Promote Equity, Retention & Success

In the past, college was often an experience that was reserved for the privileged or the gifted. Now, however, higher education opportunities are more accessible for those who are marginalized, underprepared, under resourced or first in their families to attend college. The American Association of Community Colleges reports 36% of college students are first generation.

This new revelation brings new opportunity but challenges as well. Many first generation students are disproportionately minorities from low-income backgrounds, with 30% coming from families with an annual income less than $25,000. First generation, underserved students are often lacking educational, social, and economic capital to successfully navigate higher education. And, with only 11% obtaining a degree within 6 years of enrolling, the odds are against them to make it to graduation.

Although the college student population has shifted, college faculty remains a fairly homogenous group. Nearly 80% of all full-time faculty and 77% of part-time faculty are white. And, along with that; privileged leaving many faculty unacquainted with, and disconnected from, the experiences, beliefs and attitudes of underserved, underprepared students from under resourced cultures. This lack of understanding often not only impedes campus equity but also interrupts retention and success.

To address this interruption, Assistant Professor Amelia Leighton-Gamel, a nationally known expert on working with and encouraging underserved student populations, began a campus-wide intervention that includes training all faculty, adjunct instructors, administrators and staff. The 1-3 hour workshops are continuously offered each year and focus on:

  • students’ behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and values
  • under resourced cultures
  • understanding, anticipating, reducing, & preventing students’ self-sabotaging behaviors
  • engaging with students in ways that promote retention & success
  • developing relationships & building community to motivate and inspire

Professor Gamel includes authentic scenarios and uses aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in her workshops to demonstrate how beliefs, thoughts, and feelings impact decisions and actions of students and faculty alike.  Additionally, Gamel acts as a campus consultant observing classrooms and providing feedback and frequently conferring with faculty and administrators about strategies to encourage retention and success among marginalized students.

At this early juncture in the intervention, quantitative results are not yet available. However, success has been noted for faculty who attend Gamel’s workshops and consistently implement Gamel’s strategies. For example, Assistant Professor, Sara Main, who attends Gamel’s workshops and prescribes to her strategies, has the highest retention and student success rates among math instructors on central campus in MTH 030.

Jackson College is currently working with Professor Gamel to explore ways to scale up and include students in the intervention as active participants.

ID 16922

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #16922, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

Please note that for security purposes, contact information can only be provided to known contacts at active Achieving the Dream institutions.

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