Heritage University releases Breakthrough Strategies video series to assist educators in overcoming challenges that inhibit first-generation college student success.

By Bonnie Hughes, Communications Officer, Heritage University, 509-865-8588 or Enable JavaScript to view protected content. October 4, 2013

Toppenish, WA — Heritage University has produced a series of brief instructional videos each featuring a “breakthrough strategy” to enable first generation college student success. The videos highlight practices that can be used across a number of disciplines and are available to educators nationwide. The strategies are supported by the research literature on college-level classroom-based practices.

The series was created by the University’s Institute for Student Identity and Success (ISIS). The institute’s mission is to increase the number of four-year degree recipients among low-income, first-generation-to-college students by assisting faculty and administrators to use new research knowledge and skills that foster degree completion by these “New Majority” students.

The faculty at Heritage was integral to the development of the series, said Kathleen Ross, President Emerita & Professor of Intercultural Communications, and the ISIS director. “Faculty members identified specific challenges noted especially in first-generation students, and each has developed a strategy to help students overcome this difficulty and increase their success rates.”

The series has been previewed to educators across the country, meeting with both critical acclaim and an eagerness to share them with others in the higher education community. "The videos demonstrate that faculty can creatively broaden their role to include responsibility for a deliberate focus on overcoming cultural assumptions about teaching and learning. We expect that the series will be expanded with contributions from faculty across the country", said Gloria Nemerowicz, President, Yes We Must Coalition. The Yes We Must Coalition will feature the series at their upcoming national conference in April.

Jack H. Schuster, Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University, author of award-winning publications on college faculty, reviewed the series and applauded the academic rigor. “As for the variety of strategies that are advocated, I found them to be pedagogically sound and a nice mix of relating the students’ education process to their environments as well as intra-classroom strategies.”

Overcoming first generation college student challenges has been a serious need for generations according to Frank Balz, VP for Research & Policy Analysis at the National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, “Although I was not the first in my family to attend college I had friends and knew many students for whom the topics that are addressed here were issues even back then. As far as I know there were no strategies to deal with those issues. Everyone simply was told to do the work. I’m not sure how many fell students by the wayside. So, to see a systematic effort to address these same issues across the entire faculty is a heartening thing.”

Dr. Ross’ goal for the project is that not only will educators across the country use these strategies in their classrooms but also contribute their own breakthrough strategies for incorporation into the series. Written proposals or completed amateur videos can be sent to ISIS@heritage.edu. The ISIS Faculty Peer Review committee will choose the most beneficial, research-based strategies to consider for future professional filming.

The videos are available for viewing online at heritage.edu/ISIS. Information about the submission process can be found at that site as well.

For more information, contact Dr. Kathleen Ross (509) 865-8657 or Enable JavaScript to view protected content..

Heritage University is a non-profit, independent, regionally accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate education across the state of Washington.

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