Integrate and strengthen student success efforts.

Expanded summer offerings offer flexibility, encourage on-time graduation

Life—the best and the worst of it all—gets in the way of some undergraduates completing the 16 credit hours in eight consecutive semesters required to graduate on time in four years. In response, Augsburg expanded its summer offerings to help students catch up or graduate early. Additional online and hybrid offerings also allow nontraditional learners to maintain momentum during summer break, said Amy Gort, dean of Arts and Sciences.

“Our Office of Academic Advising and department chairs recommended summer offerings with particular focus on courses in high demand and ones that students can have trouble getting into,” Gort said. “We also asked departments to consider offering at least one major course, if they can be well done in a hybrid and/or online format. The departments that have majors in the Adult Undergraduate program are all offering major courses this summer to give our adult students the option to take courses year-round.”

Graduating on time is in each student’s best interest, she added, to keep college more affordable and to remain eligible for certain financial support, like the Minnesota State Grant, which aids students through eight semesters. Augsburg is also focused on graduating students in four years, as the federal, state, and local governments evaluate the institution based on a four-year graduation success rate.

“We also recognized that many of our undergraduate students are taking summer courses at other institutions and transferring the credits to Augsburg,” she added. “Offering those courses through Augsburg makes it easier on everyone involved and ensures the credits count toward degree completion.

Enrollment is up in both summer sessions—Time 1, from May 9-June 27, and Time 2, from July 5-August 19. Since registration for Time 2 is still open, enrollment numbers are not final, but with more than 3,600 credits so far, summer enrollment is up 5 percent from last summer. Given the increased enrollment this summer, Gort said Augsburg plans to continue emphasizing summer as an important term and building its offerings.

Learn more about Augsburg’s many offerings, including online and hybrid courses, through Admissions or register for summer courses directly through the Registrar’s Office.

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Integrate and strengthen student success efforts.

—By Kate H. Elliott

Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers publishes a list of top qualities employers seek in new college hires. Sandwiched between “team player” and “communication skills” is a classic—“leadership.” But the seemingly straightforward, familiar concept is actually quite elusive.

To help incoming students grasp the admired—but complex—quality, Campus Activities and Orientation created the Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. During orientation each fall, co-instructors Michael Grewe and Joanne Reeck invite first-year and transfer students to apply for the 11-week program that empowers students to develop and apply their leadership skills to connect with and engage in the Augsburg and greater communities.

“The program is incredibly important to the campus community, as we are providing incoming students an opportunity to grow and nurture their leadership skills—encouraging them to understand what drives them,” said Grewe, who had led the effort with Reeck since 2012. “The program, which serves about 50 students each year, has also realized pipelines for leadership opportunities both on and off campus.”

Grewe said weekly gatherings create space to discuss ethics, conflict, personal identity, power and privilege. The group settings allow new faces to meet others interested in sharpening their leadership skills.

“It’s always an inspiring blend of both students with leadership experience and those who are just beginning to see themselves as leaders,” said Grewe, assistant director of Campus Activities and Orientation “Many of our students become impactful campus leaders as resident advisers, orientation or AugSem leaders, and officers of campus organizations.”

Participants also meet with peer leaders four times that first semester at Augsburg. These one-on-one sessions build upon and personalize concepts presented during the weekly class.

“Discussions with peer leaders are key to participants’ personal growth, as they challenge students to reflect on class concepts in their own lives,” Grewe said. “Peers also help connect students with opportunities that align with their passions and interests.” 

Tools such as StrengthsFinder and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator help provide students with insight and focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.

More information, including applications for fall 2016 (available in the summer) can be found at Campus Activities and Orientation.

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Integrate and strengthen student success efforts.

—By Kate H. Elliott

New learning outcomes strengthen curricular ties to mission

Revised learning outcomes ensure performance matches expectations 

We live in an age of accountability, which can at times feel uncomfortable and constraining. But assistant professor Kristen Chamberlain embraces assessment. Augsburg is a community of reflective individuals striving for meaningful work, Chamberlain says, and evaluation is crucial to articulating our values and determining whether performance matches expectations. 

As director of assessment, Chamberlain is leading a team of 12 faculty and staff charged with strengthening the college’s methods for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to ensure Augsburg is living out its mission to cultivate informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.

“Outcomes provide ways for us to concretely assess if Augsburg’s educational experience is fulfilling the mission,” says Chamberlain, assistant professor of communication studies. “Each student learning outcome is connected to one of the educational goals listed in our mission statement.”

More emphasis on evaluations, timelines

The Assessment Committee’s work builds upon Augsburg’s past work in the area. This most recent evolution began in September 2013, after a team of faculty participated in a Higher Learning Commission Assessment Workshop to refine the existing system to place more weight on faculty evaluations of students and to specify timelines for review, recommendations, and change implementation.

During the 2013-14 academic year, the campus collected faculty evaluations of students’ critical thinking and writing skills. Faculty also engaged in conversations that resulted in the development of the Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes, which Augsburg faculty approved in December 2014.

The following year, the campus collected faculty evaluations of students’ oral communication and quantitative reasoning skills. On a three-year assessment cycle, the 2015-16 academic year will focus on data analysis followed by recommendations for change. Any improvements will be discussed and set into motion the following year.

Clear, actionable directives

Assessment committee member Amy Gort, dean of arts and sciences, says the revised co-curricular learning outcomes—with clear, actionable directives—have been well received throughout campus. The outcomes are divided into seven categories:  

  • Cognitive complexity
  • Knowledge, acquisition, integration and application
  • Humanism
  • Civic engagement
  • Interpersonal and intrapersonal competence
  • Practical competence
  • Persistence and academic achievement

“We are always looking for ways to improve, even within the assessment process,” Gort says. “One example is that in the first two years we asked faculty to score the work of students in their own courses. Starting this year, we are asking faculty to submit student work for scoring by a team of faculty who will be specially trained.  We think this will encourage faculty engagement in this work and make the scores more reliable.

Responding to data, strengthening the future 

Throughout each stage of the process, the assessment committee works to inform the campus community about their work—from detailed reports to recommendations. This year, faculty and staff are collaborating to respond to themes that emerged from the critical thinking and writing data collected in 2013-14. Chamberlain shares two outcomes from these interdepartmental collaborations:

  • To strengthen writing across the curriculum, the Center for Teaching and Learning is working with Jacqui deVries, director of general education, to create professional development workshops for faculty.
  • deVries is also working with department chairs to develop signature assignments or projects to better assess critical thinking and writing skills across the board.

“The Assessment Committee is continually engaged in discussions about how to improve our assessment process,” Chamberlain says. “We are excited about bringing concrete, relevant data back to the faculty community. In many ways, this data validates the excellent work of our faculty and students. The assessment work will also help us further strengthen our curriculum and ensure that every Augsburg student receives a Mission-driven education.”

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Strengthen our assessment practices across all programs. 

—by Kate Elliott

U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge continues to bring Auggie vets together

A year after it opened, the U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge continues to be an important part of the educational journey of Augsburg student vets and has become a quiet respite for the College’s community of veterans.

“Many of our students are commuters, here for long days and on evenings and weekends, so the lounge becomes ‘home base’ when they are on campus,” said Lori York, Augsburg’s School Certifying Official. York also serves as liaison between current and prospective students and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dave Adams, a student in Augsburg’s Masters of Business Administration program, is grateful for the camaraderie and comfort the lounge provides.

“My crew, the group of four who all came together from the same National Guard unit, love the lounge,” Adams said. “It gives us a great place to meet before class and compare notes, as well as a quiet place to go when we have small group breakout sessions.”

Adams also acknowledged his appreciation for the treats–gifts from Augsburg staff members–that often appear in the lounge.

“I was truly dragging when I got to school yesterday. Walking into the lounge to meet the other guys and seeing cookies was just a nice surprise and a simple touch, but it did make a difference in the night.”

But the U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge, located in the Oren Gateway Center, is more than just a getaway. It’s also come to represent the connections and community of veterans who are all pursuing their next call.

“When I drop in at the Veterans’ Lounge, I see students meeting each other, sharing their past experiences,” said York. “Today when I stopped by, a student who is in his last semester here was greeting a new student and welcoming him to campus. They immediately jumped into a conversation about their time in the military, where they’ve served, when they got out. These students gravitate toward one another and they gravitate toward the lounge to find their comrades. The lounge is key to building and keeping this community at Augsburg.”

The connection between student vets and U.S. Bank, recognized as a top corporate supporter of veterans and military families, doesn’t end there.

Andy Norgard, pictured above (rear), is one of several Auggies to complete internships at U.S. Bank in recent years. A former member of the Marine Corps and Augsburg’s Student Veteran Representative, Norgard completed a Financial Analyst internship at U.S. Bank last summer and has recently been offered a job at McGladrey, one of the nation’s top accounting firms.

For the second consecutive year, Augsburg was named a Military Friendly® School, a list which is compiled through extensive research and a free, data-driven survey of more than 10,000 VA-approved schools nationwide. Military Friendly Schools have gone above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education. As of fall 2015, there were nearly 120 active members and military veterans attending Augsburg, a notable number for an institution of Augsburg’s size. The College graduated more than 20 military veterans this past spring and summer.

We are proud to partner with U.S. Bank in its continued support of veterans in both higher education and business.

This post was written by Jay Peterson and originally appeared on Augsburg’s Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations site.

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Because we believe in meeting students where they are while challenging them to achieve, Augsburg equips all students to succeed.