Icon for: Janet Yowell

JANET YOWELL

University of Colorado Boulder
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Barbara Komlos

    Barbara Komlos

    Grant Assessment Coordinator
    May 14, 2018 | 09:43 a.m.

    I would love to hear more about the "holistic ecosystem to foster and support transfer student success." For example, what do you have in place for AFTER students transfer? What system of communication do you have in place between 2-year and the 4-year colleges?

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:00 a.m.

    Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for your questions.

    We've taken a systems approach through our INCLUDES project, in that we realized early on that there were many positive efforts happening on our campus, and in our state, for creating better transfer pathways, yet those efforts were very uncoordinated.

    So, for the past year (and see my just-posted intro below), we have worked to develop deep connections within the community college system. We have partnered with the five largest 2-year colleges, but our efforts will positively impact the other eleven colleges in Colorado. Through these connections, we have created a collaborative relationship for getting the 2-year Advisors talking with the 4-year Advisors, and the same with faculty. While these collaborations are still gaining traction, we have successfully established a cohesive network of persons who are key liaisons for STEM departments at our University and math and science departments at the colleges, as well as at the state level, which has been a huge achievement in and of itself.

    We communicate by email and phone. We surveyed our community college folks, and asked for their preference for communication, and they hands-down stated that they prefer email. So that's how we do it.

    With regard to after student transfer, we also have in the works solidifying an improved on-boarding process to ensure students feel welcome before/and after they arrive and that they get the academic and social support they need to succeed at a much larger university. CU Boulder is hugely invested in the success of transfer students, so there is much traction on our campus for improving all (and creating new) processes.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:46 a.m.

    Greetings,

    My name is Janet Yowell, and I'm the Project Director for the the Colorado INCLUDES DDLP, funded by the National Science Foundation. Thanks for watching our short project video about our INCLUDES project, "Creating Academic Pathways in STEM (CAPS): A Model Ecosystem for Supporting Two-Year Transfer."

    Our project has had a fantastic first year in aligning systems on our campus and in our state to improve the 2- to 4-year pathway for community college transfer students interested in pursuing a STEM Bachelor's degree.

    We are very focused on understanding the stumbling points for students and removing/alleviating the boundaries that inhibit transfer student success. Our longterm aim is to graduate more students from underserved populations in Colorado with STEM degrees to contribute to our growing workforce needs.

    More detailed information will be included in my comments to the Public Discussion posts as questions pop up. As you watch our video and read comments, please let me know if you have any additonal questions about our project, or specifically about our approach to addressing 2- to 4-year transfer issues. Thanks!

  • May 14, 2018 | 12:11 p.m.

    Are you able to track the proportion of 2-Year STEM graduates who transfer, but choose not to pursue STEM degrees at the 4-year school? I'm interested in learning more about what programming or support leads to students continuing in STEM after transfer, particularly students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in STEM, versus continuing to a 4 year degree in a non-STEM field.

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 01:56 p.m.

    Cailin,

    Yes! We are able to track the students' entry point, both STEM and non-STEM (well, those who apply and attend CU Boulder). We are just now analyzing the data from the past 11 years to look at student course work, grades, and STEM choice (or not choice) at their 2-year school and how they fare at the 4-year school (to help us understand their academic stumbling points). This we hope will help inform what additional academic support they might need (other than the truly obvious things) to help them chose STEM and then persist and graduate with a STEM degree. The results of this, and other analysis, will allow us to create improved programs for supporting student STEM transfers (as I commented earlier, the efforts to resolve transfer issues are many on our campus, but they are very uncoordinated -- something we have worked this past year to unravel).

    And, our persistent networking with the five major community colleges has helped foster positive relations with Advisors and faculty in "recruiting," if you will, students into STEM fields. We have also collaborated with several other groups, and one other NSF INCLUDES project, to better inform students of STEM opportunities and create academic programming that better aligns with transfer.

    Our project PI is the Director of the BOLD Center, a diversity serving program in engineering (for all engineering students, and particularly for those students historically underrepresented), and students who come to CU Boulder in any STEM degree program have an open invitation to being a part of the BOLD Center. This center offers academic, cultural and social support for students, giving them an inclusive community to be the best they can be while staying true to their passions and career interests. 

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:46 p.m.

    Hi Janet, great project.  What are you doing to integrate specific challenges from underrepresented groups (race, gender, ethnicity, disability) interested in transferring to 4-year institutions?  Have you found barriers for supporting some students more than others?  If so, how are you addressing these barriers?  

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:16 p.m.

    Christopher,

    Thanks for the mind-probing questions! Please see above comment about the BOLD Center (last paragraph). If I understand your question accurately, we know that we have work to do in this area yet. However, through the efforts of the BOLD Center (who has won national awards on their inclusive community and efforts to broaden participation in engineering), we hope to create a home-away-from-home for students to help alleviate transfer culture shock, particularly for those students who are traditionally underrepresented.

    We have two additional barriers (in additional to the cultural and social support) that will persist for a long time: financial and housing. First, with regard to finances, we have applied for grant funding to help with the financial piece. We are hoping to over scholarships to STEM-transfer students to help offset their university tuition--anywhere from 25-50% of their cost. Cross your fingers that this comes through! Secondly, with regard to the housing, that is challenging for our native students. Housing in Colorado is hugely inflated, and is even more so in Boulder. We are working with our Off Campus and Neighborhood Relations Program to better educate transfer students on affordable housing options and remind them that commuting is not an illogical choice for transfer students, since all students get a free bus/rail pass (time and figuring out the transfers). There is talk that we make may more on-campus housing available for transfer students (but that's also challenging, as we don't have enough space for for growing number of first-year students -- so that's a work in progress).

    I would love to hear your thoughts if you have similar information to share.

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 05:05 p.m.

    Thanks, Janet.  I don't have specific suggestions, but I love your focus on community for the culture shock (especially Boulder culture!).  This shock can be very extreme in cases where student have an intersection of multiple diverse identities.  I applaud your work and the additional effort to find funding to support finances and housing.  

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:39 p.m.

    Thank you!

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 02:11 p.m.

    There is so much need for this type of work - thanks for sharing via video! I'm interested in hearing more about the connections and collaboration across the 2-year and 4-year colleges, as I assume there have been many successes and challenges creating and maintaining momentum around this type of work across many partners. How does the team keep all engaged? How might the project consider what's needed to maintain engagement and momentum across institutions when key connections leave and new individuals replace them?

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:55 a.m.

    Sarah,

    Our team is small but mighty, so it's fairly easy for us all to stay engaged. We had three other faculty members who were instrumental in early grant development, but whom have since had to drop off due to teaching commitments. They are still sounding boards for us, however, when the need arises. With regard to the rest of us, we have regular in-person and zoom check-ins to ensure we're staying on track and staying focused. We use google to share running notes on our project.

    Our co-institutional momentum is a bit tougher naturally, as people have a desire to keep going, but time seems to get in the way. For the past two years, we have held a Summit in early February with about 125 stakeholders from community colleges, universities, industry and state representatives. This summit results in great brainstorming on future action items and best next steps. Generally, the biggest takeaway is finding more time for faculty and advisors at each of the 2- and 4-year levels to get together to align their understanding (and thinking) about transfer. We are able to move mountains the first couple of months after the Summit. By summer, it's harder to get people to stay engaged, but we generally have a second meeting between advisors to get them going again. It's a bit of a wonky cycle, but as you can imagine, finding time when Advisors have time in their busy schedules to meet is a big challenge. The same holds true for the faculty as well.

    With regard to the in and out movement of individuals, that is also challenging. There is a big turnover is Advising at both the 2-year AND the 4-year levels, so its generally word of mouth by other advisors that helps bring on new Advisors to the project. Our annual summit is instrumental is restarting the momentum, but that gets turned upside down every time someone leaves the institution. We try to have smaller personal meetings, but that too has its restrictions during high advising times.

    Giving a tight budget and even higher time constraints, I'd love to hear from others on how they keep partners engaged with such limiations.

     

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:11 a.m.

    Thanks for working on such an important project! I know it may be a bit early to fully answer this question; but, can you expand more on what your study has found with regard to "understanding the stumbling points for students and removing/alleviating the boundaries that inhibit transfer student success"? Thanks again!

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 12:10 p.m.

    Michael,

    You're welcome! We are in such the early stages that I cannot even answer your question yet. We are particularly looking at course work that is pertinent to STEM fields to gauge how well the curriculum is aligned between the 2- and 4-year level. For instance, a student who goes through Pre-Calc at the 2-year level and gets an A, then transfers to the 4-year level and gets a D or fails the course. What happened and why? Honestly, I can't yet speak to any findings as it is such new analysis we're undertaking.

    Also, we're peering into why students leave STEM once they arrive at the 4-year level, particularly if it is not GPA related (looking for trends). We've done some focus groups already with students transferring in, but have not done focus groups with students who are already at the 4-year level. And obviously, by the time they leave, it's too late to find out why, as they rarely respond to our survey. We know intervention is key, but identifying these students early has proved quite the task.

    We have applied for additional funding to provide programming for more intrusive guidance to (hopefully) catch those students who stop out or quit altogether.

    Any suggestions welcome!

  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 12:47 p.m.

    Excellent! We look forward to following your progress. Glad to see such thoughtful work on a critical topic!

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 06:36 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing all of this information about your program. It is such important work. You mentioned your collaborators prefer email communication - your email chains must be so long! Do you document these communications anywhere else - or are you focused on internal communication and dissemination for now? I am wondering how those communications might be documented and how new advisors would be on-boarded into your program.

  • Icon for: Janet Yowell

    Janet Yowell

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:47 a.m.

    Pati,

    To clarify, we don't have extensive conversations by email, no. I meant that I'll communicate one-on-one with individuals vs. posting to a list serve or some other means of mass communication. Generally it's just a 1-2 back and forth set of emails to ask questions or set up a time to meet. And, no we don't document the communications elsewhere, as they aren't historically significant for bringing a new Advisor up to speed.

    And, what I meant is that when new Advisors are brought on, it seems that someone internal (on the Advising side), has trained someone with respect to programs in which the Advisors are involved, or they might even send me an email to let me know that they hired a new Advisor, and I should put that someone on my list of people to contact for collaborations.

    Our focus now is aligning systems and creating infrastructure to support better transfer pathways.

    I hope that clarifies some. Let me know if you have additional questions.

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