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CSU Stanislaus Seed Grant moves forward as campus project

The Summit Program at California State University, Stanislaus is an interdisciplinary program that links upper division general education classes together to improve a sense of community and quality learning, particularly for junior transfer students.  Intellectually, socially, and pragmatically, there is an ever-increasing need for a navigable, flexible, integrative structure that provides students with focused interdisciplinary learning opportunities. In order to broaden the impact of the Summit Program on overall student retention and success, CSU Stanislaus has brought together a team of motivated campus leaders to transform the design of Summit Program Courses. 


Together with the Provost, the Director of Faculty Development, the Coordinator for Assessment of Student Learning, and the Director of Information Technology are working with senior faculty from across the campus to elevate the Summit Program from a successful interdisciplinary model to a higher-enrollment, high-profile hybrid program that utilizes technology to optimize student and instructor time, enhance feedback, and provide a tool-rich learning environment for junior transfer students.



As the number of transfer applicants rises and available funding decreases, CSU Stanislaus recognizes the need to increase the engagement, retention and success of our diverse junior transfer students without increasing costs to the University.  California State University, Stanislaus serves a six-county service region that covers about 12,000 square miles of California's San Joaquin Valley and the central Sierra Nevada foothills. Approximately 40% of the total junior year student population are first-time transfer students.  Most of these students (85%) transfer from community colleges.  Junior transfer students are 54.5 percent minority, many of whom are low-income, first-generation college students.  The majority of junior transfer students (84%) commute to campus.  Institutional data reveal that transferring community college students find courses at the University more difficult than anticipated, and nearly half (48%) report that they worry about not being able to maintain their grade point average.  In addition, junior transfer students often experience stress and isolation due to work and family responsibilities, conditions that are magnified for minority and commuter students.


The CSU Stanislaus Summit Program has been shown to increase the engagement, retention and success of junior transfer students.  Data collected on students enrolled in the Summit Program show that junior transfer students in the Program have high rates of retention (85%) and academic success.  (The mean grade in Summit Program GE classes is 3.43, vs. 3.09 in other upper division GE classes.)  Summit Program students report that being involved in a Learning Community provides them with a network on campus, creating the comfort level needed to become active members of the academic and social campus community.


In order to broaden the impact of the Summit Program on overall student engagement and retention, CSU Stanislaus must find a way to increase the number of students served by the Program without sacrificing the current high level of student-student and student-instructor interaction and without increasing costs to the University.  At the same time, CSU Stanislaus is experiencing a shortage of classroom space, which makes it difficult to expand the number of relatively small, low student-teacher ratio courses like those that comprise Summit Program clusters.  To address these (apparently) conflicting needs, the CSU Stanislaus TCD team is proposing this demonstration project in Transforming Course Design:  Improving Campus Community & Learning for Junior Transfer Students: The Summit Program.