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Project Title:Exploratory Program for Undecided Students and the SEEK Learning Institution Name:Western Kentucky University (WKU) Innovation Category:Retention/Completion Project Director:Londa Holder, Contact Information:(270)745-6862, londa.holder@wku.eduWebsite:http://www.wku.edu/exploratoryprogram
Project Description:The Exploratory Program (EP) provides resources for students who have not yet chosen a major and those who wish to change their major, helping them to explore their major options and make progress toward degree completion. Students find the tools and resources necessary to guide them toward a major and career path that is best suited for their abilities and aspirations. Resources include, among others, a monthly newsletter, a Majors and Minors Fair, a peer mentoring program, a Learning Community (SEEK), and various online tools. Students in this program are advised to complete their General Education Requirements and must select a major prior to or when these requirements are completed. SEEK (Students Exploring to Expand Knowledge) is a Learning Community for first-year students who enter college as Exploratory. These students have a desire to explore major and career interests, as well as build friendships and study support by attending three courses together and participating in other social and academic activities.  
Objectives:
  • To assist students in selecting a major by providing them with resources to explore the majors offered at WKU
  • To assist students towards degree completion by aiding them in finding their major and career direction
  • To provide resources for other advisors who work with Exploratory Students across campus
  • SEEK: To aid students in feeling more connected to the university, through increased contact with faculty and staff and by connecting them with other Exploratory students 
Outcomes:
  • EP serves approximately 2,546 students each year.
  • Out of 22 students who entered SEEK in fall 2010, 18 finished the program, and 15 finished the semester in Good (Academic) Standing, a 2.0 or higher.
  • In fall 2010, 1,110 students attended the Majors and Minors Fair.
  • The monthly newsletter is read by 200 students monthly (tracked through Google Analytics).
  • The Exploratory webpage has 150 to 200 hits a month. 
Challenges/Problems Encountered:It is only recently that the Exploratory Program became clearly defined. It has been around for a long time but was referred to as the “Undeclareds.” We changed the name and added many new programs to help the students declare a major. Promoting the new resources available for the program is a challenge, as it is not a major and is not affiliated with an academic department. The biggest challenge for SEEK is student participation. Getting the students to show up for study hours and other specialized events hasn’t been easy. We are developing an incentive program to combat this issue in the future.  
Evaluation Approach:We examine the number of times Exploratory students change a major, student academic standing, and overall student persistence to graduation. We evaluate SEEK on student persistence and academic standing. We also do a student survey to get their perspective on the program as well as a faculty survey. 
Potential for Replication:The Exploratory Program would be easily replicated at another university. Some of the individual programs may have to be altered but the overarching program would be the same, providing various resources and tools for students to utilize to explore their major options.  
Additional Resources:

SEEK: www.wku.edu/seek 

Majors and Minors Fair: www.wku.edu/mmf  

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Gary A. Ransdell , Presidentpresident@wku.edu
(270) 745-4346
Date Published: Monday, April 4, 2011