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LEAP Program

2008-2009 - Click to read the whole report.

Program Description

LEAP is a year-long learning community for entering University students. It consists of two three-credit-hour courses – one fall semester, one spring semester – taken with the same professor and classmates, allowing students to build community. LEAP’s two classes fulfill the diversity requirement and two general education requirements and are linked to optional classes in writing, library research, major selection, and service.

2008-09 Academic Year Fast Facts

The program enrolled 617 students in the fall (as of the tuition due date), as compared with 621 students last year and 594 in fall 2006.  (These enrollment numbers all include Architecture LEAP.)  Fall-spring retention was up significantly from previous years.  Of the 617 students who began in the fall, 488 students, or 79%, registered for the spring semester.  This is a spectacular improvement over past years, in which retention has typically been in the low 60% range, an improvement attributable largely to reversing the sequence of semesters:  rather than starting in the fall with LEAP 1100, which satisfies two graduation requirements, we have, since fall 2007, been ending with it.  LEAP offered 23 sections this year, in both fall and spring semesters, same as last year.

Changes Made to the LEAP Program as a Result of Assessment Data

Assessment History
   Before 2005, the only real assessment instruments used by the LEAP Program were fall and spring student satisfaction surveys and the student evaluations administered at the end of every course offered by the University.  Since 2005, a series of other instruments have been developed and employed:
1.   comparison of  freshman to sophomore year retention for LEAP and non-LEAP students
2.   calculation of GPA’s and credits attempted and completed of LEAP versus non-LEAP students in their first year
3.   determination of four and six-year graduation rates of LEAP students versus non-LEAP participants
4.   the sorting of responses to the University’s survey of graduating seniors by LEAP participation
5.   initiation of a “twin study” of students matched for age, gender, ethnicity, high school attended, and admissions index, only one of whom took LEAP
6.   examination of similarly matched trios, only one of whom became a sophomore Peer Advisor
7.   separation of all this data by gender and race
8.   the piloting of a portfolio study of how student writing demonstrated growth in the ability to construct an original thesis and defend it convincingly.

Changes Made Based on Assessment Results

   The fruits of these investigations have already sparked a number of changes in LEAP and will no doubt produce more in the future.  Probably the most profound change has involved the offering of new or expanded pre-professional tracks within the program.  For example:

•   The large and persistent difference in responses between LEAP and non-LEAP students to the Senior Survey question on appreciating the fine arts convinced the College of Fine Arts to ask us to double from one to two the number of LEAP sections for fine arts students and to increase their support of our programs in other ways.
•   Consistently positive retention, GPA, and time to graduation data comparing LEAP and non-LEAP students caused the College of Health to double its pre-professional LEAP sections and the College of Education to pursue the development of an Education LEAP to be launched this fall.  
•   These data in conjunction with the correlation between ABET accreditation criteria and LEAP curricula persuaded the College of Engineering to begin requiring LEAP of students in half its majors and to recommend the experience to all engineering majors.
•   At the same time, results of our preliminary portfolio study of Engineering LEAP writing have suggested ways to improve the E-LEAP assignments that will be implemented in the coming year.

   The other major change to LEAP that has resulted from assessment concerns our recognition of a need to establish a better early warning system to identify students in academic trouble before that trouble deepens into failure.  Having looked at our matching study for data on the kind of student LEAP attracts and helps to succeed, and coupling this with the results of the administration of the Student Readiness Inventory (SRI) to the entire incoming 2008 freshman class, two LEAP instructors will give the SRI to LEAP students in their four sections this fall and have been trained on how to help students interpret the results and avoid any academic pitfalls identified by the test.  If the SRI proves predictive and useful for this cohort, other LEAP faculty will adopt the test for their students in coming years.

Click to read the whole report.

Last Updated: 4/15/21