Kent State faculty presents increased retention research findings at symposium

Bruce Walton

Kent State faculty members presented data about student retention in three academic programs at the 9th Annual National Symposium on Student Retention from Nov. 4 to 6 in San Diego. These programs including Supplemental Instructional Program, the ALEKS placement-assessment tool and the exploration plan that had improved the quality of student academics.

The symposium, sponsored by the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the University of Oklahoma, hosts a conference for universities across the nation to share current research and strategies that support student success, according to its website.

Jessica Ramsey and Jesmin Akter, two higher-education administration and student personnel graduate assistants, presented the results of their findings of the Supplemental Instruction, or SI, program.

Ramsey said the program’s enrollment and attendance increased significantly during in the 2008-2009 school year.

“We hired more tutors, we supported more classes, there are more students enrolled, you know, things like that,” Ramsey said. “So, obviously, when you have a larger population of students you’re working with, you’re going to get higher attendance, you’re going to see more clear results, more definitive.”

Ramsey said she and Akter presented their findings of D/fail/withdrawal, or DFW, rates between 2008 and 2012, and statistics showed a positive correlation between student attendance at SI sessions and course GPA.

Another presentation at the conference addressed the DFW rates through placement assessment. Interim Undergraduate Dean Eboni Pringle led the presentation but couldn’t be reached for comment.

According to a summary in the conference’s personal agenda, after a comprehensive review of the placement procedures for eight Kent campuses, it was determined that Kent’s process and tools didn’t give enough information to place students accurately. New placement process and tools were implemented in 2010.

The summary said the new placement process and tools had a positive effect on the DFW rates in critical gateway courses in mathematics and chemistry. The summary said that the use of ALEKS as the new placement process tool has helped in the placement of students in mathematics courses, increasing students receiving an A, B, or C in math courses by 10 percent.

Senior fashion merchandising major Daniel Wise said he took the placement assessment for ALEKS in 2010 before enrolling in Kent State in 2011 after dropping out of his previous university in 2005. Wise said he dropped out because of insufficient mathematics grades.

Wise said he is going to finish his last year of ALEKS and said the placement process definitely helped him.

Judith Rule, director of the Exploratory Advising Center, said she and Steven Antalvari, the assistant director, presented their results in the effect of the Exploration Plan. Rule said the plan was implemented in 2010 after Kent State implemented the 45-credit hour policy, which requires all undecided students to declare a degree-granting major by the time they reach 45 credit hours. Rule said she agreed it was a good idea and said it pushed the center to become more efficient.

“When I first started working here — and this center has existed since 1994 — the message was, ‘Come on in, be exploratory, you can hang out here as long as you want,’” Rule said. “And over time, we realized that that wasn’t in the best interest of the students.”

Rule said the results showed a 9.8 percent increase in exploratory students declaring their majors from 2011 and a 24.2 percent increase in fall semester exploratory students declaring their majors in the spring.

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].