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Q & A: Accreditation open forum draws discussion on retention, student learning

The University hosted the first of three accreditation open forums Monday afternoon in the Union, welcoming two members of the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission to ask questions about learning techniques on campus.

With only a few students in attendance, various faculty and administration members at the University answered questions from the two panelists on retention, campus infrastructure and professor-student relationships.

The panelists included Eric Schwarze, coordinator of general education, and Gelese Durham, director of assessment and institutional research, both with the accreditation commission.

Below is an excerpt of the question and answer session at Monday’s open forum:

Question from Schwarze: How does the University utilize student advising?

Andy Alt, director of New Student Orientation and First Year Programs: SuccessNet was implemented this fall. The University is hearing feedback on it and trying to improve the program, which gives teachers a chance to track student progress. The orientation process helps new students by separating them by their respective colleges during the summer before their freshman year. A survey is being sent out to students regarding advising, the results of which will be evaluated in the coming weeks.

Question from Schwarze: How does the University help first-year students reach their benchmarks and improve retention?

Member of crowd: There are classes mandated for students who come into the University with an ACT score of 18 or below. Many undecided majors are put in classes like UNIV 1000 to help their transition and get them involved.

Christopher Dunn, interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services: 70 to 80 percent of students appealing academic probation say they have trouble balancing work with academic responsibilities. More students are working while at college, but those with an on campus job have an easier time than people working off campus and perhaps out of the city.

“I don’t think we’ve systematically looked at that relationship,” Dunn said.

Question from Durham: Are departments appropriately resourced for assessing and re-evaluating BGSU?

Member of crowd: “One department does a super job in rigorous assessments … other programs think assessment is A through F.”

Question from Durham: Are there ideas of why retention is dropping at the University?

Member of crowd: They are more social reasons than academic ones. These include being far away from home, difficulties with residence life, not adjusting to campus life, etc.

*Portions of this piece without quotations surrounding questions and answers are paraphrased from the accredidation forum.

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