The University of Oklahoma
Proceedings of the 10th national symposium on student retention
Based on calls for a paradigm shift in higher education, which have appeared in the literature for years (Barr &Tagg, 1995; Tagg, 2003, Bryant University transformed its first-year experience into an innovative model, The First-Year Gateway). Informed by research from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education, the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ Liberal Education for America’s Promise, and the Wabash National Study, a group identified five learning outcomes: effective communication, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, diversity awareness, and information literacy. Key to this undertaking was faculty development, and utilizing assessment data to improve curricular design and learning outcomes. The result is an interdisciplinary 13 credit first-year program developed to foster a successful transition into Bryant University. Launched in fall 2012, assessment data was gathered to determine whether common learning outcomes were achieved. Faculty embedded student success goals into their courses, which are designed to foster purposeful adjustment to higher education. Preliminary assessment indicates institutional gains in retention, academic standing, and student and faculty engagement during the implementation year. The new model, based on Wenger’s community of practice (COP), created opportunities to discuss pedagogy. Most importantly, the model fostered faculty’s deeper understanding of first-year transitions.