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Project Title:Civic Engagement: A First-Year Experience Course Connecting Quantitative Reasoning for Undeclared StudentsInstitution Name:Emporia State University Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Rob Catlett, Director, Centers for Economic Education and Community ResearchContact Information:620-341-5678 , rcatlett@emporia.eduWebsite:
Project Description:Motivation is an important element in student learning, and this First-Year-Experience (FYE) course centers around civic engagement with an intentional emphasis on math and quantitative reasoning for undeclared students with low ACT math scores. The idea is to cultivate leadership in civic engagement early in the undergraduate experience in campus and community activities and weave math and quantitative reasoning into what we do. For example, students created assessment of the projects. In addition, field trips where real-world applications of math and quantitative reasoning illustrate the efficacy of student learning.
  • The objectives of this approach are multidimensional and they include:
  • Develop a cadre of student leaders in civic engagement
  • We intend to invite them back as seniors to work with a new set of first-year students effectively blending a First-Year-Experience civic engagement class with a capstone civic engagement class.
    1. Improve student learning in math and quantitative reasoning
    2. Stimulate creativity and collaboration to improve people’s lives in the community
    3. Increase retention



The outcomes which were achieved and to which we aspire include:

  • 100% continuation (retention) fall to spring semester (realized)
    1. Improved second-year retention (significantly beyond comparable groups)
  • Improved student learning in math and quantitative reasoning (aspired)
    1. Achievement of higher scores on the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Progress (CAAP) relative to the same student’s scores on the math section of the ACT (i.e., a linkage study)
    2. Passing remedial math and subsequent college-level math courses
  • Collaborate and form bonds with other students, faculty, and those in the community while working on civic engagement projects (realized)
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The first challenge was in recruiting students to join the course without any stigma associated with low math and quantitative reasoning in the past. In addressing this challenge, students were invited to join the class based on their math placement (i.e., the lowest of two remedial courses that must be passed before college algebra). Another challenge was the logistics for field trips; local ones were relatively easy and extraordinarily inexpensive (i.e., less than $10 total for transportation) and none of the students had ever been to a government office.
Evaluation Approach:


The full evaluation of this first cohort will not be complete until they are seniors. We will use linkage studies using directly comparable external assessments (i.e., ACT and CAAP) for each student, which then can be aggregated.  Internal direct assessment includes passing math courses.  External direct assessment of their projects includes evaluation by professionals external to the university (e.g., the City Manager, Director of Engineering, and the senior EPA administrator in Chicago among others).


Potential for Replication:This model for course can easily be replicated, especially on campuses where the American Democracy Project emphasizes participation. Projects vary; for example, these students teamed with the League of Women Voters to electronically-register Kansas voters. Students hosted the only debate of candidates for the U.S. House. They were leaders in neighborhood revitalization with city funding. Students designed educational materials for storm-water awareness. Moreover, they used intellectual and creative talents to help the homeless.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Michael D. Shonrock , Presidentmshonroc@emporia.edu
(620) 341-5551
Date Published: Monday, March 28, 2011Date Revised: Thursday, April 12, 2012