The University of West Georgia, a charter member of the University System of Georgia, is a comprehensive, residential institution providing selectively focused undergraduate and graduate education primarily to the people of West Georgia. The University is also committed to regional outreach through a collaborative network of external degree centers, course offerings at off-campus sites, and an extensive program of continuing education for personal and professional development. Opportunities for intellectual and personal development are provided through quality teaching, scholarly inquiry, creative endeavor, and service for the public good.
The University of West Georgia has 90 active programs of study, including 45 at the bachelor’s level, 31 at the master’s and specialist levels, six at the doctoral level, and 11 at the advanced certificate level. The university conferred 2,659 degrees and awards in fiscal year 2018. This is a 1.8% increase over the number awarded in fiscal year 2017 (2,612) and a 24% increase over the number awarded in fiscal year 2012 (2,136), which is the baseline year for the Complete College Georgia initiative.
There were 13,733 students enrolled in Fall 2018: 11,135 at the undergraduate level and 2,598 at the graduate level. Overall enrollment at UWG has grown 18% since the Fall 2008 semester. UWG has a diverse student population: 50.8% Caucasian, 35.4% African-American/Black American, 6.8% Hispanic, 3.3% two or more races, 1.5% Asian, 1.9% did not declare any race, 0.1% American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 0.2% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. The student body is 66.4% female and 33.6% male.
Ninety-one percent of the student body was from Georgia and represented 42 different counties. Carroll, Gwinnett, Coweta, Douglas, and Cobb were the five counties with the largest numbers of students at UWG. There were 912 out-of-state students representing 38 of the 49 remaining states. Alabama, Florida, California, Tennessee and South Carolina were the top states sending students to UWG. Additionally, there were 330 students from 73 countries. Nigeria, India, Jamaica, Ghana, Niger, United Kingdom, Mexico and China were the top countries sending students to UWG.
Despite experiencing both increases and decreases in percentages of students eligible for the Pell grants over the last five years, the percentage of students eligible for the Pell grant in Fall 2018 (53.6%) is identical to the percentage of students eligible for the Pell grant in Fall 2014. In Fall 2015, the number of students who were Pell eligible was 5,626 which was 51.9% of the students enrolled. The percentage of Pell eligible students decreased slightly again to 50.4% in Fall 2016. The Pell eligible student percentage further decreased to 50.4% in Fall 2016. Yet, in Fall 2017, the percentage increased slightly to 51.6% and in the Fall of 2018 the percentage increased again to 53.6%.
The University of West Georgia has long been committed to providing access to college for students in the western region of the state, as well as students from across the state of Georgia and the nation. Our Mission and our Strategic Plan both point to our commitment to student success. In particular, the first Strategic Imperative – Student Success: Enhanced Learning, Access, Progression, and Development – focuses on the importance of retention, progression, and graduation (RPG); access; and student engagement. The second imperative focuses on Academic Success: Academic Programming and Faculty Support. The commitment to our Strategic Plan has helped the university identify and implement three high impact strategies to help our students successfully obtain a degree. These high impact strategies are discussed in Section 2 of this report.
Tables 1 through 4 provide supporting data for the strategies discussed in Section 2 and are found in the Appendix at the end of this document.
THREE TO SUCCEED. Increase student use of services offered by the Center for Academic Success: Tutoring, Peer Academic Coaching, and Supplemental Instruction.
CCG GOAL 2. Increase the number of degrees that are earned on time.
CCG GOAL 3. Decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree.
This high impact strategy is aligned with two of UWG’s Student Success strategic imperative goals:
Ms. Carrie Ziglar, Director, Center for Academic Success
The Center for Academic Success offers academic support services to students through peer tutoring, academic coaching and supplemental instruction.
Measure, Metric, or Data Element
Baseline Measures (2017-2018)
Academic Year 2017-2018
Peer Academic Coaching:
Supplemental Instruction (SI):
Interim Measures of Progress (2018-2019)
Academic Year 2018-2019
Peer Academic Coaching:
Supplemental Instruction (SI):
Ultimately, we anticipate that the focused attention on tutoring, peer academic coaching, and supplemental instruction has positively influences graduation rates. The increased effort began on a small scale in 2015-2016. We developed the services more fully in 2016-2017 and strengthened them further in 2017-2018. Four-year graduation rates at the end of FY 2020 should reflect the effect of this initiative.
Adequate space to host SI sessions previously was a challenge. In 2017-2018 we carved out three designated SI spaces in the Center for Academic Success to help with access to appropriate space at best times for our students. Due to staffing, we have lost one of those spaces in the 2018- 2019 academic year. To address the space challenge, additional SI spaces were created om Gunn Hall. The A wing of Gunn Hall was converted into office space and meeting rooms. The Center for Teaching and Learning Director and the Director of First-Year Academic Initiatives are housed in that space. Several rooms are dedicated spaces for SI sessions. Additionally, UWG’s new scheduling software has given us more control over finding available spaces for tutoring as well.
As our focus continues to grow by promoting THREE TO SUCCEED intentionally to students receiving Academic Early Alerts from faculty, we made some calculated changes in the alert delivery. These changes produced a 92% response rate from the UWG faculty for the spring 2019 semester. For the 2018-2019 year, 4,164 students were marked at risk with 36.2% of these students seeking services in the CAS. The alert students who participated in THREE TO SUCCEED earned an average cumulative GPA for the academic year of 2.58 while students with alerts who used NO CAS services had a cumulative GPA for the academic year of 2.02.
While we continue to target courses for Supplemental Instruction (SI) using the criterion of DFW rate of 25% or higher as well as achieving the goal of 30% to 32% of students who have access to Supplemental Instruction would attend sessions. Fall 2018 and Spring 2019attendance in SI sessions was up, however, we only had 28.7% of eligible students attend sessions. Our approach has been stronger collaboration with faculty to garner greater attendance. Recent data indicates students are attending more sessions, but fewer unique visits.
We continue to market our three hallmark services in an effort to get students engaged early and often with tutoring and coaching. Supplemental Instruction, while not available in all courses, continues to be the program that reflects the most successful “with a term GPA difference between SI participants and non-participants for the 2018-2019 academic year being 0.59” higher per class.
Number of students using our services increased in the 2018-2019 academic year and with that increase the percentage of students earning passing grades also increased in tutoring. Grade point averages for students attending coaching appointments also increased for this period. What we did find is that the students who attended six or more SI sessions had a decrease in the grade point difference from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019, but as we looked closer at our data, students who attended ten or more SI sessions showed the higher GPA difference. We will continue to follow this to see if it becomes a trend.
INTRUSIVE ADVISING. Identify at-risk student populations and use intrusive advising strategies to assist them.
CCG GOAL 4. Provide intrusive advising to keep students on track to graduate.
This high priority strategy is aligned with two of UWG’s Student Success strategic imperative goals:
Our partnership with the Education Advisory Board through the SSC-Campus academic advising system supports progress with this goal, as the technology gives advisors critical information to help students exactly when they need it.
Ms. Carrie Ziglar, Director, Center for Academic Success
We first implemented these activities in 2016-2017. We repeated the same activities with our 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 freshman cohorts.
Group 1 (Students admitted on appeal): In early Fall, UWG contacted all students who were admitted to UWG via the appeal process. These students received an email communication from the Admissions offices directing them to go to the Center for Academic Success for academic assistance.
Group 2 (Students with low, but recoverable first semester GPAs): At the end of the Fall term, first-semester students with a term GPA between 1.75 and 1.99 were identified and received email, phone, and text communications and encouragement from their advisors to take advantage of academic support and other campus resources. Students also received a post card at home over the winter break informing them about CAS and academic support programs. Advisors followed up with the students throughout the Spring semester.
Measure, metric, or data element
Group 1 (Students admitted on appeal)
Group 2 (Students with low, but recoverable first term GPAs)
Baseline measures (2016-2017)
In the 2016-2017 Academic Year
Group 1 (Students admitted on appeal). These data refer to Fall 2016 activities.
Group 2 (Students with low, but recoverable first term GPAs). These data refer to Spring 2017 activities.
Interim Measures of Progress (2017-2018)
In the 2017-2018 Academic Year
Group 1 (Students admitted on appeal): These data refer to Fall 2017 activities.
Group 2 (Students with low, but recoverable first term GPAs): These data refer to Spring 2018 activities.
Ultimately, we anticipate that the focused attention on at-risk populations will improve retention and graduation rates. The specific efforts began in 2016-2017. The four-year rates that will be reported at the end of the FY 2021 should reflect the effect of this initiative.
Identifying at-risk students early in their academic career and encouraging them to use academic support had a positive effect on students’ academic success. Group 1 students who were admitted on appeal had a substantially higher GPA if they used the services offered by the Center for Academic Success shown in the Interim Measures of Progress above. For the Group 2 students who had a GPA between 1.75 and 1.99 in their first semester, approximately half (52% in 2016-2017 and 47% in 2017-2018) earned a cumulative GPA above a 2.0, following outreach and encouragement by academic advisors. Our predictive data from EAB indicates that students whose GPA drops below a 2.0 are not retained, so assisting these students with improving their GPA decreases their risk of leaving. In Fall 2018, we focused massive effort on student academic support and identifying students at risk. We defined 517 students as being at risk through a regression and risk score development process. Among those students, 86% were retained into Spring vs. 81% in the previous Fall 2017.
EXPAND ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL ADVISING. Provide Professional Advising in the Advising Center for all College of Social Science majors (i.e., juniors and seniors). Continue Professional Advising for students under 60 credit hours in the College of Arts and Humanities and College of Science and Mathematics.
CCG GOAL 4. Provide intentional advising to keep students on track to graduate.
This high impact strategy is aligned with two of UWG’s Student Success strategic imperative goals:
Goal 1.A.1: Implement and continually assess evidence-based strategies that improve retention, progression, and graduation rates. See Tables 2, 3, and 4 in the Appendix.
Goal 1.D.1: Provide quality academic advising experiences with emphasis on effective academic planning, early identification of a major for undergraduates, and a clear pathway to student accountability and self-sufficiency.
Ms. Carrie Ziglar, Director, Center for Academic Success and Interim Director of the Advising Center, firstname.lastname@example.org
A mixed model of advising was used in 2017-2018.
Most students in the College of Arts and Humanities and College of Science and Math were advised by Professional Advisors until they earned up to 60 credit hours. After 60 hours, these students were advised by faculty in their departments.
Students majoring in Music, Theatre, Art, Geosciences, and Physics were advised by Professional Advisors until they earned 30 credit hours. After 30 hours, these students were advised by faculty in the academic departments.
All Undeclared majors were advised in the Advising Center.
Prior to 2017-2018, the Advising Center’s Professional Advisors worked with the College of Social Sciences (COSS) freshman and sophomores, while faculty advised the majors (juniors and seniors). Beginning in Fall 2017, all COSS undergraduate students were advised by Professional Advisors in the Advising Center. Further, COSS juniors and seniors had the opportunity to meet with faculty members in a mentoring relationship, although the faculty mentoring model is just beginning to develop.
Measure, metric, or data element
Measures of Success
Baseline measures (2014-2015)
In the 2014-2015 academic year, first-time, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates served by the Advising Center achieved the following results:
Interim Measures of Progress (2016-2017) & (2017-2018)
In the 2016-2017 academic year, first-time, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates served by the Advising Center achieved the following results:
In the 2017-2018 academic year, first-time, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates served by the Advising Center achieved the following results (most data for this section are not available yet):
Ultimately, we anticipate that the improved advising experience will reduce excess credit hours and positively influence graduation rates. The increased effort began in 2014-2015, and intensified these past two years. The four-year rates for the Fall 2014 IPEDS cohort is 27.3% that is a 2.2% increase over the Fall 2013 IPEDS four-year graduation rate of 25.1%.
We were unable to compare student experiences with Professional Advisors in 2017-2018 versus those with faculty advisors prior to 2017-2018, because faculty did not record appointments in the EAB Student Success Collaborative (SSC) platform. However, going forward, more robust data will be collected to identify the effectiveness of professional advising on student progress toward graduation. Further, we will employ a satisfaction survey, which will help us incrementally improve the advising experience over time.
Regarding the expansion of professional advisors in the College of Social Sciences, we were successful in terms of providing those experiences to all undergraduate COSS students. Professional Advisors met with every junior and senior in the College of Social Sciences (N=1,264 unduplicated headcount) twice during 2017-2018: once in Fall and once in Spring. Professional Advisors in the Advising Center continued to serve freshman and sophomores students, as has been the practice before this year. Lastly, the faculty mentoring model for juniors and seniors is just beginning to get off the ground; efforts to deepen this work will continue in 2018-2019. When the Professional Advisors/Faculty Mentor model is refined, we hope to expand it beyond the College of Social Sciences.
Following the initial Momentum Summit in February 2018, the University of West Georgia developed a strategic plan to align campus student success initiatives with the framework of the Momentum Year. In addition to improving advising processes to ensure first year students complete core English and Math and 30 hours in the first year, UWG implemented plans for corequisite learning support, academic focus areas, and academic mindset. Following the Momentum Summit in February 2019, UWG expanded these efforts beyond the first year to align with the USG Momentum Approach. Progress over the past year is described below.
In 2018, UWG initially developed corequisite labs (ENGL 1101L, MATH 1001L MATH 1111L). In 2019, UWG transitioned to the USG mandated corequisite learning support courses: ENGL 0999, MATH 0997, and O999. At UWG, all LS courses are 1 credit hour, 2 contact hours per week. English and Math faculty worked on the design of the learning support course, while professional staff in Admissions, Advising Center, Registrar, Center for Academic Success, and the Provost’s Office developed processes for advisement and placement of students in learning support. The Provost’s office provided professional development funding for faculty from English and Math to work on course design of the corequisite labs and alignment with ENGL 1101 and MATH 1111 respectively. Core sections and the corequisite learning support sections are taught by the same faculty member. ENGL 0999, MATH 0997, and MATH 0999 are being offered in fall 2019. UWG has appointed a Learning Support Coordinator and has sent implementation teams consisting of Math and English faculty and professional support staff to each of the USG Learning Support Academies. Since 2019-2020 is the first year of full implementation, we do not yet have data on how the LS corequisites are improving student success.
UWG is one of the institutions involved in the Math Statistics Pathway Prototype. Math faculty and academic professional staff have participated in the system webinars and meetings to develop the prototype. Math faculty are working on course design for MATH 1401 and MATH 0096. The corequisite learning support course will be modeled on the other LS courses we currently offer (1 credit hour, 2 contact hours per week). The Math department is working with other academic departments to determine which major programs will utilize the new statistics course in Area A. Academic professional staff are working to develop advisement and placement processes for summer orientation. UWG will implement MATH 1401/0996 in fall 2020.
Collaboration between colleges and departments in Academic Affairs and student success units in Student Affairs & Enrollment Management led to creation of nine academic focus areas, which were approved by the faculty senate in 2018: Arts, Business, Education, Health Professions, Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM: Science Focus, STEM: Technology Focus, and Wellness and Sports. These focus areas have been used in the admissions, advising, and orientation process for the past two summers (2018 and 2019). All entering students who have not declared a major are advised and placed into a focus area. Every focus area includes three common courses that students complete in the first year and that count toward general education requirements. UWG is now able to track the progression of students in focus areas, including their progress in the required focus areas courses.
The initial implementation of focus areas has been successful, but UWG is working to improve focus areas in the following ways: 1) Many students, parents, faculty, and professional staff still are not clear about what focus areas are and their purpose/value in terms of helping students select a major and a purposeful pathway. Further work needs to be done in the admissions, orientation, and advising process to communicate what focus areas are, including information sessions and print/web resources; 2) Ongoing assessment of the three aligned focus area courses that students take in the first year to ensure that these courses are helping students make a purposeful choice.
First-Year Seminar: In fall 2017, UWG implemented a new First-Year Seminar to support student success and transition in the first year. In the first year, UWG piloted 28 sections. For fall 2019, there are 75 sections (approximately 1,300 or 75% first-year students enrolled). These seminars, each with a unique academic focus, are aligned to the USG Momentum Approach and are designed to help students develop the academic skills and growth mindset necessary for college success. The seminar incorporates academic success experiences that focus on career explorations, information literacy, writing, and peer mentoring/tutoring. UWG utilizes its first-year seminar to encourage students to complete the USG academic mindset survey. Faculty and credential staff from across campus have been actively involved in the development and teaching of the new seminar, and they participate in a summer course design workshop on first-year experience that includes information on academic mindset. Students who take first-year seminar are retained at a higher percentage across most demographic categories, including first-generation and pell-eligible students.
Early Alert: Efforts to increase Early Alerts (especially in core courses) became an institutional priority last year and has resulted in a significant increase in the number of faculty submitting early alerts that are directed to different student support units on campus, depending on the nature of the alert (Center for Academic Success, Academic Advising Center, Counseling Center, etc.). In 2018-2019, UWG had a record number of early alerts submitted and the highest percentage of faculty submitting early alerts. Alerts are having a significant impact on helping at risk student get the help they need.
Academic Mindset Survey: UWG has worked to improve the communication process and student response rate to the USG Academic Mindset Survey. Communication to students took place during Pack Premiere, UWG’s three day campus orientation prior to the start of fall classes and was reiterated via electronic communication in the first three weeks of classes. First-Year Seminars and Learning Communities were also used to coordinate and reinforce student access and response to the mindset survey.
Additional Mindset Initiatives: Work continued across campus this past year to bring more attention to the importance of academic mindset among faculty and staff. New Faculty Orientation included a unit on academic mindset that introduced the concept to new faculty and outlined faculty roles in creating a purposeful academic mindset for students. The Center for Teaching and Learning is also facilitating reading and discussion groups on academic mindset, including several that are part of the Chancellor’s Learning Scholars. Last year, UWG had six Chancellor’s Learning Scholars and over 50 faculty involved in FLCs associated with the Momentum Approach and growth mindset. Academic mindset also has been more purposefully integrated into the campus work on High Impact Practices (HIPs) and Guided Pathways.
University College: Started in January 2019, this new college brings together a variety of student success units that were formerly in different divisions across campus, including First-Year Academic Programs, the Academic Advising Center, and the Center for Academic Success. These will be housed in a central location in the heart of campus to better coordinate work on student success and provide students with more convenient access to these services, especially in the first year. The goal is to strengthen the alignment and collaboration of our support units around student success.
Center for Teaching and Learning: In January 2018, the Center for Teaching and Learning was merged with UWG online, bringing together into one administrative unit the institutional work on course development and design in both face-to-face and online environments. This reorganization has increased the number of instructional designers who can assist faculty with course design and allowed better coordination and alignment of teaching in face-to-face, online, and hybrid settings. This reorganization is especially crucial given the work that the CTL is now doing around course redesign in core courses, with faculty development in first-year seminar, with New Faculty Orientation, and with FLCs that focus on academic mindset, diversity and inclusion in the classroom, and transparency in teaching and learning.
Gateways to Completion (G2C): UWG has actively participated in G2C (Gateways to Completion) since 2016. Five gateway core courses have been involved in course redesign: ENGL 1101, HIST 2111, ACCT 2101, BIOL 1107, and MATH 1113. Student success rates have improved consistently in three of these courses, and there has been some (but not always consistent) improvement in the other two. Redesign enhancements have varied among these courses based on KPI analysis and have included such things as TILTed assignments, utilizing low- or no cost textbooks and free open educational resources (for example, all core math courses now use free OERs), developing common learning outcomes and assignments, early alert notifications, exam wrappers, and supplemental instruction.
TS3 (Taking Student Success to Scale): UWG has been involved in the NASH TS3 (Taking Student Success to Scale) Equity grant in partnership with the USG and five other institutions within the state of Georgia. Work on the grant has allowed the institution to learn more about the relationship between equity-minded practices and student success. While the initial focus of the grant was on UWG’s new First-Year Seminar, work is now expanding to other High Impact Practices (HIPs), including capstone seminars and global learning.
LEAP West!: Since 2016, UWG’s LEAP West! Initiative has focused on expanding opportunities for students to engage in high quality, high impact practices as part of their degree completion at UWG. Work on LEAP West! is modeled after the AAC&U’s (American Association of Colleges and Universities) national LEAP project. UWG also partners with other institutions across the state as part of the LEAP State Georgia consortium. Many of the initiatives described above were initially developed as part of UWG’s LEAP West! campus plan, including first-year seminar. LEAP West! aligns with the USG Momentum Approach since it focuses on creating academic pathways linked to high impact practices—beginning in the first year and continuing through degree completion—that will deepen purposeful choice, cultivate a productive academic mindset, heighten academic engagement, and connect to the completion of critical milestones. Faculty and staff from across campus have been actively engaged in this collaborative work. Last year, UWG organized several campus-wide events to increase opportunities for learning about and developing HIPs in curricular and co-curricular settings. In addition to continuing work on first-year experience (first-year seminars and learning communities), collaborative efforts this year are focusing on culminating signature experiences (capstones and internships), service learning, and global learning. UWG is also actively involved in the USG’s development of HIPs taxonomies and HIPs attributes in Banner. This work purposefully aligns with the broader educational vision and mission of the USG Momentum Approach.