We’d like to recognize TRiO Programs – Student Support Services as 2015 Innovators. They are a federally-funded grant program designed to provide additional support, advocacy, and services to students who are first generation (neither parent has a bachelor degree or higher), low income, or have a disability. Basically, these folks do everything they can to serve at-risk students, to help them along their college path, and to succeed in their courses and in their college plans.
SSS works with what’s called a more intrusive or proactive model of support like many other colleges and universities have adopted, including WGU.
According to “The History of Intrusive Advising in the General College” by Anthony Albecker,
The intrusive advising model is based on the premise that some students will not take the initiative in resolving their academic concerns, thereby needing the intrusive assistance of assigned advisors. The use of the word “intrusive,” as coined in Walter Earl’s 1987 article, “Intrusive Advising for Freshmen,” is used to describe this model of advising as “action oriented by involving and motivating students to seek help when needed” (p. 24). The intrusive model incorporates the components of prescriptive and developmental advising models, creating a holistic approach that meets a student’s total needs (Earl).
In addition to this TRiO is taking their traditional face-to-face strategies and moving them to the cybersphere.
From Liisa Preslan, Director of TRiO – Support Services at Centralia College:
We are creating a Canvas classroom that students can access PRIOR to beginning at Centralia College. It will have information on their next steps (short videos on financial aid, paying for tuition, getting books, etc.), lists of campus and community resources that will be advantageous to their college experience. It will also have two assessments – one for college readiness and one for financial literacy. This course serves several purposes. 1) Students will have a “one stop” resource for information all new students should know prior to starting college; 2) It will provide a more effective way to communicate with students than through listservs, student email system, or traditional mail; 3) We will be able to connect with them from the time they apply to when they start classes – which can be as long as six-months – allowing us to build relationships earlier to increase retention; and 4) Students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Canvas in a no-risk situation before their courses begin. Hopefully, this will minimize the learning curve, particularly for our students with limited technology skills. We have capitalized on several technologies available like Panopto and video features to provide a richer experience for students, but also kept accessibility in mind throughout the design phase. One example is videos of former TRiO Students who share their struggles and offer words of encouragement. Students can access them any time they need motivation.
We are still finalizing content and have not completed the entire site. We want to have a quality product that meets accessibility standards before going live. That process takes a lot of front-loaded effort, but we are certain the benefits for our students, our program, and the campus will be tenfold.
We want to thank Liisa and all the staff at TRiO – Support Services for rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work it takes to be innovative for the sake of the students’ success, and, ultimately, our campus success.