WSU faculty members are teaming up with the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) to promote first-year student success through service learning.

A Student Success Seed Grant from the Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs will fund the project, which focuses on engaging students through service learning – a high impact practice linked directly to student success.

The project’s initial stage will utilize an experimental design to provide local evidence of the efficacy of service learning as a student success and retention strategy. The experiment will offer comparisons on civic engagement outcomes, performance in the students’ biology course, and retention to sophomore year. The second year of the project will entail tests on whether different kinds of post-project reflection impact objective measures of student success.

The project is designed to impact the most vulnerable student groups for retention while providing the transformative experience articulated in the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan and the Drive to 25.

The grant proposal was selected due to its direct purpose of improving student persistence and completion outcomes at WSU, specifically addressing challenges for students who are at risk for not completing an undergraduate degree. The proposal displayed strong partnership and a plan for developing and scaling the project through external funding after the seed grant stage.

The Student Success Seed Grant proposals were reviewed by an independent panel of staff and faculty, as well as by the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

Paul Verrell, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is the principle investigator on the grant proposal. He is partnering with Melanie Brown, director of the CCE, and Lisa Carloye, clinical assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences.

The award of $24,250 will be used over 18 months and have a start date of July 1, 2017.

For further information about the 2017 Student Success Seed Grants, visit