New Technologies that Enable Student Success – In the Know with Provost DiLorenzo

In a recent post, I briefly discussed a new truism in higher education – something our students implicitly know – that technology, when used appropriately, has great potential for enabling student success. Identifying, developing, deploying and institutionalizing the use of the correct technology is the challenge. Above all, it is important to recognize that technology is an enabling tool supporting new approaches to student success, not driving them. For several years, UND has been implementing new technologies that were chosen after careful evaluation and review of best practices across academia. Our early assessments indicate that these technologies have driven greater success for students who are striving to reach their ultimate goal of graduation.  From interventions for the student who needs extra help to stay on track, to “one-click” semester scheduling where students easily build timetables that fit with their many demands of class and life, these technologies are working. Specifically, we have seen the number of students receiving failing and unsatisfactory course grades decrease by 9%. Readmore

New Technologies that Enable Student Success - In the Know with Provost DiLorenzo

I have asked Lisa Burger, Assistant Vice President for Student Academic Affairs, and Scott Correll, University Registrar to provide brief descriptions of two technologies they have employed to enhance the success of our students. Lisa says, “Starfish, progress surveys, early alert and midterm deficiencies, flags, and kudos are becoming buzz words on campus these days, as they are a means to positively influence our outreach to students throughout the semester.  Starfish is our new student success technology system and we use it to help identify students that need extra help along their way.  For example, the midterm deficiency notification process, a process we use to notify undergraduate students who receive academic deficiencies at mid-semester, is now managed through the Starfish system.  This spring semester, we achieved encouraging support from faculty with over 70% of whom recorded deficiencies using Starfish”.

Even though the midterm deficiency progress survey for faculty members has come and gone for the semester, the long-term positive impact on identifying those students who are struggling academically continues through the follow-up efforts made by faculty and staff. The midterm deficiency notifications recorded in Starfish launch a series of outreach and communications to students to help them get back on track and stay on track. There is power behind the Starfish system and the interventions in place to outreach to students and provide them with the campus resources to help them be successful.  Starfish is just one technology we use at the Student Success Center and we know it is making a difference.

Scott says: “College Scheduler, a bolt-on product to Campus Connection, was launched on March 10th. Beginning with the summer and fall 2017 terms, registration will be streamlined by automating the schedule planning process. Students can easily input preferred courses, block off break times, and instantly generate optimized schedules that maximize credit hours while balancing learning with life. College Scheduler’s rich administrative functionality enables institutions to enhance advising services, fine-tune the master schedule and balance course fill rates. Founder Robert Strazzarino wrote the first version of College Scheduler as a sophomore at California State University, Chico. By his senior year, over half of the student body was using College Scheduler every semester as were many advisors and administrators. Chico State purchased a yearly license of the software in 2005 and College Scheduler was born. College Scheduler will eliminate the need to use pencil and paper scheduling.  Students can easily generate all available schedules, compare them side-by-side, and decide on the best fit for their busy lives.  With course information updated in real time, this solution focuses on student success”.

Innovative Programs Energize Research, and Me

At this time last year, we launched two new and pivotal programs to enhance research efforts across the university and last week, I had the opportunity to meet with five faculty members who participated in one of the programs, the Early Career Award. The Early Career Award invests in faculty who are just starting their academic careers at UND. Through a competitive progress, dollars are awarded to young faculty members with research ideas that will help to build strong records of accomplishment – accomplishments that boost their research portfolios, their academic reputations and their opportunities to apply for and secure federal grants. Program funding for Early Career Awards comes from our friends at the UND Alumni Association and Foundation.

It was, without a doubt, the most gratifying and energizing meeting of my week as I listened to award recipients share stories about what they had accomplished in just one short year, and heard about how the program successfully fueled their efforts in their fields of research. The Early Career Award is a program I look forward to funding again in the next academic year. Two weeks earlier, Grant McGimpsey, the Vice President for Research and Economic Development brought together a second group of talented individuals, a group of faculty members who have been mentoring nine post-doctoral research associates who came to UND, also one year ago, through the Post-Doctoral Funding program. Again, I had the opportunity to stop-by and hear about the fascinating work coming from these individuals.

Like the Early Career Award program, the Post-Doctoral program is helping the university to increase research activity. With the addition of post-doctoral associates, faculty mentors have new capacity to compete for highly competitive grant funding and capacity to convert new funding into impactful results. I am excited about both of these programs, about the results and the stories that are coming from our research labs, and about how these funding programs further contribute to our increasingly vibrant academic culture at UND. Please join me in recognizing the following recipients of the inaugural Early Career Award program and the faculty mentors and their post-doctoral research associates who received funding through the Post-Doctoral Funding program.

Early Career Award Recipients, 2016-2017
– Dr. Kouhyar Tavakolian, Professor, Electrical Engineering
– Dr. Feng (Frank) Xiao, Professor, Civil Engineering
– Dr. Sarah Robinson, Professor, Communication Science & Disorders
– Dr. Sheila Liming, Professor, English
– Dr. Ashley N. Hutchison, Professor, Counselling

Post-Doctoral Mentors, 2016-2018, with Post-Doctoral Associates
– Dr. Colin Combs, Biomedical Sciences with Harpreet Kaur
– Dr. Julia Zhao, Chemistry with Ying (Kate) Zhang
– Dr. Frank Xiao, Civil Engineering with Alemayehu Bedane
– Dr. Jyotika Sharma, Biomedical Sciences with Atul Sharma
– Dr. Turk Rhen, Biology with Patrick Tamukong
– Dr. Minou Rabiei, Petroleum Engineering with Behzad Tokhmechi
– Dr. Nuri Oncel, Physics and Astrophysics with Soumya Banerjee
– Dr. Junguk Hur, Biomedical Sciences with Kai Guo
– Dr. Archana Dhasarathy, Biomedical Sciences with Janani Kumar

Investing in Our Own: Academic Affair’s Executive Development Program

Much has been written about the on-going development of UND’s new Strategic Plan, and rightly so.  The plan sets the course for our future and proposes investments in priorities and opportunities – investments in marketing to better promote the career-ready academic experience we provide our students, and investments in new ways for faculty to make a difference through their teaching and research.  Today I am writing about a third type of investment happening at UND, investment in our people.  I am delighted to announce that a cohort of ten individuals from Academic Affairs are participating in a new Executive Development Program.

Designed to nurture our employees’ inherent leadership talent and to equip participants with the necessary tools for leading at UND, the Academic Affairs Executive Development Program brings together individuals for a series of workshops and team projects that take place over 13 weeks.  The program brings the type of issues faced by leaders very much to the forefront, particularly those in higher education, and equips our employees with the tools they need to lead in today’s climate of change.  It also identifies resources on campus that individuals may not be aware of, resources that can bring efficiencies and success to teams.

Individuals from across several Academic Affairs units make up this first cohort of the new program.  These individuals, some of whom are newer to campus and some new to their leadership role, are starting to see positive impacts since the program started a month ago. The networking opportunities and the broad discussions on leadership issues that are taking place in the program are already leading to richer working relationships and new ways of addressing challenges.  The results are encouraging and convince me a second cohort will follow shortly.

Many thanks to our first cohort for their interest in and enthusiasm for this program. Cohort members are Amanda Boyd, Elizabeth Becker, Scott Correll,  Katie Davidson, Curt Hanson, Lindsay Kuntz, Will Martin, Randy Pederson, Shannon Mikula and Frank Swiontek.  I look forward to hearing more from each of them about the program and to sharing it with you. Shannon Mikula, Academic Affairs Officer, makes her point at a recent Leadership Development workshop.

Academic Year 2017-2018 Developmental Leaves

I am so pleased to announce upcoming developmental leaves for the following faculty members. Through developmental leaves, faculty members add to their knowledge and skills, which in turn adds to the knowledge and skills of our students and our fine institute. As you will read, leave for these professors involves significant travel – in many cases global travel – and working with other universities in ways that advance teaching, scholarship or service. Please join me in congratulating these deserving individuals. Like you, I look forward to their return to UND and to learning about their productive semesters away.

– Professor Xiaozhao Huang: Research sociolinguistic use of Chinese Mandarin with colleagues and other exchange scholars at Fundan University and Shaanxi Normal University in China.

– Professor Melissa Gjellstad: Research developments and the longer-term ramifications of gender and literacy theories at the University of Osla and the University of Washington.

– Professor Emily Cherry: Guest artist to direct a mainstage production and also to study the pedagogy of teaching while at Texas Wesleyan University.

– Professor Michael Niedzielski: Research to develop new models of spatial inequality and accessibility and to share these models with high school teachers in Warsaw.

– Professor Sean Valentine: Research publications and work on the new edition of his Human Resources Management textbook.

– Professor Yun Ji: Research, in collaboration with the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and the USDA, in bio-based products to make renewable fuels and chemicals, particularly in water use reduction in the pulp, paper and oil recovery industries.

– Professor Reza Fazel-Rezai: Research on hybrid brain-computer interface systems, in collaboration with colleagues at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego.

– Professor Sima Noghanian: Collaboration with colleagues at University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University to further research in wireless antennas for vehicular communications.

– Professor Deborah Worley: Research, based in the UK and US, on culture and communications by institutions of higher education through campus traditions.

– Professor Kara Wettersten: Research, particularly in rural areas of North Dakota, on friendship and teaching school-aged children about healthy relationships.

– Professor Cheryl Hunter: Research on curricular models for innovation in doctoral education.

– Professor Donna Pearson: Research to further establish inquiry into inter-culturalization, teacher education and educational professional development in exchange with fellows in Turkey, Tajikistan, Russia, Central America and India.

– Professor Gretchen Mullendore: Research on tropical meteorology in collaboration with Texas A&M University and the University of Melbourne, Australia with visits to meteorology facilities in Tiyan, Guam.

Enhancing and Expanding Student Learning in Changing and Challenging Times

Online instruction, technology tools, and active learning techniques provide opportunities and alternatives to the traditional ways we have educated students. To support faculty and staff in the primary work of ensuring student learning and success in changing times, we recently launched a spring series of workshops entitled “Enhancing and Expanding Student Learning in Changing and Challenging Times. I invited Lynette Krenelka, Director of the Office of Extended Learning, to write a guest blog about digital learning and workshops that are available to faculty and staff as we grow online instruction at UND. Read more…

As UND addresses its strategic initiatives, growing digital learning is exciting in so many ways – we can reach more learners and provide access to education that they may not have even thought they could get, we can increase diversity in our student population, and we can develop quality online education which is a goal as we continue down this journey. In supporting the initiative of growing digital learning, UND has held multiple forums and workshops that have had great attendance with the goal of providing information on how to prepare for quality online education the best way that we can. View a full listing of the forums and workshops now!

There is a process to follow for putting online degree or certificate programs online internally through UND and at the state level through the North Dakota University System and, this all takes time. There are experts to help with market research if an academic department is thinking about a new degree or certificate program. UND does not necessarily need to offer everything online, but instead we should think strategically as to what makes sense, by understanding what the market is telling us.

The Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies and the Office of Instructional Development can assist with teaching pedagogy, assessment strategies and creating quality online courses with high student engagement. Current Program Directors of online degree or certificate programs have a wealth of experience and can provide guidance to academic departments looking to expand online such as:

– The importance of students knowing what to expect in the online program (how much time will coursework take and the importance for time management, since some students think online courses will be easier – when in reality, they are not easier).

– The importance of faculty members being responsive to students but yet able to set guidelines on expected communication turnaround time.

– One department had a complete culture shift in embracing online, and as they hired new faculty members, the faculty knew they would teach online with specific standards established.

Growing UND’s online programs will continue to occur and we want to make sure it is done right. There are multiple resources within UND that can help.

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