First Year Transformation

Transforming the Early College Experience to Promote Success


Early Alert Expansion

UIC established its early alert system in 2014. The system was developed internally through Banner, the institution’s enterprise system, and targets high enrollment first-year courses, such as first-year math courses. Research suggests that when carefully constructed and implemented purposely, early alert systems can be helpful in increasing student retention and completion rates. Therefore, increasing the scope, in terms of the courses included and the types of alerts, could be very beneficial to students. The revision of the Early Alerts program aligns with UIC’s commitment to increase retention and completion outcomes among its students. This proposed, two-year project will extend and compliment the non-cognitive research and the CPS high school freshman on-track work to identify early impediments to success. Impediments to success can be both academic and non-academic. Academic impediments may include: credits, grades, class attendance, and dropping a class, while non-academic impediments may include: student account balances, lack of involvement in social activities, and off-campus employment hours worked. Research completed thus far addresses question such as, How many first year students receive early alerts and who were these students? What were the most common early alerts received by students? Which students are more likely to receive early alerts, and which students never received an alert and were academically dismissed? Are early alerts effective? Analyses are in progress to address non-academic impediments to success.

First-Year Seminar Expansion

UIC has an array of first-year seminars offered by various departments, though all generally facilitating the transition to college for incoming students. To date, the first-year seminar project has involved (a) looking at the first-year seminar cohorts in recent years at UIC to discern patterns in retention and graduation, and (b) examining literature in higher education, seminar programs at other universities, and UIC seminar practices in order to identify trends and best practices. This research is now being applied to support efforts to expand the number of students taking a first-year seminar and to encourage further development of the seminar program, including incorporation of best practices in regard to teaching, learning outcomes, and assessment.

Noncognitive Student Profile Tool

Based on previous research conducted by the Office for Research on Student Success (ORSS) at UIC, student noncognitive factors, such as academic mindset, learning strategies and perseverance, have been shown to be associated with important outcomes, such as grades, credits earned, and retention. In order to better understand college student success and enhance the way students are advised in the first year of college, ORSS is conducting additional research to identify which noncognitive skills assessed pre-matriculation are the best predictors of success in the UIC context. In addition, a student noncognitive profile tool has been developed for advisors to integrate the research findings into their advising practices. This tool will help advisors to see, at a glance, student strengths and areas of growth, allowing them to tailor support to each student’s unique needs.