Evidence

Compared to all first-time freshmen at SF State, Metro Health and Child Development students need remediation at a higher percentage, are more likely to be low-income, first-generation college-going, and/or underrepresented. However, Metro students are persisting and graduating at a much higher rate than their peers.

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Metro’s first cohort of students began in 2009. With the help of Enrollment Technology and Institutional Research, we have been able to closely track several indicators of success, including persistence, units taken and passed, grade point average, completion of remediation, and graduation.

The Connect to Learning grant has helped us focus on and strategize how to track student achievement of course competencies and program-level learning outcomes. While these efforts are still in the development phase/early implementation period, we are proud to report on our outstanding student outcomes in many key areas of success.

Student outcomes data:

Our students are outperforming their more advantaged peers in terms of retention and graduation. It is however, difficult to tease out the effect of each specific intervention or service we provide. Our program offers several wrap-around services including tutoring, academic advising, financial aid advising, and assistance with the registration process. We also enroll students in a cohorted learning community for two years while their instructors participate in a faculty learning community and receive regular trainings in pedagogy. Students are also guaranteed seats in classes.

Graduation rates: Metro students’ four-year graduation rate is almost ten percentage points higher than their peers. Their five-year rate is expected to be almost 30 percentage points higher (five-year graduation rates are projected for spring 2014 based on current course completion data).

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Persistence rates: Metro students persist at a 19% higher rate into their 7th semester (senior year) compared to all first-time freshmen at SF State, when we take an average of all cohorts.

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Faculty/staff data:

With the Connect to Learning project, we administered faculty surveys about their level of ePortfolio use in the classroom. We found a strong link between the level of involvement of the faculty (using it for outcomes assessment, providing feedback on the portfolio) with the ePortfolio and the students reporting positive feedback on the experience. Our survey size was too small to gather any conclusive evidence, but it gave us some things to consider.

SFSU Metro Staff (FR)

Student survey results:

We administered surveys to 129 Metro students in spring 2013. The surveys were administered in Health Ed 120 and Health Ed 450, to first- and second-year students. 450 is the culminating course of the Metro program, during which students showcase their ePortfolios.

Some of the takeaways from our survey results were:

  1. Students got more out of their ePortfolio experience the more ePortfolios were used in the class.
  2. Second year students got more out of their ePortfolio experience than the first year students.
  3. Student response was mixed, and most students did not go above and beyond what was required for the course.
  4. The instructor makes a difference in the effect and level of involvement of the ePortfolio on students.
  5. We are finding that the impact of ePortfolios on first- and second-year students may be limited, as they are not required to keep working on them throughout their four-years at the institution.

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We received a wide range of open-ended responses. Here are a few examples:

I have learned that I have grown a lot and accomplished a lot

It allowed me to view my progression from freshman year

It’s required

I didn’t learn anything. It didn’t really help. I saw no point in doing it

This range of student responses has lead us to reflect on our ePortfolio project. We are also reviewing it in relation to the larger ePortfolio efforts on campus. For example, if ePortfolios were required in all majors or part of the admission process for impacted majors, students would see a ‘next step’ for their ePortfolio. Currently, many students do not continue their portfolios throughout their upper division courses. Also, because they are at least a couple years away from their post-college job search, they are unlikely to view their portfolio as a means to secure employment.

Our surveys have also helped us realize the inconsistencies across courses—some instructors have a deeper understanding and level of comfort with the ePortfolio and its related pedagogy.

As a result of this program reflection, we are proposing to narrow the scope of our ePortfolio project in Metro, but put more time and resources into instructor and student support and training. We believe a more specific, targeted objective will allow us to integrate the ePortfolio more deeply, meaningfully, and consistently throughout the program.

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Value rubrics and the evaluation process:

The VALUE rubrics have been an integral part of our efforts to measure and promote student success. Our faculty workgroup met several times throughout the project to adapt the Critical Thinking and Integrative Learning VALUE rubrics. We then assessed student work at the end of the year. It was a terrific learning experience and helped inform the pedagogy and curriculum for the following year, and helped refine program outcomes. We are now working on adapting VALUE rubrics for the remainder of our program learning outcomes and will continue to build out our end-of-year assessment efforts.

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