As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named California State University, Fresno; Cleveland State University; Montana State University; the University of California, Riverside; and Wayne State University as finalists for its 2016 Project Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize, and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion. One of the five finalists will be named the 2016 Project Degree Completion Award winner Sunday, November 13 in Austin, Texas during the APLU Annual Meeting. In this second part of a five-part series, APLU profiles Montana State University and its Graduation Success Teams.
Through the formation of Graduation Success Teams, Montana State University spearheaded holistic efforts to increase student success and timely graduation. The initiative leveraged an incentive for students to take full-time course loads and emerging software to enhance advising and registration and improve timely graduation.
In 2012, Montana State created the Freshman 15 program to increase student awareness that 15 credits are necessary for four-year graduation. Advisors also challenged full-time students to rise to the challenge of taking 15-credit course loads in order to increase timely graduation.
Course redesign was also a crucial component of the Graduate Success Teams’ work. As part of the redesigns, the university added supplemental instruction, bolstered peer-assistance networks to help students succeed even in rigorous coursework, and Montana State faculty introduced technology-enhanced active learning. The redesigns helped turn courses that were traditionally barriers into gateways that set students up for success in the discipline down the line.
The investment in student success paid off. Reforms contributed to an increased share of students taking at least 15 credits a semester, a two-month decline in the average time to degree, and a 4 percent increase in the four-year graduation rate.
Learn more about the other 2016 Project Degree Completion Award finalists.