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Scaffolded Support for Teaching Gateway Courses

Valuable resources provided exactly when you need them.

Overview

NIU has a long and proud history of serving students from all backgrounds, but data on student outcomes shine a light on areas in which we could improve. In gateway courses, for example, some students struggle with meeting our expectations, resulting in higher DFUW rates and equity gaps. This program provides faculty with the tools, resources, and support needed to create inclusive and engaging teaching and learning environments where all students can succeed. 

In this pilot program during fall 2022, aligned to our HLC Quality Initiative and university goals for student success and student experience, we will provide you with scaffolded support to improve student success in the gateway course(s) you are teaching. We will provide timely reminders and suggestions at pivotal points in the semester of specific, actionable strategies you can use in your teaching practice to support student success without compromising academic rigor. 

As part of this program, we ask you to implement at least one strategy recommended at each of those pivotal points. We also ask that you provide us with feedback on the strategy you tried, what impact it had, and how our support could be improved.

Key Components

Program Launch

Wednesday, August 17, noon - 2:30 pm

In this interactive, highly engaging event, we discussed the importance of and challenges to student success in gateway courses and collaboratively apply research-based practices for adapting the syllabus and planning the first day of class to build a strong foundation for student success.

This was held in-person on NIU's DeKalb campus; in-person participation is highly encouraged, but the session will also be streamed and recorded. A light lunch was provided.

Scaffolded Support

Periodically throughout the semester

As a pedagogical approach, scaffolding provides additional support at key moments when that support is necessary to improve outcomes. In this case, CITL will provide a periodic newsletter throughout the semester with recommendations on key course activities or strategies that you will be able to apply immediately to your teaching. We ask that you will select and apply at least one strategy from each newsletter.

View Toolkit

You will also be part of an ongoing community via Microsoft Teams with other faculty who are teaching gateway courses in the same semester. This is a space where you can ask questions and share strategies.


Status Reports and Evaluation

Three times during the semester, you will be asked to submit a status report on the strategies you implemented and their impact. We will also collect your feedback on the usefulness of the resources and strategies provided.

At the end of the program, Institutional Effectiveness will analyze the success rates and equity gaps in gateway courses to determine whether the program had an impact on changing outcomes for students.

Recognition for Participation

Those who demonstrate a commitment to improving student outcomes in gateway courses will be recognized with a digital badge and certificate. The expectation is that participants will submit all three status reports and will have selected and implemented one of the recommended strategies from most of the newsletters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.

What is a Gateway Course?
A Gateway Course is defined at NIU as a course that a student needs to take within a major or is a course required to complete general studies requirements. This definition comes from our HLC Quality Initiative, which is a requirement of our ongoing accreditation cycle.
How is the course success rate calculated?
The Success Rate is the percentage of students who enroll in the course and who earn a grade of A, B, or C. This definition comes from our HLC Quality Initiative, which is a requirement of our ongoing accreditation cycle. NIU's goal is for all gateway courses to have a success rate of 80% or higher.
What is an equity gap and how is it calculated?
An Equity Gap exists when the success rates for students from under-served communities are statistically significantly less than the average success rate in the course. This definition comes from our HLC Quality Initiative, which is a requirement of our ongoing accreditation cycle. NIU's goal is to eliminate equity gaps in our gateway courses.
Why was I identified to participate in this program?

Faculty who are included in the Scaffolded Support for Teaching Gateway Courses were selected because they are teaching one or more gateway courses in the upcoming semester that met one of the following criteria from our HLC Quality Initiative:

  • Course had a success rate lower than 80% (i.e., DFUW rate of 20% or greater) in the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 academic years
  • Course had at least a 10% equity gap (i.e. success rate for students from under-served communities was 10% lower than the average success rate in the course) in the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 academic years
What are the expectations of the program?

There are three expectations of the program:

  1. Participate in the Kick-off Institute.
  2. Select and implement at least one strategy from each of the newsletters throughout the semester. These will be sent weekly at first and then be cut back to biweekly after the first few weeks.
  3. Submit three status reports during the semester to share the strategies you implemented and their impact.
What food will be provided at the program launch event?

The program launch event will include a light lunch of boxed lunches. You will be able to choose between a few sandwiches or a salad. Each box will also include chips, fruit, dessert, and beverages. We will provide vegetarian and gluten-free options. You are welcome to bring additional food or snacks if you are concerned whether the choices will meet your needs.

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595
Email: citl@niu.edu

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