If you haven’t heard about the Gardner Institute’s Gateways to Completion (G2C) initiative, you will this summer.
Charles Fox, associate dean of English and Decatur Campus, is co-directing the three-year implementation of G2C with Julian Allen, senior director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
The following is a Q&A with Fox:
What courses are involved in the pilot?
As one component of the Board of Regents’ Momentum Year initiative, Gateways to Completion is about changing mindsets and refining the delivery of “gateway” courses — those required courses that are strongly correlated to overall student success. For summer semester, Perimeter College will pilot G2C versions of English 1101, Math 1001, Math 1111 and Political Science 1101.
Why are we piloting these courses?
Consistency is paramount. Currently, there is a wide range of DFWI rates for students taking the same course. As an institution, we must ensure that students taking English 1101 on one campus have the same opportunity to succeed as those taking English 1101 on another.
How does it work?
The Gardner Institute used long-term latitudinal studies that show certain classes with high Drop Fail Withdrawal or Incomplete (DFWI) rates can predict whether a student will stay in or drop out of college. We focus on those courses to see if a redesign will better help meet the students where they are.”
What are the components of the redesign?
Course redesign not only looks at how the class is taught, but also examines issues outside of class that affect students, such as food insecurity.
We’re looking holistically at all factors that can keep students from progressing,” Fox said. “The DFWI rate is a symptom of a student’s inability to progress, and the data we have gathered clearly indicates that this a complex, social justice issue. Students with the highest DFWI rates are Pell grant recipients, students of color, and first-generation.”
How will in work in the classroom?
Pilot instructors will work collaboratively to redesign the course based on what they determine works best in the classroom.
We’re looking at more intentional teaching, and we’re asking faculty to document what they’re doing, For example, right now many faculty are utilizing active-learning assignments. By documenting their assignments, we can better identify what’s effective and what’s not.
What can affect the success of G2G?
Both student and faculty mindset can determine success.
Helping students understand what they want out of their education is the best way to help them proactively achieve their goals.
Although student issues can impede learning, so can an instructor’s mindset.
Some instructors with high DFWI rates see themselves as gatekeepers maintaining highest standards. But, there is an abundance of evidence that shows methods for ‘opening the gate’ do not lead to dilution of quality. We want faculty to understand that we value what they’re doing in class; however, we hope they are also willing to consider other strategies that have proven to be more effective.
Has anyone else done this?
Yes. Institutions that have implemented the G2C model have made demonstrable positive results. The Gardner Institute uses data analysis models similar to those employed by Dr. Renick’s student success predictive analytics, whereby curricular decisions are based on measurable data instead of anecdotal evidence.. The question isn’t whether our students are prepared for the rigors of the college classroom; the question we ask is — does the instructor need to approach students’ needs differently? As John Gardner says, as instructors, we have a moral obligation to teach the students we have, not the ones we want.