June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.193.1 - 22.193.12
An Online Alternative to the On-Campus Summer Bridge ProgramFeedback solicited from on-campus LSAMP Summer Bridge Program participants from previousyears was used as a basis for determining the critical attributes and other factors that comprise aneffective Summer Bridge Program for freshman STEM majors. When asked to shareinformation on specific activities, programming, and services packaged in their on-campusSummer Bridge Program from which they benefitted most, these student participants listed areassuch as the following: improving their study skills, knowing what will be expected from them ascollege students, learning how to manage their time, getting organized, and interacting with peersand mentors. All of the students providing feedback ranked the Summer Bridge Program highlywith respect to other LSAMP programs, services, and activities provided throughout the year.After much thought and consideration to the students’ perceived need for a way to bridge the gapbetween high school and college, then exploring ways to exploit the capabilities of today’seducational technologies and media resources, the idea of developing an online alternative to thetraditional on-campus Summer Bridge Program was born. Interestingly, a search of the literaturerevealed few previous attempts by other universities to provide online courses to help transitionSTEM freshmen into college, possibly due to the recent advent of robust technology.Learning Specialists, who were assisted by other staff in the office of Counseling andPsychological Services, as well as in the offices of DoIT Learning Support Services, andTechnology Integration and Assistive Technology, implemented the resulting online alternativecourse. Students were required not only to complete the assignments but to reflect, in an openforum Discussion Board, with their peers. The use of technology (PPT, YouTube and Webcam)was incorporated into the curriculum as a means to get students used to using these tools beforethey arrived on campus to begin fall semester classes. The class was run on Blackboard (Bb) fora period of five weeks. The flexibility provided by the online technology enabled us tosupplement the original course content by adding two “Grand Challenges.” One Challengeencouraged student participants to identify study partners/groups using the Discussion Board onBlackboard and the other Grand Challenge invited student participants to report their successesin overcoming an academic challenge related to their majors (e.g. successful placement into thefirst mathematics course required for their major after several previous unsuccessful attempts).Initial program effectiveness was evaluated through a reflection paper written by studentparticipants at the end of the Summer Bridge Program. An analysis of these papers revealed thatall student participants indicated that they benefitted immensely from the Online Summer 2010Bridge Program. These two groups of student participants will be asked to write an additionalreflection paper on the effectiveness of the Bridge program as they get closer to the completionof their first year of study. Other ways to compare the 2010 online program participants with the2009 on-campus program participants would be first semester GPAs and retention rates in STEMmajors after one year.In this paper, we describe how the on campus Summer Bridge program was adapted to developthe Summer 2010 online alternative course in addition to the assessment results comparing thesetwo formats. Finally, lessons learned as well as plans for refining and broadening the onlineSummer Bridge Program for future student participants are discussed.
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