.
  4. We will manage barriers via a systematic analysis of "momentum points" in students' progression towards degree completion. The resulting information will lead to modifications in policies and procedures that may be acting as unnecessary barriers to student success and provide additional data for advising.
  5. Enhance productivity and reduce costs per student served by converting from a proprietary LMS to an open-source system.

A thorough implementation plan and realistic budget is presented for reaching the objectives and to ultimately increase retention and graduation rates while improving financial efficiency.

Performance indicators include increased retention rates, faculty involvement in Communities of Practice (COP), improved classroom technology, enhanced advising, increased access to peer mentors, more cost effective learning management system and increased graduation rates.

Measurable Objectives for the Institution:

  1. Increase retention of full-time FTIC students by six percent
  2. Increase faculty participation in COP to 50 percent
  3. Increase lecture rooms with updated technology by 50 percent
  4. Increase faculty who will have achieved local certification in teaching and/or advising by 30 percent
  5. Increase faculty using resources available through the FCT by 50 percent
  6. Increase 6 year graduation rate by 5 percent
  7. Increase percentage of faculty members using MAP-Works by 40 percent
  8. Increase first year students accessing on-line tutorials about academic planning by 55 percent
  9. Increase first year students working with a peer mentor by 22 percent
  10. Increase policies and procedures reviewed for their potential impact on degree completion by 80 percent
  11. Increase faculty use of an open source LMS in their classes by 100 percent

Specific Tasks and Methods Involved in reaching the objectives:

  1. Establish a FCT to facilitate:
    • Use of best practices for teaching especially student active learning techniques and use of technology to support student active learning
    • Establishment of Faculty COP
    • More effective approaches for advising including optimal use of new retention strategies
    • Use of instructional technology to support student learning
    • Discussions, seminars & workshops held on teaching and advising
    • Acquiring of print/electronic resources available for faculty professional development
    • Funding available for attending conferences
    • Funding available for innovative practices through a mini-grant program
    • Creation of internal certification program for faculty in the areas of enhancing student learning and in advising

  2. Establish Enhanced First Year Advising program:
    • Increase student participation in retention management system
    • Increase faculty participation in retention management system
    • Provide enhanced advising resources for advisors and students including on-line tutorials for academic planning to help students get the most from their advisors

  3. Establish a SLC:
    • Provide increased student access to peer mentoring
    • Increase student access to support for student active learning within their classes
    • Enhance the physical location where students can access support services

  4. Manage Barriers:
    • Staff in the Office for Advising, Retention and Orientation will facilitate an analysis of students' individual academic and personal needs, including ‘momentum points' in student progression to degree completion and review policy and procedures in terms of their potential impact on them

  5. Convert to open-source LMS:
    • Begin process of converting to an open-source LMS as we approach end of current license with Blackboard™