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TBR Awards Grant to Dr. Shannon Blanton for Student Success Program

Contact: Gabrielle Maxey
901-678-2843
gmaxey@memphis.edu

April 23, 2014 - The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) has awarded a $40,000 Student Engagement, Retention and Success grant to Dr. Shannon Blanton, vice provost for Undergraduate Programs and professor of Political Science at the University of Memphis, to implement “Academic Coaching for Students on Academic Warning.”

The team of U of M researchers who will implement and complete the project also includes Dr. Colton Cockrum, assistant director of the Center for Academic Enrichment and Retention Services (CARES); Cecilia Olivares, director of CARES; Bob Baker, director of the Center for Athletic Academic Services; and Dr. Karen Weddle-West, director of Diversity Initiatives and dean of the Graduate School.

“The primary purpose of the project is to pair students who have been placed on academic warning with an academic coach for individual meetings throughout the semester,” said Blanton. “Graduate students specializing in counseling-related fields will serve as coaches, and will meet one-on-one with freshmen to help them develop a clear vision of their own goals and career path. While both lower- and upper-division students go on academic warning in any given semester, the largest proportion of students are continuing freshmen, so this initial pilot project will focus on students in that category.”

The study seeks to incorporate use of the Degree Compass tool in the coaching program. This software uses an algorithm based on an individual student’s transcript and academic performance, as well as data from thousands of other students, to generate individualized course suggestions.

“Analysis has shown that students who selected courses in this manner had a much higher success rate than students who selected courses on their own,” Blanton said. The grant will permit the University to afford the use of this software while the pilot project advances.

Academic coaching is the topic of University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) required by the SACS accreditation process, and a featured part of the University’s Access to Success plan to reduce the success gap for underrepresented minorities and Pell Grant recipients.

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Last Updated: 4/25/14