Faculty Engaging in Discussion

Early Alert - Supplemental Instruction Initiative

Pilot Project - Fall 2009

Analysis of NC A&T Wabash National Study data showing a strong link between successful course completion and second-year retention led to the development of an extensive Early Alert/Supplemental Instruction (EA/SI) initiative in fall, 2009 aimed at increasing first-year retention rates. This initiative - a collaboration among (1) the NC A&T Wabash National Study co-directors, (2) University Studies, (3) the Center for Academic Excellence, (4) the Office of Student Affairs, and (5) the Office of Residential Life - combined early and frequent feedback to freshmen students who were underperforming in their courses with supplemental instruction led by tenure-track and lecturer-level instructors.

Three University Studies courses (UNST 120, UNST 130, and UNST 140) served as pilot courses in fall, 2009. Self-reported survey and focus group data collected from SI participants indicated high satisfaction with the program and improved learning outcomes. Anecdotal evidence from faculty participating in the EA/SI initiative indicated that the program was improving student outcomes in their courses. Additional data on W, D, F (failing grades) performance of students attending SI (vs. those who did not), student exit surveys, and faculty SI leader surveys is currently (spring 2010) being analyzed. When the report is complete it will be included here.

EA/SI Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Project - Spring 2010

In spring 2010, the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL) initiated a competitive Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Grant Program "to promote systematic faculty inquiry into teaching and learning practices at North Carolina A&T State University, using quantitative and/or qualitative research methods to collect evidence and answer questions related to student learning outcomes... and to promote scholarly dialogue on pedagogy and student learning by making the research results available to the campus community and beyond for peer review." For spring 2010, the ATL SoTL Grant Program focused on determining the effects of instructor vs. student-led Supplemental Instruction (SI) on student learning outcomes in the University Studies courses included in the fall 2009 pilot study. Guidelines for this program are provided below.
Two professors (Dr. Robert Drake and Dr. Galen Foresman) who participated in the fall 2009 pilot project were selected by the Academy for Teaching and Learning to conduct a more detailed SoTL project during spring 2010. The project will involve both faculty-led and student-led SI sessions, with Wabash-Provost Scholars conducting focus group sessions to determine overall program effectiveness and student satisfaction, as well as differences, if any, between student-led and faculty-led SI sessions.

This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Center for Academic Excellence, whose staff are helping to train six undergraduate Student Learning Assistants to conduct supplemental instruction sessions. The Learning Assistants are former students in the courses included in this project and are also working closely with Drs. Drake and Foresman, attending their courses and meeting weekly to plan SI sessions.

The faculty members plan to share their results publicly with the university community and write up their experiences for publication in a SoTL journal. We hope to use lessons learned from this project to inform future SI initiatives on campus, in particular for high-failure-rate courses that enroll high percentages of freshman students.

Reports and Presentations

Listed below are publications and presentations associated with this project.
  • Robert Drake (2011). Why Should Faculty be Involved in Supplemental Instruction? College Teaching (59:4), 135-141.
  • Robert Drake and Jason Moore, Implementing and Assessing a Better Safety Net for First-Year Students, 2010 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, February, 2010.