A partnership between the Academic Advising, Counseling and Career Development Center and the Developmental Education faculty — COS-041 Interventions — is the recipient of this year’s Dave Sarther Teamwork Award.

Students who take Approaches to College Reading (RDG-041) also are required to take College Skills (COS-041). During COS-041, advisors present information about services, policies, resources, course planning and procedures. Students then have a two-week window to meet with an advisor for a one-on-one meeting to help reinforce what they were told in class. A counselor presents to the class and has a personal session with students as well. Dan Cristman, academic advisor, began working with developmental reading students in 2010. Susan Godwin, professor of Developmental Reading, welcomed advisors into her class to provide additional support informally. When COS-041 was developed in 2015, Dr. Rita Ferriter, associate professor of Developmental Reading, integrated advising into her curriculum to formalize the collaboration. This early intervention provides an avenue for students to access more campus support services.

“Advisors would present important information in class and always include a fun activity to engage students. Every semester, we would review our teaching to improve, utilizing student surveys/quizzes and feedback from stakeholders. Rita also would schedule a day to bring her classes to S201 for individual advising sessions,” Cristman explained. “The intervention expanded to include Counseling, and the work and leadership of Sharon [Brennan] has been amazing.”

Over the last five years, hundreds of students have been assisted, and the passing rate for RDG-041 increased from 20% to 76%, said the team’s nominators. This project also won the 2021 National Academic Advising Association Global Certificate of Merit Award for Outstanding Advising Program.

“We demystify counseling and advising. It creates real connection for the students to the college,” Ferriter said. “Since we created it, we really turned around the success rate of these students with the majority passing now.
Daniel’s efforts helped us move forward. The students need these classes to begin; it helps move them forward.”

Additional members of this team include Dr. Jennifer Lee-Good, associate professor of Developmental Reading; Anna Chmiel, academic advisor; Sumeet Singh, department chair of Counseling and Advising; Maysa Jibawi, academic advisor; and Sharon Brennan, counselor.

“I have coordinated with Dan and Rita every semester to strategize timing of the Advising and Counseling interventions to ensure they were complementary; worked out systems to get feedback from Susan and Rita regarding each student’s performance in COS-041 and RDG-041 to help counselors address any concerns in the classroom; and created the workshop presented to each section of COS-041 aimed to help students feel comfortable talking to counselors, understand the role of counselors on campus and the many ways counselors can provide support,” Brennan added. “In each presentation, we discussed common topics that come up with students such as transitioning to college, career confusion/being undecided, and how to recognize when academic and nonacademic factors are becoming a barrier to success and when it would be beneficial to talk confidentially with a counselor.”

This collaboration “created a significant intervention for some of our most at-risk students who are reading below a junior high level. This hands-on, one-on-one approach helps students see a timeline for their academic career and the knowledge a support system is in place for them,” said the nominators.

“It feels amazing to win this award. I feel so fortunate to be on a team of caring, dedicated and selfless people. What really is special are the students who have benefitted. This team has supported and mentored many at-risk students who are now successful college graduates,” Cristman said.

“Winning this award feels like a true celebration of the multiple layers of intentional energy focused on our students’ success, specifically those enrolled in COS-041/RDG-041. The COS-041 Intervention Team prioritized the importance of wrapping our support services around students to not only help them be academically successful but also to help them feel the community of support around them as they navigate the expectations of college,” Brennan added.

“The work we do with students is meaningful. I’m honored to be part of this award. It’s great to be recognized,” Ferriter said. “It’s such a big group effort and nice to see how we worked it out and put student needs first.”