Webster University creates effective learning environments through several means: by using assessment results to improve the curriculum and improve pedagogical methods; by continually evaluating instructional resources and student services; by providing a variety of learning environments that support diverse students; by providing effective advising support; and by incorporating new technologies.
It is the goal of the university to continue to offer innovative learning environments and support services, to promote student development, to promote student retention and academic goal achievement, and to drive closer to its vision of the Webster of the future.
Student Centered/Personalized Approach
The University uses several delivery methods to provide students with the type of education that best serves the individual of both traditional students and working adults. Students may take courses in the traditional classroom, online, through international study abroad opportunities, or as hybrid classes that combine online and study abroad. All University courses follow the university mission planks to “create a student-centered environment” and “sustain a personalized approach to education through small classes and close relationships among faculty and students” (University Mission Statement). Classes are generally capped at 25 students.
Online classes, and other highly interactive classes (freshman seminar, composition, and critical thinking, e.g., as well as production-oriented courses in Communications and Fine Arts) are capped at 18 or fewer. The commitment to small class size allows faculty to engage students, and to give them adequate attention to ensure learning.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.1 Schedule of Classes]
|HLC3c.1||Schedule of Classes (to show course caps)|
Adaptive and Innovative Learning Environments
All schools and colleges regularly review external and internal measurements of student learning in order to re-evaluate program learning outcomes and curriculum, often resulting in curricular changes. See detailed tables in HLC 3a detailing the changes made for enhancing Webster’s learning environments across the disciplines.
In addition to programmatic changes, pedagogical changes occur continuously, dynamically throughout the university in response to student educational needs.
Changes in Pedagogy
Changes in pedagogy based on assessment findings are particularly evident in the courses transformed to date by the Title III faculty fellows. Fellows identified pedagogical problems in specific courses and then worked with instructional design support staff for a period of one year or longer to change their instructional methods using instructional technology. These are documented below. In nearly all cases, assessment results following the transformation improved.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3b.16 Title III Project Fellowships]
|HLC3b.16||Title III Project/Fellowships|
|Pedagogical Strategy||Description of Curriculum
|Creation of Course Web Pages||
|Creation of software tutorials||
|Creation of presentations as study aids||
|Assessing student learning through video production||
|Managing A/V teaching resources by creating digital collections||
|Using Excel to create exercises for math-based instruction||
|Fostering student collaboration online||
Graduate Class Size
In a world of large universities, the graduate class size at Webster results in more opportunities for more personalized learning experiences.
An inclusive culture that values diverse viewpoints and embraces students and faculty from the full spectrum of racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. The
School of Business & Technology, for example, ranks in the number 1 and number 2 spot of all universities in the country when it comes to graduate degrees conferred to minorities and African Americans.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.2 SBT Committment to Diversity]
|HLC3c.2||SBT Commitment to Diversity|
Throughout the 10 years under review, more than 8000 SOC students have taken the required 9 hours of 3 courses that affect diversity understanding and awareness:
Ethics in the Media, Cultural Diversity in the Media and Law and the Media.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.3 SOC Committment to Diversity]
|HLC3c.3||SOC Commitment to Diversity|
Our campuses have students from 123 different countries greatly adding to the diversity at Webster University inside and outside the classroom. In St. Louis, this year we have 328 international students, up from 290 last year and from 81 different countries. The impact of studying outside your own country cannot just be measured by numbers and statistics but speaks to the diversity in the classroom.
Adult Learning Environment
The University’s mission has long been to take education where it is needed. In recent decades, that has meant making learning accessible to working adults throughout the United States. Offering courses at metropolitan and military sites targeted to adult learners is one way to accomplish this. Courses offered at night and on weekends make education possible for those with difficult schedules.
Forty-nine percent of the University’s courses are offered at metropolitan and military sites. In addition, Webster University offers on-site education to employees of the Boeing, AT&T, General American Life Insurance Co., Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., Walt Disney World and others.
Online Learning Environment
Online courses and degree programs also make it possible for students with difficult schedules or distances from campus to complete coursework. More than 6% of the University’s courses are offered online. In the Summer and Fall of 2007, Webster adopted the new Blackboard Vista product for the delivery of online education. In addition, an adjunct instructor online training program is also available to faculty, worldwide.
All new full-time degree-seeking freshmen with fewer than 16 credit hours of college credit are required to take a Freshman Seminar class.
These interdisciplinary seminars combine academic inquiry with supplemental programs that foster students’ educational and personal development during the first year of college.
Topics vary and include interdisciplinary offerings in the humanities, arts, and sciences. Classes are small and require substantial student participation. Emphasis is on developing and improving fundamental academic skills, including critical thinking and communications (the ability to write, read, listen, and speak effectively) for life-long learning.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.4 Freshman Seminars]
|HLC3c.4||Freshman Seminar Booklet|
Support for interdisciplinary also helps to create effective learning environments. The College of Arts & Sciences is the administrative home to the University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS), a consortium of programs that cut across departmental, school, and disciplinary boundaries. These interdisciplinary programs offer students and faculty opportunities in ancient studies, ethics, general studies, international human rights, international studies, environmental studies, liberal arts, multicultural studies, and women’s studies.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.5 Interdisciplinary Studies]
|HLC3c.5||Interdisciplinary Studies Exhibits|
School of Education – Field-Based Learning
The University offers a wide variety of learning opportunities outside of the traditional or virtual classroom. In the School of Education, teacher education programs (graduate and undergraduate) require students to work in field setting for their clinical practice, practicum requirement, and apprentice teaching. Fieldwork is also built-in to many required and elective courses.
For example, undergraduate education candidates are required to take EDUC 3150: Education in a Diverse Society as an entry course into the Education Program. This course is taught in a local K-12 school and includes a one credit hour field experience at the site. Each school participates in developing the experience for students, assessing the predispositions of pre-service teachers in the setting, and working with the on-site course instructor and/or liaison based on written agreements of expectations of both pre-service teachers and classroom teachers.
Special programs offered through the School of Education also open new learning opportunities for students. These programs expand the options for experience-based learning. Two of these opportunities are noted below.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.6 SOE Field-Based Learning]
|HLC3c.6||SOE Field Based Learning|
- The Student Literacy Corps. The Student Literacy Corps is a service-learning program that strives to establish literacy role models by training students to work as tutors in the community. Students attend class two hours per week plus an additional four-hour training session. Students learn strategies to support literacy as well as become aware of cultural and ethnic differences within their own community.
- Teach for America. Teach for America (TFA) is a national, private, not for profit program founded for the purpose of providing highly motivated and capable college graduates the opportunity to work in school districts around the country that enroll a high percentage of students living at or below the poverty level. The Webster / Teach for America partnership provides opportunities for aspiring educators to develop their skills as professional educators by making positive contributions to students enrolled in the St. Louis Public Schools.
School of Communications – Innovative Learning Environments
In the School of Communications, faculty and administrators have assisted student initiatives for the creation of student media, including creation of a student television station, Gorlok TV; an award-winning student magazine, The Ampersand; a student online publication Involved.
Faculty members have included the student-initiated media in the curriculum offerings. A full-time position of Student Media Manager was added in 2006 to facilitate the connection of student media to the SOC curriculum. The SOC has connected its alumni and their donations to current students. Monies donated to the School are held in the Dean’s Discretionary Fund, 100% of which has gone to mini-grants each year to SOC students. SOC students have attended professional conferences, participated in national student awards contests, and attended international student activities and film festivals.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.7 SOC Innovative Learning Environments]
|HLC3c.7||SOC Innovative Learning Environments|
School of Business & Technology – Partnerships for Academic Excellence
In the School of Business & Technology, business partnerships enrich the learning environment of SBT students. The Dean’s Speaker Series allows students to hear the views of top executives either in person (if the student is in St. Louis), or on iPods or video downloads (for all students, regardless of location). A complete list of past and currently scheduled speakers is available on the SBT Web site. Corporate relationships also play a significant part in enhancing learning opportunities for students in the SBT by offering internships or other direct interaction with corporate executives or work environments. These relationships also play an important part in ensuring that the curriculum stays fresh, and delivers to students a relevant, real-world education.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.8 SBT Partnerships, http://www.webster.edu/depts/business/]
College of Arts & Sciences – Interactive and Participatory Learning
In the College of Arts & Sciences, faculty members regularly engage students in dialogue, use audio-visual media, or create participatory and interactive situations for student learning. For example, the human rights program features courses on documentary and narrative film, international relations students participate in model United Nations programs and other simulations, students studying Shakespeare do staged readings of scenes at the end of the term, and a course on the aesthetics of Eastern religious and philosophical practices concluded with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.9 Arts & Sciences Participatory Learning Environments]
|HLC3c.9||Arts and Sciences Participatory Learning|
Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts
In the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, of course, performance and artistic creation are inherently practical and active. In addition to the active artistry of students’ coursework, the College provides many other opportunities for out-of-classroom exhibition of skill and mastery of what has been learned.
In addition to recitals, exhibitions, and performances in St. Louis, every Spring Semester, the College takes its senior undergraduates to New York to participate in what is called the New York Showcase. At this event, students perform in front of agents and directors and have opportunities to receive first-hand professional feedback. Dean Peter Sargent, along with several faculty, accompany all students for this ultimate assessment and learning experience.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.10 Fine Arts Learning Experiences]
|HLC3c.10||Leigh Gerdine Learning Experiences|
Student Affairs – Bridge Initiative
The Student Affairs Division offers the Bridge Initiative which promotes learning outside the classroom, by funding faculty-led out of class experiences in partnership with Student Affairs programmers. This enables faculty members to have their students see and “touch” things that could otherwise not be brought into the classroom, providing a more effective teaching experience. Additionally, Bridge Initiative programs are opened up to students outside the classroom. This enables a broader range of students than those enrolled in a particular class to take part in an exceptional learning experience.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.11 Bridge Initiative]
International Business Internship Exchanges (IBIE)
The International Business Internship Exchange (IBIE) program began in 1980 at the Higher Education Center of St. Louis with an exchange program between St. Louis area universities and a university in southwestern Germany. In 1986, the program was moved to Webster University and expanded to include state universities outside of St. Louis. In 1999, Webster University added four countries to the exchange. This unique program has introduced almost 800 American and international students to our global society and is funded through corporate sponsorships that represent more than 100 private entities in Missouri and abroad.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.12 IBIE Report]
MultiCultural Center and International Student Affairs
The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) provides learning through diversity, with programs such as the “Get on the Bus program”. The program took another step forward in 2005 when it was held during spring break. The four-day trip included stops in Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, and Tuskegee, AL, and Atlanta, GA. where participants traced the footsteps of the civil rights movement.
Students were allowed to take this trip as a one-credit course (HIST 1010 Sec 04) or they could just go on the trip as a participant. Thirteen students took the trip as a class. Students taking the trip as a class had to write a paper at the end of the trip that included a summary of their experiences and how the class and trip were integrated.
In previous years, MCISA conducted Get on the Bus programs to Memphis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis to visit museums and other cultural venues. The department has also co-sponsored important programs such as the Vagina Monologues, which highlights women speaking up for themselves as women and individuals.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.13 MCISA]
Advising Systems – A Cornerstone of Student Success
The University has developed advising systems that focus on student learning, including the mastery of skills required for academic success.
The advising center provides support for three different systems of university advising and is the process of developing a fourth. For the full-time undergraduate the advising center provides the initial framework that supports a faculty advising system. In this model the advising office serves as an intake center processing freshmen and transfer students. As majors are identified, students are sent to the various academic disciplines where they each assigned a full-time faculty member as advisor. More than 150 faculty members work with students as advisors.
A second model provides advising for the evening business student. Three staff advisors on the main campus along with staff advisors at each of the local sites become the primary advisors for these students. These advisors provide long-term relationships with students approving every registration cycle until the student graduates.
The third system is the graduate advising system. The explosive growth in demand for graduate-level knowledge has created many viable master’s programs at Webster University. The primary advising load is carried by seven part-time advisors who only do graduate advising backed up by the seven staff advisors. Each one of the staff advisors has responsibility for at least one graduate area.
The fourth area involves the rapid growth in online programs. Since online students can be anywhere in the world, our advisors maintain contact by e-mail and telephone.
We have had to develop new templates and train advisors about the different level of contact with these students.
In order to efficiently support these programs the advising system has been completely overhauled. In the last 10 years, the Academic Advising Center has centralized its functions and moved into a new space to accommodate its growth.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.14 Advising Report]
|HLC3c.14||Advising Home Page|
In addition, each school and college adds specific advising expertise that focuses on academic success. For example, review of the School of Communication retention numbers broken down by majors has indicated a correlation between increasing numbers of advisees each faculty member had and reduced retention in certain programs. A full-time advisor for the School of Communications has been added, along with six part-time advisors, in addition to the 23 full-time faculty advisors.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.15 SOC Advising Report]
Study Abroad Opportunities
A large part of the mission of Webster University is to promote international perspectives to enhance the learning environment for students. The Colleges and Schools all have international programs and activities within their particular units.
Thirteen percent (13%) of the University’s courses are offered overseas. In addition, the international programs at Webster University crosses all international campuses and partnerships, student study abroad, faculty and staff mobility, interdisciplinary curricular and co-curricular programs.
Webster University provides study abroad opportunities for all students in good standing. The students may start at one campus and continue studying outside their home country campus for one term or for their entire career:
- 39% of our full-time undergraduate St. Louis students have at least one study abroad experience before they graduate
- U.S. News and World Report, 2007, has cited Webster’s study abroad as a distinctive program and academic program to look for
- 79 students studied abroad in 1997-98, 298 students studied abroad at Webster in the recently concluded academic year (2006-07)
Reaching the non traditional student, the student with limited means, not much time, full-time working student is difficult. Webster has added short-term study abroad options for students where much of the academic work is done either face-to-face or online pre and post the one- to four-week study trip. Four students took advantage of these short-term study abroad experiences in 2003-04, approximately 25 times as many students took advantage of these short-term study abroad experiences in the academic year 2006-07.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.16 Study Abroad Reports, HLC1d Mobility]
|HLC3c.16-1||Study Abroad Reports: Study Abroad Students Fall 1997-Spring 2009|
|HLC3c.16-2||Study Abroad Reports: Short Term Programs Summer 2003-Spring 2009|
The organization employs, when appropriate, new technologies that enhance effective learning environments for students. Webster University provides faculty, staff and students with extensive printed and online materials to support the widespread use and integration of technology in teaching and learning.
A help desk is staffed extensive hours per week and may be reached via phone, e-mail, on via an online work order form. In the summer of 2005, Webster University implemented a web portal called Connections to provide web-based communication and collaboration tools for students, faculty and staff.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3b.12 Technology Support, HLC2a.2 IT Flowchart]
|HLC3b.12-1||Technology Support: Help Desk|
|HLC3b.12-2||Technology Support: Main Software Page|
|HLC3b.12-3||Technology Support: Software by Lab|
|HLC3b.12-4||Technology Support: Hardware by Lab|
|HLC2a.2-1||IT Support Services: Fellowship Planning for Project(with ISS comments)|
|HLC2a.2-2||IT Support Services: Final Cut Pro Workshop|
|HLC2a.2-3||IT Support Services: Media Center Report|
|HLC2a.2-4||IT Support Services: Project Assistance for Biology Faculty|
Faculty Development Center (FDC) – Services and Resources
The Faculty Development Center provides a number of technology services and resources to support effective learning environments. All of the technology available to local full-time faculty is also provided to extended campus faculty through the Faculty Development Center Online.
The facility, located on the fourth floor of the Emerson library, has four public computer stations with a variety of software installed to provide access to the most appropriate computing resources for developing course materials. This includes graphics and video applications, with the requisite peripheral components for turning conventional media into digital artifacts for inclusion within a course.
A fifth station located within the facility is a 42” screen connected to a computer outfitted for use as a video conferencing station. This station, dubbed the “international faculty lounge” can seat six participants and is ideal for connecting with colleagues at extended campus locations or for collaborating with scholars at a distance.
In addition, the Center hosts training opportunities, as well as one-on-one, project-based consultations to assist the faculty in the creation of Web sites, presentations, graphics, or videos for a course. This may be as simple as a short hardware or software tutorial, or a long-term, progressing effort representing a major course revision. Some frequently requested tasks are offered full service for faculty, including scanning of images, digitizing video, off-air television and radio recording, and conversion of media to allow for playback in the classroom. All of this technology is provided to extended campus faculty through the Faculty Development Center Online, discussed earlier in this chapter.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3b.6 Faculty Development Center]
|HLC3b.6-1||Faculty Development Center (FDC)|
|HLC3b.6-2||FDC: Adjunct Handbook|
|HLC3b.6-3||FDC: Faculty Fellowship Guidelines|
|HLC3b.6-4||FDC: Active Learning Handbook|
|HLC3b.6-5||FDC: Overview Brochure|
|HLC3b.6-6||FDC: Organization Chart|
|HLC3b.6-8||FDC: Open House|
|HLC3b.6-10||FDC: FDC Report|
The University provides many student development programs to support learning throughout the student’s experience regardless of the location of the student. During a period of 10 years, the staff in the Office of Student Affairs has been increased by nearly 40% and organized for optimal support of student learning.
Student Affairs Departmental Staffing
|Department||1996-07 FTEs||2006-07 FTEs||Change|
|Housing and Res Life
All student services offered through the Office of Student Affairs focus on enhancing student learning, as outlined in its mission statement and documented in its self-study report.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2b Student Affairs Self-Study]
LEADS – Innovative Learning Opportunity For Webster Students
Twelve students total attended the WebsterLEADS, Advanced Leaders Retreat and Emerging Leaders Retreat, and 10 students attended the Emerging Leaders Retreat. Students Affairs will convene a Student Leadership Development Group to in part help the attendance at these programs. The Leadership class continues to be popular; six students enrolled in the fall semester and 18 in spring semester. Nineteen students were awarded leadership certificates this year.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.17 Webster LEADS]
Career Services – Supporting Student Growth and Development
Career Services has contributed to Webster University’s mission of giving students real knowledge for the real world, using a model for career development education called the “Five Es of Career Development.”
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.18 Career Services]
Succinctly, the five principles or practices that define the model are these:
- Evaluation - students assess themselves.
- Exploration - exploring the possibilities in the world of work
- Experience - encourages students to gain more experience
- Employment - helps students with their transitions
- Education - education is necessary throughout the career cycle
Counseling and Student Life Development Services
Counseling and Life Development offers a number of support services to develop coping skills to enhance student learning. Services include individual and group counseling, workshops, and training seminars. Forty-five evaluations were returned in 2006/07 (10% response rate) with an average of 98% positive rating. More than 93% of the students served at the Counseling Center intend to stay at Webster University.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.19 Counseling and Student Life Development]
|HLC3c.19||Counseling & Student Life Development|
18 Campus Ministries
Eighteen campus ministries, serving the faiths of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism support learning by addressing spiritual concerns. Campus Crusade for Christ continues to be one of the largest and most active student organizations. This year, it hosted “Reflections On The Tragedy At Virginia Tech” memorial service. Stillpoint campus ministry conducted retreats for women and a weekly support group addressing spiritual concerns.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.20 Campus Ministries]
Health Services enhances learning by providing opportunities for students to work in all aspects of the Health Services department, including general office duties, marketing, bulletin boards, and informing other students about upcoming events.
Campus residents were given the opportunity to attend “Nurses Notes,” an evening educational event focused on current health topics affecting our student population. Student Health Services and Counseling Life Development collaborated on two educational events. The events were held during the lunch hours and focused on Breast and Testicular Cancer and Eating Disorders.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.21 Health Services]
Housing and Residential Life
Housing and Residential Life provides rich learning opportunities for residential advisors to meet the challenges of supporting students in residence. They, in turn, enhanced the learning of the residents by helping on individual levels and with a variety of issues, including academic struggles, roommate mediations, supporting resident-initiated programs, homesickness, community living and lifestyle choices.
RAs made several referrals to support offices such as Counseling & Life Development, Student Health, Academic Support Center and to the housing coordinator.
Programs, both planned and spontaneous, provided opportunities for student learning. According to summary data from our Quality of Life Survey in May, 64% of our residents reported they agree/strongly agree that residence hall programming enhanced their student learning.
[EXHIBIT: http://www.webster.edu/housing, HLC3c.22 Residential Life Programming]
|HLC3c.22||Residential Life Programming|
MultiCultural Center and International Student Affairs Office
The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs Office expanded cultural programming by collaborating with off-campus groups to provide programming for students in different venues. More than 2,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members took advantage of the programs and services sponsored or cosponsored by our department this year. More than 250 students came to the office for individual appointments to discuss a variety of concerns from housing to financial aid, and from personal crises to graduation requirements.
Orientation programs offered by the Office of Student Affairs help students to feel comfortable in their surroundings in order to make a successful transition to Webster.
Orientation staff provided information to new students about academic and social life at Webster and in the community. More than 500 students and family members attended the fall undergraduate orientation program.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.13 MCISA, HLC3c.23 International Student Affairs]
|HLC3c.23-1||International Student Affairs: Internationalization of Higher Education--2000 ACE Report|
|HLC3c.23-2||International Student Affairs: Measuring Internationalization at Comprehensive Universities--ACE Report|
International Student Orientations and Cultural Introductions
The International student orientation has been valuable in helping international students adjust to the American way of life on and off campus. International Student Orientation has been conducted every term. In addition, the events such as shopping trips and the city tour have been geared toward international students to help them make a smooth transition into the American culture.
During the academic year two new student organizations were launched for international students: Soccerlite, for international students who like to play soccer, and Pehchaan, for students from Pakistan, Nepal, India, etc. Discussion for International Student (DIS) continues to grow and currently has more than 50 students participating. Sister Circle also continues to have a strong following of young women. On several occasions, we invited staff members to moderate the discussion for both groups. The students seemed to enjoy the opportunity to interact with the staff members in an informal setting.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.24 International Student Orientation]
|HLC3c.24||International Student Orientation & Affairs|
University Center – Information Desk/Fitness/Pool/Campus Activities
The University Center surveyed all of the student employees in each of the four component areas (Information Desk, Fitness Center, Pool, and Campus Activities).
Students were asked what they learned, and what they hoped to learn, working in the department. From this, and combining with the learning outcomes from Career Services, a learning outcomes assessment tool was created to be used annually. Based on the end of the year survey, our student employees rated they had “very much developed/improved” on the learning outcomes they developed for themselves.
In 76% of the responses students felt that working as a student employee in the University Center had “very much developed/improved” their professional, customer service, and problem solving skills.
[EXHIBIT: HLC3c.25 University Center]
|HLC3c.25-1||University Center: CAS Assessment Results Data|
|HLC3c.25-2||University Center: UC Self-study conclusions|
|HLC3c.25-3||University Center: Learning Outcomes - Campus Activities|
|HLC3c.25-4||University Center: Learning Outcomes - Fitness|
|HLC3c.25-5||University Center: Bridge Initiative Summary|
Retention and Effective Learning Environments
Even with all of these resources, learning environments, and support services, student retention remains a concern and will remain a focus for the coming years.
This issue was discussed briefly under Criterion 2 in the context of enrollment planning. The retention study conducted in 2005, and our understanding of the broader impact of changes in discounting policy led to decisions to seek outside consultation, to change some processes, and to reconsider the fundamental shift with regard to discounting. What we learned from the data was very valuable, and the trend so apparent in the chart reversed itself the very next year.
Webster has also begun to explore improvements in learning environments as a means to maintaining recent gains and improving retention.
Foremost among these is the introduction of “living, learning communities” that join the efforts of Student Affairs and Residential Life staff with those of faculty and advisors in Academic Affairs. The first of these was initiated by Ted Hoef, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, and Bruce Umbaugh, Associate Professor of Philosophy (and former Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences). The Pathways Learning Community, as it is called, is aimed at those students who are not committed to academic majors – students our research shows to be retention risks.
The program had a small cohort in the pilot year 2006-07 and has been revamped for 2007-08 in collaboration with the director of Freshman Seminars. After learning from the pilot year, Pathways is in its first full year this academic year. Seventeen new, full-time freshman students are in paired classes (Freshman Seminar, Critical Thinking, College 101). Those students residing on campus are housed on the same floor of their residence hall, with a Resident Assistant specially selected for the project.
In addition to sharing curricular experiences, an array of co-curricular and social activities are planned, in an effort to bind these students more closely to one another and to the University. Discussions are underway about introducing additional living, learning communities in the future. With a full cohort of in the learning community this academic year, meaningful assessment results should help inform future directions.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2c.4 Retention, HLC2c.7 Hardwick Day, HLC3c.26 Pathways Learning Community]
|HLC2c.7||Consulting of Hardwick Day Financials|
|HLC3c.26||Pathways Learning Community|
Summary of Criterion 3c
The University has effective learning environments in place that are highly valued by the students and faculty. This is apparent in the dedicated and highly qualified teachers, small classes, various course delivery methods, corporate partnerships, an inclusive culture, and effective student services and technology support. Webster is able to identify ways to improve the learning environments it offers to students, and regularly introduces measures to ameliorate deficiencies and to capitalize on strengths.