Baylor Earns Student Success Acceleration Program Implementation Grant
$250,000 state grant builds upon mathematics curriculum redesign and supplemental instruction that increase underrepresented students’ academic success
WACO, Texas (Nov. 28, 2022) – Baylor University’s Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) within the Paul L. Foster Success Center has received a $250,000 Student Success Acceleration Program (SSAP) Implementation Grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The SSAP grant will allow CASE, along with the University’s Department of Mathematics, to build upon their success in mathematics curriculum redesign and mathematics supplemental instruction to benefit students from underrepresented populations in calculus.
“The awarding of this grant shows strong external validation for the work that Baylor is doing, work that ties directly to the goals embedded within our Strategic Enrollment Management plan for the next five years,” said J. Wesley Null, Ph.D., vice provost for undergraduate education and institutional effectiveness at Baylor. “This grant will have a powerful and direct impact on individual students’ academic success as we take steps to provide an even higher quality undergraduate education and help all of our students graduate in four years.”
For Fall 2022, Baylor redesigned its Calculus I curriculum (MTH 1321) and scaled up peer-led supplemental instruction for most sections of these courses through the support of a THECB planning grant. In addition, with the help of institutional funds, the University launched a new standalone course – led by a faculty member – that students took in addition to their Calculus I course. In this new course, the faculty member did not simply teach more calculus via lecturing but instead used active learning methods to focus on providing just-in-time review of the crucial topics right before they would encounter those in their Calculus I course. These efforts already are having a strong impact on student success in mathematics, including students from underrepresented populations such as first-generation students and underrepresented male students.
This latest SSAP grant will support an expansion of curriculum redesign efforts of math faculty to MTH 1309 (Business Calculus) – a required course for admission into Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business – with the addition of full supplemental instruction coverage for all sections.
“We are so appreciative of Baylor’s mathematics department supporting this work and serving as exemplars of student success innovation at Baylor and beyond,” said Whitney Jones, senior director of CASE at Baylor. “We are optimistic and confident that a similar redesign of MTH 1309 Business Calculus toward a corequisite model – as we have done with MTH 1321 Calculus I – will increase student success rates for students from underrepresented populations as well as across the greater student population.”
The mathematics department’s focus on student success is exemplary of the faculty’s commitment to academic excellence and student support. Their work also can serve as a model for mathematics instruction for other private institutions in Texas and beyond.
“We know that success in calculus is crucial to students’ overall academic goals of completing their degree in a timely and cost-effective manner,” said John M. Davis, Ph.D., professor and undergraduate program director in the Department of Mathematics at Baylor. “We want to partner with our students to achieve those goals, and this new initiative strategically focuses on students who will benefit the most. We are excited that this grant will allow us to expand the pilot program to impact even more students across a wide variety of majors.”
Research shows an 8% rise in persistence rates for students who use a supplemental instruction program and at even higher rates for specific populations, which reflects the University’s own institutional data. With equity as a key focus, the mathematics department and supplemental instruction program identified barriers that limited access to students who most needed support, leading to a proactive approach of strategic outreach and intentional intervention. The SSAP grant extends this focus to help underrepresented student populations while impacting persistence on a larger scale and increasing student use of academic support resources in the Foster Success Center, said De’Janae Tookes, supplemental instruction program manager in CASE at Baylor who served as principal investigator on the SSAP grant.
“Student success in mathematics keeps multiple academic pathways open for students from underrepresented populations and even creates the possibility that more students will serve as peer leaders, achieving greater representation and participation in supplemental instruction,” Tookes said. “Similarly, the mathematics department looked at disaggregated data and found that many of our underrepresented populations are in the two math courses. Their redesigned courses perfectly complement supplemental instruction as they are courses that students can enroll in for additional support covering many needs of students.”
The SSAP grant program was launched through funding from the Coronavirus Recovery and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Fund to assist the urgent need for economic recovery due to the pandemic and a future competitive workforce in Texas. The initiative supports student retention and completion of credentials of value, such as completing a degree, that lead to a successful career and have a broader impact on the labor market.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.