Enrollment Management > Student Retention > DePaul’s Executive Retention Group > Initiatives to Improve Retention

Higher Learning Commission Initiative: Foundations for Success 2013-2016

Foundations for Success, DePaul’s reaccreditation Quality Initiative, is inspired by Vision 2018, which in Goal I—Enhance Academic Quality and Support Educational Innovation—emphasizes to "Focus the entire university community on student learning and success." Foundations for Success is a set of initiatives with the goal, over the next three years, to improve the conditions for learning at DePaul so that more undergraduates complete their degree.

Foundations for Success Projects

The Learning Commons. The creation of a centralized place where students could go for tutoring and other academic services was the number one recommendation of the Probation Task Force, a group charged to identify ways to help students avoid ever having to go on probation. The renovation of the first floor of Richardson Library provided a wonderful opportunity to create just such a place, and the Learning Commons opened in September 2013.

Early Feedback. Research on student success has shown again and again that feedback from instructors—early and often—is critical. Receiving such feedback is especially important for students in their first year at DePaul, whether they are freshmen or transfer students. The goal is to increase the percentage of faculty who give early feedback and complete the Academic Progress Report each quarter.

Support for Transfer Students. Every year, roughly half the students who graduate came to DePaul as transfer students. While the university has come a long way in terms of making the transition a smooth one, more can be done. One goal of this project is to create an online transfer orientation program that students could access at any time with easy access to information about support services and other opportunities.

Integrated Information About Academic Resources. This project seeks to better coordinate information about academic support services from orientation through graduation, and offer students a centralized website integrating all university resources related to students' success.

Improved Communication Across Student Support Offices. BlueStar, an online tool powered by Starfish Retention Solutions, was implemented in fall 2014 to allow a) participating offices to share pertinent information about students and b) faculty to more easily alert advisors about students who need additional support. This system will go a long way towards creating a better safety net for students across the university.

Improved Course Access. The university is engaged in a course scheduling optimization effort to help ensure conflict-free course-scheduling and support timely progress toward degree. The classroom scheduling piece has been successfully implemented to leverage our instructional spaces and reveal future needs.

Learning Communities. To help enhance first year students' engagement with potential majors, several colleges are piloting learning communities in fall 2014 whereby students enroll in two concurrent courses: a Chicago Quarter course related to the major, and a second course chosen by the college. In addition, over the next few years, participating colleges will pilot one-credit courses to help entering transfer students plan their time at DePaul wisely and make the best use of available resources.

Math Placement Process Review. To ensure that entering students who need math courses are being placed appropriately, begin taking those courses as soon as possible, and have the support they need to succeed, DePaul will conduct a review of the entire process, from admission through course completion.

Effective Use of Technology In and Out of the Classroom. In order to address an increasing demand for computer labs, ensure that all first-year and new transfer students can take the math course they need as soon as they arrive, provide better service for on-line courses, and encourage active learning, this initiative will make it possible for a range of course sections to be designated as "laptop required."

Additional Initiatives to Improve Retention

The following are examples of major initiatives that have been influenced, led or are being planned by XRG:
  • Development of institutional data around retention and degree completion. Areas of focus include: relationship between first-year performance and four- and six-year graduation rates; relationship between academic probation, retention and graduation; comprehensive analysis of NSSE data; and development of ways to better track transfer students.
  • Improvements in academic advising, including: creation of the Office for Academic Advising Support for students who are exploring different majors/minors; technology support for advising (i.e., comprehensive Degree Progress Report, online transfer articulations, Academic Progress Report, online Declaration and Inter-college Transfer Tool); improved policy coordination of advisors across colleges; increased numbers of advisors in college offices; more support for and emphasis on faculty advising appropriate to each college.
  • Continual enhancement of DePaul Central, a one-stop service center for Student Records, Financial Aid and Student Accounts, which has locations on both campuses and a single coordinated phone system.
For additional examples of DePaul's retention goals and strategies, read more about the 4 Ps of Student Retention.​