CHASS Connect Receives Grant from Department of Education

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

CHASS Connect is a program for incoming college freshman. It transforms high school students into college students. The program provides awareness of UCR's diverse campus, a sense of community, broadens intellectual curiosity, and a sense of personal potential. Students work with faculty and teaching assistants, along with peer mentors through their first year at UCR. Geoff Cohen, who is the academic coordinator for CHASS F1RST, states that CHASS Connect's goal is to encourage "students that start here in September to be starting again in September of next year and keep coming backndo provide them with the skills to be successful at UCR and beyond".

Enthusiastic students have commented on their experiences with CHASS Connect as they have learned how to adapt to UCR. These comments include the following.

"The CHASS Connect staff is extremely available and approachable. They have helped me overcome my shyness in talking to my professors. I feel it has helped me transition into college."

"Fun! They (peer educators) were more on a student level I guess you can say, in the sense that it was comfortable talking to them."

"CHASS Connect provided me with the necessary tools to succeed at UCR. It made me keep up with my readings, as well as teaching me about time management and other very useful stuff."

October 3rd, all the UC Campuses attended the "Best Practices Symposium" held at UCLA, which aims to "promote academic excellence." At the symposium, UC Santa Cruz was recognized for their early academic outreach program, and UC Davis was recognized for their graduate mentorship program. However, UC Riverside was recognizedor it's representation of academic support services through CHASS Connect. CHASS Connect assesses students, and shows students are more likely to pass the entry level writing exam and receive better grades. The awarded that was granted to CHASS Connect by the Department of Education is the FIPSE (Funding for Improving Post-Secondary Education). The grant of $514,875 will allow CHASS Connect to enroll 450 students a year, compared to the previous number of 225. CHASS Connect will perform a quasi-experimental analysis of students using a treatment of cohort and control cohort groups. 900 freshmen will be randomly picked, where 450 students will be allowed in CHASS Connect, while the other 450 will not. Each student's academic progress will be tracked. FIPSE will allow CHASS Connect to continue this experiment for four years, where it will hold a national conference on campus to talk about the program's advancements.

The grant, Castro said, will help make more in-depth evaluation of the program. The evaluation will begin this current year, and continue for four years. Geoff Cohen remarked on the grant: "CHASS Connect and F1RST Year Programs are something that UCR does really well. I'm glad to see that is being recognized within the system as a best practice."

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