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Washington State University
Washington State University Office of the Provost

Student success project takes flight

The University took action last year to launch several projects that support priorities articulated in the Strategic Plan, and reinforced by the Drive to 25. The resulting Grand Challenge research projects and Student Success project are underway, and already impacting their respective areas. Updates on the Grand Challenge research projects are forthcoming in the coming months.

The Transformative Change Initiative is making progress in developing infrastructures to best support students at WSU. In its pilot this spring, TCI reached more than 9,000 undergraduate students through more than 30 faculty members.

The TCI is a three-pronged initiative:

The Parent Student Handbook Intervention is underway, and receives additional support from a related research grant from the National Institute of Health. The team is crafting methodology, measures and analyses to revise the parent-student handbook. The handbook will support student success by providing parents and their WSU-bound children with interactive exercises, tools, and strategies for identifying core values, developing a sense of purpose, and engaging in values-based decision-making. Focus groups with parents and students are being conducted to gather feedback on revisions, and a sub-set of WSU-bound students will receive the revised parent-student handbook in fall of 2017.

As part of the Early Experience Intervention, TCI is advancing the first and second year undergraduate curriculum through the implementation of strategies known to improve academic persistence and success. A faculty development team and curriculum development teams are working with a cohort of faculty “innovators” across diverse disciplines in a series of training opportunities. Through the LIFT (Learn, Inspire, Foster, Transform) Program, faculty translate their instructional goals into pedagogical, behavioral, and curriculum changes known to increase student success and engagement. The program is centered around a four-part face-to-face workshop series on connection and belonging, values-based decision-making, mindfulness and self-compassion, and resiliency and growth mindset. The workshops are complemented by an online Blackboard course space where faculty engage in assessment questions and discussions regarding classroom implementation. Additional workshops on active learning and inquiry-based instruction are offered by the Office of Academic Outreach and Innovation. The curriculum team is creating online teaching modules scheduled for implementation in fall of 2017. The leadership team is also recruiting the first class of “Emerging Scholar Ambassadors,” who will serve as peer mentors and help students connect with experiential learning opportunities such as research, outreach, global education, creative activities, internships and intellectual competitions.

The research and assessment component of the TCI involves overseeing the design and execution of strategies to evaluate each component of the initiative as well as collecting preliminary data to pursue additional external funding opportunities. Literature reviews on both resiliency and pedagogical interventions helped form the framework for program implementation, and the protocol for assessing faculty development.

Three faculty searches associated with the initiative are ongoing, and a new faculty member in the College of Education will lead evaluation and research on the project at the institutional level. Additional capacity in the Office of Institutional Research will be added to assist with data tracking and analysis of TCI outcomes.

For more information on each component of the TCI, contact Laura Hill (Parent-Student Handbook intervention) at, Denise Yost (faculty development), or Sam Swindell (curriculum development) at