Theme 2 - Maximizing Student Success

Theme Leads: Arlene Bugayong, Miguel GuerreroErik Rosegard

This theme will examine student learning and academic attainments with the goal of improving academic achievement.  The Theme 2 subcommittee is active soliciting feedback on the following key questions:

  • How do you define student success?
  • What motivates students to stay at SF State?
  • What more can the university do to help students continue their education at SF State?
  • What on-campus resources would help students graduate sooner from SF State?
  • Other than on-campus resources, what would help students graduate sooner from SF State?
  • What on-campus resources are most helpful to you at SF State?

For your reference, the original Theme 2 questions from the SPCC Charge were:

  • What have we learned from the extensive work emanating from the Student Success and Graduation Initiative (SSGI)?
  • How can we continue to improve graduation rates and reduce time to degree?
  • How can we continue to improve retention rates?
  • To what extent do gaps in achievement rates persist and how might they be closed?
  • Does the new general education curriculum align with institutional goals for student learning?
  • To what extent are department and program assessment practices aligned with institutional goals and how might we improve those alignments?
  • To what extent are students academically prepared and institutionally supported such that they can effectively transition into the workforce after graduation and how might we improve in this area?

Go to Theme 3 - Academic Master Plan

Comments

As part of the SSGI, I was actively engaged in the FA09 Mandatory Advisement program for first-time freshmen. Perhaps the best part about continually meeting with students on a semester-to-semester basis is the potential connection that can be formed with students. Students who feel a connection to the University are more likely to successfully achieve their academic objectives. With that said, some Depts on campus are much larger than others and advising a huge cohort of students can be overwhelming and sometimes counterproductive.

I think it is critical to review how we service students on academic probation. Depending upon when the student falls on academic probation (fall or spring), the level of required advisement can vary. I understand that advisors may already have a high workload in the spring semester, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense to require students to see an advisor in the fall if they fall on academic probation the previous spring - but not require students to meet with an advisor in the spring if they fell on academic probation the previous fall semester. We call it a Mandatory Advisement Program, but some students have their records locked (PLOCK) without ever having met with an advisor.

We have some incredible students that attend SF State and have little problem entering the workforce post-graduation. With that said, without any statistical backing, this number feels like a smaller number of students than those who are challenged to enter the workforce post-graduation. Are our students not prepared or are their initial expectations simply too high? Many of our students do lack basic soft skills required to both interview and enter the workforce. If we are a campus that promotes career preparation, then why do so few of our undergraduate programs require an internship as a part of their degree? In their field of study, what percentage of our students find jobs within 6 months of graduation? Within 1 year of graduation?

Division of Undergraduate Studies Response to Strategic Plan Draft Fall 2013

The DUS Council met on September 16 and October 14, 2013 and discussed the draft Strategic Plan. We did not have time to address all of the themes, so limited our discussion to the two themes that resonated most with us (and actually blended into one another). The following are some of our reactions:
Theme 2: Maximizing Student Success
We often talk about connecting students/alumni to the university. However, the reality is that people in general don’t connect to a place/institution. Rather, they connect to people – for example, students connect to fellow students, to student organizations, to faculty and staff members, etc. Often rather than giving back to the institution, alumni donate to and stay in touch with their program or the person who made an impact on their lives.
In order to connect better with each other, we need to improve communication and foster interaction wherever it appears both inside and out of the classroom. For example, there are already many wonderful pockets of small, collaborative classes (e.g., GWAR).
We need to find ways to help students develop personal relationships within the institution – with each other, with faculty members, advisors, tutors, etc.
We need to find ways to foster faculty and student learning. We need to bring faculty together to discuss these issues and how to keep student engagement at the forefront.
We need to evaluate the effectiveness of advising services across campus. There should be a more formal advising structure and better communication between entities than currently exists.
We need to better institutionalize successful programs and initiatives – many are developed on a shoestring and left that way.
Might we establish a student success fee like other campuses have in order to support the efforts we need to improve student success?

The American Language Institute
SF State College of Extended Learning and International Affairs
Response to Strategic Plan Draft Fall 2013

Theme 2: Maximizing Student Success

• NA

• The ALI has been active in helping to improve graduation rates by offering a serious program of academic English training that prepares international students for success in their university classes and thus successful and timely completion of their degrees.

Graduation rates would be improved if required courses in a program were offered every semester. English 730 is a key course in the MATESOL program, yet it is only offered once a year.

• Retention rates could be improved if class sizes were kept at a level conducive to learning for all. In addition, we feel that given the significant number of international students in degree programs, there is a greater need for SF State faculty to become more aware of and educated about the learning experiences and challenges of international students.

• The ALI has addressed gaps in student achievement by adding new proficiency levels to the program to accommodate diverse learners. ALI also provides dedicated tutoring to select students with significant gaps in their learning.

• NA

• ALI has written articulated goals for each class which are aligned with graduated learning outcomes. ALI students receive written formative and evaluative feedback every semester and are given specific goals for achieving success.

These comprehensive ALI student evaluations and grades serve as the basis for recommendations for ALI students who matriculate to SF State.

•NA

College of Extended Learning and International Affairs’ (CELIA) Leadership Team’s Responses to the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee Themes

Theme 2 – Maximizing Student Success

What have we learned from the extensive work emanating from the Student Success and Graduation Initiative (SSGI)?
 We are not very familiar with this initiative

How can we continue to improve graduation rates and reduce time to degree?
 Increase class availability
 Institute cohort scheduling

How can we continue to improve retention rates?
 A positive first year experience is key
 Enhance support services

To what extent do gaps in achievement rates persist and how might they be closed?
 Not very aware of this

Does the new general education curriculum align with institutional goals for student learning?
 It better reflects the world than the previous one

To what extent are department and program assessment practices aligned with institutional goals and how might we improve those alignments?
 We are in process to achieve this

To what extent are students academically prepared and institutionally supported such that they can effectively transition into the workforce after graduation and how might we improve in this area?
 CELIA does this quite well
 American Language Institute (ALI) prepares students for academic study

FEEDBACK ON STRATEGIC PLAN THEMES
from Staff in Academic Resources, Faculty Affairs and
ProfessIonal Development and the Provost's Office

THEME 2Maximizing Student Success
1Study student achievement rather than just student perception.
2Could use more advising and systematic/focused outreach to students.
3Students can get confused easily re: finding out where to go for a variety of needs--need more help/guidance (who to contact and how).
4More career advising from the beginning would be useful.
5Don't have enough systematic support for students.
6Studies of student competencies and persistence.
7Fullerton student success dashboards access a lot of information in student information databases that might be adopted and turned into automatic messages to remind students of requirements they have yet to complete.
8Increasing the frequency with which students see an advisor seems important both to help students make good choices and to better understand the situation that students are in.

Library Faculty Discussion of Strategic Plan Theme 2:
Theme 2 - Maximizing Student Success

Comments consider in what ways the theme and questions might impact the Library and/or how the Library could support the theme.

What have we learned from the extensive work emanating from the Student Success and Graduation Initiative (SSGI)?

•The Library’s instruction program gives students a comfort level with the research process and contributes to academic success. The Library can be confusing and intimidating, often the largest and most complex library students have experienced. Instructional sessions and research assistance builds students’ research skills. Additional self-directed options include screencasts, tutorials, research guides, etc.
•Integration of library research skills/information literacy with lower level English 214 instead of the Basic Information Competence Requirement, typically met by completing the OASIS online tutorial, as a graduation requirement that students often complete too late for it to be useful during their undergraduate program.
•Integration of library research skills/information literacy with the baccalaureate degree requirements for general education.
•Integration of library instruction sessions with GWAR courses and culminating experience courses requiring research, systematically reaching upper division students in their majors in a more meaningful way than OASIS, and contributing to student success in those courses.
•Eliminating the Basic Information Competence Requirement as a graduation requirement, which has in the past often been the most frequent reason students had not met all the requirements for graduation

How can we continue to improve graduation rates and reduce time to degree?

•Library spaces and services that facilitate student academic success include services such as Research Assistance on demand. Its relocation to a higher visibility location on the first floor has increased student use of this service.
•Individual research assistance by appointment, often as a follow up to a library instruction session for a class, provides assistance specific to a student’s experience and assignment.
•Ensure the courses required for graduation are offered, and are offered in the needed sequence, especially for accredited programs with specific requirements.
•Reduce the complexity of general education requirements, e.g., Complementary Studies requirement for BA degrees.
•All stakeholders need to understand all the rule changes, especially advisors. Students are not necessarily aware of requirements for graduation that they are missing. Students are told to “look online,” but the website is complex and confusing. Need for more informed advisors -- making sure that advisors are up to date on university policies and procedures
•Need to clearly present information on the website. The complexity of graduation requirements leads to the complexity of the website.
•Need for a fixed copy of the Bulletin (PDF/print).

How can we continue to improve retention rates?

The Library contributes to creating a positive environment on campus and a learning space outside the classroom:
•a place where students can get their work done
•computer-equipped space open 24/7 during fall and spring semesters offers individual and collaborative group study space
•laptops available to check out
•need to increase WiFi coverage during periods of dense occupancy and use
•on-demand research assistance through instant messaging, text, email and phone as well as in-person
•Identify ways to provide outreach to faculty members about CSU’s Affordable Learning Solutions initiative, e.g., publicize availability of textbooks as electronic books or physical books in the Library’s collection, encourage faculty use of open source alternatives, and Library resources for required readings.

To what extent do gaps in achievement rates persist and how might they be closed?

•Support Ethnic Studies where students can learn about and reinforce cultural and ethnic identity.
•Increase awareness of support services like Learning Assistance Center, CARP, EOP, other tutoring services, Writing Center. Better marketing of those services. Work together to make support services more cohesive and understandable. Push out information vs. passive websites and handouts or brochures that students have to discover. Hand holding for students who enter with lower academic skills. Library could offer workshops for faculty/staff/students working in Learning Assistance Center about research skills, Library services. If/when possible in available space, bring those services into the Library as a central academic support service housing all of them in one place.
•Various programs are available to help students and are effective, but should be combined under one umbrella. Examples include expanding Metro Academy to 25% of the freshman class as a positive step with a program with proven success, Bridge to College in the College of Education, and the EOP summer program.
•Offer specialized workshops on software applications like Excel and Word. Provide support for students to learn technical skills.
•Embed information literacy skills in courses and have progression from basic in lower division courses to higher level and discipline-specific in upper division courses in the major, GWAR courses.
•The Library provides desktop computers, loans laptop computers and offers multimedia production capabilities in the Digital Media Studio that level the playing field for students of all economic backgrounds and majors who may not otherwise have access to needed technology.

Does the new general education curriculum align with institutional goals for student learning?

•It’s better than the previous general education, but we should continue to work on making the GE program less cumbersome
•Move toward capstone courses is good.
•Treating general education as a work in progress is good. Make it a living document that continues to evolve as needed.

To what extent are department and program assessment practices aligned with institutional goals and how might we improve those alignments?

•Those working on the 7th cycle of review need to keep the institutional goals at the forefront of their discussions.

To what extent are students academically prepared and institutionally supported such that they can effectively transition into the workforce after graduation and how might we improve in this area?

•More professionally related programs such as engineering and nursing are more effective in preparing students to transition into the workforce; they are already doing a good job of this for their students. Programs that offer work experience or a real life component such as social work and criminal justice that offer placements in an agency are also effective in this regard. Liberal arts degrees are less clear in doing this.
•Information literacy is an important learning outcome to prepare students to transition into the workforce, as well as to prepare them for good citizenship. Students need to demonstrate the ability to synthesize ideas, not just cut and paste from the results of Google searches. They should be able to discuss what they are reading. They should be able to demonstrate critical thinking about the sources they choose.
•GWAR courses are effective, enabling students to write more professionally appropriate to the subject discipline. For example, in relevant disciplines, they write a grant proposal.
•There should be an exit requirement in technology/technical proficiency for graduation. It would complement information literacy proficiency.
•Students need skills in job interviewing, professional networking and etiquette, marketing themselves, e.g., in the arts. EPortfolios provide an opportunity for students to present themselves and their work to potential employers. Workshops for the university as a whole on interviewing, resume writing, etc. would help staff employees advance in the workplace.
•Student assistants working in the Library are learning responsibility and appropriate behavior in the work place. The Library contributes to this experience as one of the largest employers of students on campus. Students learn customer services skills and empathy with their fellow students.

Academic Technology Staff Strategic Planning Notes
(compiled from four separate listening sessions held in October with all AT staff, facilitated by AVP Brian Beatty and AT Director Maggie Beers)

Theme 2: Building the SF State Identity

•The attrition studies surprised me and I understand this is a critical piece of the university. Id like to know more about that—where do students go? Why do they leave?
•AT has helped with the GE certification and other efforts to advance this initiative.
•When I was a graduate student at SF State I was aware of how little stuff was available digitally. I spent a lot of time at the labor archives and special collections. Digital access is getting better, but it seems that some tasks that require a person to dedicate a couple of days could be accomplished much faster online. For example, to read a thesis online, many departments don’t send theirs to get bound until they have enough of them waiting to be bound. Since around the year 2000 these have been generated digitally, so it would be good to invest resources into getting those online.
•The continuing cost of textbooks and materials is a stumbling block for students. Many students choose not to get these required class materials, which affects their success. Whatever we can do to get them in their hands would help.
•Early warning analytics could help students, though some faculty think that we are coddling students too much with analytics and this creates some resistance.
oA lot of the analytics are interesting but there may be lecturers out there who might think it will take too much time to parse through the data to make sense of it. It would be good if we figured out a way to take the burden away from the instructors who are dealing with the dynamics of teaching.
•How much should we be spending per student? If we are underfunded we should know by how much. We know how much we receive from the state and how much students pay for tuition, so we should be able to generate those statistics. We are trying to serve too many students for the number of resources we have. But how much would we need in order to serve students adequately? We have never seen a clear picture.
•What should our target success be for graduation? Students leave and we don’t know where they go. Students here have the opportunities to change majors or take on double majors, so that all contributes to the numbers. There is a lot of interpretation to the numbers, but if only 15% are graduating in 4 years then maybe we need to add some more constraints on what they are allowed to do in terms of majors.
•As a staff member we have very little engagement on these initiatives. We have been directly contacted by individual faculty members on some of the initiatives, and, as a result, ultimately ended up introducing elements to the initiatives that contributed to their success. However, we aren’t actively engaged at a business level with these initiatives. Staff members feel a certain alienation around these types of initiatives. If we had focus-group type discussions around these initiatives that would lead to more collaboration and inclusion and, ultimately, success.
•As a student, I was frustrated because I was not able to get the sections required to complete the requirements, which led to delayed graduation. I would like to see AT’s resources leveraged better to offer online learning choices to students. We can engage our instructional designers to create solid online courses. It is important to do this within a system and university level strategy, rather than having us react to individual faculty members.
•Building on my student experience here, I think it would be great if the counseling and advising programs could provide a more efficient and cohesive service. If the three groups could sit in one room together with the student (UG, College and Dept) and decide why a student is having trouble graduating, they may be able to find some answers.
•Instead of advising and graduation rates being an ongoing question, let’s get some data. There is a need for a client management tool to handle students transferring back between undergrad and college advisors. If you are having difficulty with coursework, it may be for a reason. It is important to identify students who are at risk to fail their course or leave the university. The data is only as good as the data collected.
•It would be interesting to know how technology (like Turnitin) could actually help faculty improve their ability to have a good turnaround time providing feedback to students on assignments. How do they meter out their responses throughout the semester? Early warning feedback requires documentation to do it in a timely fashion. It would be good to have a coordinated way to scale out faculty feedback to support large sections.
•What is the real efficacy of large online courses? It is possible for students to “game” those courses when they employ only multiple-choice questions for assessment and grading? We are creating large courses, but is it really worth it? Rather than make courses larger, perhaps faculty should rethink the curriculum. We may discover that departments have created artificial bottlenecks.
•We should be careful of student success if it is at the cost of student learning. Beware of MOOCs that do not meet the rigor of the home university actually offering them.
•High impact practices across the campus (writing across the curriculum, ePortfolios, capstone courses, Metro Academics, faculty learning communities.) These are initiatives that help student success and that we (TLT) are committed to supporting departments as they implement these high impact practices. HIPs need to be assessed as well – blanket statements about a particular HIP’s efficacy are not intellectually honest or defensible. Tangible metrics more directly connected to learning are important (how does the design of this specific small cohort impact learning?).
oWe can better support research methods courses, since this focus on research trickles up, down and across the student experience. Engaging students in research is a High Impact Practice.
oDo we really know if High Impact Practices are helping our students? The campus could spend some time evaluating these practices and seeing if we really are making a difference. That data would add to the story.
oMore research on educational effectiveness in general would benefit the campus, as would a greater respect for assessment in program planning and development.
oWe are trying to promote a culture of assessment on campus and this type of data can help us make informed decisions.
•We need to continue to convey the importance of the University’s commitment to providing accessible learning and working environments for students and employees with disabilities. We need to use technology as an accessibility solution to provide universal access wherever possible.
•There are opportunities for faculty to explore and publish on their classroom innovations, which staff and administration could better support. Some disciplines do not have the same published journal articles that others do, with respect to the scholarship of teaching and learning. For example, STEM disciplines have a lot of literature on the success of the flipped classroom, but Marketing does not. These are opportunities for faculty to reflect on and improve their practice. University initiatives to support classroom-based (or online) research around teaching and learning would be extremely helpful to faculty and improve the student experience.
•There are many ways that we can leverage technology enabled educational practices to improve graduation rates and reduce time to degree:
oLecture Capture (CourseStream) has been proven to be effective for students who need to review material and make up missed courses. It can also help make courses more widely available to students, provided the academic practice is effective.
oThe University can scale up Metro Academies, since it has been proven to be an effective program that uses High Impact Practices to retain students and guide them towards graduation. ePortfolios have been an important technology component of this success.
oIn terms of analytics, we need to find out what students are doing at a particular time in their coursework or studies and intervene when appropriate. We can look at activity and engagement with the LMS. Some faculty have been able to use analytics to their advantage to see how students are using the materials and how it affects their performance. Faculty can generate maps of discussion activity and show it to their students.
Find ways to help students take action. Provide them with warning lights.
oWe can help faculty provide parity across courses so that there is a familiar (similar) design from one course to the other, making it easier for students to learn content rather than learn multiple interfaces.
oIncreased use of the iLearn gradebook can provide more formative feedback on where students stand.
oProvide better course design, with clear instructions and scaffolding that can help students be effective.
oIt would be good to have an institutional definition of effective course design. Or, rather, Models of Excellence for effective course designs. We can create a gallery of models. However, some faculty do not want to be told what to do, or how to design their course. This shouldn’t stop us from creating models and showcases of excellence, however.
Rather than call it an ‘institutional definition of course design,’ it’s an opportunity for education (or learning). So, it’s not a call for policy, it’s a call for faculty education on teaching effectiveness.
•Would like to have a cohort of faculty that we take along a whole semester as a group. They could work together as a group, in a cohort, to provide peer support and constructive critique.
•The most effective experience would be to have faculty provide show and tells.
•Campus and instructor commitment to QOLT and also a quality assurance of proctoring.
•Show results of research, stories of students, faculty learning communities, showcasing online, buyout time for faculty to come work with us, the university investing in its core product, more collaboration with governance, ability to systematically collaborate with groups.
•Affordable textbook support and promote this with faculty and students. ALI better coordination, OER, Merlot (Follett to connect materials they sell with other OER connections). There needs to be more outreach to faculty to help them navigate through these resources.
•Could see an OER point person on AT and in Library who would help faculty match resources to their curriculum. LUMEN Learning connects faculty to open source initiatives.
•What do we have for the students themselves, to help them? We need to think about high impact learning practices. Give me stuff I can afford, childcare support (1/3 of students in classes have a child) is very expensive for students.
•We need to support students as they make meaning of their studies. Meaningful advising.
•Bridge to career pathways. Many freshmen already know what they want to get on a pathway to career.
•It comes back to good experiences, PBL in the classroom. Publically present the product-up the ante of the products in the classes. Invite external people to see these presentations. Authentic learning activities.
•Many students say they hate working on group projects, because there is no monitoring of work. Some students in the group do all the work; need to learn to delegate. Team processes that are valuable to the students so they get credit for the work they are doing.
•Aligning GE with institutional goals through ePortfolios—aligning from artifact level up to CUSP II and beyond. Would like the institution to take seriously the kind of products that the institution is creating.
•Success would mean that the student would understand and internalize the GE goals and realize they are useful for their life. Also, you would also be able to go up to any student and they would be able to explain their progress on meeting these goals.
•Provide students with bridges to career through “incubator experiences,” or additional internship and other relationships with both private companies and public bodies in the Bay Area.
•Ways to help student success: Lower costs of childcare; make education more meaningful through project based and community based learning; lower the ratio of advisers to students so they get appropriate support and guidance; support students in group work by teaching them to delegate and manage team projects.
•It’s still hard to get out of here in 4 years.
•Faculty who FERP teach core courses on alternating semesters, then a student has to wait another year. This works for the FERPing faculty member, but not for the students needing that class.
•There are faculty members in Senate arguing against putting courses online. As commuters, it’s useful for faculty to do some flipping of the classroom so that the time spent on campus can be really practical with students.
I started as a student and started a degree, became staff and then my life took over so I wasn’t able to make progress. I recently took a course online because I was able to do it on odd hours. It took a while to get used to the online environment, but I did well and it helped me move towards my degree. This is a typical story of many people and how online learning can help.
•With the example of HyFlex, such as in Bruce Robertson’s course, this provides what each student needs with the ability to watch it online or not. At least it provides options. That’s what students need: effective options.
•There’s a false tension between commuter school/residential school, just like there’s a false tension between online/face-to-face. We should be able to let people choose. Doing both is better; being both is also better.
•It’s not helpful to take options off the table for students, just because of one faculty member’s resistance to an approach (e.g. remedial math online).
•Staff members hadn’t heard of the Student Success or Facilitating Graduation initiatives. Don’t have an idea about how to get information about this.
•Staff asked if we are in recovery after all of the budget issues. We may have more funding but it will be tied to meeting more external benchmarks.
•How are we compared to other CSU’s in terms of Student Success? We’re not the best, but in the top. Sometimes it’s related to the student population, who you can choose for your students, what support systems are in place, how strong the faculty are, whether we allow students to change degrees.
•Students take classes online and the teacher wants them to watch a piece of media but then the student has to physically come here to watch the media because of copyright issues. These copyright policies need to be resolved.
•Some faculty ask, “Why is all the media so old or outdated?” For a while we weren’t purchasing media, but now the library is, but it will take a while to get back up to speed.
•Most of the collection is on VHS tapes, students are shocked and wonder where they can watch it. We need to be able to transfer it to digital format.
•These copyright issues need to be resolved soon, they are policy issues that need to be taken care of. People looking for media at our services don’t understand this, they don’t have the time to wait for us to get the policies resolved.

Statement on Strategic Planning from the Women and Gender Studies Department:

San Francisco State University has a long and impressive history as an academic and cultural center for our city and as an intellectual and activist catalyst for the nation. This history includes the leadership demonstrated by students, faculty and staff during the Third World Strike of 1968 and continues today through our community partnerships, student organizing, faculty innovations, alumni accomplishments, transnational connections, and the unique character of our campus body. As an institution and a community, we are at our strongest and our best when the administration honors the collective governance of students, staff and faculty. We urge the President and the strategic planning committee to build on these strengths.

A primary historic strength is our campus’s shared mission of social justice. When we reference SFSU’s commitment to “social justice” we are not satisfied with simple rhetorics of diversity, but insist upon a lively intellectual and political engagement with concepts such as citizenship, community, redistribution, equity, and identity. As scholars of women and gender studies, we understand social justice as a project steeped in histories of uneven power relations on local, national and global scales. We understand the importance of historical perspectives, coalitions, and collaborative, strategic decision-making in efforts to move institutions forward, even while under economic or political pressures. In the spirit of our campus mission of social justice and critical participation, the Women and Gender Studies Department offers the following observations and suggestions to the strategic planning effort.

While we understand the logic of dividing such an effort into seven themes, the intersecting issues among the themes required a single response to the critical issues facing our campus today.

Maximizing student success cannot be divorced from issues of institutional support and economic justice: the most pressing concern for our students’ ability to succeed is not only affordability or streamlining academic programs, but fostering the economic conditions that enable students to focus on their studies and not on their subsistence. Student success is not defined by the speed at which students can race through their studies, but by the quality of the education they experience while at SFSU. It is impossible for students to graduate in a timely manner when they are working 20-40 hours per week.

Instead of focusing on increasing philanthropic support we suggest focusing on increasing public support as an institution of public education. This would mean, to start, turning our focus to demanding increased state support; lobbying for increased student grants rather than loans; reducing tuition to levels previous to the budget crisis; and rethinking the full-time requirement for student scholarships and tuition waivers.

The Women and Gender Studies Department supports community partnerships that advocate for economic justice: these include campaigns to increase the minimum wage and to support immigrant rights. When wages are stagnant (locally, statewide, and on campus), students, staff, and faculty cannot excel educationally and professionally. We advocate for the working conditions of and professional respect for SFSU lecturers. We applaud the university’s commitment to undocumented students through its commitment to the DREAM Act and administrative and curricular support for all our students, documented and undocumented. We urge the university’s continuing advocacy for all of our students and the ongoing efforts on campus to make the pathways to both citizenship and residency meaningful by ensuring they are safe, accessible and affordable.

Similarly, the academic master plan is intimately tied to the achievement of our institutional goals and our impact on the community. Every day, SF State faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and students are doing amazing work. We do not need to reinvent academic programs, but rather support and promote the outstanding work already being done at SF State. Community impact should be measured not only through “economic impact” and “morale” but also through the production of knowledge generated by the research and creative projects of faculty. The contributions of our alumni to their community are meaningful and substantial in not just fiscal terms but also non-monetary terms, including creative art, political leadership, community involvement, and engaged professional development.

Faculty research is crucial to the health of a university environment. After years of diminished resources and loss of CSU grants for research and professional development, faculty morale and student success would be improved not through superficial changes (such as the promotion of university songs or color days), but by the reinstallation of assigned time for research, the replacement of lost library books and cancelled scholarly journal subscriptions, smaller class sizes, and increased numbers of tenure-track faculty positions. Our students will succeed with excellent teachers who are professionally supported, not bureaucratically over-taxed, and when they can study and work in a physical environment which supports their studies, and when they receive consistent advising from faculty who are not working other jobs to pay their bills and keep their dependents afloat. Faculty professional activities are not simply the means by which to increase university “prestige,” but rather provide vital connections to intellectual, creative, cultural, and political projects that also makes SFSU faculty more inspired and inspiring teachers. The reshuffling of departments and programs in the recent past has neither saved money, nor served our students, nor increased the academic reputation of our institution. Creating conditions in which our outstanding faculty, students, and staff can do their jobs less encumbered by unnecessary obstructions will strengthen our university by facilitating the knowledge-production and cultural work of faculty and the quality education provided to our students. Such supports will undoubtedly positively impact our students’ success rates and the reputation of SFSU as an outstanding institution of higher education.

We are proud to be members of the SF State community and to carry its mission of social justice forward. In this commitment, we look forward to continuing to build our institution in partnership with President Wong, our students, the SF State alumni, and our colleagues.

Nan Alamilla Boyd, Professor
Deborah Cohler, Associate Professor and Chair
Julietta Hua, Associate Professor
AJ Jaimes Guerrero, Professor
Kasturi Ray, Assistant Professor
Jillian Sandell, Associate Professor
Evren Savci, Assistant Professor
Lisa Tresca, Office Manager

These comments represent the results of four brainstorming sessions with the Division of Graduate Studies staff and graduate students.

II. Theme Two: Maximizing Student Success

a) Issues and Obstacles that Must be Addressed
The University at-large and many departments have low commitment to SF State's graduate students as demonstrated by:

• Few services (Bursar’s office, health center, psychological services, cafés) available in evenings (after 5 pm); in addition, many department offices (Bursar’s, academic departments) are often closed at the noon time hour

• Some academic departments are often closed throughout the day when the office coordinator is out for any reason

• Student services at OneStop in the Student Services Building are impersonal and feel more like the Department of Motor Vehicles

• Little sense of community among graduate students; graduate students feel that they are not valued by the university because of the lack of access to services

• Inadequate financial support for graduate students (low cost loans, scholarships, and fellowships)

• Difficult to access tenured faculty for advising; easier to access some lecturers (who have less job security)

• Students who pay more for their programs seem to be more valuable to the university, good outreach for profitable programs but not others

• Because graduate students cannot access services during evening hours when most graduate classes are held, the distribution of student body fees within the university is unequal or not based on enrollment contributions

• Some “institutionalized” - staff can be procedurally ridged and are not encouraged to help students

• Lack of SFSU spirit – product of no sports culture?

Action Recommendations
a) Accessibility

1. Services
• Extend and/or alter service hours to accommodate graduate students
• Physical & mental health services must be available to graduate students in the evening at least a few days a week
• Help with family matters such as providing of childcare in the evenings for graduate students

2. Housing
• Assist graduate students in finding affordable places to live

• Create and enforce agreement with student housing to provide for graduate student housing, year around

• Designated clubhouse area(s) for graduate students to study and socialize

3. Transportation

• Work with the City and County of San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) to increase the frequency of Muni Lines 28L, 28, 29, and M into the evening. (i.e., the 28L stops running at 4 pm; work to extend the schedule until 7 or 10 pm)

• Work with SFMTA to offer a discounted student Fast Pass for enrolled students who will complete their degree within three to five years

• Increase the frequency of SF State shuttles to/from Daly City BART

• Create connections with alternate means of transport (i.e., CalTrans, Ferry)

b) Affordability

1. Tuition and Campus Fees
• Create financial transparency regarding student body fees and downtown campus fees (where does the money go?)

• Allow for graduate students to opt out of student body fees because the majority of graduate students cannot access the programs and services, and the activities are focused on undergraduate interests (Big Boi); or redirect these fees toward services and activities for graduate students

• Grant partial tuition waivers for second or third year graduate students in good academic standing who mentor first year graduate students in their program

• Identify funding for additional on campus employment opportunities for graduate students (i.e. Graduate Teaching Associates, Graduate Assistants, Student Assistants)

• Grant merit-based fee waivers for Graduate Teaching Associates

• Identify way to increase graduate student scholarships and fellowships

2. Bookstore
• Work with bookstore to expand selection of school related student supplies
• Work with bookstore to provide rental and electronic textbooks at a cost much less expensive that purchase

c) Academic/Administrative Support

1. Academic
• Hold faculty responsible for giving grades reflective of the actual quality of work done so the culminating experience can be successful

• Identify funding to research factors leading to delayed graduation and/or disenrollment of graduate students

• Fund Graduate Studies advising program for a full-time permanent position so the Division can offer prospective student advising, culminating experience and probation advising as well as workshops that deal with common graduate student issues such as writer’s block and stress management

• Develop policy on graduate student incomplete grades

2. Administrative
• Clear commitment from the University at-large to graduate students

At our All-College meeting in the College of Ethnic Studies on December 10, 2013, faculty brainstormed in response to this theme. I submit the comments below on their behalf. Student Success is when students are empowered to do well. Retention, graduation, and a cultivating a strong connection to SFSU must be priorities. Issues of equity must also be addressed. There should be more tutoring, writing workshops, advising, and counseling to help students succeed in the university environment. The rising cost of housing is also a problem for students to continue. It could be useful to track student withdrawals as well to determine why they withdraw and provide appropriate support.

I am currently a chemistry major in my senior year at SFSU. I believe that the best way to help students graduate sooner from college is by offering more major classes to students. From personal experience, my graduation date will be 1 year late due to the fact that one course (CHEM 325: Inorganic Chemistry) will not be available this coming spring semester. I will have to come to SFSU in the fall semester just to complete one course. It will be a financial burden to come back in the fall to complete ONE course. This semester my major has become impacted and even though more students want to take science courses, there is a shortage in classes and no way for professors to accept more students into their classes.

The best way to help students graduate sooner (and the best way for students to want to stay at SF State) is to provide the service of creating more classes for students to finish their degree.

How you define student success?

·SF State Students have a right to a positive educational experience and good quality teaching.

What motivates students to stay at SF State?

·Students are successful and feel motivated when their financial, emotional, and physical needs are met.
·In order for students to be successful they need access to:
1) a reasonable and affordable education (e.g. reduced tuition, increase in financial resources-scholarships, grants),
2) courses necessary for graduation (often students graduation is delayed because of the inability to enroll in classes they need to graduate due to the lack of faculty to teach courses),
3) spaces that provide a sense of belonging (supportive campus staff, faculty, administrators, mentor programs, tutors, student organizations, peer education programs)
4) Increase in Mental Health Counseling resources to address the emotional concerns of students and promote student wellness and success. (Hire more cultural diverse counselors, increase number of sessions, provide a bigger space in order to provide adequate and culturally sensitive counseling services to a diverse student body).
5) Provide adequate advising and career services that nurture a student’s career path from the start of their college experience up to graduation/alumni.

What more can the university do to help students continue their education at SF State?

·The university can develop and expand career services and resources, such as hiring more career counselors.

What on campus resources would help students graduate sooner from SF State?

·SF State students would graduate sooner if they have access to a variety of methods of support on campus. For instance, prevention education is important to promote mental health wellness and self care of students. Programs such as the Suicide Prevention Regional Conference, Mental Health First Aid, How to HELP a friend: Creating a Campus Community of Caring –a peer suicide prevention workshop, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, sexual assault prevention, and other mental health related programs. These programs help students feel a sense of social connectedness and belonging.

Other than on campus resources, what would help students graduate sooner from SF State?

· Students would benefit for off campus resources for both physical and mental health.

What on campus resources are most helpful to you at SF State?

· Counseling & Psychological Services Center
· EOP
· Metro Academy
· AB540 Undocumented Student Task Force
· Disability Programs
· Financial Aid
· Student Success Program
CPSC Residential Life Counseling Program
Let’s Talk! drop-in consultation program”
Project Rebound
Project Connect
Richard Oaks Multicultural Center

How you define student success?

·SF State Students have a right to a positive educational experience and good quality teaching.

What motivates students to stay at SF State?

·Students are successful and feel motivated when their financial, emotional, and physical needs are met.
·In order for students to be successful they need access to:
1) a reasonable and affordable education (e.g. reduced tuition, increase in financial resources-scholarships, grants),
2) courses necessary for graduation (often students graduation is delayed because of the inability to enroll in classes they need to graduate due to the lack of faculty to teach courses),
3) spaces that provide a sense of belonging (supportive campus staff, faculty, administrators, mentor programs, tutors, student organizations, peer education programs)
4) Increase in Mental Health Counseling resources to address the emotional concerns of students and promote student wellness and success. (Hire more cultural diverse counselors, increase number of sessions, provide a bigger space in order to provide adequate and culturally sensitive counseling services to a diverse student body).
5) Provide adequate advising and career services that nurture a student’s career path from the start of their college experience up to graduation/alumni.

What more can the university do to help students continue their education at SF State?

·The university can develop and expand career services and resources, such as hiring more career counselors.

What on campus resources would help students graduate sooner from SF State?

·SF State students would graduate sooner if they have access to a variety of methods of support on campus. For instance, prevention education is important to promote mental health wellness and self care of students. Programs such as the Suicide Prevention Regional Conference, Mental Health First Aid, How to HELP a friend: Creating a Campus Community of Caring –a peer suicide prevention workshop, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, sexual assault prevention, and other mental health related programs. These programs help students feel a sense of social connectedness and belonging.

Other than on campus resources, what would help students graduate sooner from SF State?

· Students would benefit for off campus resources for both physical and mental health.

What on campus resources are most helpful to you at SF State?

· Counseling & Psychological Services Center
· EOP
· Metro Academy
· AB540 Undocumented Student Task Force
· Disability Programs
· Financial Aid
· Student Success Program
CPSC Residential Life Counseling Program
Let’s Talk! drop-in consultation program”
Project Rebound
Project Connect
Richard Oaks Multicultural Center

Improving access to internship, mentorship and specialized job training, as well as providing more online courses and sharing other campuses online courses would be essential to maximize student success. –Posted by DPRC employee on behalf of DPRC

How do you define Student Success?
- A positive academic and social experience

What motivates students to stay at SF State?
- They need a degree to get a good job, and the lack of necessary classes keeps them here

What more can the university do to help students continue their education at SF State?
- Focus on providing and supporting services that support the students success

For a student to "Graduate sooner", given that they MUST complete a prescribed course load would mean that more classes would need to 'double-count' so they do not waste so much time.

What on-campus resources would help students graduate sooner from SF State?
- Academic advising to keep students on track
- have more classes 'double count'
- Use the pre-reg data to know how many class sections to offer in the upcoming semester
- Unify and make all incoming students aware of all the free tutoring (CARP, LAC, Dept tutoring ie Math Dept, Chem Dept, etc)

Other than on-campus resources, what would help students graduate sooner from SF State?- mentoring
- funding (scholarships, grants, etc)

What on-campus resources are most helpful to you at SF State?
Well, if I were a student, it would be the tutoring and mentoring

How about we do something about the financial aid office? I had to begin working two jobs this semester to support myself through my MBA, my EFC is only $6000 and yet I didn't qualify for grants, and my tuition took 87% of my loan of $10,000, leaving me little to help pay my bills while in school. In Spring 2014, I had roughly the same EFC, in the same program, and was able to receive a significant amount of financial aid (around $13,000 between loans and grants), making it easy for me to take on a 10-15 hour a week job without needing to stress about if my rent would be paid, or if I would be able to afford to bart to school. When I asked the financial aid office if they would re-assess my financial situation this summer for fall, before I had to take on two jobs, this is what they said:

Sydni,

As a graduate student, you cannot petition to receive the State University Grant. Your unsubsidized loan is at its maximum, but you do have the option to accept the Grad Plus loan for additional funding.

Thanks,

Office of Student Financial Aid
San Francisco State University

Here is the email I had sent that prompted the above response:

Hi,

I'm finding that my financial aid package is not going to be enough for me in the fall/spring. I was wondering if I could bring in my pay stubs from the most recent semester to demonstrate my need to have it reassessed. Currently, my financial aid is based on an income of $26,000, which was my income during undergrad in the year 2013. Now I am a grad student (I was undergrad in fall 2013, and grad in spring 2014), and this year I've only made around $8000, projecting me at around $16,000 for the entire year. I really need some help paying for things for the fall and spring. I'm going to be in school 4 days a week during working hours and cannot work more than 10-15 hours a week.

Thank you.

Sydni Schieber

It's unacceptable that instead of taking a look at a student's financial situation to see if they would be able to help at all, all the financial aid office has to say is "Well, you can take on greater debt!" I worked a 44 hour work week last week, and have been sleeping roughly 2-3 hours a night just to be able to study for my midterms because I spend most of my time working. Please work to help your graduate students find greater success through funding. I hope this may have enlightened you to the situations you are placing your students in. If a student is willing to submit the paperwork to have their needs reassessed, there should be some system in place to process it.