The Community Education Coalition recently awarded funds to the IUPUC Center for Teaching and Learning to manage the work of the Gateway Community of Practice. IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College Columbus/Southeast Indiana, and the EcO Attainment Network are collaborative partners in this initiative with a shared goal to increase student success in gateway courses. Gateway courses are typically general education, first-year, high-enrollment courses that are prerequisites for degrees and programs of study. Examples of gateway courses include math, English, history, social sciences (e.g. sociology, psychology), and beginning science courses (e.g. biology, chemistry). Success in gateway courses improves student retention and degree completion leading to improved career and employment opportunities in the region.

One dimension of the initiative will involve faculty members from IUPUC and Ivy Tech Community College Columbus students studyin the Gardner Institute Gateway to Completion Teaching and Learning Academy (TLA). Those educators who attend the TLA will implement best-practice improvement strategies in their gateway courses then document and share their experiences and results. Data such as grade distribution, retention, and course satisfaction will be examined to assess the effectiveness of the strategies implemented.

Another dimension of the initiative promotes the use of Supplemental Instruction (SI) to increase retention and student engagement. SI provides peer support inside and outside the classroom using trained Student Leaders. SI offers extra resources to students in a non-intimidating, but informed, manner. Beginning and advanced workshops for both faculty and student leaders will be hosted at the IUPUC Center for Teaching and Learning.

The Gateway Community of Practice initiative will collect and analyze data on instructional strategies and SI practices to determine the most impactful and successful approaches to increase gateway course success. The combined strategies of the instructor-driven and student-delivered approaches will improve retention and increase degree completion at both IUPUC and Ivy Tech Community College.

Both IUPUC and Ivy Tech Community College Columbus actively participate in the EcO Attainment Network. The network brings educators, employers, and community partners together to build a coordinated, aligned learning system designed to connect residents to economic opportunities through education attainment. Within southeastern Indiana, the Department of Workforce Development projects that by 2025, 60% of jobs will require some type of postsecondary credential thus making education critical to the regional economy. While the focus of the Gateway Community of Practice is on helping students succeed in entry level courses, it serves as a building block in the larger scope of work supporting learners as they make progress along their educational pathway toward degree completion.

For more information on the Gateway Community of Practice, contact Marsha VanNahmen at the IUPUC Center for Teaching and Learning (mvannahm@iupuc.edu; 812-375-7576).