Updates from the Provost
- Monday, February 3rd, 2020
Continuing with the theme of quality teaching, the mid-January semi-annual Academic Affairs Dean, Department Head, Director (DDD) Workday discussion centered on student success rates in gateway foundation and exploration courses, both nationally and at WKU. As I discussed in my campus email sent on January 7th (attached here for your convenience), this is definitely an area in which quality teaching could impact student learning.
During the DDD Workday, national and WKU data for gateway courses were presented, Gen. Z student characteristics and expectations were discussed, and the significant impacts effective teaching makes on first-semester students were reviewed. Deans, department heads/chairs, school directors, and other participants then discussed and recommended strategies to help our students successfully complete these courses. Recommendations included focusing on teaching methods, course (re-)design, student peer support, clearer communication of learning outcomes, and proactive assessment of student learning. It is our hope that department heads/chairs will take these ideas back to their faculty to begin evaluating their own gateway courses.
In an effort to provide guidance and support, the Office of the Provost and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning plans to pilot and subsequently implement a Gateways to Graduation initiative, an evidence-based plan for improving teaching, student learning, and success in high-enrollment courses that have historically resulted in high rates of D’s, F’s, and Withdrawals (high DFW rates) - especially for low income, first generation, and historically underrepresented students as defined by race and ethnicity. We will begin by assembling a Gateway Task Force this Spring composed of faculty and department heads/chairs who are deeply and directly invested in the success of gateway courses. With logistical and financial support from Academic Affairs, teams of faculty will be invited to participate in this transformational work. I am truly excited about this initiative and will share more information soon.
Finally, in the spirit of student success and to ensure that our students are off to a good start, I encourage you to assess your students as early as possible and submit the Fifth Week Assessment. Doing so allows us to more effectively address class attendance and/or academic performance challenges. I also encourage you to review your course roster to make sure those on the list have attended your classes. If a student has not attended any of your class meetings, please complete a drop for non-attendance through TopNet. This process ensures we have accurate enrollment data.
Thank you for all you do.
Cheryl L. Stevens