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					The Task Force on Student Success and Retention Final Report October, 2002

Task Force Members: Chair: Judy Britnell, Learning and Teaching Office Resource Person: Diane Schulman, Secretary of Academic Council Safia Arooz, Student, Hospitality & Tourism Frank Cappadocia, CESAR Jagg Carr-Locke, Journalism Phil Coppack, Geography Carol Fine, Nursing Allan Gillis, Math, Physics & Computer Science Don Kinder, Library Dawn Little, Associate Registrar Maureen Reed, Psychology Claudette Smith, Continuing Education Terry Sulymko, Business Management John Thorpe, Learning Support Services

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Since its formation in March 2002, the Student Success and Retention Task Force has completed an extensive internal and external review of current practices relating specifically to the educational experience of students who attend Ryerson University. Provided with a clear mandate by the VicePresident Academic, the Task Force sought the completion of eight main tasks:
• • • • • • • • Review strategies undertaken to date at Ryerson University Review a sample of strategies used in other universities Gain familiarity, in general terms, with the literature in the field Review existing data and surveys related to student success and satisfaction Provide opportunity for community input to deliberations Consider whether related policies need to be reviewed Identify methods to measure and track the impact of Task Force recommendations on student success Identify, in general terms, the resources required to implement Task Force recommendations

The following report charts the progress of the Task Force in addressing these areas of concern. It contains a conceptual model, as well as specific goals and objectives concerning student development and retention strategies for the Ryerson Community. The Task Force has met with representatives from many schools and programs,1 has received submissions from many departments,2 and has completed an extensive review of the literature on student success and retention.3 The Task Force recognizes that many dedicated people work to provide Ryerson students with excellent learning opportunities. Practices related to enhancing students’ educational experiences are much in evidence. However, it is apparent that there also exist multiple impediments to the successful fulfillment of students’ learning goals. It is with a view to addressing some of the reasons impeding student success, and strengthening the existing best educational practices and structures, that the following recommendations are made. It is recognized that, in some areas, many of these recommendations are already underway.

1

As of September 11, 2002, the Task Force has met 12 times and has visited the following schools and departments: Aerospace Engineering, Applied Chemistry and Biological Science, Applied Geography, Architecture, Business Management, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Early Childhood Education, Electrical Engineering, Image Arts, Information Technology Management, Journalism, Nursing, Occupational & Public Health, Radio and Television Arts, and Urban Planning. Individuals consulted by the Task Force include Gene Logel, Admissions; Paul Stenton, University Planning; Marion Creery, Student Services; and Diana Brecher and Rosemary Volpe, Student Development and Counselling, Keith Alnwick, Registrar

2

3

See Appendix A, found on the Learning and Teaching Office website: www.ryerson.ca/lt. Additional submissions from individual departments are included in Appendix B, also found on the website.

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The Task Force has struggled with the concept of ‘success’; the criteria involved in its definition, as well as its ultimate realization, are multifaceted and complex. Few would deny that the academic success of a student should be the primary aim of a post-secondary institution. A well-qualified student achieving high academic standards within the ‘right’ program is the certainly the ultimate goal. In order to achieve this ideal, students need a number of elements to come together. These include: • • • • • Admission to the program for which they are best suited and qualified Awareness of the academic expectations of their program Sufficient preparation for the demands of university life Counselling and advisement when difficulties are encountered with their selected program Ability to more easily transfer between Ryerson programs where feasible

It is also imperative that students be prepared for the non-academic demands of University life. Even wellprepared students will experience personal challenges of a financial, physical, or social nature. These areas must receive recognition and support from the University community. Students are best able to handle what Betsy Barefoot has identified as “the gap between an ideal first college year and the disappointing reality,” 4 when they are more fully integrated into the University community. Thus, non-academic activities, which provide students with valuable links to faculty and peer networks, must be closely connected to the curriculum. Student Success and Retention Model It is vital to create a renewed Ryerson culture that focuses on student success. Strategies that support this philosophy need to be developed in every area of the University. While some strategies will simply require a re-evaluation or re-structuring of existing processes, others may require a new structure and financial commitment. In all cases it is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of both present and potential success and retention initiatives. The model that follows is drawn from the literature and from the Task Force discussions, and provides a visual representation of the key components that promote student success. The components of the model are: recruitment and program awareness, student academic advisement, first year student support, student sense of connection, curriculum support, non-academic support, and, personnel training and development. To effectively address the multiplicity of factors related to student success and retention the strengthening of each component of the model is essential. The inter-reliant nature of the components also suggests that the educational success of students requires interdependent strategies and communication processes that are transparent and effective.

4

Barefoot, Betsy. “The First-Year Experience.” About Campus (January/February 2000), p 13.

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PERSONNEL TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT NONACADEMIC SUPPORT

RECRUITMENT & PROGRAM AWARENESS

CURRICULUM SUPPORT

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENT TO IMPLEMENTATION & SUPPORT

STUDENT ACADEMIC ADVISEMENT

STUDENT SENSE OF CONNECTION FIRST-YEAR STUDENT SUPPORT

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Student Success and Retention The model displays the components that impact most directly upon the student experience. These are: • • • • • • • Recruitment and program awareness First year student support Student sense of connection Curriculum Student advisement Non-academic support Personnel training and development.

All of the components are interconnected and impact both on each other and on overall student success. Within this document are major goals and objectives deriving from the above components. Implementation This success of this model requires that each area of the University develop, communicate and implement a plan of action related to student success, retention and attrition issues. This includes the development of a plan of action by each department, school, program or area. The plan of action should include in priority order: specific objectives, strategies, timelines, evaluation of outcomes, and an estimate of resources deemed as necessary to implement any new initiatives. The plan of action will be submitted to the Dean and/or appropriate administrator for the area. To guide the process of implementation the Vice President, Academic has asked that a Resource Implementation Group be convened to provide a consultative function to both the Ryerson community and the VP, Academic. It is expected that plan of action discussions will commence November, 2002. Reporting The plan of action developed by each school/department or area should, in turn, be reported to the Dean for communication to the VP, Academic. The VP, Academic should also require reports from academic service areas such as Admissions, the Library, and the Learning and Teaching Office. The VP, Administration and Student Affairs should require plans from such key areas as Student Services and Financial Services. University Commitment to Implementation and Support In order to implement the assigned objectives and support the goal of student success, the University must commit to both an analysis of institutional structures and processes, and to the allocation of the necessary financial resources to facilitate initiatives. In developing new strategies, each area of the University needs to be mindful of the limitations of resources.

Goals and Objectives The goals and objectives that follow are a synthesis of what the Task Force considers to be the key elements and strategies involved in the fostering of student success. These goals are also related to the model above and link to the best practices as outlined in the literature review. They are meant to guide a reflective process that is initiated at the local department, school, or program level, as well as within key support service and administrative areas of the University. We hope that the recommendations provide a balance of institutional strategies along with possible local school/department initiatives. We also realize that, in many areas, new initiatives have already been developed that focus on the enhancement of the student’s educational experience - initiatives that are already in the process of evaluation.

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STUDENT SUCCESS AND RETENTION IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
IMPROVE STUDENT RECRUITMENT AND AWARENESS OF RYERSON UNIVERSITY AND ITS PROGRAMS Objectives Assignee Report Suggested Date Implementation Date February 2003 Admissions, To analyse and upgrade Depts/Schools/Programs current departmental/school liaison activities with high schools and colleges, where appropriate. Admissions, February 2003 To improve the effectiveness University Advancement of information nights and Depts/Schools/Programs promotional materials including the University website. Depts/Schools/Programs, February 2003 To encourage families/ parents Student Services to participate in information nights, tours, discussion events, open houses, and other on-campus activities. To analyse admission Admissions, March 2003 processes and timelines on a Depts/Schools/Programs department/school basis. Summer 2003 Depts/Schools/Programs, To introduce academic skills Student Services during summer orientation session; include Academic sessions in orientation. October 2003 To review minimum program Admissions, entrance requirements. Depts/Schools/Programs To evaluate needs of ESL students in terms of testing, services, and program requirements. Admissions, Depts/Schools/Programs, English Department, Student Services Fall 2004 GOAL#1:

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4 1.5

1.6 1.7

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GOAL #2: IMPROVE STUDENT ACADEMIC ADVISEMENT PROCESS Report Date Suggested Objectives Assignee
2.1

Implementation Date

2.2

2.3

2.4

2.5

2.6

2.7

2.8

2.9

2.10

2.11

To monitor the quality of student advisement processes and information (e.g. annual student satisfaction survey). To ensure that each school has a clearly designated student advisor(s) with appropriate training and time. To create methods to identify atrisk students as soon as possible in first year. To evaluate the number and qualifications of existing student advisors and advisement procedures in departments/schools. To require probationary students to attend appropriate support services (e.g. tutoring, study skills, library/ research skills, counselling). To determine qualification criteria for student advisors, and develop appropriate training courses. To consider ways in which interested faculty can become more involved in the student advisement process, and establish a means for them to communicate with each other. To ensure that in each school students are clearly informed as to who offers advisement services and other pertinent academic information (i.e. handbook or website). To enhance the formal and informal student interactions with administrators, faculty, students, and librarians throughout programs, but especially in first year/ semester. To evaluate the pilot counselling project being initiated in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. To evaluate and, if needed, improve existing department/ school student orientations.

Chair/Director

Ongoing

Chair/Director

March 2003

Chair/Director, Faculty Chair/Director, Dean, Faculty Chair/Director

March 2003 March 2003

March 2003

Human Resources, Student Services Chair/Director

April 2003 (to VPA)
January 2003

August 2003 Fall 2003

(to Dean)

Chair/Director

Fall 2003

Chair/Director, Dean, Faculty, Library, Student Services Dean, Engineering, Student Services Chair/Director, Faculty, Student Services June 2002

Fall 2003

Fall 2003

Fall 2003

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GOAL #3: Objectives 3.1

INCREASE SUPPORT FOR FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS Suggested Assignee Report Implementation Date
Date

3.2

3.3

3.4

3.5

3.6 3.7 3.8

To enhance the formal and informal student interactions with administrators, faculty, students, and librarians throughout programs, but especially in first year/semester. To encourage student peer-study and support groups in first-year courses, especially core and ‘killer’ courses. To ensure that all first-year students have early access to highquality academic support programs (e.g. subject tutoring, supplemental instructions, study skills, writing skills and library information skills). To assess, for each program, the need for a first-year student university transition program/ course (University 101) as a means of enhancing student success. To analyze first-year curriculum, course load, and class size with respect to best teaching/learning practices To promote, in each department/ school, the use of faculty mentors. To promote, in each department and school, the use of student mentors. To develop and implement university transition programs, where appropriate, and assess the effectiveness of these programs.

Chair/Director, Dean, Faculty, Library, Student Services Faculty, Student groups, Student Services Chair/Director, Dean

Ongoing

Ongoing

February 2003

Library, Program Dean, Student Services Chair/Director, Deans, Learning and Teaching Office Chair/Director Student Services Library, Program Dean, Student Services

April 2003

April 2003

Fall 2003 Fall 2003 Fall 2004

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GOAL #4:

IMPROVE STUDENTS’ SENSE OF CONNECTION & SATISFACTION WITH PROGRAMS AND RYERSON Report Suggested Objectives Assignee
Date

Implementation Date

4.1 4.2

4.3 4.4 4.5

To establish student study groups within appropriate classes. To organize on-campus social and community events in ways that would encourage out-ofclass interaction among students, and between students, faculty, and staff. To extend student support hours To enhance support for nonacademic student activities. To facilitate the completion of the Ryerson student center and the development of other student gathering places. To provide increased opportunities for first-generation Canadian students and firstgeneration University students to meet faculty and other students. To evaluate adherence to, and use of, faculty office hours.

Faculty CESAR, RyeSAC, Student Services January 2003

Ongoing Ongoing

CESAR, RyeSAC, Student Services Depts/School/Programs, Students, Student Services CESAR, RyeSAC, VP Student Services Depts/Schools/Programs, Student Services

January 2003

March 2003 Fall 2003

January 2003

4.6

Fall 2003

4.7

Chair/Director, Deans

January 2003

Ongoing

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GOAL #5:

IMPROVE CURRICULUM AND CURRICULUM SUPPORT SERVICES Report Objectives Assignee
Date

Suggested Implementation Date

5.1 5.2 5.3

To provide early and frequent assessment in each course in order to flag at-risk students. To devise systems for early identification of, and intervention with, students at risk. To link at-risk students - probationary, conditional, and those who have been identified early in the semester - to academic support services (i.e., student services, library, math, and writing centres). To encourage a review of current grading practices and policies in schools/departments/programs. To increase math remediation across programs with need, and to develop independent subject-specific remediation (e.g. statistics). To analyse high failure rate courses to determine the need for curricular/teaching practice change To evaluate student course loads and course sequencing in each program. To modify programs to promote literacy (language, math, computer, and library) skills early in the curriculum, where necessary. To continue to develop and implement University transition programs and assess their effectiveness. To integrate academic services into course delivery and provide in-class academic and library sessions. To evaluate needs of ESL students in terms of testing, services, and program requirements. To improve student ability to more easily transfer between Ryerson programs. To encourage a review of the criteria related to the academic standing of probationary students. To enhance tutoring support services within programs and University-wide. To encourage departments to develop training for new faculty; require new faculty to attend LTO sessions. To encourage more opportunities for faculty renewal and professional development To encourage non-traditional role models in all programs (e.g., males in nursing, females in engineering).

Chair/Director, Dean, Faculty Deans, Depts/Schools/Programs, Student Services Depts/Schools/Programs, Library, Student Services Chair/Director, Faculty Depts/Schools/Programs, VPA Dept/School/Programs Faculty, Deans Chair/Director Chair/Director, Curriculum Committees Library, Program Dean, Student Services Dept/School/Program, Library, Student Services Admissions, English Department, Programs, Student Services Chair/Director, Curriculum Committee, Dean, Registrar, VPA VPA Registrar Dept/School/Program, Student Services Dept/SchoolsProgram, LTO, Student Services VPA, Deans Chairs/Directors, LTO Depts/Schools/Programs

Ongoing April 2003

5.4 5.5

March 2003 March 2003

5.6 5.7 5.8

March 2003 Fall 2003

5.9 5.10

Fall 2004

5.11

February 2003

Fall 2004

5.12

5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17

April 2003

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GOAL #6: IMPROVE STUDENT NON-ACADEMIC SUPPORT SERVICES Report Objectives Assignee
Date

Suggested Implementation Date

6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7

To enhance, promote, and utilize student career and career choice planning services. To encourage faculty participation in student out-ofclass activities and orientation. To provide improved student services’ leadership training. To encourage a review of course material costs To increase faculty awareness of support services. To increase access to financial advice for students. To promote and increase oncampus student employment opportunities, especially work/study programs. To provide more student bursaries. To develop alternatives (planned leaves of absence, car pools, student support groups, etc.) for students with family support issues.

Career Centre, Counselling, Student Services Chairs/Directors, Deans, Faculty Student Services Faculty, Depts/Schools/Programs, Ancillary Services Depts/Schools/Programs, Student Services Financial Services Financial Services, Student Services Financial Services, University Advancement Student Services, Student groups

January 2003

Ongoing Ongoing January 2003 January 2003 March 2003 March 2003 Fall 2003

6.8 6.9

Fall 2003 Fall 2003

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GOAL #7: Objectives 7.1

TRAIN AND SUPPORT FACULTY AND STAFF IN SUCCESS AND RETENTION INITIATIVES Report Assignee
Date

Suggested Implementation Date

7.2

7.3

7.4

7.5

7.6

7.7

7.8

To promote increased collaboration between faculty and librarians (e.g., in the design of appropriate assignments). To ensure that the Liaison office has adequate resources to share accurate information with high schools personnel and students To assist faculty in the development of strategies for improved student success in ‘killer’ courses. To support faculty in the development of student mentoring initiatives (i.e., students mentoring students). To offer seminars for faculty on the incorporation of retention strategies to course design.(e.g. study groups, library skills, assignment design). To establish a faculty mentoring program targeted to at-risk students, at both the University and department/school levels. To provide training sessions for faculty and academic staff on effective student advising skills and counselling/mentoring of atrisk students. To provide training sessions for all faculty and staff on recording, monitoring, and assessment strategies to ensure that these initiatives are reported regularly and consistently.

Library, LTO, Depts/Schools/Programs Admissions Depts/Schools/Programs, Faculty Deans, Depts/Schools/Programs, Faculty Deans, Depts/Schools/Programs Library, LTO

Ongoing

March 2003

June 2003

Fall 2003

Fall 2003

Chairs/Directors, Deans, Student Services LTO, Student Services, VPA ERU, LTO

Fall 2003

Fall 2003

Fall 2003


				
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