College of Business Student Retention Grant Helps Improve Student Participation
The College of Business received a Retention Initiative Grant from the Provost’s office for the fall 2011 semester, to implement and assess the success of efforts within the College to increase retention amongst freshmen enrolled in BUS 101US sections. Throughout the fall semester, coaches in the College’s Bracken Business Communications Clinic (BBCC) gave a series of presentations to all 18 sections of BUS 101, the College’s freshman seminar course, to share information about how to write effective business papers, how to give strong oral presentations, and how to accurately identify and cite references in research papers.
“Our goal was to establish a personal connection between a BBCC coach and BUS 101 students, by assigning each coach to visit specific BUS 101 sections throughout the semester,” explained Terry Profota, principal investigator and adjunct professor of management in the College of Business. “Retention studies suggest that a student’s personal connection with faculty and staff can be an important contributor to that student’s persistence in successfully working towards degree completion.”
Each coach spoke to specific sections of BUS 101 students throughout the semester, with the intention of developing personal connections, encouraging students to seek additional support on written and oral communication assignments, and highlighting successful strategies to improve their educational experience. In addition, professors encouraged students to seek additional coaching support through the BBCC’s coaching staff, who provide one-on-one writing and oral communications support to students enrolled in business courses.
“The BBCC is unique in that it is staffed by business writing professionals with extensive business writing experience in a variety of fields including marketing, management and law,” said Lisa Daniels, director of the BBCC. “We provide assistance to students on anything from brainstorming the outline of a paper or presentation to grammar and spelling to feedback on ways to more clearly express concepts and ideas.”
In addition to frequent classroom visits, BBCC coaches also worked with BUS 101 faculty to develop a series of small group workshops, held outside of class, on specific topics pertaining to BUS 101 writing assignments. BUS 101 students who attended these workshops or made an appointment with a BBCC coach received Champ Change points, which is a new, campus-wide retention program based on a point system.
Participating freshmen students accrue Champ Change points when they attend approved University events or services. At the end of the semester, students who have accumulated Champ Change points participate in an auction to bid on prizes such as tuition scholarships, flat-screen televisions and general coupons, among other prizes.
“We worked diligently to coordinate our efforts in BUS 101 with other campus offerings designed to assist students and improve retention, such as the Champ Change program,” explained Profota. “We also coordinated closely with the BBCC on everything from assignment wording and structure to presentation content to workshop design and implementation. This coordinated effort really helped to create a cohesive learning experience for our students.”
The BBCC experienced a 35 percent increase in student appointments during fall 2011, as compared to the previous fall semester. Workshop attendance was also strong, with 20 percent of BUS 101 students attending at least one drop-in workshop.
On additional goal of the Student Retention Grant was to enable students to explore and act on their personal and career goals. One student assignment, the Personal Effectiveness Plan, was redesigned in collaboration with the MSU Office of Career, Internship and Student Employment Services, to include a student self-assessment. BUS 101 students will use the results of their assessments during one-on-one discussions with Student Associates and instructors to guide students in their academic choices and graduation planning.
“We believe that providing opportunities for students to further engage with their own learning and to interact directly with faculty and professional staff will result in a richer student experience that not only keeps students on track for degree completion but increases their likelihood of success in future endeavors,” said Martha Potvin, MSU provost. “We have been impressed with the depth, breadth and creativity of the proposals submitted that will engage our students in meaningful projects.”
This College of Business Student Retention Grant is one of 12 awarded to colleges, departments, and students across the MSU campus. These grants are part of a campus-wide initiative designed to give MSU students a better chance to learn, flourish, and graduate successfully. Assessment of the Grant’s success will take place through fall 2012.