Middle Georgia State University (MGA) is a five campus institution providing selective undergraduate and graduate education throughout the middle Georgia region. MGA serves a diverse student body through traditional, online, and hybrid delivery of curriculum. It is the mission of MGA to educate and graduate inspired lifelong learners whose scholarship and careers enhance the region through professional leadership, innovative partnerships, and community engagement. The institution’s vision is to transform individuals and their communities through extraordinary high learning. Four core values underscore this vision: stewardship, engagement, adaptability and learning.
Middle Georgia State University offers nineteen programs at the baccalaureate level and four at the master’s level. An additional baccalaureate program will be offered in fall 2018. The University awarded 1079 degrees in the 2017-18 academic year which represents an increase of 2.96% over the 2016-2017 academic year. The number of baccalaureate degrees awarded increased from 675 in FY 2017 to 703* in FY 2018, an increase of 4.1%.
Census data define the fall 2017 student body to be Georgia residents (94.95%), predominantly White Non-Hispanic (60.33%) and Black/African American Non-Hispanic (35.92%), and under 25 years of age (72.39%). 61.58% of the student body were enrolled full-time. Females comprised 57.82% of the student body and males 42.18% of the student body.
In fall’17, 95.62 % of enrolled students were Georgia residents representing 139 counties with the majority of the in-state students coming from Houston, Bibb, Laurens, Peach, Dodge, Bleckley, Henry, Monroe, Jones, Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett and Pulaski counties. 111out-of-state counties were also represented in the fall’17 enrolled student body. There were 268 students that came from out-of-state primarily from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. International students represented 0.74% of the total fall’17 enrollment.
The number of MGA students eligible for the Pell grant in fall’17 was 3650 (49.77 %) of total enrollment as compared to 3971 (51.60 %) for the 2016-17 academic year. The fall 2017 enrollment was also comprised of 268 (3.65%) first generation college students and 2025 (27.61%) adult learners. In fall 2017, there were 401 military students that comprised 5.92% of the total enrollment as compared to 434 students (5.64%) of the total enrollment in fall’16. The ethnic minority student population in fall 2017 was 3073 (41.90%) as compared to 3461 (44.87%) in fall 2016.
MGA has a blended mission-it serves both the academically gifted students in dual enrollment, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs while also serving as a point of access to higher education for all underrepresented populations. Quality and distinctiveness of student success are 2015-2018 strategic priorities for MGA. Each of these attributes is dependent on data-driven decision making, better service to students, more efficient use of faculty and staff resources, and utilization of tools to measure and communicate performance. Keeping students on track to program completion is the CCG goal most closely aligned with MGA’s strategic priorities. Outcomes for this goal include improved persistence and retention rates and increase in the number of students completing their degree on-time. In order to fulfill its’ vision of “transformation of individuals and their communities through extraordinary higher learning”, MGA has identified the following high impact strategies to enhance retention and graduation.
Institutional CCG Goals and their associated strategies are summarized in the appendix. Description of each strategy, the activities involved, the outcomes and the lessons learned are explained below.
Quality instruction is the heart of any academic institution. As online courses and programs have become more common, the need to provide assistance to faculty to migrate or create materials to teach students at a distance has become critical to student’s experience and achievement. It is difficult to broadly disseminate information and provide assistance to faculty with the design, development, and management of their courses. Constraints on time and the logistics of supporting an institution with 5 campus locations makes aligning schedules a challenge. To address this problem, the CETL is planning workshops for specific departments, developing common course templates, and will be creating an online course promoting strong online instructional practices for faculty who cannot attend face-to-face training.
Since MGA moved to a decentralized advising process only by the end of spring’18, the impact and the barriers experienced will be more visible after another academic year. Some of the case loads are not very distinct based on campus since MGA students can take classes at more than one campus in a given semester.
Career Services collaborated with community partners to meet the twofold purpose of 1) providing students/alumni career-focused, leadership development training and 2) connecting employers seeking full/part-time and internship candidates to students/alumni of MGA who are ready to enter the workforce.
Career Services provides professional development to students and alumni on five campuses, during various times of the day and evening, in addition to serving an active online population. Additionally, this office supports the development of employer relationships nationwide. Maintaining a balanced schedule of program offerings on all campuses is very challenging with limited staff and funding but the Center has continuously accepted the call to collaborate with various academic units in an effort to increase retention, progression, and graduation rates university-wide.
MGA serves students on five campuses as well as online. Maintaining a balanced core and upper level course offering on all campuses is very challenging with limited faculty resources. The Division of Academic Affairs has recently identified distinct associate and bachelor’s degree programs that will be offered on each campus which will enable more focused planning of course offerings that will allow students in those degree programs to take 15 credits per semester and maintain a four year graduation timeline. Taking 15 credits per semester sometimes does not work for all majors (for example nursing and other allied health programs) and individual differences may exist. The impact of this strategy on retention and graduation rates will be more visible after MGA has used it for another couple of years.
With the termination of LS Foundation courses, Fall 2018 will be the first semester when all LS students will be enrolled in co-requisite and the corresponding gateway course. Students’ progress will be closely tracked. Effectiveness of the co-requisite model will be evaluated particularly for students who would previously have been placed in a Foundations course.
High Impact Strategy 3: Provide opportunities for dual enrollment
Efforts to expand the dual enrolled population must continue. Marketing efforts for the GA Academy are necessary to build that population of students. Additional opportunities for GA Academy students to participate in experiential learning like undergraduate research, co-ops and internships must be offered to make it more attractive to the students. For both the residential and the non-residential populations, students need to be linked to their major and department of interest at the time of enrollment in the program so they get more involved and more engaged with the faculty and the department.
MGA planned clear math pathways for STEM and non-STEM majors to ensure students take the appropriate math classes for their program of study.
POLS 1101 DFW rate:
redesigned sections DFW rate: 12.2% (9 out of 74 students), non-redesigned sections DFW rate: 27.2% (273 out of 1003 students)
redesigned sections DFW rate: 35.0% (7 out of 20 students), non-redesigned sections DFW rate: 31.5% (211 out of 669 students)
PSYC 1101 DFW rate:
Redesigned sections DFW rate: 24.3% (17 out of 70 students); non-redesigned sections DFW rate: 20.6% (174 out of 845 students)
Redesigned sections DFW rate: 15.6% (7 out of 45 students); non-redesigned sections DFW rate: 19.5% (102 out of 523 students)
Uncontrolled, confounding variables (e.g., course time, lack of uniform tests/assessments) preclude from arriving at statistically valid, convincing conclusions about the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the intervention. For example, the DFW rate for PSYC 1101 was much higher in 8 a.m. course sections than other course times (e.g., 11 a.m.).
The level of effort and training that would be required to maintain the fidelity/reliability of the redesign may not be easily transferred across all course sections (e.g., because of numerous part-time faculty, diverse faculty teaching styles and preferred levels of autonomy).
Additional assignments/activities may actually decrease course grades for some students because of the sheer number of assignments (which some students did not do) that account for a significant portion of the course grade. Further investigations may explicitly consider individual differences (e.g., past academic performance) that may moderate the influence of the intervention.
Implementing town hall meetings is probably not feasible in fully-online sections of POLS 1101.
The Office of Experiential Learning continues to oversee the implementation of Experiential Learning @MGA - the Quality Enhancement Plan of the institution. Experiential Learning@MGA strengthens student learning and engagement by increasing participation in an array of experiential learning opportunities – opportunities which involve students in practical application of their learning. These high-impact practices can include internships, undergraduate research, and service learning that shape our efforts to build the most meaningful educational experience possible for all students, in all disciplines, on all campuses. The initiative encourages “exploration and application beyond the classroom,” transforming students’ perspective, their career trajectories, and our shared communities. Experiential Learning@MGA initiative provides opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning – formal, guided, and authentic experiences outside the classroom which: improve the students' knowledge of the subject matter, and increase their ability to apply their learning in new situations; promote the development of new and practical skill sets; and create an atmosphere of learning as students share their experiences with other students in their fields of study.
The following shows our historical graduation data – Total Graduates – 982
The QEP was developed with constituency input and mindfully crafted to maximize student learning outcomes that support the mission and reflect the strategic priorities of the institution. In its third year, we have seen a significant impact on the culture of the institution – manifested as a focus on undergraduate research. The academy’s interdisciplinary collaborations is a result of strong penetration within the academic pathways. The increase in student participation can be directly attributed to the gamification model and the intentionality of critical reflection and the cumulative value and competitive advantage proposition shared with students.
Reinforcement and refinement of best practices each year will be an essential element in the continued academic success of student athletes. The role of athletic staff to provide academic intervention for players who may be struggling is important. The need to get assistance in various forms (Student Success Center, peer mentor from team, faculty resources, etc.) as early as possible has been recognized and stressed to the athletes.
Athletes have responded in an overwhelmingly positive way to the awards ceremony and equal emphasis being placed on academic success.
MGA is a diverse and inclusive campus. Diversity issues that are reflected or discussed on the larger stage of our country are usually the same issues that are of concern in higher education. The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is working to increase learning and conversations around the diversity and inclusion issues that could affect retention, progression, and graduation if students do not feel that their differences are welcomed.
The impact of this strategy on retention and graduation rates will be more visible as the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity develops more programs and receives more feedback from the students who attend MGA over the next few years.
The African American Male Initiative (AAMI) enhances retention, progression, and graduation of African-American males at Middle Georgia State University.
The AAMI is a very effective program that is vital to the retention of African American males. One of the major challenges the program faces is staffing. Student Affairs has addressed the staffing issue by working with Academic Affairs to identify faculty who could assist with the program. As the program grows and more faculty and staff get involved, we expect to see the AAMI program make a huge impact at MGA. The current data suggests that the men who are a part of the AAMI program are performing at a higher level academically than African American men who are not in the program. This validates that the program is impactful and that we should continue to grow and develop it.
Table 8 in the appendix highlights the CCG goals and outcomes for the 2017-18 academic year.
The CCG metrics for Academic Year 2018-2019 will include: (a)Increase Bachelor’s degrees conferred by 3%, (b) Improve retention rates among all students by 3%, (c) Increase the number of students taking 15+ credit hours by 1%, (d) Increase need based aid by 3%.
The following goals and strategies have been planned and are in the initial stages of execution in this Momentum Year:
Goal 1: Build program maps in Degree Works whereby year 1 will include completion of thirty credit hours, core English and the required mathematics courses, as well as nine credits in the selected major
Update: Professional advisors have already been trained in the use of DW; faculty training has begun. Templates for all the degrees are being designed in DW that will establish a 4 year program map for the student in that major.
Goal 2: Establish various teams to develop recommendations for building an academic mindset
Update: Three teams have been built to work on recommendations on incorporating an academic mindset into 1) the curriculum, 2) the advising sessions, and 3) student life activities
Goal 3: Revamp orientation to include an academic introduction to the program/major, building relationship with departmental faculty and integrating career advising with academic advising
Update: An academic showcase was built into the summer’18 orientations. In addition, each academic department presented information about the major to the students prior to advising and registration.
Goal 4: Provide intrusive advising and mentoring by establishing and tracking caseloads for professional and faculty advisors
Update: Professional Advisors have been assigned to each academic School/College and have been assigned caseloads. Faculty advisors in some units have also been assigned caseloads of students for the purpose of tracking as well as mentoring towards graduation.
Goal 5: Transition students in the ‘Undecided’ major into defined majors/programs of study
Update: Students declaring ‘Undecided’ as their major were linked to career services during the orientation process. Several advisors were also trained to use the career exploration software for helping students select a major. The goal is to completely transition all ‘Undecided’ students into defined programs of study
Goal 6: Implement co-requisite remediation for English and Math
Update: A corequisite support course for English Composition I as well as Math Modeling has been offered. The Foundations course for students in Learning Support English was discontinued in the 2017-18 academic year. The Foundations course for students in Learning Support Math Modeling will be discontinued from fall’18 onwards.
Goal 7: Redesign selected gateway courses to improve student outcomes
Update: Two courses were redesigned and offered in the 2017-18 academic year. Two additional courses are being redesigned in the 2018-19 academic year-Algebra and the support course for English Composition I.