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Grant Supports Student Success Toward Graduation: Overview

happy graduates at commencement

CSU Northridge is launching a five year federally supported program aimed at increasing support services and academic success toward timely graduation for undergraduates.

Thanks to support from the Title V Grant from the US Department of Education, students will explore new career strategies and engage in mentor- and peer-based learning programs and service learning experiences. The grant will also facilitate faculty outreach programs to approximately 300 San Fernando Valley middle- and high-school students this coming spring alone.

The College Leads from Health and Human Development are Lou Rubino and Tami Abourezk. The Program Director of the grant is Dr. Rafael Efrat of the College of Business and Economics.

Discipline Based Freshmen Connection Program

Students will explore how to attain a successful academic experience and develop a career strategy. For example, Dr. Tami Abourezk will facilitate a Kinesiology focused cohort of freshmen student that will be linked to another Kinesiology course, and freshmen students majoring in Child and Adolescent Development will continue studying under Dr. April Taylor in their University 100 cohort. In total, approximately 150 freshmen students will take part in the Discipline-Based Freshmen Connection Program during the spring semester.

Peer Learning Facilitators Program

Studies have documented positive correlations among participation in peer learning, course grades and retention particularly among minority college students. The Peer Learning Facilitators Program (PLF) will work to increase student engagement, performance, and retention. Next spring, the PLF Program will focus on supporting students in Kinesiology 346 (Dr. Kim Henige) and Family and Consumer Sciences 380 (Diane Lewis-Goldstein and Erin Matthews). The expectation is that nearly 300 students each semester will benefit from this student success program.

Service Learning Program

Studies document strong links between service learning courses and retention, including among Latino college students, and these studies suggest that service-learning increases retention because it enhances student/faculty interaction. Faculty will develop curriculum and pilot new service-learning courses. The service-learning component will expand over the five years of the grant by incorporating new servicelearning courses each year. Each course will accommodate at least 25 students and this spring will serve as many as 250 students per semester.

Peer and Faculty Mentorship Program

Peer and faculty mentorship programs have been shown to have one of the greatest effects on student retention, and particularly among Latino college students. The faculty member teaching the Discipline Based Freshmen Connection Program will serve as faculty mentor for the 25 students in his/her discipline-based freshmen seminar course. This spring starts with three faculty from the College of Health and Human Development: Dr. Tami Abourezk, Dr. Kim Henige (both from Kinesiology) and Dr. April Taylor (from Child & Adolescent Development.

Research has found that peer support is directly related to the persistence of low income and first generation students in college. Through this project we will expand our peer mentorship program by incorporating it into the Freshmen Connection Program.

Faculty Learning Community Program

Research suggests that faculty development contributes to an increase in student’s retention and success because it enhances pedagogical practices. Under this Title V grant faculty development will include faculty curriculum development to enhance both the Freshmen Connection Program and the Community Service Learning Program. Each faculty participant will be matched with a faculty member for classroom visits as well as individual mentoring and feedback.

High School Outreach Program

High schools students who develop strong educational goals as early as the 10th grade report a significantly higher retention rate subsequently in college. Working in collaboration with the university’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Services and the EOP Office, the grant will expand the university’s outreach capacity. One example is that Outreach Ambassadors will have the opportunity to facilitate presentations to junior and senior high school students reaching out to as many as 300 San Fernando Valley high school students this coming spring alone.

The above has been edited and abridged from Department of Education: Title V Grant: Student Support and Academic Success.

- Edited and abridged by Jean O'Sullivan