UIC Summer College
UIC Summer College is a tuition-free collection of programs available to incoming first-year students, which can increase a student’s chance of success at the university.
The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and Academic Programs (OVPUAAP) collects data to track participation in and evaluate the effectiveness of UIC’s Summer College. UIC Summer College is a collection of over a dozen programs. The three largest—the Summer Enrichment Writing, Math, and Chemistry Workshops—are available to students with remedial placements and evaluated based on the following measures: number of revised placements that result from the program, end-of-first-year GPA, end-of-first-year credit hour completion, grade earned in first credit-bearing course encountered after participating in Summer College (e.g., English, Math, or Chemistry), first-to-second-year persistence rate, and six-year graduation rate. For purposes of these analyses, Summer College participants are compared to students who earned a preparatory placement (e.g., in writing, math, or chemistry) but did not participate in any Summer College session. In addition, a more in-depth study in the writing programs was conducted.
The research literature suggests that high-impact practices such as first-year seminars, learning communities, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, service learning, and capstone courses or projects can positively influence student retention and success. All of these practices are used in UIC’s Honors College.
In order to explore the effect of practices of UIC’s Honors College on student success, we sampled a wide range of students. Our research focused on all students who entered UIC as first time freshmen during any fall term between 2006 and 2012, taking into account diverse student populations and controlling for a broad range of individual, family, and high school factors known to influence college success. After controlling for individual, family, and high school variables, participation in the Honors College was a significant predictor of first-term GPA, credits earned during the first year of college, first-to-second year retention, and graduation within both four and six years. In addition, there was an interactive effect of Honors participation and ethnicity, such that ethnic minority students in the Honors program experienced greater college success on some indicators, suggesting that Honors College programs serve as a model to help close the ethnicity achievement gap.
Students’ progress in the first year of college is crucial to their overall success: previous research indicates that earning a minimum number of credit hours increases the likelihood of completing a degree significantly. By attempting at least 15 credit hours per semester, students are more likely to earn the recommended 30 credits in the first year and complete their degrees on time. However, many undergraduates believe that 12 credit hours per semester are sufficient, and subsequently finish the first year behind. This study uses institutional data to understand opportunities to facilitate progress to degree at UIC. Specifically, this project explores enrolling in courses during the summer session after the first year as a way for students to start the second year with at least 30 credit hours. Results indicate that, for students who finish the first year behind, taking summer session courses is an effective way to facilitate degree completion. Yet most of the students enrolling in summer courses after the first year are the most high-achieving, indicating that many students who could benefit from enrolling in summer session are not currently doing so. Given UIC’s efforts to improve retention and graduation rates, combined with the number of students who finish their first year behind, this project suggests that increased institutional support for summer session would allow students to earn additional credit hours, move into second-year standing, and increase the likelihood of graduating on time.
Flames Leadership Network
In summer 2017, the UIC Office of First Year Initiatives (OFYI) launched the Flames Leadership Network. This program is designed to provide leadership and career opportunities for a group of incoming first-year students who would benefit from this engagement program. ORSS staff conducted analyses using pre-matriculation data to identify the students who would most benefit from participation in the program. Further, ORSS staff will conduct an evaluation of the program in promoting retention and skills development.
In the fall 2016, UIC was awarded a major grant from the Department of Education (PI Aixa Alfonso) to increase the access and success of Latinx students in STEM. From this award, the L@S GANAS program was established which provides holistic support to incoming and current Latinx students in STEM majors, with an emphasis on students in majors related to biological studies. Assistant Vice Provost Sue Farruggia is a co-investigator on the grant and works closely with staff from the Prairie Group to conduct the evaluation of the program.