Students begin classes with new Education Guarantee
WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Missouri State University-West Plains students began classes today with a new promise from university officials – if they will make a good faith effort and follow simple, proven techniques, they should be successful in their studies.
This new premise is Missouri State-West Plains’ Education Guarantee. “We’re telling students that, if they go to all of their classes, do all of their assigned homework, communicate with their instructors and advisors, and use our free tutoring services, they will earn acceptable passing grades,” Chancellor Drew Bennett said. “If, however, they faithfully do all of these things and still earn below a 2.0 grade point average, we will let them, for one time only, retake courses where they earned a D or F grade tuition free the next regular semester,” he explained.
The guarantee, which can be found at wp.missouristate.edu/EducationGuarantee, was developed this summer by faculty, staff and administrators based on educational practices that have been proven to work and are already being used on campus. It outlines specific details about how the guarantee works, points out each student’s responsibility for his or her education, identifies “10 Steps to Success,” and gives students a list of resources available to help them achieve their goals.
“These concepts, and there are more than just the measurable criteria we use for the guarantee, come from a variety of sources, and we already teach them on our campus,” Bennett explained. “What’s new is that we have put these concepts together in ‘10 Steps to Success,’ and we are reinforcing them with the students from the very start until the very end of the school year.”
“This guarantee is our commitment to helping students succeed,” added Dr. Gary Phillips, chair of the Faculty Senate. “If students use the outlined techniques, they should become successful, and if they don’t the first time and are willing to try again, so are we. We believe it will offer needed encouragement to students to keep trying when they might otherwise give up.”
University officials are spreading the word about the new Education Guarantee through a variety of initiatives. Since mid-July, information about the guarantee has been part of Bennett’s presentation to new students at STudent Advising & Registration (STAR) Orientations. Students were given cards outlining the new guarantee by university officials as they arrived for classes today, and faculty were encouraged to discuss it with students in their first class periods. It’s also included in the syllabus for each class, and it’s being presented in each Student Success (IDS 110) class. In addition, posters with information about the guarantee have been placed across campus and shown on the campus’ electronic billboards.
One of the reasons behind development of the guarantee was to stress the importance of student responsibility in the educational process, Bennett said. “We want students to understand their responsibility in attaining a college education and help them focus on the steps that will make them successful in college,” he said.
“Collectively, the techniques outlined in the guarantee, when absent, hurt performance and when present, help performance,” Phillips added. “The quality of education students receive is a mixture of the instruction we deliver and their ability to receive. While I don’t think this will noticeably affect the instruction, it may drastically affect the students’ process of learning.”
Tony Ary, president of the campus’ Student Government Association (SGA), said he believes the Education Guarantee will be a great opportunity for students, especially those who truly try to do well in class yet still find it difficult to succeed.
“The goals and ‘10 Steps to Success’ included in the guarantee are very beneficial to students because it shows them how they can succeed and lets them know that, even if they struggle, faculty, staff and administrators still believe in them enough to give them another chance,” he said. “The student support services Missouri State-West Plains provides are already phenomenal, but for the university to take this step, it’s so unique. I have friends attending colleges and universities across the state and in other states, and none of them have this same opportunity.”
Bennett pointed out Missouri State-West Plains’ retention and graduation rates are already well above average for two-year schools in Missouri. “However, if we see this as a way of helping even more students become successful, why wouldn’t we do it?”