By Sarah Watson
The University of Iowa Student Government voted on a resolution Tuesday advocating for additional funding to expand Academic Support & Retention Programs on campus.
The resolution will pledge UISG support for an additional $187,000 in UI funds to be allocated to Academic Support & Retention for two full-time coordinators and 32 leaders for Supplemental Instruction and Peer Led Undergraduate Study programs.
Academic Support & Retention is a university-sponsored program coordinating campus-wide programs and initiatives like Supplemental Instruction and PLUS aimed to improve retention and student success.
Sens. Guowei Qi and Riley Hubbart said staff at Academic Support & Retention requested the funds to increase the breadth of resources for students and encourage more participation in programs.
“We have all the data gathered from the last couple years of how Supplemental Instruction impacts in terms of GPA boosts, in terms of higher retention from spring to fall,” Qi said. “We are just looking to expand that.”
Supplemental Instruction is a free UI program for students that uses peer assisted study sessions to improve student retention and success for certain difficult courses.
The program has grown since 2014, so that now nearly 20 percent of students enrolled in classes that offer Supplemental Instruction take advantage of the program.
The resolution also cites the Supplemental Instruction program has improved grades and retention rates, with a 10 percent increase in retention for all students who used the program, and the average grade increased by 0.513 for a student who regularly attended sessions.
“At the UISG retreat, there was a representative from Academic Support & Retention who came to talk, and she really focused on the importance of Supplemental Instruction and underfunding that it gets,” Hubbart said. “At the Academic Affairs Committee, we highlighted that as one of the issues we wanted to advocate for at the university.”
Another program the funding would benefit is PLUS. The program is offered as a zero-semester hour course for students enrolled in both College Algebra and General Chemistry I to focus on problem-solving and quantitative reasoning skills to coordinate topics learned in both classes.
The resolution will be brought to the attention of UI Offices of the President, the Provost, the Registrar, Academic Support and Retention, and Division of Student Life. However, Qi and Hubbart said they do not know what the response from UI officials will be.
“The resolution is a way for students to be able to get their viewpoints to administration.” Qi said.
UISG President Jacob Simpson said a similar proposal was considered among several other proposals last year by a UI funding program, Strategic Initiatives, which sets aside extra funds that work with numerous UI colleges. Because of funding cuts, the proposal did not go through. Simpson said with funding opportunities in the new fiscal year, UISG wanted Academic Services & Retention to be a priority.
“We want to have that conversation with university,” Simpson said. “The goal is to support our students in need and the goal is to retain more students.”