The University Foundations course for incoming freshmen at the University of Central Missouri is currently undergoing a redesign so Success Coaches from Academic Advising are now a part of the course.
Shaunte Montgomery, Title III project manager and director of first year programs, said the redesigning of the course falls under the Title III grant the university received to help strengthen and support students academically. There are a number of initiatives listed in the grant to aimed at helping students who are at-risk because they are academically underprepared, first generation college students or minority students.
“A group of faculty, success advisors and myself came together back in April to revisit that course and how we could strengthen it,” Montgomery said. “We’re focused on creating student learning outcomes and a standardized schedule so each student in each University Foundations class receives the same experience.”
The redesign began in fall 2018 when they began to get first-year students acclimated to campus and teaching them how to use resources more effectively.
“We want the students to feel like they are a needed and wanted component in this academic environment,” she said. “So we’re focused on things like ‘how can we get them embedded and engrained in to UCM and with the community?’”
First year students are taught how to be a college student, how to interact in the college environment and how to use and understand the resources that are available.
Montgomery said the job of the success coaches is to be peer mentors in the University Foundations course. Their job is to support the course and help give a student perspective to the incoming freshmen.
Success coach Tiera Walkenbach, a senior public relations major, said there are some coaches who are teacher assistants for both the foundations class and the open options course.
“The foundations course is now a full semester, one credit-hour class instead of a half semester 1 credit-hour class.” Walkenbach said. “The curriculum has changed in order to help develop students in their learning.”
Success coach Alexis Raysik, a junior kinesiology-pre occupational therapy major, said the success coaches in the classroom are “nothing short of a million-dollar addition.”
“They add another dimension to the class and meet with students one-to-one to determine their best learning style,” Raysik said. “It is my belief that success coaches are absolutely beneficial to the students because we care so much about their success and future.”
She said the success coaches in the classroom have emotional intelligence and help facilitate learning for all.
Montgomery said in addition to the redesigning of the course, they are working with each of the four colleges to support the Active Learning Engagement Classrooms.
“Each of the four colleges have currently bought furniture and technology to equip classrooms that will serve students in their first year,” Montgomery said. “We want to support the colleges with some strategies to help with student success.”
She said she is most excited about the work she gets to do with the colleges and schools to help get the faculty involved with curriculum designs.
“It’s a lot more meaningful to teach the faculty how to use these kinds of technologies instead of spending all this money and putting it out there,” Montgomery said.