Adult Learner and Veterans Services expanded their support for non-traditional students by creating a program that not only reintroduced adult learners to curriculum but also created a community of learners who could depend on one another.
This support took the form of the new program known as Elevate, which was launched this summer at Colorado State University. Elevate was designed to enhance the academic skills and community engagement for adult learners admitted to CSU for fall of 2017, according to Marc Barker, the director of ALVS.
Through research conducted at CSU, it was determined that there were two subject areas that were barriers to adult learners: college-level mathematics and college-level English.
“We decided to build an academic program centered around those two curriculum areas,” Barker said. ALVS hired faculty from both areas to teach adult learners who had been away from academia for a while.
“The idea was that — free from the pressure of earning a grade, sometimes free from the pressure of being in a class with traditional learners that adults perceive as being a challenge — we developed a program that reintroduced our student population to the curriculum they would see in college math and college English,” Barker said.
The program took place over four weeks during the summer with 14 students taking part. Along with being refreshed into the curriculum of college level math and English, the students in the program experienced daily social engagement such as going to the campus rec center together.
“We’ve never really engaged with student population outside of the orientation process,” Barker said. “This allowed us, as a services office, to engage with these participants every single day for four weeks so they could build a sense of community.”
Jenny Duong, the coordinator for the Elevate program, said she spoke with Barker about the need to serve adult learners both financially and academically, which lead the creation of the program.
“The purpose of it was to not only provide students with the academic remediation and preparedness, but also the social integration into the CSU community,” Duong said. “Elevate really recognizes the experience that adult learners bring and who they are as individuals.”
According to Duong, the program has had a large impact. Due to the commitment of those involved in the program, Duong feels that the program has left a lasting impression on everyone.
“There was a lot of relationship building, confronting fears, overcoming challenges and learning at all levels,” Duong said. “It is a program that recognizes them for who they are and what skills they bring and allows them to grow and develop as adult learners.”
According to Duong, the program truly supports and serves the adult learner population.
Marie Russell, the peer adviser for the program, said that what started out as a school support course soon became a very strong social support for the participants and created a very strong group of friends.
“They created a really strong tie with one another that gave them so much motivation and encouragement,” Russell said.
Russell said the students would help one another when the subject material was challenging or life would try to get one of them down.
Annamaria Meiser, one of the members of the program, said she expected the program to be a “cut and dried” set of courses where students would merely be given information but soon learned that it was much more.
“It was very hands on and personable,” Meiser wrote in a statement to the Collegian. “While centered around teaching math and English, the Elevate program really went beyond those subjects and focused more on building confidence in, and a sense of community among, their students.”
According to Barker, the program has been built into the ALVS budget to be run for the next three years and is expected to see significant growth.
“The wealth of knowledge ‘non-traditional’ students bring to institutions such as CSU can’t be matched and would be a shame to lose,” Mesier wrote. “Adult learners have initiative. They have life experiences and perspectives that, if put to good use, could really benefit CSU.”
Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.