Underprepared First-Time Students – Our Work in Improving College Readiness at the University of Kentucky

Since before Senate Bill 1 (2009), UGE has been tasked with implementing and documenting the results of the state’s unified college & career readiness policies (http://www.uky.edu/UGE/what). In a team from across all the education sectors of KY, several key strategies were identified then codified, and over the years UK has worked to address all of them (http://www.uky.edu/UGE/readiness).

UK’s Academic Preparation Program serves as one of those strategies. Academic Enhancement leadership in Spring 2011 expanded the APP to serve more students than those who are admitted to UK without having reached the state’s college readiness benchmarks – and in Fall 2014 the writing and reading programming was expanded to include ESL courses for international students not meeting statewide benchmarks (for details on all the different options at UK, visit the website at http://www.uky.edu/UGE/APP). The APP offers the official University Placement Tests (or accepts those taken elsewhere and certified by the UK Registrar) to our admitted students as per 13:KAR 2:020, including the ACT COMPASS and KYOTE as well as ALEKS (see the Kentucky College Readiness Indicators, scores and student competencies for each of the current statewide academic pathways in math, writing and reading). The Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education works with each of the undergraduate college deans to ascertain compliance and success rates for their students admitted to UK as first-time, full-time degreeseeking students. This follow-up is crucial in complying with the statewide transfer policy that includes the general education outcomes (see the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) website for the expanded policy that went into effect in Fall 2012 for the Kentucky public institutions’ transfer agreement).

The state (i.e., KY legislators, the Governor and the CPE) measures 2 big performance indicators and each institution’s contributions to them:

  1. reducing college remediation rates of KY’s recent high school graduates (this is measured primarily by the success rates of UK’s College of Education’s teacher prep, but UK has expanded this effort with such statewide initiatives as Umentor@UK and GUK Summer Academy@UK)
  2. increasing college completion rates of students enrolled in one or more developmental education courses (these indicators have recently been shored up with a policy “guiding principles” document that our President agreed to abide by last spring – download the document here) – in which they promised to work on embedding remediation into credit-bearing content courses and offer access to credit-bearing coursework no later than the beginning of the second academic semester.

The main points to remember here are that (a) students admitted to UK who meet the state’s benchmark scores are guaranteed entrance into credit-bearing work, without need of remediation; and (b) UK is responsible for increasing high quality degree production and completion rates at all levels and to close achievement gaps, particularly for lower-income students, underprepared students (as measured by the statewide benchmark scores), and underrepresented minority students.

The incremental targets are measured annually and shared with the College Readiness Leads each year. The bigger targets per institution are negotiated out of the President’s Office and approved by the KY Council of Presidents and the CPE Board. See for example UK’s latest performance scorecard for 2012-13 (download .pdf here). Some of the information shared with the College Readiness Leads this year regarding statewide goals are included below.

Presentation by CPE staff on October 9, 2015 Click on thumbnail to see larger image
The Kentucky Department of Education reports that the number of recent Kentucky high school graduates ready for college and career has been steadily increasing – from 34% in 2010 (just ACT subscores) to 66.8% in 2015 (both college as well as career readiness indicators) College and Career Readiness Rates
The CPE reports that the percent of recent Kentucky high school graduates who entered college in Kentucky and met statewide readiness standards is increasing – from 52% in 2010-11 to 70.1% in 2013-14. College Readiness of College Entrants
CPE reports that completion of “gateway” coursework within 2 years for 2012-13 first-time students enrolled and not enrolled in developmental courses at the KCTCS and regional universities (i.e., 4-year institutions but not UK or UofL) are abysmal. The chart shows that KCTCS first-time students who take dev ed courses do worse in their gateway courses than those who do not – but less than half of all students complete the gateway courses. In regional universities, the dev ed completers are significantly less prepared to succeed in the gateway courses than those who completed already prepared. How are we doing? KCTCS & Regional Universities 2012-13
When we include UK in the description of completion of gateway courses – the achievement gaps in gateway courses are much smaller for those students who have/haven’t achieved the statewide benchmark scores. Students at UK who took WRD110 or CIS110 in their first year (summer, fall, spring) with a low subscore in writing or reading, the success rates are very high – between 75-85%. For UK students who take MA109 (College Algebra) or MA111 (Liberal Arts Math) in their first year, the success rates are highest of all the Kentucky institutions: more than 60% whether they had a low ACT subscore or not. The big difference (though still higher success rates than in any other Kentucky institution) was if a student had a less than 19 on their Math ACT subscore – barely 47.3% success rate in UK’s MA111 course. College Course Completion in First Year English, 2012-13 and 2013-14
English Course Completion (e.g., WRD 110 or CIS 110 at UK)
College Course Completion in First Year Math, 2012-13 and 2013-14Liberal Arts Math Completion (e.g., MA 111 at UK)
Course Completion First Year in College Algebra, 2012-13 and 2013-14
College Algebra Completion (e.g., MA 109 at UK)

With the help of our colleagues in Enrollment Management, UK Academic Technologies, and the undergraduate colleges, we will continue to monitor the success of these underprepared students and work together to find new and innovative ways for program improvement.

Posted in Retention, General Education, Undergraduate Curriculum, Orientation, College/Career Readiness, UK Core, Transfer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Using a Racial Equity Lens – Webinars on Engaging in Culturally Responsive Evaluation

As a member of the RCCW (Race, Community & Child Welfare) Fayette County group, I have been attending a series of webinars offered by the Public Policy Associates, Inc.: “Using a Racial Equity Lens to Guide Program Evaluation: Racism and Evaluation.” Some of the concepts presented are just plain ol’ common sense for good educators – and some of the ideas match well with the principles of mutuality to which we aspire in our Carnegie Foundation classification for Community Engagement. What I’ve learned, basically, is that we need to ask our programming and evaluating teams on a regular basis to be ever vigilant in self-assessing their individual and collective cultural competencies.

Cultural Competence: “A skill set that comes from personal experiences within a given community and/or from structured learning experiences that ensures acceptance, appreciation, understanding, and responsiveness by evaluators regarding value, practices, attitudes, and behavior of this community; and that inform the entire evaluation process. (Public Policy Associates, Inc., webinar slide 10, August 10, 2015)

In order to use a diversity-inclusion-equity lens, these two issues must be intentionally included as part of the evaluation of each program design and evaluation team:

  1. acknowledge the persistence of inequities in the US (and abroad) due to historical institutional racism and discrimination
  2. strategically account for these inequities in project/program design, implementation and evaluation.

Who was engaged and empowered in the decision-making process during the evaluation project?

As we bring ourselves to think more intentionally about the impact of structural racism in our local, regional and global contexts, we have to remember to look around the table and notice who is NOT there. We owe it to ourselves and our students to then ask — openly, publicly — how can we be more inclusive here and in the future? What strategies can we employ to make sure we can overcome unconscious, hidden or overt biases?

Structural Racism

Do you typically consider race/ethnicity when conducting an analysis of your student success programming?

As educators we are also evaluators, and so we have the obligation to assure that there is a cultural competence training in place whenever we launch a project or program. We need to be aware of cultural differences among the priority population targeted for student success – and not assume that any one individual or small group speaks for the whole. We should assure diversity among the evaluation team, asking about and acknowledging when someone has shared background/life experiences with the priority population. Nevertheless, just because a evaluation team has achieved an ethnic/racial diversity among its membership, evaluators should not assume the team is de facto going to act in culturally responsive ways. See more on this in the booklet “Considerations for Conducting Evaluations Using a Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity Lens” (PPA, 2015).

Who and what was changed or affected by your programming, and how? What were the unintended consequences given the racial/cultural context?

Self-assessment checks need to happen on a regular basis, both for personal awareness of cultural frameworks, assumptions, and biases as well as the team’s collective actions over time. This includes an awareness of the complexities surrounding the continuing legacy of historical events of racism in the institution and/or the community. Some tools for conducting evaluation using a racial equity lens that Dr. Paul Elam and Willard Walker of the Public Policy Associates recommend are:

  • For Evaluators:
  • For the Evaluation Process Overall:
    • Institutional analysis
    • Quality service review
    • Rates and relative rates
  • For Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Measures:
    • Data disaggregation
    • Assessing volume, statistical significance, and magnitude

In other words, we must all continually work on our own understandings of cultural competencies, structural racism and its impact on ourselves and the priority populations. I look forward to seeing your responses to what I am learning, and I would be very honored to be a part of any conversations you might want to have about these issues.

Posted in Diversity, Retention, Student Success, Undergraduate Curriculum | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Register Today for the University Leadership Forum, October 27-29

October 27-29, 2015 - The Inaugural University Leadership Forum: The Power of RelationshipsHave you registered yet for the inaugural University Leadership Forum? This series of events for UK faculty and staff is co-sponsored by the office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Office of Faculty Advancement and Institutional Effectiveness, and UK Human Resources.

Registration now open! Fill out this registration form to attend as many University Leadership Forum events as your schedule allows.

Event schedule

Oct. 27

8:30-9:45 a.m. Opening Keynote: “Secrets of Leading Successfully in Academic Environments”, by Dr. John Daly, Liddell Centennial Professor of Communication, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, TCB Professor of Management, University of Texas at Austin

10-11:15 a.m. Panel Discussion: Ingredients for a Collegial Environment

Noon – 1 p.m. Networking luncheon

1:30-2:45 p.m. Inclusive Leadership in Increasingly Diverse Organizations, by Wayne Lewis

3-4:15 p.m. Case Study: Leading Colleagues

Wednesday, Oct. 28

8:30-9:45 a.m. Case Study: Leading in Tough Times

10-11:15 a.m. Seeing How to Serve: Leveraging our Perceptual Skills to Increase Engagement, by Lissa Pohl

Noon – 1 p.m. Networking luncheon

1:30-2:45 p.m. A Different Look at Conflict: Moving Beyond Fight, Flee or Compromise

3-4:15 p.m. Panel Discussion: Moving an Agenda Forward

Oct. 29

8:30-9:45 a.m. Panel Discussion: Power of Relationships10-11:15 a.m. Case Study: Leadership through Mentoring

Noon – 1 p.m. Networking luncheon

1:30-2:15 p.m. The Power of Social Media to Build Team Relationships, by Jayne Cravens, Coyote Communications

2:45-4 p.m. Closing Keynote, by Shirley Raines, University of Memphis

4-6 p.m. Social Event

The forum takes place over three days but you don’t have to attend all the events. You can pick and choose those individual sessions that best fit your schedule and your own interests. See more at the UK HR webpage: http://www.uky.edu/hr/hr-home/university-leadership-forum.

Posted in Diversity, Student Success | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U-Kinda-Wanna Exploratory Program Starts with Healthcare Professions, Oct. 7th, 5-7 p.m., in WTYoung B108C

Undergraduate Studies and James W. Stuckert Career Center will offer the first session of the “U Kinda Wanna” series on October 7th, 5:00 to 7:00, in The Hub (WT Young Library) B-Room 108-C.

The program consists of a series of presentations that focus on different professions to assist students in major and career exploration. This first session, entitled “U Kinda Wanna Work in Healthcare,” will be facilitated by Lesli Hall, John Hurak, and Seth Riker. Panel participants and areas of healthcare represented are:

  • Joanne Davis, Assistant Dean of Students, College of Nursing
  • Sharon Gonzalez, Pre- Pharmacy Advisor, UK College of Pharmacy
  • Leslie Leroy, Admissions Officer, UK College of Dentistry
  • Anissa Radford, Academic Coordinator, Dietetics/Nutrition, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment
  • Kim Scott, Assistant Director of Admissions, UK College of Medicine
  • Casey Shadix, Director of Recruiting, College of Health Sciences
  • Emily Underwood, Recruiter, College of Social Work
  • Marilyn Underwood, Director of Undergraduate Advising, College of Public Health

Wildcat CareerLinkThe forum is designed to help students learn about what to expect in various careers, experience and credentials required, the various pathways they can take to prepare for and enter a particular field, and get a view of “a day in the life” of professionals who have careers in areas in which they are interested. All students are welcome!

Posted in Exploratory Students, Retention | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations to Academic Enhancement for NCLCA Award

This just in from Dr. Ben Withers in UGE’s latest Weekly Update:

Congratulations to past and present staff of The Study/Academic Enhancement for being named the 2015 recipient of the Frank Christ Outstanding Learning Center Award. Awarded by the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA), this award is given to one 4-year college or university each year to recognize national excellence in programs, services, technology and assessment (see past award winners on the NCLCA website).

Soaring Into The Future - NCLCA 30 years 1985-2015Members of Transformative Learning from Academic Enhancement and Presentation U will be traveling this week to attend the NCLCA 30th Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI. Dr. Jane Jensen, interim Assistant Provost for Transformative Learning, Dr. Tourgeé Simpson, Director of Academic Enhancement, and Christie Maier, Assistant Director of Peer Tutoring will be present on Tuesday evening at the Awards Banquet to represent Academic Enhancement and accept the award.

For complete information about the conference and award, please visit http://www.nclca.org/annualconference.htm.

Posted in Peer Mentoring, Student Success | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Winner of the 2015 Constitution Day Essay Contest

Thomas Phillips III, a History major, won $500 and a book award to this essay response to the 2015 Constitution Day Essay Contest prompt:

The 2015 race for governor is well under way, and as was to be expected, the TV advertising offers a lot more heat than light. In other words, voters are learning less about the issues and witnessing more of the dirt the candidates are shoveling at each other. Address two questions:

  1. Should the General Assembly pass a law before the 2019 state elections requiring candidates to abstain from using half-truths and lies in their advertising so that voters can be better informed on the important issues facing the state?
  2. Would such a law survive a court test?

Winning Essay:

Unfortunately, it appears that we may have painted ourselves into a political corner, folks. I state this simply because the very First Amendment of our Bill of Rights, guaranteeing every citizen of the United States of America the right to free speech under Constitutional law, is the same exact one that denies us truth in advertising from those who would seek our votes for public office.

Which is the very reason why the answers to both questions posed by this contest have to be a resounding no. Not only would a law holding those running for office responsible for misleading or blatantly lying to the public not hold up under the current version of the First Amendment (more on that in a moment), but one could also pose the argument that it couldn’t be passed even if it could withstand the scrutiny.

To address the latter point in the above paragraph: So deeply intertwined in our politics are deception, half-truths and doublespeak that they have become an accepted part of American (and, to a larger degree, international) political culture. Politicians will lie to you in order to get your vote. It is a common theme. It is joked about and taken lightly by most. And, therefore, it is expected, understood, and condoned. To paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, when you first meet someone, you aren’t necessarily meeting them, but their representative. So feel free to expect that the person seeking your vote to win an election will tell you what you want to hear because it is what you want to hear.

Meanwhile, the Constitution that gives us all the right to free speech bears no mention of that free speech being truthful. In fact, political speech includes advertising, and is protected under the First Amendment, which means that candidates are free to prevaricate at will. While there is room for libelous or slanderous speech to be held accountable, simple deceit or spreading disinformation are a lot harder to rid ourselves of in American politics. No level, from local to federal, is exempt from this.

In fact, Washington is the only of the 50 current states to ever attempt to rid itself of falsehoods in political advertising, circa 1984. An actual law on the books that would fine violators $10,000 per offense and could result in the election outcome being invalidated? Where can we sign up for that? Short answer: you can’t. The law was ruled unconstitutional 14 years later by the State Supreme Court, which cited the First Amendment as the reason for the ruling.  No state has been brave enough to attempt it since.

Is there a solution? Yes, but not a quick fix, by far: if we are to begin asking for honesty in political advertising, we must first acknowledge that honesty does not truly exist in the world of advertising. Ads are designed to sell us on a product using human emotion and playing off individual and collective group thoughts. Therefore, we cannot expect advertising to contain truth from individuals whose job security depends on persuading the highest number of people possible to cast their vote for them to keep them in office.

We must remind ourselves that everything that we see on television and consume in media is not necessarily true, and that we must seek out information for ourselves. We as a democratic society are wholly responsible for the choices that we make, and making informed decisions by informing ourselves is the best possible start to getting the results that we want out of our government. It would be a great day for all of us when questions like these no longer have to be the topic of essays, where it can be easy to use 4 different synonyms for lie in an essay centered around politics and the First Amendment.** It is far from probable. But it is possible. Perhaps it would better serve us to start there.

* Sullivan, Amy. “Truth In Advertising? Not For Political Ads.” Time Magazine, Sept. 23, 2008. http://content.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1843796,00.html (Return to text.)

** Actually just lied to you there. There are at least 6. (Return to text.)

Posted in Student Success, Undergraduate Curriculum | Tagged | Leave a comment

Congratulations to All the Undergraduates Who Wrote Essays for Constitution Day 2015

Out of 189 students who enrolled in the UK Canvas “course” to review the 2015 Constitution Day Essay Contest rules (see more about the inaugural Essay Contest here), twenty-one students submitted essays. Students from a wide variety of majors and colleges/units participated:

  • 7 Freshmen, 4 Sophomores, 7 Junior, 3 Senior
  • Majors: Accounting, Biology, English, History, International Studies, Journalism, Marketing, Media Arts & Studies, Pre-Arts Administration, Pre-Chemical Engineering, Pre-Civil Engineering, Pre-Integrated Strategic Communication, Pre-Journalism, Pre-Mechanical Engineering, Undeclared
  • Colleges/Units: Arts & Sciences, Business & Economics, Communication & Information, Fine Arts, Engineering, Undergraduate Education’s Undergraduate Studies and Honors

The essays show that there are a wide range of responses to the prompt:

The 2015 race for governor is well under way, and as was to be expected, the TV advertising offers a lot more heat than light. In other words, voters are learning less about the issues and witnessing more of the dirt the candidates are shoveling at each other. Your essay should address two questions:

  1. Should the General Assembly pass a law before the 2019 state elections requiring candidates to abstain from using half-truths and lies in their advertising so that voters can be better informed on the important issues facing the state?
  2. Would such a law survive a court test?

Some of the essays did not include a title (not a required element), but those essays that did have a title show the creativity and critical thinking used. To whet your appetite for reading the winning essays once they are announced, we share here some of our favorite titles:

Bad Ads The Legality of Lying
Legislating Truth The Truth, Amended
Justice for All – Beginning with America’s Politicians Truth in Political Advertising: An Oxymoron

A panel of judges selected by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center will score the entries based on the following criteria: historical and legal accuracy of the content, the strength and logic of the argument, the original ideas presented, the organization of the argument, including the thesis, and the quality of the writing. Announcement of the winners and presentation of the prizes will be made by Dr. Ben Withers, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, during the Scripps Howard First Amendment Celebration, which begins at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 29th in the Alumni Auditorium of the William T. Young Library.
Constitution Day 2015 at UK

Posted in Exploratory Students, General Education, Student Success, Undergraduate Curriculum | Tagged | Leave a comment

Undergraduate Research Call for Submissions and Schedule for 2015-16 – Please Share!

Call for abstracts: Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Abstract submission: already open
Submission deadline: Thursday, October 14, 2015
Event Date: Thursday, February 25, 2016

National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
Call for abstracts: Tuesday, September 21, 2015
Online submission opens: Monday, Oct. 5, 2015
Submission deadline: Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Notification of acceptance: January 11 – 22, 2016
Early conference registration: Jan. 25 – Feb. 19, 2016
Late registration: Deadline is March 9, 2016
Hotel registration deadline: Deadline is March 4, 2016
Event date: Thursday, April 7, 2016 – Saturday, April 9, 2016 – University of NC, Asheville

Oswald Research and Creativity Awards
Call for submissions: Monday, September 14, 2015
Submission deadline: Thursday, October 29, 2015
Design and Fine Arts Display: Monday, November 2 – Friday, November 6, 2015
Deadline to announce: Friday, December 4, 2015

Summer Sustainability Research and Creativity Fellowships
Call for applications: Monday, January 11, 2016
Application deadline: Friday, March 4, 2016
Notification of acceptance: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Summer Research and Creativity Fellowships
Call for applications: Monday, January 11, 2016
Application deadline: Friday, March 4, 2016
Notification of acceptance: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Undergraduate Research Abroad Scholarship
Call for applications: Monday, January 11, 2016
Application deadline: Friday, March 4, 2016
Notification of acceptance: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Showcase Of Undergraduate Scholars
Call for Abstracts: Monday, February 15, 2016
Abstract Deadline: Friday, April 8, 2016
Poster Deadline: Friday, April 22, 2016 11:59pm
Event Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 3-6pm – Memorial Coliseum

Posted in Student Success, Undergraduate Curriculum | Tagged | Leave a comment