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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


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    1. 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

    2. Overview • Introduction to York • Introduction to ACMAPS • ACMAPS Initiatives and Data • Introduction to Bethune College • Bethune College Initiatives • Discussion and Questions

    3. York Facts • Founded in 1959 • Third largest in Canada • 10 Faculties • >50,000 students • 1400 FT faculty members • 1000 PT faculty/TA

    4. 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

    5. Background: Demographics • York student population 101s and 105s Highly diverse student body • How do we define “Mature”? • admissions category age, life experience, etc.

    6. Background: Demographics The number of adult learners at York increased in 2009/10

    7. Activities • 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

    8. Activities • Peer Mentors • Parent Support GroupGuest Lecture: “Invisible Students: Succeeding as a Student Parent in Post-Secondary Education”

    9. 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

    10. 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

    11. Assessment • 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

    12. 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

    13. 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%)

    14. 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

    15. 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

    16. 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

    17. Student Survey 2008/09 Participation in Sessions

    18. Student Survey 2008/09 • Satisfaction with the relevance of our sessions was very high

    19. Student Survey 2008/09 • Participants report that what they encountered in the sessions supported their academic success

    20. 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

    21. 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)

    22. Science Curriculum • hierarchical • common courses in early years • sensitive to 1st-year mastery • sensitive to math mastery

    23. Our Typical Student • 1st in family to attend postsecondary • average marks • commuter • less affluent • part-time work • 60 % work • 15 hr/week average

    24. 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

    25. Transition Strategy:Make Connections with Other Students • orientation (cohorts) • encourage study groups • student lounge space • science-oriented clubs • intramural sports • try to break PCP

    26. 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

    27. Life Sciences Help Centre • peer tutoring in 1st-year Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics • in Study Hall • every afternoon, 2:30-6:30 pm

    28. 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

    29. 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

    30. 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

    31. 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

    32. Conclusion • THANK YOU! • Discussion and QuestionsNorma Sue Fisher-Stitt normasue@yorku.caJohn Amanatides amana@yorku.ca • Bethune College www.yorku.ca/bethune/