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Innovation and Incubator Grants from the University System of Georgia

The Momentum Year Curriculum: An Inter-Institutional Partnership Project for Student Success

Valdosta State University


Grant Type: 
Project Lead: 
Dr. Rodney Carr
Vice President of Student Success
Other team members: 

Mr. Rob Freidhoff
Executive Director for Advising
Valdosta State University

Ms. Alicia Roberson
Director, Centralized Advising
Valdosta State University

Project Description: 

Area of need

The majority of undergraduate students entering Valdosta State University (VSU) as freshmen arrive through one of three paths: traditional high school progression, dual enrollment, or through transfer from a technical college. Most of these students enter having little or no familiarity with a university setting, although some bring a patchwork of college credits earned through a variety of means, and with an expectation that all such courses will fit into their eventual degree program. While the university makes every effort to ensure that new students transition efficiently into a degree pathway and optimally benefit from prior academic credits, it is largely a reactive effort. Consequently, some students and their parents become frustrated, believing that their previous efforts have been wasted. We propose to address this by providing clearly defined university curricular pathways that will better inform students’ choices of coursework prior to admission as a university degree-seeking student, with the goal of better sustaining momentum toward satisfactory progression and on-time degree completion.

How project will address area of need

This Momentum Year Curriculum Project will provide a prescriptive Momentum Year curriculum, which is collaboratively supported and aggressively advanced by partnering high schools, the technical college, and the university. The Momentum Year curriculum will allow students to prepare in advance of regular university matriculation, by ensuring that students are better advised of a clear pathway of recommended academic coursework and have completed only those courses for which they will receive applicable degree credit. Importantly, a Momentum Year curriculum targeting perspective university students, which is promoted and collaboratively supported by the university, high schools, and the technical college, will ensure that these students, once matriculated, will remain on track toward the timely completion of their intended degree program. The measured impact of the effective implementation of the Momentum Year curriculum will be an increase in the rates of persistence and completion among participants, plus a reduction in the number of credits beyond the minimum required for graduation.

Specifically, the Momentum Year Curriculum Project will:

  1. Define a Momentum Year curriculum consistent with the associated Complete College America/Georgia tenets. The curriculum may be completed in whole or in part in advance of university admission. The entire curriculum will be offered through prescribed VSU and/or Wiregrass courses with guaranteed availability, and will be accessible in delivery configurations that accommodate all students: students who will regularly enroll, students who are dual-enrolled, and students who will eventually transfer. A variety of delivery options will be available, possibly including online short sessions, regular face-to-face courses, and hybrid courses.
  2. Operationalize a collaboration among the two local public high schools, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, and Valdosta State University, which will promote the Momentum Year Curriculum, provide support to participating students, and facilitate the project’s intended outcomes. Each of the collaborating institutions will identify an on-site Momentum Year Curriculum advisor who will support student participants and facilitate early engagement by students in planning for and pursuing the successful completion of the Momentum Year Curriculum. In addition, a Momentum Year website will provide information for prospective students, including curricular pathway maps, and an access point for enrollment.
  3. Establish an inter-institutional United for Student Success Council composed of representatives from each of the participating institutions. The intent of the Council is to collaboratively ensure the implementation of the Momentum Year Curriculum Project and to assess its impact. In addition, the Council will explore ways to incentivize student participation and ensure the efficiency, relevance, and sustainability of the project.
  4. Define a project evaluation system as a mechanism for quality assurance and continuous improvement.

Potential impact of the project on student success/completion

Participation in the Momentum Year Curriculum Project will propel students toward successful completion of the Momentum Year and will increase the likelihood that students will persist and obtain a degree in a timely fashion. The program will encourage students to become academically engaged in their Momentum Year prior to regular enrollment at the university, and will provide consistent advising across the various institutions. The project provides an opportunity to assist students more directly in developing a growth mindset early on and to explore career pathways within a supportive context.

Potential lessons learned from the project

A valuable takeaway from the successful implementation of the project will be the information obtained on how to best leverage the unique assets and perspectives of the high school, technical college, and university in order to help students at each level effectively transition into and complete the Momentum Year Curriculum. In addition, insights gained into the most efficient means by which to personalize the curricular experience, using active advising and multiple course delivery methods tailored to the unique circumstances of students, will help ensure the sustained positive impact of the project.

Potential institutional and system impact at scale

In addition to the anticipated institutional increase in enrollments and degree completers, the implementation of a collaboration among local secondary and postsecondary institutions focused on students’ Momentum Year experience would serve as a tested model for similar initiatives around the state. A positive, measured impact on students’ transition into, and persistence within a degree pathway resulting from the Momentum Year Curriculum Project would inform both the methods and potential of the project at scale.