August 17, 2017

Faculty mentoring aims to help “transitions” students

A new program will give a helping hand to students facing challenges in making the transition to Webster University. Webster is set to launch a Faculty Mentoring Pilot Program for “transitions” students in the 2017- 2018 academic year.

Full-time faculty will be paired up with a representative sample of transitions students with the goal of increasing retention, improving performance and assisting transitions students for a successful beginning. In this program, selected transitions students will meet their faculty mentors frequently for check-in, discussion, support and problem solving.

Preliminary meetings will be held in the summer of 2017 at the TAP (Transitions and Academic Prep) program luncheon, and more in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

Transitions students are conditionally admitted freshmen or transfer students who have completed 30 or fewer college credit hours.

The pilot program has been developed through a 2016-2017 Provost’s Faculty Fellowship proposal by Anthropology and Sociology Professor Don Conway-Long.

According to Jennifer Starkey, associate Director of Public Relations in Global Marketing and Communications, the program is a frst-time experiment.

“If it works and is successful, it can be adopted full-time and grow in scale,” Starkey said.

Conway-Long said the efectiveness of the program will be assessed at the end of the academic year.

“The primary assessment measures will be to compare the mentored students with their non-mentored peers in transitions to see whether their overall satisfaction and their retention rates into the second year at Webster is higher,” Conway-Long said. “If so, the pilot program will be deemed a success and it will be continued.”

Conway-Long designed his proposal for the Provost’s Faculty Fellowship. This fellowship invites faculty members to contribute to the leadership of Webster’s key strategy on a part-time basis.

It allows faculty to work on special projects that take full advantage of their interests, skills and academic backgrounds. Projects designed need to tie to themes from Webster’s strategic plan, Global Impact for the Next Century, but can be conceived in various forms including conducting literature reviews, creating workshops, developing handbooks, resource guides and more. The faculty member is expected to commit to an average of four hours of work per week for one academic year and a $4,000 stipend is awarded for their work.

The TAP program has a longer history at Webster. Since 2011, the 10-day TAP program has helped prepare transitions students for upcoming college life. During the summer TAP, transitions students meet faculty, take workshops on financial literacy and writing skills, learn about resources available to them and become acquainted with academic expectations and course structure.

TAP participants are also required to enroll in a learning strategies course and meet their academic counselor weekly during Contact the writer: websterjournal@gmail.com their first semester at Webster.

Webster President Elizabeth Stroble said in her article “Attainment=Retention” published in American Council on Education in September 2015 that educational success is not a one-time achievement.

“It’s made out of one-on-one intensive academic counseling sessions. It’s built out of summer days spent acclimating to the rigor of postsecondary academic work,” Stroble said. “It’s about enrolling a diverse class of young students from a wide variety of backgrounds and making it our priority to support them every step of the way to graduation day

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