FASS Forward: An Early Intervention Program for First Term Students in FASS

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Panayiotis Pappas, Department of Linguistics

Project team: Kevin Laughren, Department of Economics

Timeframe: June 2017 to October 2018

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: Various 100-level FASS courses

Final report: Read Panos Pappas' final report (PDF) >>

Description: FASS has a worsening problem with student attrition, both among low-performing students and students who leave FASS for other faculties. Data show that low academic averages at admission are correlated with risk for attrition, but that some high-performing students are also at risk. No single program or proposal is thus likely to address fully FASS’s retention problem. Accordingly, FASS aims in 2017-18 to launch a range of retention initiatives, each of which is designed to stem attrition in a distinctive way.

One of these initiatives is FASS Forward. FASS Forward will provide course-specific one-on-one tutoring to first-term FASS students who are identified as being at risk for poor performance in one of the large first year FASS courses. The key goal of FASS Forward is to provide an early intervention on behalf of students who show signs of struggling with their coursework.

The goal of our Teaching and Learning Development Grant project is to find out whether early intervention for first term students in FASS can improve their chances of success in the course they are taking.

Questions addressed:

  • Do struggling students who receive FASS sponsored tutoring do better in their courses than those who do not?
  • Does tutoring improve student retention?
  • What other student characteristics are predictive of retention into second year?
  • What can we learn to improve future iterations of FASS-funded tutoring?

Knowledge sharing: We will present our results to the FASS working group on Student Retention, which is our supervisory group, and to the FASS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC). We will also present our results to any interested departments in FASS. We expect our findings to be of interest to other SFU faculties, as everyone is facing retention issues. We also plan to present our results at conferences in North America.

Keywords: Retention efforts, tutoring, mentoring, undergraduate students