Gordon College is working hard to help close the gap that exists among many Georgians who have some type of degree and what the state’s workforce will need in 2020.
Closing that 18 percent gap is quite a challenge, but one that is addressed through the state’s Complete College Georgia Initiative. This initiative seeks to further college completion rates, increase job market credentials, and close the college attainment gaps for underrepresented populations.
Gordon’s efforts, along with those of all of Georgia's public colleges and universities, are getting a boost in the upcoming year. Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly fully funded the University System's enrollment formula, and as a result, all 35 institutions will receive a total of $72.5 million in new funds to strengthen programs serving the system’s almost 320,000 students.
That investment is allowing Gordon College to use $940,000 to address several key priorities that will support completion efforts, including:
Add two additional academic advisors
College students are most at risk for failure during their first year of study. With this fact in mind, Gordon College will hire two academic advisors to serve exclusively the needs of beginning college students. These advisors will each be assigned a group of roughly 300 new students with the goal to deliver them to their second year of college studies healthy, wise, and in good academic standing.
The two advisors will not only provide personal and academic guidance, but will also teach sections of a First Year Experience Course and will implement a robust intervention in the academic lives of students who are reported by faculty to have disengaged early in the semesters. Among the students who will be served by these advisors will be students central in the Complete College Georgia initiative: adult students, part-time students, and first generation college students.
Support for first year experience course, supplemental instruction initiative, and other Student Success Center activities
Students who complete an intense Introduction to College course that focuses on motivation, study skills, and adapting to collegiate expectations have a higher chance of success, according to data.
With this in mind, Gordon will staff twice as many sections of the Gordon First Year Experience course as previously and refocus the course to deal with material that is known to make a difference in a student’s success rates.
Gordon also will continue experiments in delivering courses using Supplemental Instruction, a course delivery system in which a student tutor is hired to attend class meetings and then provide out-of-class support for the students in the class. Each of these efforts is directly aimed at the goals of the Complete College Georgia initiative.
Add nine faculty and support positions to reduce the dependence on part-time faculty and implement new majors
National data shows that over reliance on part-time instructors in classrooms affects student success. To this end Gordon will hire personnel in several key areas including health services and informatics administration, biology, English, history, mathematics, nursing and philosophy.
“While these new hires will help Gordon develop new curricular areas as well, they will primarily support the retention and progression goals of the Complete College Georgia initiative,” said Ed Wheeler, Gordon College vice president of academic affairs.
Create a Testing Center
Among the students that Gordon strives to serve are students with documented learning disabilities. These students sometimes require testing in special, controlled environments. In addition, the testing center will provide convenient and timely testing services to students taking standardized tests, admissions tests, and special assessments. This center will serve the needs of the several diverse populations that are central to the Complete College Georgia effort.
Create a Center for Teaching and Learning and redesign classroom space
The single most important dynamic at Gordon College is the desire to provide excellent teaching and learning environments for students.
This year Gordon will inaugurate a Center for Teaching and Learning with the goal of providing the support faculty need to experiment with new course designs. Among the issues to be addressed are the best strategies for meeting the needs of our growing contingent of adult students and part-time students.
Add new staff position to enhance distance learning efforts
Coupled with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning will be new efforts to improve and expand courses offered in a hybrid or on-line environment. Adult students and part-time students find that on-line courses are an important tool for timely completion of degrees.