You would think that after 35 years I would have found another way of learning! But I haven’t, at least not one that is as fulfilling and enjoyable. I refer to learning from fellow higher educators who have figured out ways to enhance student success that I haven’t yet mastered or perhaps even know about, in some kind of interactive, conference setting. In this spirit I write about an upcoming gathering, the Student Retention Symposium, to be held in Asheville, North Carolina. This is a repeat, in concept, even we hosted in the same location a year ago, but with a number of new guest experts, and some returning guest experts, brought back by popular demand.
My colleagues on our staff have organized a really excellent line up of interesting presenters; all of them doing unique and important work that should receive my and your attention. We have designed this meeting so that it is ideal especially for teams. It will be a relatively small meeting as the facility, a Marriott Renaissance property, let alone the city, is not designed for mega conventions. What we wanted was a setting and meeting construct that would yield maximum interaction, learning, and relaxation, especially within the confines of the professional setting, but also wandering around a charming small and safe city.
Here is what and whom we will feature:
A focus on Learning Communities, one of the most successfully validated curricular structures yielding enhanced retention, provided by Jean Henscheid of the University of Idaho, entitled “Why and How Learning Communities Retain Students.”
A focus on Supplemental Instruction, one of the longest standing and the most consistently and widely validated, dating to 1974, academic interventions in high failure rate courses, which my wife, Dr. Betsy Barefoot and I have been championing and helping to disseminate since the 1980’s: provided by Marion Stone, the current national leader of this work, from the University of Missouri Kansas City, entitled: “Supplemental Instruction and Student Success.”
A focus on early warning and learning analytics, a very recent innovation used in many different fields and now in higher education, to improve academic advising and as a classroom intervention with underperforming students. This will be provided by Matt Pistilli of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
A focus on “Athletics and Student Retention.” This session is brought back by popular demand from this meeting of a year ago and will feature two presenters from polar opposite institutional types: a large research Division I university (Ohio State) and a very small, private, liberal arts college (Brevard College). Presented by David Graham and Juan Mascaro, respectively.
A focus on “Case Studies in Transforming Gateway Courses to Improve Teaching, Learning and Success. Here a faculty member, Martine Rife, from Lansing Community College and Tony Scinta, a senior academic administrator from Nevada State will present two case studies of teaching and learning transformation for increased student and faculty success.
A focus on “Reforming Developmental Education: Implications for Retention” provided by Melissa Quinley from AB Tech Community College and Susan Gabriel from Community College of Baltimore County. Thank goodness, developmental education, ain’t what it used to be. This affects two and four-year institutions and their deserving students.
A focus on “Creating a Collaborative Campus for Student Success: How to Build Dynamic, Faculty Inclusive, Transformational Change” This will be presented by the leader and principal designer of an international intervention to reduce high D,W,F, I rates in gateway courses, my colleague, Drew Koch, who is the Executive Vice President of the Gardner Institute.
And something from John Gardner for the good of the retention order.
So here we have a mix of some long standing and long validated retention interventions; combined with the very newest ideas, contributions, interventions in this very dynamic field. We will feature expert presenters from a wide variety of four and two-year institutions. We have both veteran thought leaders and practitioners in this retention field and some of the newest innovators in the field.
I know I am going to learn from these people and our guests. Within the confines of the Gardner Institute there are multiple mantras. And in this case one of them is: “if John can do it, anyone can!”
I hope you will join me at the JNGI Student Retention Symposium as I keep learning.