Outstanding Program Award Abstracts

Center for Academic Planning and Exploration                     
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Program Director: LeeAnn Melin
The Center for Academic Planning and Exploration (CAPE) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities was established in the fall of 2009 to provide targeted services to students in transition. Through careful analysis of the University’s retention and graduation rates, three student populations were identified as being able to measurably benefit from academic transition support not easily provided by individual colleges: strongly undecided students, transitioning students (undergraduates considering options between/among Colleges), and competitive major students. CAPE provides targeted, “high-touch” support for these students through innovative services. CAPE’s model of shared responsibility results in a unique partnership with students to design an individual action plan that guides them through the exploration process and helps them find their academic home on campus.
Since being established, CAPE has served over 3500 students looking for their academic fit. While helping students identify academic, career, and personal goals, as well as the steps to achieve those goals, CAPE is proud of its unique approach to student services, unique staffing model that encourages professional development, and the positive impact it has made in the lives of students and university community.

Preview Orientation Advising                                    
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Program Director: Joseph Spillane

Preview Advising is a significant component of the University of Florida’s two-day Preview freshman orientation program. UF’s Academic Advising Center (AAC), with support from the Office of the Provost, is able to efficiently and effectively advise more than 6,400 freshmen each year. The AAC and the Office of New Student and Family Programs (NSFP) have a long-standing culture of effective collaboration, promoting communication and cooperation in support of each other’s goals and outcomes.
The hallmark of Preview Advising is the individual attention provided to freshmen through small group and individual advising sessions. The AAC provides intensive training to both Preview Faculty Advisors and Preview Staffers (student orientation leaders hired by NSFP).

Preview Advising is a pioneer in developing meaningful online components to orientation. “Preview Prep” consists of online exercises that students complete before Preview. They are introduced to requirements, how incoming credits apply to the degree, explore majors and courses, and take placement assessments—a summary of this is arranged into a report given to both the advisor and the student at Preview.

In 2009, the AAC implemented a comprehensive assessment process of Preview Advising, focused on objectives and outcomes for students and faculty advisors. This process helped the AAC clarify and prioritize its goals, and collect data about how students are achieving our learning outcomes. UF freshmen are mastering University rules and requirements and appropriately registering themselves for their first term. They are also developing a positive view of advising and accessing advising early in their first term.

Best Expectation Programs (BEP)                                        
Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
Program Director: Brittany Wagner

The Best Expectation Programs (BEP) is a university-wide retention initiative of Western Kentucky University’s (WKU) Academic Advising & Retention Center. The mission of BEP is to equip our diverse undergraduate student population with the necessary resources to improve their academic performance. We work with each student individually to identify realistic academic goals as well as address other academic and non-academic concerns. Ultimately, the efforts of BEP will help retain at risk students so they may be academically successful and graduate from WKU. BEP encompasses individual programs designed for students on various levels of academic probation ranging from second semester freshmen probation to students on the brink of academic dismissal, and also includes a program for first-time, first-year academically at risk students. Students in BEP agree to attend monthly meetings with an assigned Peer Intrusive Advisor to discuss academic progress, academic issues, class attendance, and grades; complete six monitored study hours weekly; attend two Academic Advantage Series: Workshops for Success; compose a reflection paper detailing the overall experience in BEP; and allow parents/guardians to inquire about their academic progress. BEP was first implemented in fall 2006 and has remained in its current format from fall 2009 to present. Since fall 2009, on average, 58% of students in BEP have ended the semester meeting the 2.0 term GPA requirement, earning the right to continue at the university. On the contrary only 26% of students not participating in BEP ended the semester meeting the 2.0 term GPA requirement.

CU Complete                                             
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO
Program Director: Kathryn Tisdale

The Division of Continuing Education at the University of Colorado Boulder developed CU Complete as an academic service designed to help former CU-Boulder students complete their undergraduate degrees. As Continuing Education advisors receive inquiries from interested students, they collaborate with academic advisors in departments across campus to identify these students’ remaining requirements. Continuing Education advisors then research the best ways to meet these requirements based on the needs, preferences, and barriers identified in the intake form by each individual student. Oftentimes recommendations include identifying ways to complete requirements through evening, online, and transfer credit. Based on data from intake forms, surveys, and degree analyses, Continuing Education has been able to work with departments and faculty members to strategically expand evening and online course offerings in order to address the common needs of these CU Complete students. Continuing Education also collaborates with state and regional partners to provide financial support to returning students through the CU Complete Scholarship. Since its inception in Spring 2009, CU Complete has awarded over $74,000 in scholarships to returning students. Continuing Education also supports
CU Complete students through career advising services designed specifically for adult populations and available even after graduation. In this way, CU Complete moves beyond simply identifying remaining requirements, and instead meets students where they are by helping them balance academic, work, and family life and by supporting them through and even beyond degree completion.

Student Services Advising                                     
University of Wisconsin - Platteville, Platteville, WI
Program Director: Daniel Avenarius

University of Wisconsin-Platteville developed its distance education program in 1978 to make education available to students who didn’t have the time or the opportunity to attend traditional college courses. Since then, the cost-recovery program has expanded to include online courses, prompting the creation of the Distance Learning Center (DLC) in 1999 to serve as a “one-stop shop” for UW-Platteville distance students. In 2012, the DLC academic advisors served 2955 non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, including adult learners, students of color, students serving in the military, at-risk students, and incarcerated students. Our advisors rarely have a chance to meet their students in person, and so they rely on e-mail, telephone, and written correspondence to communicate with their students. Even with distance, time, language, and cultural barriers, our students reported an overall rate of satisfaction with their advisor’s services of 85.5% in 2010-2012. In addition, the current retention rate for undergraduate UW-Platteville online students is 75-80%, compared to the national retention rate of 50%, and the current retention rate for graduate UW-Platteville online students is 85-90%, compared to 65-70% nationally. UW-Platteville has also been recognized as “military-friendly” and a “best school for online education” for the past three years. This is all thanks to the hands-on, personalized, and collaborative approach DLC advisors take in serving their distance students as they work to achieve their academic goals. The DLC has also made innovative improvements to its student information system, which were later adapted for on-campus students.

UTeach-Liberal Arts                                         
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Program Director: Richard Flores

UTeach-Liberal Arts (UTLA) is a professional teacher certification program at the University of Texas at Austin. The program helps to certify middle and high school teachers in: English, Languages Other than English, and Social Studies. The UTeach program has been nationally recognized as the premiere teacher training program in the country and is currently being replicated nationwide.
UTLA Advising provides comprehensive academic advising for students in UTLA from freshmen year through graduation and for post baccalaureate degree holders seeking teacher certification. The advising unit creates an open environment for students to learn about academic opportunities and explore career options.
From Freshman orientation to graduation, UTLA Advising coordinates and structures a student’s experience through college to create a seamless feeling of familiarity UTLA Advising is unique, creative, and can be easily transferable to other advising units across the country.