An online course designed by a team of Bryant administrators to foster first-year student success at Bryant is among the world’s best.
The course recently received a Blackboard Catalyst Award, which recognizes creative programs across the world that leverage the Blackboard learning management system to improve student outcomes.
The winning Bryant team includes Assistant Dean for Student Success Laurie L. Hazard, Ed.D.; Director of Library Services Laura Kohl, Director of the Academic Center for Excellence Stephanie K. Carter, and E-Learning Specialist Stephen Payne.
Technology supports student success
Through a series of modules filled with engaging readings, videos, and assessments, the online course aims to support a successful first-year transition from high school to college by using a "whole student" approach. Students are educated on key ideas and resources on campus that promote academic, intellectual, social, emotional, and cultural adjustment, and it all begins well before they arrive on campus in the fall.
Hazard, who crafted the curriculum with Carter, explained the thinking behind the course. "Students are in a developmental stage of transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood. By providing the kinds of adjustment support, based on research, that we know students need, we can help them mediate the increased rigor of the college experience. And the online component allows us to reach them before they've arrived."
In addition, the course kicks off an email campaign centered on transition issues tied to certain times of year, from August to May. “We message on those monthly trends, opening lines of communication with students so we can mobilize help and support to any student who says they’re experiencing difficulties,” says Carter.
Payne and Kohl, both instructional designers who built the program in Blackboard, continue to leverage technology to design an experience that makes an impact. For instance, Payne monitors course completion data to help maximize support to students. “There’s a strong correlation between GPA and course completion, so we use noncompletion data to target some of our student success outreach efforts to non-completers,” says Payne. Feedback is also used to improve the course experience; the vast majority of students, Payne says, welcome the course.
Says Kohl, “Our incoming first-year students chose Bryant for its face-to-face experience, so we continuously iterate the course to ensure we deliver a high-touch experience through the online medium that’s impactful.”