CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, STANISLAUS

 

801 West Monte Vista Avenue    Turlock California  95382

 

 

 

Facilitating Graduation

Report to the Chancellor’s Office

December 2, 2005

 

California State University, Stanislaus is pleased to provide this overview of actions and planning to respond to the CSU Implementation Guidelines and Requests document, Addendum to Coded Memorandum AA-2005-21.  The discussion below summarizes our work.  Items that reflect new programs or practices are highlighted.  Attachments provide more detailed material.

 

I.               EFFICIENCY IN ACADEMIC PROGRAM DESIGN

 

(1)   Reduction of Required Units in Programs Leading to the Baccalaureate Degree

 

The university's seven-year academic program review process requires justification for all program requirements that extend the baccalaureate unit requirement beyond 120.  In addition, baccalaureate programs submitting requests for program modifications are reviewed by the University Educational Policies Committee (UEPC) for compliance with the 120-unit minimum.  Four programs are currently over the 120 minimum (total units required less double-counted courses): Art-BFA, Computer Science-BS, Music-BM, and Nursing-BS.  In each case, accreditation standards mandate curricular elements that result in the program exceeding 120 units. 

 

(2) Selective Reduction of Campus Graduation Requirements

 

The campus has accomplished the following:

a)     Review of the 120 Unit Programs:  UEPC guided the early campus review of the minimum of 120-unit baccalaureate degree programs by working with the Academic Programs Office to develop a system that allows for clarity and consistency in reviewing degree requirements.

b)    Program Audits:  The campus has completed program audits for all undergraduate programs, examining majors and graduation requirements.  The audit occurs when academic programs complete their Academic Program Reviews, or earlier if UEPC receives proposals for program modification.

c)     Examination of General Education:  The General Education Subcommittee is charged with conducting a local examination of units required in general education. The UEPC requested the General Education Subcommittee to consider this item and report the results of its discussions in February 2006. 

d)    Action Plan Template: attached

 

 

 

II.             SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN CHOOSING AN EFFICIENT PATHWAY TO THE BACCALAUREATE

 

(3) Emphasis on Graduation in Orientation Sessions for New Students (First-time Freshmen; Transfers)

 

Through orientation sessions, students are encouraged to value efficient progress toward the degree. Several new or invigorated programs are planned by Student Affairs for implementation in Spring and Fall 2006: 

a) I Did It! (a public relations campaign to include video, web, and print profiles of successful student graduates, complete with a “how-to” on graduating.

b) ACADEMIC WELLNESS:  Check-in Program. through Retention Services.

c)  Renewed emphasis on the Four-Year Degree Pledge through orientation.

 

Virtually all newly admitted CSU Stanislaus students attend freshmen or transfer student orientations. At these sessions, students receive academic advising and register for their classes. The orientation program also reviews the catalog information, graduation requirements, and timelines for graduation. In fall 2006 students will also receive academic roadmaps by major at their orientation.  Also new for Fall 2006, the professional advisors will attempt to meet personally with all incoming freshmen prior to the formalized orientation/registration program.

 

Examples of academic unit support for graduation emphasis for entering students include the following:

a) The College of Business Administration (CBA) new advising processes focus on academic planning, meeting degree requirements, and importance of timely graduation.  Students are given roadmaps that clearly state the sequence of courses and requirements to graduate. 

b) Departments in the College of Arts, Letters & Sciences (ALS) provide faculty advisors for new student orientations. These faculty assist students in academic planning to facilitate graduation and career planning. The Nursing Department holds pre-nursing orientation sessions twice a year for career planning.

c) All departments are developing roadmap advising plans for distribution at new student orientations.

 

(4) Strengthened Support for both General Education and Life/Career Goal Clarification for Lower-Division Students.

 

The campus is presently discussing the feasibility of establishing affinity tracks to aid in advising, career development, and major identification.  Such affinity tracks are clusters of academic disciplines.  We will be determining if this program is a useful tool to encourage students to declare a major earlier and identify career options by exposing them to a cluster of academic disciplines and introducing them earlier to potential faculty and career opportunities in their major.

 

In addition to the usual career related workshops, employment interviews and fairs, the campus presently has web-based career information related to majors, and this program would be enhanced to support any new affinity track programs.  All undeclared students receive individualized educational plans after meeting with professional advisors in the First Year Programs and Advising department.  These plans also include assignments to visit career services to access interest inventory sessions, either at orientation, through web-based methods, or by personal appointments. 

 

Academic departments also provide significant major/life/career assistance:

a) The College of Business Administration's Introduction to Business course serves to help students make academic major and career choices.

b) Academic advisors in the College of Arts, Letters & Science (ALS) discuss career options in individual advising sessions, including advising for pre-health (medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, optometry, chiropractic, physical therapy, physicians assistant, clinical laboratory science, and podiatry), pre-law, pre-engineering, and pre-nursing. 

c)  Students in Liberal Studies are introduced to the expectations of the teaching profession LIBS 1000, Beginning Field Experience.

d)  Other departments provide career fairs (Criminal Justice, for example); clubs and Honors Societies with guest speakers to inform students about career possibilities (Communication Studies and Criminal Justice, for example); and programs with past graduates who return to speak about their careers (Economics, for example).

e)  In addition, students in the First-Year Experience Program are introduced to the goals of GE and to career planning. Each student is required to develop an Individual Education Plan and to complete a writing assignment linking their classes to the goals of GE.

 

(5) Prominent Association of Career Outcomes with Degree Majors in Catalogs, and Other Student Informational Materials and Resources.

 

In addition to steps described in #4 above, career outcomes are indicated in the catalog under each academic department and in the majority of department and program brochures.   The College of Business Administration (CBA) provides their majors with a flowchart of the expected degree and the careers and jobs directly associated with that degree.  CBA career advising emphasizes retention and timely graduation based on the advantage of entering the market place sooner than later. In addition, the CBA plans and implements a wide variety of career events that focus on the link between degrees and careers such as: career fairs held each semester; two to three human resources management career fairs per year; student organized career sessions; and events that include visits to local businesses.  ALS Department brochures list career opportunities; each department catalogue page includes primary career opportunities, and department academic advisors assist students individually with career planning.  Many departments provide career information on their web sites. The college catalogue gives information about career advising in pre-health, pre-law, and pre-engineering, directing students to the academic advisor for each area.

 

(6) Choice of Degree Major Required at a Reasonable, Early Juncture

 

The University Educational Policies Committee (UEPC) is charged with considering requirements that (a) first-time freshmen declare a major by the beginning of the sophomore year and (b) transfer students declare a major prior to the beginning of their second semester on campus. In fall 2005, UEPC discussed this issue with the following outcomes: While recognizing the desirability of students' declaring a major at the earliest possible time, UEPC also discussed the importance of allowing students to explore possible majors as part of the higher education experience; UEPC discussed the possibility of students declaring a pre-major  from among 5-6 pre-majors organized around broad disciplinary divisions and is reviewing pre-major models offered elsewhere; UEPC discussed the possibility of priority registration for those with declared majors;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

UEPC requested the student representative consult with ASI with regard to mandatory declaration of major.  The student reported that discussion of pre-major advising is appealing to students who are undeclared;  UEPC met with Student Affairs representatives and continues to discuss Affinity Tracks to aid students to move toward declaration of a major.  UEPC will continue these discussions, with policy recommendations submitted to the Academic Senate during the spring 2006 semester.  A final report of its deliberations and actions will be reported to the Provost no later than May 2006. 

 

III.           TOOLS TO KEEP STUDENTS ON EFFICIENT PATHWAYS TO THE BACCALAUREATE

 

(7) Wide Promulgation of Roadmaps to Degree in an Official, Centrally-Archived, Graphically Authoritative Format

 

The campus is presently developing academic roadmaps for all departments.  Roadmaps are already available in several majors, including Nursing, Liberal Studies, etc.  First semester matrices for first year students are available already from many departments.  By fall 2006, colleges will post road map advising plans on department web pages and on one central, alphabetized web page. By 2007, the colleges and Enrollment Services will maintain an interactive web page that allows students to design and store their individual road maps.  New degree program proposals will be required to include roadmaps.

 

(8) Alignment of Class Schedules to Roadmaps

 

CSU Stanislaus has implemented the Integrated Course, Enrollment, Workload, and Budget Planning process, a system that provides advanced access to yearly scheduling and improved planning of courses, and use of faculty and budget. Deans and department chairs ensure that class schedules align to roadmaps.  By the fall semester of 2006, department chairs will clarify course availability specific to term or cyclic scheduling in the advising roadmap plans.  Annual advanced planning with the integrated course schedule is used to help departments recognize demand and gaps in time to respond with schedule changes.  Tracking of enrollment minimums, FTES targets, and faculty workload plans promote careful planning and rotation of courses to meet student need within fiscal constraints.

 

(9) Provision in Policy of Mandatory Individual Student Study Plans to the Degree

 

All undeclared students receive individualized educational plans after meeting with professional advisors in the First Year Programs and Advising department.  In addition, the First-Year Experience course requires students to develop an education and career plan.  The university's educational policy committee will consider a policy for mandatory individual study plans.

 

Enrollment Management and Information Technology has conducted an assessment of our ability to employ a degree audit reporting system or the CMS information system to provide useful input into schedule building and has conferred with college deans and department chairs regarding the potential process. We anticipate that the degree audit program will be active upon implementation of CMS/PeopleSoft Student module currently scheduled for a 'go live' date of fall 2008. As curriculum changes occur, degree audits will be updated. By early 2007, an interactive web page for degree audit will be implemented that will standardize the presentation, instructiveness, and storage for individual students.  This project will be led by the deans, Enrollment Management, and Information Technology. 

 

(10) Use of Cumulated Individual Student Study Plans in Planning Class Schedules

 

With the development of Individual Student Study Plans, these records will be used to inform and confirm the integrated planning process.

 

(11) Adoption of Strategies for Student Success and Learning Support:  Tutoring; Technology-mediated Supplementary Learning; and Similar Tactics

 

In spring 2006, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs will work to identify supplementary computer based skills assessment and self-paced modules for content and study skills.

 

The Department of English requires students in remediation classes to attend tutoring sessions in the Writing Center, and the Department of Mathematics has integrated learning activity sessions in remediation classes. Supplemental Instruction is offered to students taking historically difficult courses in mathematics, economics, chemistry and biology.  The Faculty Mentor Program links faculty with high risk students to provide mentoring throughout the student's academic career.  Student Support Services and the Educational Opportunity Program both provide advising and tutoring assistance.  Other strategies are under development by the Student Success Committee, including a review of tutoring services on campus.

 

 

(12) Renewed Enforcement of Policies that Limit or Discourage Drops, Withdrawals, Grades of Incomplete

 

UEPC reviewed policies that limit or discourage student exit from classes prior to completion, including current campus policies for drops, withdrawals, and grades of incomplete. UEPC conducted a review of policies at other CSU campuses for comparison and is obtaining data on the percentage of drops (both course drops and University withdrawals) after census date, and will review that data to determine appropriate actions.  In addition, students who are placed on a “Disqualified Status,” are encouraged to enroll in community college programs or in the self-support Open University program to raise GPA and get back on track to attain the baccalaureate.  UEPC will continue its discussions, with policy recommendations (if any) submitted to the Academic Senate during the spring 2006 semester.  A final report of its deliberations and actions will be reported to the Provost no later than May 2006.

(13) Adoption or Renewed Enforcement of Policy that Limits the Number of Course Repetitions

 

UEPC reviewed policies and enforcement of policies that limit the number of course repetitions, including current campus policies for number of course repetitions. UEPC is considering revision of the policy to establish the maximum number of repeats to two (take the course once and repeat two more times), recognizing that students will retain the right to petition for exceptions to any policy and is also considering a revision of the policy to limit the number of courses/units that may be repeated. UEPC reviewed the system-wide document regarding limits of repeat courses. UEPC is gathering data to provide data on the number of students who repeat courses more than two times. UEPC will continue its discussions, with policy recommendations submitted to the Academic Senate during the spring 2006 semester.  A final report of its deliberations and actions will be reported to the provost no later than May 2006.

 

IV.           STRONG ADVISING STRATEGIES AND PRACTICES

 

(14) Campus Provision of a Rich CMS Information and Communications Environment for Major Advising

 

Enrollment Management and the Office of Information Technology has determined that the long-term goal is to create a process maintained by Admissions and Records and Academic Affairs that would regularly update the academic road map advising plans as program changes warrant.  This is also necessary for the Degree Audit Program (DARS). With the implementation of PeopleSoft only two years away, implementing DARS by fall 2006 is viewed as the most prudent strategy.  Furthermore, the development of an e-portfolio project to provide state of the art student access to such academic planning tools would be linked also to career and employment information to facilitate job searching and applications to graduate school.

 

(15) Strong, Timely Major Advisement, Including Mandatory Advisement upon Declaring or upon Changing a Major.

 

UEPC reviewed policies that require students to seek advising and to take steps, where suitable via policy and/or practice, to increase the frequency of advisement in the major and discussed the possibility of a policy for mandatory advising. UEPC plans to continue its discussions, with policy recommendations submitted to the Academic Senate during the spring 2006 semester.  A final report of its deliberations and actions will be reported to the Provost no later than May 2006.  Data indicates the majority of academic departments (69%) require advising each semester before allowing students to register for an undergraduate major.    

 

(16) Frequent Use of Degree Audits

 

When DARS is implemented, students and academic advisors will have the ability to access on-line advising at any time.

 

(17) Mandatory Degree Audits not later than at 70 Semester Units

 

UEPC was asked to consider a policy that imposes a mandatory degree audit not later than 70 semester units. A final report of its deliberations and actions will be reported to the Provost no later than May 2006. 

Effective Spring 2006 Student Affairs will begin piloting a voluntary program to provide advising audits at 70 units: ACADEMIC WELLNESS:  Check- up Program

(18) Mandatory and If Needed Intrusive Advisement as Student Approaches/Exceeds Minimum Units Required for the Degree

 

UEPC was asked to consider a policy to impose mandatory and perhaps intrusive advisement for students who approach or exceed minimum units required for the degree. UEPC discussed creating consequences to exceeding degree requirements (e.g., differential fees, lowest priority registration). Discussion will continue with any policy recommendations submitted during the spring 2006 semester.

Effective Spring 2006 Student Affairs will begin piloting a voluntary program to provide advising audits at 89 units: ACADEMIC WELLNESS:  Check-out Program.  A companion voluntary program is also planned for Spring 2006 to provide audits at 120 units and offer advising as well:  ACADEMIC WELLNESS:  Get Out Program.

In addition, an on-going program through Student Affairs, The Graduating Seniors Program, bundles typical services and workshops aimed at graduating seniors and markets them to this group.  Typical workshops include information about applying for graduation, graduate school, career exploration, time management.  A website to support this project is expected to be ready in Spring 2006.

A review of advising, especially as provided in Student Affairs, anticipates the addition of academic advisers in the First Year Programs and Advising Office beginning in Spring 2006 and thereafter.

V.             CAMPUS MONITORING AND FEEDBACK

 

(19) Development and Use of "Dashboard Indicators" for Campus-wide Monitoring of Graduation

 

Provost's Deans' Council and the Student Success Committee will work collaboratively to develop retention data dashboard indicators.  Areas to be considered include the following:

a)  Progression to degree - first -year continuation rates for first-time freshmen (freshman to sophomore year and sophomore to freshman year.

b)  Progression to degree- first-year continuation rates for community college transfers (junior to senior).

c)  Persistence and graduation rates—number/percentage of students who graduate  in 4, 5, 6, and 7+ years), disaggregated by first-time freshmen and  community college transfers (juniors).

d)  Progression to degree of students admitted under remediation classification.

e)  Graduation rates by important demographic variables (gender, ethnicity).

f)  Graduation rates by program/disciplines.

g)  Percentage of students stopping out and returning/or not returning.

h)  Percentage of students graduating with more than 120 units.

i)   Student involvement measurements (as in NSSE).

j)  Graduate school attendance.

 

 Most of the above data are currently tracked by Institutional Research in accordance with WASC and the CSU Accountability Goals. When finalized, the dashboard indicators will be linked to and monitored by the university's reaccredidation process and the Student Success Committee. Indicators are expected to be identified by the end of Spring 2006.

 

(20) Review by CSU Academic Peers of How Efforts at Encouraging Graduation are Succeeding, by Degree Program

 

CSU Stanislaus is charged with embracing and facilitating visits by academic peers to assess progress toward facilitating graduation. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) selected CSU Stanislaus as one of twelve campuses nationwide to participate in a study related to best practices in graduation.  Campuses were selected for invitation in the study based on higher-than-predicted graduation rates or higher-than-predicted improvement in graduation rates.  The purpose of the study was to help member institutions improve graduation rates through the identification of best practices.  The seven member team visited in March 2005 and reported that CSU Stanislaus has a strong sense of mission and place—shared  by upper administration, staff at all levels, faculty and students—as  one of the most important elements in its graduation rate outcomes. All constituencies with whom the team spoke were consistent in describing themselves as student centered; committed to access, especially for first-generation students; committed to making that access meaningful by helping students to succeed; committed to empowering students to take responsibility for their success; and dedicated to providing service to the local community and citizens.  Their report also noted the following elements used in retaining and graduating students: contact with faculty; consistent advising; advising focus on creating a plan (roadmap) for graduation; student connection to the campus through organizations and activities; and engagement in the classroom.  The report states at CSU Stanislaus "these elements are not only in place; they are constantly being reviewed and refined."  A copy of the report is attached.

 

VI.   ASSURING THE PRIORITY OF FACILITATING GRADUATION

 

(21) Provide the Board of Trustees with periodic reports.

 

The Provost is charged with keeping the president informed of campus actions to meet the requirement of periodic reports.

 

(22) Provide appropriate funding, support.

 

The President and Vice Presidents are charged with assuring that budgets and priorities appropriately support efforts to facilitate graduation.