March 11, 2002 Vol. VI, No. 12

Task Force Seeks to Improve Student Graduation Rates

Panel Asks for Campus Feedback by April 12 Prior to Issuing Final Report in June

Responding to a request from President Jolene Koester, a Cal State Northridge task force has issued a report for campus review that makes 14 recommendations for improving student graduation rates through changes in course requirements, advising and instructional support.

The report, widely disseminated on campus earlier this month, is the product of nearly a year's work by a 23-member Graduation Rates Task Force that was co-chaired by Provost Louanne Kennedy and Faculty President Michael Neubauer, and included AS President Tari Hunter and a wide range of faculty and administrators.

The task force issued its findings as a preliminary final report, asking campus community members for feedback to Kennedy or Neubauer no later than Friday, April 12. The task force then plans to meet in April to review campus comments and prepare a final report for distribution in June.

"Students sacrifice a lot to come here," said Provost Kennedy. "Many take out student loans, they work hard and they make personal sacrifices. We need to make sure we do everything we can to ensure that they graduate in a timely fashion."

Faculty President Neubauer added, "Given that only 2.7 percent of our entering freshmen graduate in four years and less than 30 percent do so in six years, it was essential that the task force make recommendations that speak to the institutional obstacles to graduation." Neubauer said he hoped the report would spur "a lively and informed discussion."

Vice Provost Philip Handler said the task force recommendations, once final, will be reviewed by the appropriate campus consultative groups, such as the faculty Educational Policies Committee. The full report document can be downloaded from the university's web site at The main recommendations follow:

Policy Sub-Committee Recommendations

  1. For every major, departments will develop the following semester-by-semester plans to graduation:
  2. A student may not normally repeat a course for grade forgiveness if the student received a grade of "C" or better in the course.
  3. Prior to a third enrollment in the same course, the student must obtain permission from the appropriate Associate Dean to enroll.
  4. Double counting of GE breadth courses to include one Upper Division GE course in the major.
  5. The total number of units in General Education (including Title V) will be reduced to 45 units and majors will require no more than 45 units. There may be a waiver if professional accreditation requires more units.
  6. . Departments should explore modifying their upper-division required and elective courses in their majors from three-unit to four-unit courses. The number of classroom contact hours would remain at three hours while the unit count would be four units.

Advisement Sub-Committee Recommendations

  1. Develop and implement strategies to insure consistency and accuracy of advisement.
  2. Develop and implement an advising pathway that guides students from admissions to graduation.
  3. Develop and implement additional delivery systems for advising.
  4. Integrate career exploration and development with major selection and advising.

Pedagogy Sub-Committee Recommendations

  1. Promote efforts in teaching to enhance student involvement and hence student success by rewarding faculty who demonstrate effective, instructional improvement strategies.
  2. Identify courses where significant numbers of students get poor grades. Provide support for development of additional effective instructional strategies in courses in which a large number of students perform poorly.
  3. Create formal and informal forums and other opportunities for faculty and other members of the campus community to share ideas about best teaching and learning practices.
  4. Identify courses in which supplemental instruction can be used to improve student success.

@csun | March 11, 2002 issue
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