Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.4.9 Academic Support Services

The institution provides appropriate academic support services. (Academic support services)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

Reinhardt University provides appropriate academic support services to students and faculty that are consistent with its mission to educate “the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual and physical dimensions of its students.” The institution is also guided by its vision to “Create a unique Reinhardt Experience where each student thrives” and its stated values “Faith – Learning – Leading.” [1]

Academic Support Services for Students

Reinhardt publishes an array of academic support services in the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017, [2] the Student Handbook 2016-2017, [3] the Reinhardt University Graduate Catalog 2016-2017, [4] the Graduate Services brochure, [5] and the Reinhardt University official website. [6]

Student demographics

As a comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts, Reinhardt supports the growth, development, and learning of 1484 students with the following demographics: [7]
92.6% undergraduate – 7.4% graduate
52 % male – 48% female
36% minority
12% distance education

The Division of Academic Affairs, which reports to the Provost, supports the academic success of all students— undergraduate, graduate, professional, or online—as well as all levels of college preparation and learning styles, through offices and programs like the Academic Support Office, the Center for Student Success, the Honors Program, and the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center.

The Academic Support Office and the Center for Student Success

Begun in 1982, Reinhardt’s Academic Support Office (ASO), serves students with documented disabilities. The ASO serves roughly 10% of the student body— around 100 students each semester, from both regular classroom and online settings.

Staffed by a full-time director and two full-time professors, the ASO offers special testing accommodations, assistive software and individualized tutorials. ASO also includes the S.E.A.D. (Strategic Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder) support group.  Another form of academic support offered through the ASO office but available to all students is Academic Coaching, which includes individualized attention to study skills through goal-setting plans that the academic coach and student must address in a weekly one-on-one visit.  The ASO Assessment Report for 2016-2017 [8] indicates that 97% of students sampled were satisfied or very satisfied with ASO services. Through Academic Coaching, some students are able to move from academic warning/probation to a better academic standing.

The Center for Student Success (CSS) serves the needs of all students, from first-year to graduate students.  Staffed by full-time and adjunct faculty, as well as gifted peer tutors, the CSS served 1386 appointments in 2016-2017.  The CSS also conducts study groups for specific subject examinations as well as workshops for special achievement and post baccalaureate admissions tests like the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE), GRE, GMAT, and LSAT.

For distance education students, the CSS provides a tutoring service, Brainfuse, which offers not only tutorials but the possibility of online study groups. Students in this population may also work at the center with a tutor, face-to-face, or in special cases, work online with a personal tutor.

Students consistently rate the quality of tutoring sessions highly: in the CSS 2016-2017 Assessment Report, [9] 95.6% of the students tutored rated the experience “beneficial” or “highly beneficial” learning.

Reinhardt publishes the services of these offices in the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017, [2] the Student Handbook 2016-2017, [10] the Graduate Services brochure, [5] and the Reinhardt University websites for ASO [11]and the Center for Student Success. [12] In addition, faculty regularly include information about the ASO and the CSS on individual course syllabi, like the following:  ENG 102 (first year English syllabus), [13] EDU 550 (a graduate Education syllabus),[14] and CRJ 300 (an online Criminal Justice course, p. 6). [15]
Orientation

Reinhardt supports the academic success of all students in any mode of program delivery through orientation and advising.

All first time, first year students must enroll in the First Year Seminar (FYS 101) [16] to support their transition to a university environment.

Students in Reinhardt’s distance education programs work closely with the program coordinators for orientation.  Students in the Associate of Business Administration (A.B.A), Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) and Bachelor of Criminal Justice (B.C.J.) begin with an orientation class, RHC 101 – Online Learning Seminar. [17] In all programs, the students develop a rapport with the program coordinators from the start, which encourages interaction with questions and problems throughout the progress of the program.

Graduate students also work with their program coordinator or director.  Each student receives a Graduate Services brochure. [5] Each graduate program begins with an orientation class at which print copies of the Graduate Academic Catalog are distributed to the new students.  The orientation class identifies and discusses the overall graduate policies and individual program policies as well as support services.  Because the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing cohort begins in May, three months before a new catalog is ready, the Office of Graduate Studies prepares an MFA Handbook for the orientation class, which includes an introduction to Library Resources (pp. 25-26).  [18] Then MFA students receive a print Graduate Academic Catalog in August.  The first class of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program begins with a power point presentation that is tied to the academic policies in the Graduate Academic Catalog [19] and includes information about online learning, the ASO, and the library (slides 9-10).  The first course in the Master of Arts (MAT) in Elementary Education program is EDU 510. [20]  The syllabus for the course presents an orientation to the MAT program and information about the ASO and the CSS (p. 9).

Advising and Persistence

Reinhardt supports student persistence by advising for both undergraduates [21] and graduate students. [22]  In all programs, a student must consult with the advisor before he or she may register for courses.

Once an undergraduate student is accepted into Reinhardt, he or she is assigned an academic advisor who helps develop class schedules and set goals for graduation and future career plans.

Students in the distance education programs and graduate programs are advised by their academic program coordinators. Students in this population tend to be working adults with their career goals set. The advisor helps the students persist, even when complications from family or career interfere. In professional studies programs, each semester, the program coordinator develops a schedule for a student based on individual need and availability of courses for a particular semester.  In the Adult Learners Exit Survey of 2016-2017, graduates in the Bachelor of Criminal Justice (B.C.J.) [23] program reflect this view of advising for adult students: while 14.29% of students used Career Services (p. 3), 85.71% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the quality of advising; and 94.29% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with instructor availability outside of the classroom (p. 6).

For all students—face-to-face undergraduate, online, and graduate— the faculty advisor and the Registrar’s Office check progress towards a degree and degree completion.   The faculty advisor keeps a record of the student’s completed and projected general education and major program course work, tailored to different programs with an advising grid. Here are three examples: English, [24] Business, [25] and the Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching in Early Childhood Education. [26] Each online program also uses an advising grid to help students persist:  for example, the A.B.A. [27], the B.B.A. [28], and the B.H.A. [29]

Two semesters before a student plans to complete a degree, he or she applies for a degree completion audit.  This application includes a copy of the advisor’s record of courses. A professional administrator from the Registrar’s Office prepares an Official Graduation Audit [30] for each student’s record. The student then receives a copy of the audit communicating the remaining course work needed to complete a degree.  Before the final degree is confirmed, the administrator and the Registrar double-check the student’s final record. Through these levels of auditing, Reinhardt keeps in touch with student persistence and success.

Move the Needle

In 2016, Reinhardt University began a project with CREDO Higher Education Consulting called Move the Needle (MTN), a two-year project that puts undergraduate student persistence and graduation at the center of operations. This project involves eight modules, each with a faculty and staff committee, to focus attention on areas that will impact student learning and development.  The modules are as follows:

  • Clearance [31] explores better ways to reduce students’ financial stress so that they can focus on academic success.
  • Early Alert [32] is creating an institution-wide system to monitor student academic progress toward a degree.
  • First Year Seminar [33] seeks to redesign Reinhardt’s First-Year Seminar according to best practices currently used at similar institutions.
  • First Year Experience [34] is establishing student academic and social initiatives that bridge the learning experience throughout the first year until students return to campus in the sophomore year.
  • Orientation [35] improves the process in which students are integrated into campus life with academic resources, business resources, and student activities.
  • Advising [36] assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Reinhardt’s advising system and makes recommendations for improvement.
  • Athletic Pipeline [37] will help athletes see themselves in a broader role on campus than the sports they play.
  • Retention, and Residential Living and Learning [38] is establishing student learning outcomes and initiatives for those who live on campus.

This project involves focus group discussions with faculty, staff, and students, and it is already showing results. For example, CREDO recommended that Reinhardt develop a brand name and purpose for its “clearance” process.  In response, Reinhardt began piloting a clearance process called “Flight Ready” in 2016-2017. [39] In addition, CREDO representatives met with students and faculty about the First Year Seminar (FYS 101) to understand its strengths and weaknesses.  One weakness was a range of expectations and assignments, depending on the instructor.  In response, Reinhardt will pilot a revision of FYS 101 in fall semester 2017, one that attempts to unify the standards and expectations of the course throughout several sections.

As asserted in its vision statement, Reinhardt University is committed to creating a campus environment where every student “thrives,” which includes completing a credential in a timely manner.  These advising and retention initiatives address the Reinhardt mission and vision.

The Honors Program and Honors Societies

Another distinctive learning community includes those students who are academically disciplined and/or gifted.  To help these students thrive, the Honors Program provides special class sections of courses with more stimulating discussion and creative assignments. First year students who meet the admission requirements are invited to join the Honors Program. [40] These students take several honors classes together, receive a scholarship, and may work toward receiving an honors seal on the diploma.

Reinhardt University also offers academic honor societies for those who qualify. These are published in the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog [41] and on the Reinhardt web site. [42] Other than Alpha Chi, the honor society for the top 10% of the junior and senior classes, most honor societies are discipline-specific. Their criteria vary according to field.

Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center

The Library promotes student learning by providing books, articles, and other materials needed for research, including access to databases and electronic resources, and Interlibrary Loan.  All students—on campus, online, and extended sites—have access to Library services and instruction in research strategies. As demonstrated in Sections 2.9 (Learning Resources), [43] 3.8.1 (Learning Information Resources) [44] and 3.8.2 (Library Instruction), [45] the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center provides 1) collections, resources, and services that are sufficient to support all its educational, research, and public service programs, 2)  resources and technology that are a gateway for information, communication, research, and leisure pursuits, and 3)  regular and timely instruction that teaches students, at any educational level and in any mode of course delivery, how to access learning/information resources efficiently.

Academic programs that enhance student learning

During 2016-2017 Reinhardt piloted a program called the Strategic Career Advancement Platform (S-CAP), [46] aimed at cultivating students' soft skills (like teamwork, adaptability, and conflict resolution) and giving them an edge over their peers in the job market—without changing the liberal arts curriculum that is the center of formal education.  Each month, a Saturday session focused on a different topic—for example, one four-hour January 2017 session focused on emotional intelligence. Others sessions covered impression management, listening, and mediation.

Some students are interested in study abroad. Reinhardt students may register for summer school, group courses led by Reinhardt faculty or may work on an individual basis with the Director of International Studies and the student’s academic advisor to find a summer-, semester-, or year-long study abroad opportunity. Information about these opportunities is published in the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017 [47] and on the Study Abroad page of the Reinhardt website. [48]

Reinhardt also supports the intellectual and social development of students through essay contests, an annual conference for student scholarship, and opportunities to participate in state, regional, and national competitions.

Two annual essay contests support communication skills:  the Leaves of Gold Essay contest, [49] sponsored by the School of Arts and Humanities, in fall semester, and the Knox Essay contest, [50] sponsored by the McCamish School of Business in spring semester.

Every spring semester the Office of Academic Affairs sponsors the Robert L. Driscoll Convocation of Artists and Scholars, [51] when professors of all disciplines invite students to present the best student work to the University community.  The presentations link learning and leadership, as exclaimed in the University values (“Faith-Learning-Leadership”), since students must present their work to a broader community than one professor or class. The Driscoll Convocation ends with an International Culture Festival, when international students present the best of their cultures.

In addition, Reinhardt supports students to attend and present their research and talents at discipline-specific conferences. In 2016-2017, music students [52] and business students [53] competed successfully in state competitions, qualifying for national competitions; and biology and psychology students [54] presented research at a regional conference.

Teaching facilities

Finally, the division of Academic Affairs oversees two teaching facilities that provide academic support beyond the classroom—the Floyd A. and Fay W. Falany Performing Arts Center (FPAC) [55] and the F. James and Florrie G. Funk Heritage Center. [56] The Falany Center includes a state-of-the-art concert hall with adjustable acoustical components. This center allows students from across campus, but especially performing arts majors, to experience professional productions throughout the year.  Performing arts majors, themselves, may perform before a public audience on the professional stage:  the 2016-2017 Performance Schedule [57] reveals professional, faculty, and student public performances.  In addition, in spring semester Reinhardt hosts a Contemporary Arts Festival [58] at the Falany Center, which brings international artists to campus.  The FPAC 2016-2017 Assessment Report [59] indicates that 1863 student tickets were requested and distributed for the general student population to attend various performances.  The Funk Heritage Center, which includes John H. Bennett Sr. and Ethel C. Bennett History Museum, is an official frontier and southeastern Indian interpretative center in the state of Georgia.  The Funk Heritage Center provides students with opportunities for history research as well as museum internships.

Academic support from Student Affairs and Athletics

The Division of Student Affairs, which also reports to the Provost, provides academic support through a number of educational and leadership programs. Educational programs [60] include films, speakers, and discussions on topics like social diversity, substance abuse, and sexual violence. These programs also maintain the University’s compliance with federal mandates regarding sexual violence prevention (i.e. Title IX, SAVE Act, etc.).

Reinhardt supports student leadership through student clubs [61] for a variety of academic, service, or social interests—including the Student Activities Council (SAC), [62] and the Student Government Association (SGA). [63]  The Student Activities Council (SAC) encourages the development of leadership skills as students initiate, plan, develop, and participate in activities, programs, and events. Members of the SAC work with national agencies, local organizations, students, faculty and staff. Established in 1957, the Student Government Association (SGA) ensures student participation in the University decision-making process.  The SGA President regularly presents a report at the meetings of the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees.

The opportunities for these academic programs are published in the individual web pages cited above as well as the Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017 [2] and the Student Handbook 2016-2017. [3]

Counseling Services, Career Services, and Health Services [64]

As presented on their websites, the Offices of Counseling Services, [65] Career Services, [66] and Health Services [67] provide psychological, vocational, and health services.  These offices also provide academic support. As reported in the Counseling Services 2016-2017 Assessment Report, [68] the professional counselor, from the Office of Counseling Services, visited classes and presented programs on relationships, stress management, and self-care.  The Office of Career Services [66] offers career guidance, internships, personality assessment and inventories to help identify an academic major. The Career Services 2016-2017 Assessment Report [69] records that Career Services expanded internships and helped to create the result that 70% of seniors had created a LinkedIn account, among other accomplishments. The Office of Health Services, [67] offers programs and services designed for wellness education. The 2016-2017 Assessment Report for Health Services [70] indicates that the university nurse met with some classes for educational programs about health awareness in addition to treating individual students.

Academic support from Athletics [71]

Reinhardt is a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  The division of Athletics is led by the Director of Athletics, who answers directly to the President.

The division of Athletics provides academic support for students in a number of ways.  Student athletes may be selected to play on a Reinhardt team in one of 19 sports and to receive an athletic scholarship.  These students advance their physical strength and coordination, and they also advance their critical thinking skills through tactile and spatial problem solving involved in playing a particular sport.

In addition, the coaches in the Athletic division teach a required general education core course for the general student population, PED 100 - Fitness for College and Life, [72] a course that emphasizes health-related fitness through topics like diet and nutrition, stress-management, and substance abuse.  Athletic coaches also teach activity courses, [72] which allow the general student population to learn or to advance physical skills in sports like tennis, bowling, aerobic dancing, or weight-lifting.

The Athletics 2016-2017 Assessment Report [73] indicates three areas of academic success:  1) nine teams and nineteen individuals participated in national championships, 2) sixteen teams qualified for NAIA All-Scholars honors (3.0 team GPA) and 130+ student-athletes qualified for individual academic honors, and 3) all teams participated in community service, like reading at schools or serving meals at shelters.  These accomplishments and activities reflect the University’s mission to educate “the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual and physical dimension” of students.

Academic Support Services for Faculty

Academic support for the faculty takes various forms, including workshops and speakers about innovations in teaching. Although Reinhardt is primarily a teaching-centered university, rather than a research institution, faculty development is regularly supported through funds for training and travel to conferences, for presenting research at conferences, and for sabbatical leave to pursue research projects.  Reinhardt also has a series of faculty awards to recognize outstanding teaching, research, and creative work.

Faculty Development Workshops and Instructional Support

At the start of each academic semester, the Provost's Office organizes a series of workshops for new and continuing faculty led by outside experts, Reinhardt faculty and Reinhardt staff.  For example at the beginning of fall semester 2017, faculty members heard a presentation called “Engaged Teaching and Learning” by Dr. Laurie Shreiner from Azusa Pacific University. [74]  Reinhardt faculty and staff presented workshops on assessment, service leaning, and information technology.  The spring semester 2017 began with faculty workshops on student professionalism and student engagement. [75]

Faculty Colloquia

Throughout the academic year, Reinhardt faculty members present their current research at colloquia for other faculty members and students. [76]

Faculty Enrichment Funds

Reinhardt University allocates funds to each of the seven academic schools (Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Math and Sciences, Nursing, Performing Arts, and Professional Studies) in order to support academic development. The Travel and Training line-item is particularly designed for faculty seeking partial monetary support to attend workshops, seminars, conferences, and other academic activities that directly relate to the enhancement of knowledge in the respective academic field. During the 2016-17 academic year, each Reinhardt University academic school received $448.13 per faculty member. [77]

Faculty Development Funds

Reinhardt University supports faculty participation in professional activities.  Proposals for funds are sent to Faculty Development Committee (FDC), a standing committee whose membership includes only full-time faculty members. The FDC evaluates proposals based on the following activities, as stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016-2017: [78]

(a)       Continued graduate study or post-graduate study.
(b)       Research leading to a demonstrable result, such as publication,
including customary expenses incurred for publication of scholarly
research.
(c)       Participation in a seminar that involves classroom instruction or
field study.
(d)       Participation at a conference through presenting a paper, chairing a
panel, moderating a session, making a speech, or giving a creative
performance.

In addition, these funds are available only for full-time faculty members and cannot be approved if the faculty member does not have a participatory role designated in the program.  The 2016-2017 Funding Report [79] indicates that the Faculty Development Committee budget $20,000 and that about $18,000 was awarded for approved professional activities.

Sabbatical Leave

All full-time tenured faculty members are eligible to apply for sabbatical leave at any point after six (6) years of full-time teaching service to the University.  The formal request may be to pursue academic research or service that will be beneficial to the individual and the University.  The application procedure is outlined in the Reinhardt University Faculty Handbook 2016-2017. [80]  In this year, two faculty members were granted sabbatical leave to pursue research in history and in religion.

Annual Awards

Faculty development is further encouraged through annual awards for teaching and research. [81] The United Methodist Teaching Award, the Jane England Award, and the Vulcan Award all reward professors for outstanding work in the classroom while the Faculty Research Award acknowledges the research efforts of two faculty members per year—one for outstanding research scholarship and one for an outstanding creative performance.

Faculty satisfaction with professional development at Reinhardt University

Faculty satisfaction with professional development opportunities is assessed through the Great Colleges to Work For.  Results from the 2016 administration of this survey indicate that the average percentage of positive responses ("Very Good" or "Excellent") related to Faculty Development was 71% for Reinhardt faculty. [82]

Conclusion

Reinhardt University provides academic support services that are appropriate for its student body and faculty.  These services are also appropriate for Reinhardt’s mission, vision, and values.

 

Supporting Documents 

[1] Reinhardt University Vision, Mission, and Values, Reinhardt University official website

[2] Student Services, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 31-36

[3] Reinhardt University Student Handbook, 2016-2017

[4] Reinhardt University Graduate Catalog, Table of Contents

[5] Graduate Services brochure

[6] Student Services website

[7] IPEDS 2016-2017, pp. 35-36 and 20

[8] ASO Assessment Report 2016-2017

[9] 2016-2017 CSS Assessment Report

[10] Student Handbook 2016-2017, p. 47

[11] ASO web page

[12] CSS web page

[13] ENG 102 syllabus, p. 4

[14] EDU 550 syllabus, pp. 12-13

[15] CRJ 300 syllabus, p. 4

[16] FYS 101 course description

[17] RHC 101 course description

[18] MFA Handbook 2017

[19] MPA Orientation Power Point

[20] EDU 510 syllabus

[21] Advising, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 53-54

[22] Advising, Reinhardt University Graduate Catalog, pp. 29-30

[23] Adult Learners Exit Survey BCJ Graduates, 2016-2017

[24] Sample advising form – B.A. in English

[25] Sample advising form – B.S. in Business

[26] Sample advising form – Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education

[27] Sample advising form – Associate of Business Administration (A.B.A)

[28] Sample advising form – Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.)

[29] Sample advising form – Bachelor of Healthcare Administration (B.H.A)

[30] Sample degree completion application and Official Graduation Audit

[31] Clearance MTN Roadmap

[32] Early Alert MTN Roadmap

[33] FYS MTN Roadmap

[34] FYE MTN Roadmap

[35] Orientation MTN Roadmap

[36] Advising MTN Roadmap

[37] Athletic Pipeline MTN Roadmap

[38] Retention, Residential Living and Learning MTN Roadmap

[39] Flight Ready, spring 2017

[40] Honors Program website

[41] Honors Societies, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, pp.41-43

[42] Honors Societies web pages

[43] Section 2.9 (Learning Resources)

[44] Section 3.8.1 (Learning Information Resources)

[45] Section 3.8.2 (Library Instruction)

[46] S-Cap website

[47] International Studies, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, p. 46

[48] Study Abroad website

[49] Leaves of Gold Essay Contest announcement

[50] Knox Essay Contest announcement

[51] Convocation of Artists and Scholars 2017

[52] Music Students Achievements

[53] Business Students Achievements

[54] Biology and Psychology Students Achievements

[55] FPAC facility

[56] Funk Heritage Center

[57] Performance Schedule

[58] Contemporary Arts Festival website

[59] FPAC Assessment Report 2016-2017

[60] Educational activities website

[61] Student Clubs website

[62] SAC website

[63] SGA website

[64] Counseling Services, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 32-33

[65] Counseling Services website

[66] Career Services website

[67] Health Services website

[68] Counseling Services Assessment Report 2016-2017

[69] Career Services Assessment Report 2016-2017

[70] Health Services Assessment Report 2016-2017

[71] Athletics website

[72] PED 100 and activity courses, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 255-56

[73] Athletics Assessment Report 2016-2017

[74] 2016-2017 Faculty Workshops – fall semester 2016

[75] 2016-2017 Faculty Workshops – spring semester 2017

[76] 2016-2017 Faculty Colloquia

[77] Faculty Enrichment Funds budget for 2016-2017

[78] Faculty Development Funds, Reinhardt University Faculty Handbook, pp. 41-44

[79] Faculty Development Funds Report for 2016-2017

[80] Sabbatical Leave Reinhardt University Faculty Handbook, pp. 44-47

[81] Faculty annual awards

[82] Great Colleges to Work For 2016