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View Diary: University of TX Avant-Garde Experiment to Increase Graduation Rates (14 comments)

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  •  nut graf (9+ / 0-)
    Laude was hopeful that the small classes would make a difference, but he recognized that small classes alone wouldn’t overcome that 200-point SAT gap. “We weren’t naïve enough to think they were just going to show up and start getting A’s, unless we overwhelmed them with the kind of support that would make it possible for them to be successful,” he said. So he supplemented his lectures with a variety of strategies: He offered TIP students two hours each week of extra instruction; he assigned them advisers who kept in close contact with them and intervened if the students ran into trouble or fell behind; he found upperclassmen to work with the TIP students one on one, as peer mentors. And he did everything he could, both in his lectures and outside the classroom, to convey to the TIP students a new sense of identity: They weren’t subpar students who needed help; they were part of a community of high-achieving scholars.
    •  And two more. (8+ / 0-)
      Laude’s most intensive and innovative intervention, though, is the University Leadership Network, a new scholarship program that aims to develop not academic skills but leadership skills. In order to be selected for U.L.N., incoming freshmen must not only fall below the 40-percent cutoff on the Dashboard; they must also have what the financial-aid office calls unmet financial need. In practice, this means that students in U.L.N. are almost all from families with incomes below the national median. (When you enter a family income at that level into the Dashboard, the predicted on-time graduation rate falls even further; for U.L.N. students, Laude estimates, it is more like 20 percent than 40 percent.) The 500 freshmen in U.L.N. perform community service, take part in discussion groups and attend weekly lectures on topics like time management and team building. The lectures have a grown-up, formal feel; students are required to wear business attire. In later years, U.L.N. students will serve in internships on campus and move into leadership positions as mentors or residence-hall advisers or student government officials. In exchange for all this, they receive a $5,000 scholarship every year, paid in monthly increments.

      Perhaps the most striking fact about the success programs is that the selection criteria are never disclosed to students. “From a numbers perspective, the students in these programs are all in the bottom quartile,” Laude explained. “But here’s the key — none of them know that they’re in the bottom quartile.” The first rule of the Dashboard, in other words, is that you never talk about the Dashboard. Laude says he assumes that most U.L.N. students understand on some level that they were chosen in part because of their financial need, but he says it is important for the university to play down that fact when dealing directly with students. It is an extension of the basic psychological strategy that he has used ever since that first TIP program: Select the students who are least likely to do well, but in all your communications with them, convey the idea that you have selected them for this special program not because you fear they will fail, but because you are confident they can succeed.

      •  A Study (6+ / 0-)

        Of what by now will be 15,000 students and the result of the  "UT Mindset " getting the experience of the "belonging " message for disatvantaged students should really help decide how well it works.

        To me the amazing part is how really simple the concept is. Everyone remembers what it was like entering high school or college. It was stressful.  This has applications with teenage gay students and the it will get better program. Every person mentoring anyone should read this article.

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