Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program FY 2008 Project Abstracts
University of Texas- Brownsville
Analysis of persistence trends among entering freshman revealed that a high number of these students are failing or dropping out by the end of their freshmen year (40 percent attrition), with others demonstrating deficiencies in communication and/or literacy skills. UTB will pilot integrated learning communities that link English and Speech courses with Biology or Chemistry courses and reform curriculum delivery to impact literacy, critical and abstract thinking, and problem solving skills. Cross-disciplinary faculty teams will establish common themes and learning outcomes in each course, and design activities intended to improve student reading, writing, rhetoric and information literacy skills and increase student success in SMART related programs and courses. Learning communities will be structured in block schedules that include co curricular activities and student support services, including peer mentoring, supplemental instruction, and teaching assistants in targeted courses.
Faculty will participate in professional development workshops to learn to adequately assess and analyze student learning, integrate technology into their courses, and re-evaluate instructional delivery methods. A Learning Innovations Scholarly Technology Advancement laboratory will be created to provide faculty with a physical location to access resources, technical support, and encourage interactive opportunities for sharing pedagogical methods and working in groups. An instructional designer will provide technical assistance in redesigning courses and aligning learning objectives with program and course expectations. Learning community experts, learning outcomes assessment authorities, technology consultants, and student support service scholars will provide workshops to train faculty and staff and guide curricular reform efforts.