GEAR UP Kentucky SUMMER ACADEMY@UK was a summer of learning and fun on the campus of the University of Kentucky and sponsored by the GEAR UP Kentucky program. For three weeks, from June 22 through July 12, 2014, twenty courses taught by UK instructors across the curriculum gave 63 high school students the opportunity to see what skills and attitudes are critical for learning at the state’s premier research university.
Fourteen teaching assistants, supervised by Dr. Laurie Henry, participated in each of the courses as they were offered. In addition, seven student development advisors accompanied the students to and from Blanding IV Residence Hall each day. The courses were presented in a hybrid mode, using the free and open Canvas Instructure learning system alongside the face-to-face classes. An online Homeroom for the students and their student development advisors and residence advisors offered tutorials, a centralized calendar and announcements to the students. The instructors and GEAR UP KY staff had been working in the online Instructors Lounge to prepare for the Academy@UK, and continued to use that site for regular updates and keeping communications regular. For example, the online discussion group “How did it go today?” allowed for the instructors to alert the teaching assistants or student development advisors to help with reinforcing certain ideas or behaviors back in the dorm or over the weekend.
All students took the General Studies Core courses that included research skills, information literacy, argumentative writing and public speaking, visual literacy, digital citizenship, video editing and web publishing. This rich core of learning experiences was a collaboration between a dozen different faculty and staff instructors from the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Communication & Information, and Education. In addition, staff from the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Media Lab, UK Libraries Special Collections, and the Office of Sustainability supported the student learning outcomes for the General Studies Core digital badge.
In addition, students were offered the opportunity to choose elective courses that were modeled on college courses taught here at UK to our undergraduates.
In addition to the above courses, students participated in the College Cafe, co-curricular programming in the residence hall. This important college/career readiness component to the curriculum took place in the evening or on the weekends to give students the opportunity to discuss the culture of college in a fun, relaxed setting. Activities and discussions led by Kelsey Carew (UK First Gen Initiatives), GUK Academy student development advisors and guest speakers focused on the everyday life of the college student, such as the importance of time management, multiculturalism on a college campus, and getting involved in the campus community. Casey Shaddix of the College of Health Sciences led a career day exploration session about the various degrees they offer and how important that preparations for a STEM major at UK start early. On the 4th of July, Damarias Moore, an instructor from the UK French department in partnership with the International Center, led a series of activities that helped students understand the connections between the French and American Revolutions before they went to participate in the festivals in downtown Lexington. Similar to UK undergraduates, Summer Academy@UK included a UK FUSION (UK For Unity and Service In Our Neighborhood) service event, a Common Reading Experience with book groups all discussing the same book, and Sustainability tours of the campus led by Shane Tedder and members of the Office of Sustainability. Students who had signed waivers from their parents/guardians were allowed to use the Aquatics Center (see the UKAquatics-WaiverofLiability-AssumptionofRiskIndemnity) and to borrow bicycles from Wildcat Wheels (see the Waiver-WildcatWheels-GUK2014).
Summer Academy@UK strove to prepare students academically and personally for college by introducing them to the UK Core general education program required of all graduates of UK. By the end of the Summer 2014 three-week residential experience, students were expected to be able to demonstrate:
- increased college readiness by using written, oral and visual communication skills to produce and present original research-based projects;
- an increase in the academic and professional skills necessary to succeed in college and the workforce such as practicing self-discipline, inclusivity, and civic engagement; and,
- appropriate social behavior and self-awareness and be able to express confidence in their ability to succeed in college and navigate the complexities of campus life.
Students reflected on what they had been learning with a journal app on their mini-iPad, and some posted blog entries. Successful completers of the courses earned digital badges that were certified by UK instructors and archived for display through the Open Passport badge system. Students can see the badges they have earned and show them to their friends, teachers or employers by pointing to their Passport profile (as part of an online and mobile portfolio or published as a Mozilla Open Badges) or by sharing the badges on other platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Staff included 30 instructors, 14 teaching assistants, 7 student development advisors, 2 residence advisors, 4 GEAR UP Kentucky staff from CPE, 2 UGE staff
- Of the 85 students assigned to the University of Kentucky by GEAR UP Kentucky, 72 students actually signed in at Blanding IV on Sunday, June 22nd
- Of the 71 students who stayed the first night on campus, 18 were male
- Of the 8 students who left before the last day of the Academy@UK:
- 1 left on 23 June (here for 1 day)
- 3 left on 24 June (here for 2 days)
- 1 left on 25 June (here for 3 days)
- 1 left on 30 June (here for 8 days)
- 1 left on 1 July (here for 9 days)
- 61 students (out of the 63 who persisted all three weeks) earned the right to keep their mini-iPads (i.e., successfully completed all their courses and earned the digital badges for the courses they took)
- Summer Academy@UK students earned, on average, a little more than 9 digital badges each
- Mallory Smith from Madison Central High School earned the most badges (11)
- A total of 576 digital badges were awarded by the instructors of the GUK Summer Academy@UK 2014.