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Project Title:Destination Education: Navigating for Success: School of Education Pre-Major Student Support ProgramInstitution Name:Fairmont State University Innovation Category:Retention/Completion Project Director:Carol A. Tannous, Coordinator for Pre-major Student SupportContact Information:(304) 367-4025, ctannous@fairmontstate.eduWebsite:
Project Description:Destination Education is a unique, pre-major student support program designed to address the academic, social and emotional issues pre-education majors face throughout their academic career, but specifically during the freshman and sophomore years. This program begins with a pre-college initiative entitled “Finding Direction”; this summer high-school-to-college bridge program for aspiring majors fully explores education as a career and works to establish early connection to the School of Education. “True North” continues to point the way during education welcome week; students are connected to their advisors, and active mentoring is encouraged by connecting Junior and Senior Education majors to the incoming freshmen. A Freshman Seminar continues to build on the learning community that partners with an Introduction to Education Class; this includes an early field experience requirement so students get first-hand knowledge of the education profession. “Establishing a Bearing” is the next step. Social networking for advising and program information exchange provides a critical linkage between and among our students, and faculty and Staff are trained to ensure everyone is utilizing the social networking to its potential. 
Objectives:
  • Create a sense of community in the School of Education (collect information that will reflect participation in curricular and co-curricular activities)
  • Embrace a holistic approach to working with pre-majors (continue to work across every dimension of the university to address all the needs of our students)
  • Establish strong paths of communication (including, but not limited to, face-to-face meetings, social media, newsletters, seminars, and interactions in group settings as well as one-to-one)
  • Engage in “intentional interactions” that promote student success (continue to educate the faculty/staff interacting with the students to the concept of being intentional with each interaction with each student, realizing that the ultimate goal is student retention and graduation) 
Outcomes:
  • Fairmont State University is just finishing its first academic year with implementation of the School of Education’s Destination Education.  Retention statistics of declared freshmen versus returning sophomores will be collected to quantify effectiveness in one dimension.
  • Online assessments are being distributed to collect feedback from the students, as well as faculty and staff to identify gaps and pathways to improve the program.
  • The most meaningful outcome to date is that fifteen students have been identified that were departing the major, many of them departing college, until they participated in this program.  FSU serves a high number of first generation college students, and we know that there has been a serious problem with retention between the freshmen who declared Education as a major and the number of those students who actually made it to their junior year successfully.  
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The biggest challenge was effectively identifying the students who needed to be included in the process. Another challenge was communicating with the students once they were identified.  Building pathways to the students between their departure from high school and arrival on campus in order to determine interest in the education major has been critical. Working closely with the faculty and staff who interact with the students has been one of the ways to build this pathway. If a student expresses interest in education as a major to anyone along the way, they should now be referred to our program so that exploration can occur and support for that decision can begin to take place. In addition to a presence on Facebook, Twitter has now been added to the approaches to communicate about Destination Education. 
Evaluation Approach:Since this is the first academic year that Destination Education has been implemented, the evaluation process is a work in process in itself. The Coordinator is responsible for collecting the data to populate the evaluation process. Retention statistics between the freshman and sophomore, sophomore and junior, and finally, junior to senior years will be collected for comparison against the statistics prior to the program’s implementation. Qualitative data in the form of student feedback is being collected. Faculty and staff are also being asked to bring forward information they have collected through interaction with the students in this process. 
Potential for Replication:This program is easy to replicate. It needs a lot of talent to drive and monitor it, and dedication from the entire campus community to make it successful. Our Coordinator strives to garner support from each college within our university to ensure success, and a goal at FSU is to replicate it to extend to other majors here. To quote the director, “We are on a pathway to intentionally walk our students through their college experience, understanding that everyone who interacts with our students is important to their overall success.” 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Maria Rose , Interim PresidentMaria.Rose@fairmontstate.edu
(304) 367-4151
Date Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011