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President Sherman talks about COVID-19 precautions for the spring semester of the 2021-22 at Ohio University on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Make the Mark

Published August 15, 2022

OU alters academic operations following sub-par student performance

By Addie Hedges | News Editor

Ohio University plans to make improvements in academically supporting its students after nearly 400 students were dismissed from the university due to their academic standing.

Specifically, OU will be making strategic changes to its academic advising, experiential learning opportunities and tutoring this upcoming semester.

Following the 2021-2022 spring semester, 339 students were academically dismissed from the university, which is higher than the number of students dismissed during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 spring semesters combined.

At the June Board of Trustees meeting, OU President Hugh Sherman said the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted students' routines and academic schedules, which may have caused changes in grades, according to a previous Post report.

Jenny Klein, the executive director of advising and graduation plans, said COVID-19 has been and will continue to be a lingering obstacle for students of all ages.

“Various things that people normally learn … didn't progress at the normal rate,” Klein said. “It's just been a really challenging time, and the lingering effects of the pandemic have shown themselves, to some extent, in the academic achievements here at Ohio University, as they have everywhere.”

The university plans to prevent similar academic trends from occurring during the 2022-2023 school year by expanding its academic intervention notification system — My Ohio Success Network. Last school year, Klein said over 30,000 notifications were sent to students through the systems, marking their progress in classes.

Academic advisers are also flagged when one of their advisees receives a warning message so they can follow up and work with students to identify the cause of poor performance.

Progress messages are only sent to students from professors who fill out their students’ success surveys, causing differences in how many messages students receive, Klein said.

This year, Klein said more faculty members will complete the survey and students will get more messages. With one of the largest incoming classes starting at OU this fall, Klein said the My Ohio Success Network will be utilized even more.

Those incoming students will also have a different pair of advisers than current OU students. Instead of being assigned an academic adviser and a success adviser, new students will have a faculty mentor and success adviser.

Faculty mentors are experts in their fields who will guide students through their declared major. They will be selected by each department based on the student's area of interest and which faculty member will best fit that interest.

“The faculty mentor and success advisors will work together to guide students through their experience,” Klein said.

In addition to improving classroom performance, Lindsey Rudibaugh, the executive director of experiential learning, said her office is looking to broaden the spectrum of experiential learning activities.

Rudibaugh said experiential learning can be anything that involves community engagement, creativity, research, domestic and abroad study and leadership activities.

“We're trying to broaden that landscape and help students think bigger, broader about what they might do, what experiences they might have to really get a leg up and be prepared to be good professionals,” Rudibaugh said. “We want our students to be good citizens after graduation.”

An experiential learning staff member is available within each academic college to help students navigate their opportunities and determine which path is best, Rudibaugh said.

To improve the experiential learning opportunities at OU, Rudibaugh said research would be conducted during the Fall Semester to learn more about the real and perceived barriers to experiential learning. What is gathered from their research will be applied to current and future student experiences during the 2022-2023 spring semester.

Over 300 students will remain on academic probation for the upcoming semester and the Academic Achievement Center offers success workshops to improve those students’ performances, said Elizabeth Fallon, the director of Academic Assistance.

The 90-minute in-person workshops help students understand the seriousness of academic probation and tools like GPA calculators, study skills, and academic coaching they can utilize to improve their standing.

Despite the effectsCOVID-19 will have on the classroom experience this fall, Klein and Rudibaugh believe directly addressing academic issues and helping those on probation will prevent a similar number of students from being dismissed from the university following the upcoming year.

“Student success improves when students have a holistic circle of care around them and … know that we are all here to make sure they're successful Bobcats,” Klein said. “We hope that the number of students who struggle decreases as a result of students being surrounded by a caring community that's really dedicated to their success.”

AUTHOR: Addie Hedges
EDITOR: Molly Wilson
COPY EDITOR: Bekah Bostick
PHOTO: Jesse Jarrold-Grapes