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Work in Progress: The Impact of a Self-Guided Assessment Tool on Success and Retention of At-Risk Students

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Sunday 5-Minute Work-in-Progress Postcard Session

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Julie Chiki Ohio University

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Julie Chiki is a student success advisor for the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University. She holds a master's degree in college student personnel from Ohio University and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

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Braden Vale Jay Robinson Ohio University

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Braden Robinson is a current graduate student in the College Student Personnel Administration M.Ed. program at Ohio University. He served as a Practicum Student for the Russ College of Engineering and Technology for the Spring Semester 2017.

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This work-in-progress paper will describe an online self-guided goal-setting tool designed to help students retaking courses without a significant increase in advisor workload. The aim is to reduce the number of students requiring a third attempt of a course, thereby decreasing time to graduation and increasing retention, as emerging research on the “murky middle” has shown that attrition is driven by the number of failed courses rather than overall decline in GPA.

At our institution, students must pass every course required for their major in three attempts or fewer, often with a grade of C or better, or they are dismissed from the major. To reduce the number of students being dismissed, we created a self-assessment and contract based on appreciative and proactive advising for use during individual meetings with students on their third attempt of a class. This outreach saw an improvement in the passing rate of third attempt classes from 46 percent in the semester prior to the intervention, to 67 percent after two semesters.

However, it did not reduce the total number of students requiring a third attempt of a course, and students often chose to leave the institution rather than taking a course for the third time. Compared to the 70 or so students who require a third attempt each term, there are over 300 students who retake a course for the first time each semester. Because meeting individually with that many students was not feasible, we re-envisioned the original self-assessment and contract as an online tool that would provide similar resources to a much larger number of students.

After a pilot of 17 students in summer 2016, we sent the assessment to 350 students for the 2016 fall semester, and so far 51 students have completed the survey. Students are asked to identify their overall purpose for attending college, their academic strengths, reasons for their academic difficulties, and then asked to set two goals for the semester addressing those difficulties, such as attending all classes, using tutoring or office hours regularly, setting a consistent bedtime, reducing work or extracurricular hours, or scheduling counseling appointments. Students are also given access to a site through our learning management system with links to university support resources and study skills.

Two weeks after completing the assessment, students are automatically reminded of their goals via email and asked to re-assess their progress. If they would like additional help, they are welcomed to schedule an advising meeting. Students’ goals are also shared with their faculty advisor for follow-up during registration advising. Informal student feedback has been positive so far, and the impact on student achievement will be assessed after the fall semester. First-year students requiring a retake will be added to the assessment in the spring after completing their first semester.

The full paper will share what was learned in the process of developing the assessment tool, preliminary results, and plans for future work, including more consistent communication with students retaking courses throughout the semester.

Chiki, J., & Robinson, B. V. J. (2017, June), Work in Progress: The Impact of a Self-Guided Assessment Tool on Success and Retention of At-Risk Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29183

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