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Voices of the Global Community

Chris Maroldo, Past Chair, Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Past Chair
Gwen Hobley, Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Member

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Finding the right combination of appropriate intervention and student participation is a challenge frequently discussed on the NACADA Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues (PDR) Interest Group listserv and during the PDR Interest Group sessions at NACADA conferences. Many advisors want to learn how to get students to participate in programs that can help them get back on track. This article will explore one program that is successfully addressing these concerns.

Student Comments

“I want to say ‘thank you’ because without you to talk to and keep up with me, I would have never done as well as I did. I finished second semester with a 3.3 and I am totally off probation!”

“My first reaction was one of defiance, but then thought, ‘it can’t hurt.’ I had little idea how much it would come to help me. I don’t have many friends on campus, and with my mentor, I realized I had someone at school I could communicate with and help keep me committed to my goals.”

These comments are typical of students who successfully complete the STAR (Students Taking Academic Responsibility) Mentoring Program at IUPUI-University College. STAR, a semester-long intensive mentoring program for first-time academic probation students and reinstated students in University College, provides weekly structured support as students work to get back to good academic standing. STAR Mentors work with students to address challenges, improve strengths, and connect to campus resources that can help them reach their academic and career goals. Requirements include a commitment to attend weekly appointments with their mentors and to work hard to improve their academics.

Background

STAR was initiated in fall 2005 to provide a different way to help students get back on track. Many students at IUPUI-University College are first-generation students who have difficulty connecting with other students and on-campus resources due to work schedules, lack of awareness of academic policies, or not knowing who to ask when they need help navigating a large urban university. Finding themselves on probation can be a stressful and embarrassing situation, especially after a successful high school career.

 

In University College, students on first-time probation have a choice—with guidance from their advisors, they pick one of three interventions: attend four of eight workshops offered during the semester, attend a four-session Appreciative Inquiry workshop, or participate in STAR. When students select STAR, a mentor contacts them via email, text, or phone. After classes begin, the student and mentor agree to a time and place to meet.

Mentors

A combination of students and professional staff are recruited from across campus to be STAR mentors. None are paid to be mentors; volunteers do so as a way to give back to the campus community and help make a difference in a student’s life. Currently, there are 65 mentors. Of these, approximately 15-20 student mentors receive scholarships as resource mentors for the IUPUI Bepko Learning Center. They have partnered with us (at no cost to our program) to mentor up to three STAR students each semester in addition to handling their regular Learning Center responsibilities and attending classes. Ten to fifteen graduate students and advisors also volunteer to be STAR mentors; each mentors one to four students. Other mentors include assistant deans, administrators, faculty, professional staff, advisors from other departments/schools, and facility staff who volunteer to mentor from one to three STAR students. Training is provided each semester and resources, including a Mentor Manual and STAR Program syllabus, are provided. Mentors and students meet for 30 minutes, once a week, for approximately 10 weeks. Helping students set weekly goals is the primary focus of these meetings; topics discussed encompass a variety of skill-building activities, including time management, motivation, and prioritizing.

Use of Technology

To help coordinate communication and support, STAR students and mentors are placed on a STAR Web page in OnCourse, an on-campus Web site that includes students’ courses. OnCourse allows us to send weekly updates and reminders to both students and mentors and offers another way for students and mentors to communicate.

Results

  • Since fall 2005, STAR has mentored 387 students and retained 281 for a 72% retention rate from one semester to the next.
  • Spring 2008 saw the largest increase in STAR participants due to a new mandatory intervention requirement. 160/561 on probation signed up for STAR with 103 (64%) participating (4 or more contacts). 71% of participating students were retained for fall 2008.
  • 83 second semester freshmen signed up and 57 (69%) participated with 65% of those participating retained. 15/37 (41%) students got off probation (cgpa 2.0 or above).
  • 37 upperclassmen on probation for the first-time chose STAR. 27 (73%) participated with 20/27 (74%) retained; 14/20 (70%) got off probation.
  • 40 previously dismissed students signed up voluntarily and 19 (47%) participated, 14/19 (74%) were retained; 4/14 (29%) got off probation.
  • A number of STAR students stay in contact with their mentor beyond the required semester of participation.

Challenges

Every new program faces challenges that must be addressed if the program is to continue to develop. One is how to get students to show up for mentoring. If we can get students to come for the initial meeting, then they tend to come back for additional mentor meetings. We encourage strong communication through email, phone calls, and OnCourse. Another challenge is that since its inception (fall 2005), the program has more than tripled in student participants. Recruiting more student mentors without a way to pay them is a concern. We plan to search for grants and work with other campus departments/schools, i.e., Social Work, Education, Liberal Arts, and Business, to find students in need of practicum sites. Getting more faculty involved is also a priority.

Conclusion

As STAR has grown and developed into an effective intervention program, we have been successful at recruiting a diverse group of mentors. This probation intervention model is working at University College and is consistent with our overall goal of helping students achieve at IUPUI.

Chris Maroldo
Coordinator, Academic Success Programs
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
cmaroldo@iupui.edu

Gwen Hobley
Graduate Assistant Advisor
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
ghobley@iupui.edu

Cite this article using APA style as: Maroldo, C., & Hobley, G. (2008, December). A positive and supportive intervention for students on academic probation: One-to-one mentoring. Academic Advising Today, 31(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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