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Washington State University Office of the Provost

Initiative Overview

The Transformational Change Initiative is a multi-component plan for increasing student access at Washington State University. Overall, the aim is to produce transformational change institutionally – by creating a university that supports students emotionally, socially, and academically – and individually – by producing graduates positioned for lifelong success.

Major components of the initiative include a parent handbook, curriculum and faculty development, a peer student ambassador program, and a comprehensive research strategy. Most importantly, the focus of the Initiative includes improving student resiliency and empowerment using methods known to support students’ emotional, social, and academic development. A recent publication from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine provides further support for the implementation of key aspects of the Initiative. Student competencies including a sense of belonging, developing a growth mindset, and a sense of connection to personal goals and values (all highlighted in the study) are included in our scaled-up faculty training and implementation in support of students’ college persistence and success.

Parent Handbook

First Years Away from Home: Letting Go and Staying Connected with your WSU Student

WSU supports not only students’ academic success, but also their overall well-being. One way we promote a successful transition to WSU is through programming specifically for first-year students. We know that students are only part of the equation to a successful transition to WSU – parents and guardians play a vital role too. We developed the parent handbook, First Years Away from Home: Letting Go and Staying Connected with your WSU Student, to provide parents an opportunity to partner with us in students’ transition to WSU.

The handbook contains conversation starters, activities, and important information about college students, based on our experience with first-year students and on scientific studies about student success.

Activity Examples:

  • Values Card Sort
  • Parent Readiness Checkup
  • Financial Expectations Activity

If you would like a copy of the handbook, please contact Katie Forsythe at katie.forsythe@wsu.edu.

Curriculum and Faculty Development

Attending college provides students with a multitude of educational opportunities. From math and music to marketing and microbiology, students can discover, learn, and grow at WSU. In order to make the educational experience within the classroom all that it can be, we are working to advance the first- and second-year curriculum by developing pedagogical and behavioral teaching modules and expanding inquiry-based instruction. The goal is to increase the level of active engagement and collaborative learning at the very outset of students’ academic careers at WSU. These curricular changes will be accompanied by faculty development opportunities in which instructors experienced in innovative pedagogical approaches will provide training to instructors teaching courses with large enrollments of first- and second-year students.

Support for students from year three through graduation will utilize a scaffolded framework to appropriately sequence students’ exposure to learning opportunities across their undergraduate career. Students’ early exposure to inquiry-based problem-solving will enable them to successfully transition to unique, individualized experiential learning opportunities at later time points in their college careers. These include peer mentoring and programming to first-year students to facilitate early awareness of and later engagement in experiential learning opportunities, an advisors network highlighting opportunities for experiential learning and hands-on training across a variety of colleges, contexts, disciplines, and interest areas, an undergraduates scholar program, and a multimedia portfolio course.

In harmony with the WSU mission, these programs are carefully designed…

To advance knowledge through creative research and scholarship across a wide range of academic disciplines;

To extend knowledge through innovative educational programs in which emerging scholars are mentored to realize their highest potential and assume roles of leadership, responsibility, and service to society; and

To apply knowledge through local and global engagement that will improve quality of life and enhance the economy of the state, nation, and world.

Research and Assessment

At WSU, we constantly look for ways to improve the educational experience for students. We are passionate about discovery, developing the next generation of leaders, and making our communities stronger. While every aspect of TCI is designed to advance student success at WSU, we must assess our work and make improvements when necessary. Our research and assessment team is composed of academics from across the state of Washington and various areas of expertise. Our collaborative approach groups experts in the fields of education, human development, and psychology who all care deeply about student success.

Our findings will be shared broadly through conference presentations and article publications. We believe our work at WSU has the potential to make positive change for higher education and in the lives of students. Together, we will create transformational change at Washington State University.

Washington State University