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Creating Communities in a Large, Urban, Commuter-Based University Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, Associate Vice President, Academic Learning Initiatives John Amanatides, Master, Bethune College . York University, Toronto Canada. Overview. Introduction to York Introduction to ACMAPS

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york university toronto canada

Creating Communities in a Large, Urban, Commuter-Based University Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, Associate Vice President, Academic Learning Initiatives John Amanatides, Master, Bethune College

York University, Toronto Canada

  • Introduction to York
  • Introduction to ACMAPS
  • ACMAPS Initiatives and Data
  • Introduction to Bethune College
  • Bethune College Initiatives
  • Discussion and Questions
york facts
York Facts
  • Founded in 1959
  • Third largest in Canada
  • 10 Faculties
  • >50,000 students
  • 1400 FT faculty members
  • 1000 PT faculty/TA
background acmaps
Background: ACMAPS
  • The Atkinson Centre for Mature
  • and Part-time Students
  • Established August 2007
  • Pan-university mission and mandate
  • Four Pillars:

access support

advocacy research

background demographics
Background: Demographics
  • York student population 101s and 105s

Highly diverse student body

  • How do we define “Mature”?
  • admissions category age, life experience, etc.
background demographics1
Background: Demographics

The number of adult learners at York increased in 2009/10

  • Academic Orientation for Mature Students
      • 2 Fall, 1 Winter
  • Mature Student Success Program
      • 23 events 2008/09; 2 streams with 24 sessions in 2009/10
  • Back to the Books Sessions
      • Proactive communications and post-strike workshop in 2008/09
  • Peer Mentors
  • Parent Support GroupGuest Lecture: “Invisible Students: Succeeding as a Student Parent in Post-Secondary Education”
mature student success program
Mature Student Success Program
  • Student Life Stream
  • Time and Stress ManagementBasic Computing Skills Exam Preparation and Study Strategies Looking Ahead to Graduate and Professional School What’s Next in my Degree? Drop-in Advising
mature student success program1
Mature Student Success Program
  • Research and Writing StreamAn Overview of the Writing Process Analyzing the Assignment and Pre-writing Strategies Research Strategies, Reading and Note-taking
  • Come with your Writing Questions
  • Key measures
      • Institutional data on year one retention
        • Operationally defined in 2008/09 data as still enrolled at end of year one
      • Student satisfaction/ student experience
        • Experimental groups

Orientation only (E1), Sessions only (E2), Both (E3)

        • Control group
      • Grades
retention data
Retention Data

Historically, at York mature students are at higher risk for attritionAfter one year of study, drop-out rate for new entry undergrads 25 years of age and above who started at York in 2006 was 34.4% compared to students aged less than 25 whose drop-out rate was only 14.4%

Nb. Data not reflective of voluntary stop-outs

retention data 2008 09
Retention Data 2008/09
  • Persistence
    • Experimental group members remained in courses at a much higher rate than control group members (84.9%, 90.9% and 96.7% vs. 73.5%)
    • Students who attended both Orientation and ongoing Sessions remained in courses at the highest rate (96.67%)
student survey 2008 09
Student Survey 2008/09
  • On-line student experience survey
      • Control group
      • Experimental group (E1, E2, and E3 combined)
  • Survey details
      • 8 questions common to both groups
      • Experimental group answered additional program-specific questions
      • Notable differences in response rates
student survey 2008 091
Student Survey 2008/09
  • Years away from school before resuming in 2008
      • Participants in our programs were, on average, out of school nearly twice as long as students who did not participate
student survey 2008 092
Student Survey 2008/09
  • Overall, how would you rate your academic experience over the past year at York University?

Approximately 60% of participants rated their experience as Good or Excellent compared with only 44% of students in the control group

student survey 2008 093
Student Survey 2008/09

Participation in Sessions

student survey 2008 094
Student Survey 2008/09
  • Satisfaction with the relevance of our sessions was very high
student survey 2008 095
Student Survey 2008/09
  • Participants report that what they encountered in the sessions supported their academic success
grades data 2008 09
Grades Data 2008/09

Mean GPA (reported on basis of final grades using a 9 point scale) was higher for students in the experimental group (B vs C+), with those participating in both Orientation and sessions achieving the highest GPA

bethune college
Bethune College
  • 6,500 Science and Engineering students
  • home for co-curricular/extra-curricular activities
  • clubs, lounges, study hall
  • intramural sports
  • student government
  • residence (270 students)
science curriculum
Science Curriculum
  • hierarchical
  • common courses in early years
  • sensitive to 1st-year mastery
  • sensitive to math mastery
our typical student
Our Typical Student
  • 1st in family to attend postsecondary
  • average marks
  • commuter
  • less affluent
  • part-time work
    • 60 % work
    • 15 hr/week average
typical problems
Typical Problems
  • “freedom at last”
  • different from high school
    • no one checks attendance, homework
    • lecturers don’t review
    • firm deadlines
  • don’t have university-level study skills
  • “record” mode
  • big, impersonal university
  • isolated
transition strategy make connections with other students
Transition Strategy:Make Connections with Other Students
  • orientation (cohorts)
  • encourage study groups
  • student lounge space
  • science-oriented clubs
  • intramural sports
  • try to break PCP
transition strategy get into study patterns early
Transition Strategy:Get into Study Patterns Early
  • orientation (study secrets)
  • encourage study groups
  • student study space
  • Life Sciences Help Centre
  • First-year Math Background Tutorials
  • Learning Skills workshops
life sciences help centre
Life Sciences Help Centre
  • peer tutoring in 1st-year Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics
  • in Study Hall
  • every afternoon, 2:30-6:30 pm
math background tutorials
Math Background Tutorials
  • pilot project since 2005
  • as of 2010, all incoming science students take pre-calculus quiz (algebra, trig)
  • weak students encouraged to take free 4-day Math background tutorials in late August
  • offered again in Fall Co-curricular Week
  • 5-10% improvement in math grades
commuters don t waste their time
Commuters:Don’t Waste their Time
  • fit their schedule
  • core 1st-year courses finish MWF2:30
  • plan for events right after this
  • free cookies/coffee, pizza/pop
make a big university feel small
Make a Big University feel Small
  • geography important
  • critical mass of services in one location
  • Wednesday Workshops, 2:30 pm
    • Career Centre
    • Learning Skills
    • SOS: Professional Schools
  • Writing Centre
  • Career Centre
  • Science Librarians
life sciences house
Life Sciences House
  • New in 2010
  • Living-Learning community (40 students)
  • Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Kinesiology
  • same core courses (Biol, Chem, Math)
  • enrolled in same labs
  • Supplemental Instruction
  • field trips
  • Discussion and QuestionsNorma Sue Fisher-Stitt normasue@yorku.caJohn Amanatides amana@yorku.ca
  • Bethune College www.yorku.ca/bethune/