John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Eight Michigan Public Postsecondary Institutions Partner with the John N. Gardner Institute to Improve Student Outcomes in High-Risk Courses

October 11, 2016

Eight Michigan Public Postsecondary Institutions Partner with the John N. Gardner Institute to Improve Student Outcomes in High-Risk Courses

Brevard, North Carolina – The nonprofit John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (JNGI) is pleased to announce that eight Michigan postsecondary institutions will participate in the three-year Michigan Gateways to Completion (Michigan G2C) project.

Participating institutions include Eastern Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Lansing Community College, Oakland University, University of Michigan – Dearborn, Washtenaw Community College, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

Michigan G2C will help the institutions’ faculty create and implement evidence-based plans to continuously improve teaching, learning and outcomes in courses with historically high rates of failure, sometimes called “gateway courses.” Gateway courses are often big survey courses (Biology 101, Intro to Psychology, etc.) that all students must take as they begin a desired major. Failure in these courses in directly tied to lack of degree completion – especially for low-income and first-generation students and students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

And failure is too common, especially for minority students. G2C pilot data from 13 institutions show that on average 43.4% of all students enrolled in Introductory Accounting received a D or worse. For African-American students, nearly two-thirds received a D, F, W (withdrawal) or I (incomplete), and for Latino students, the number was nearly three-fourths.

“We know that research supports that the kinds of assessment, active learning and in-class and out-of-class strategies that are a part of G2C are directly connected to improvements in retention and graduation rates,” stated Drew Koch, JNGI Chief Operation Officer. “This is especially true for historically underserved and underrepresented students. So this project is equally about advancing social justice as it is about improving teaching, learning and success.”

Made possible with grant support from The Kresge Foundation, the project is based on JNGI’s Gateways to Completion® process.  Launched in 2013, G2C is being used by more than 40 colleges and universities in the United States to help faculty and staff make meaningful and measurable changes in the ways that they facilitate teaching, learning and success.

Through this initiative, each participating institution will rework at least two of its gateway courses, which a potential of reaching up to 23,500 students each year after implementation.

“It has become quite obvious that success in gateway courses is critical to a student’s ability to continue progressing in their chosen major,” stated James Lentini, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Oakland University. “The G2C initiative will allow us to find solutions that go beyond the notion that students must simply be better prepared. It is showing us that instructional delivery methods can be thoughtfully retooled to achieve both teaching goals for instructors and successful learning outcomes for students.”

“Despite a deep and genuine commitment to student success, and many successes to which we can legitimately and proudly point, far too many of our students— and, especially, far too many of our most vulnerable students—fail to complete their educational goals,” added Richard J. Prystowsky, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Lansing Community College. “It is unconscionable for us to allow this to continue. Fortunately, the Michigan G2C initiative will enable colleges and universities in the state to ameliorate this problem in substantial ways in many of the courses that students take when they first come to college.”

Michigan is a focus state for Kresge’s Education program, and Michigan G2C will be connected with other postsecondary projects underway in the state that receive Kresge support, including the Michigan Guided Pathways Institute and the Institutional Learning Communities initiative involving institutions from the Michigan Association of State Universities.

More than 80 faculty and staff from the eight participating Michigan G2C institutions recently came together for the daylong Michigan G2C Launch Meeting hosted by Lansing Community College. Future project meetings will be hosted by the two-year and four year institutions participating in the effort.

“The gateway course experience is, regrettably, an under-analyzed and under-addressed aspect of college success,” said John N. Gardner, JNGI’s President. “During my more than four decades of work with the student movement in the United States, I have seen thousands of institutions implement all kinds of programs to help first-year students, but very few have given attention to gateway courses. This is where the ‘real first-year experience’ occurs. It is the most important work that we can be doing right now.”

“A unique aspect of this project is how it will unite both two-year and four-year institutions to address a common issue,” said William Moses, Kresge’s managing director for the Education Program. “Often, these institutions compete for students and limited resources. In the Michigan G2C effort, they will collaborate to find evidence-based approaches to improving gateway courses, so more Michigan students will keep on track to graduate.”

The project will last through the 2018-19 academic year. The first year of the effort will be focused on helping faculty and staff gather and analyze evidence to create course transformation plans. The redesigned courses will be taught and refined in the second and third years of the project.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Andrew K. Koch                                                  Krista Jahnke
Chief Operating Officer                                             Communications Officer
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence                  The Kresge Foundation
in Undergraduate Education                            / 248-643-9630 / 828-877-3549



About the John N. Gardner Institute
The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a national non-profit focused on partnering with higher education institutions, individual educators, and other entities to improve teaching, learning, persistence and completion. The Institute helps higher education and related organizations to individually and/or collectively define or redefine excellence in undergraduate education – especially in the first and second years of college, the transfer experience, and in gateway courses. For more information, visit

About the Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 371 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million. For more information, visit



Over 80 faculty and staff from the eight Michigan G2C Institutions joined staff from the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and Kresge Foundation for the Michigan G2C project launch meeting at Lansing Community College on September 28, 2016.

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