College of Education Launches Programs to Enhance Student Success

As part of its ongoing emphasis on student success, Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Education is managing three programs designed to maximize retention and graduation rates.

They include a peer educator pilot program launched last fall, the placement of new, first-time freshman education majors in a cohort for their first and second semesters, and a requirement for all new first-time freshman education majors residing on campus to live in a living learning community.

 “These new programs will move us even further toward our goal of maximized retention and graduation rates,” Associate Dean Dr. Kim Naugle said.

The peer educator pilot program features seven upperclassmen education majors serving as mentors for new, first-time freshman education majors, helping them adjust to college life. Peer educators meet with their mentees to discuss academics, campus life, homesickness and adjusting.

“One of the key aspects the learners grasp almost immediately is that their peer educator is someone who has mastered the skill of being a successful college student” said Ryan Wilson, academic adviser and peer educator coordinator for the College of Education. “Our peer educators have the ability to relate their own EKU experiences and provide guidance that faculty and staff may not be able to do. The willingness of our peer educators to take time out of their busy schedules and volunteer to serve as mentors has been amazing.

“This program operates on zero dollars and has been shown to be successful,” Wilson continued. “The mentees as a group had a 100 percent retention rate for fall-to-spring, and an average overall GPA of 3.24. It is our hope that this program can be a model for other programs and departments on campus.”

In addition, two new initiatives will begin this fall. 

The College of Education has worked with academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Communication and the Registrar’s office to arrange for new, first-time freshman education majors to be placed in a cohort for their first and second semesters as freshmen. The students, for example, will be taking EDF 103 (Introduction to Education), EDO 100 (Academic Orientation), ENG 101 (English Composition), and a math course appropriate to their area in education for their first semester with fellow education majors. Other colleges and universities have shown success with such a cohort model, Wilson said.

Additionally, all new, first-time freshman education majors who reside on campus will be required to live in a living learning community. The College of Education has worked with University Housing to expand the living learning community housing opportunities for education majors, but students will be able to choose a number of different types of  living learning community experiences, such as with the Honors Program, athletics residence halls or the new American Sign Language living learning community. All provide their participants with connections and a sense of involvement, which research has shown to be crucial for retention.

“We want every student who chooses the College of Education to know we are doing all we can to provide them with all the opportunities we can for them to persist and succeed in college” said Naugle, “and this is our next step in this process.”

Published on March 29, 2013