Unit for First Year Retention, Success and Transition (U-FYRST)
Unit for First Year Retention, Success and Transition (U-FYRST) is an initiative made possible by the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Division of the U.S. Department of Education. UTEP serves an 80% Hispanic student population, drawing the vast majority of students from the bi-national region. With the support of the DHSI Program, UTEP is able to further expand educational opportunities to Hispanic students. The U-FYRST initiative focuses on three activities: team cohort-based mentoring and advising, improving performance and engagement in large lecture courses, and developing a communication a data platform.
Team Cohort-Based Mentoring and Advising: Through collaboration between, the Provost’s Office, the Academic Advising Center, and the Entering Student Program, the University is able to provide discipline-specific, faculty-led, small cohort advising sessions to help students align their educational goals with their strengths and values.
Improving Performance and Engagement in Large Lecture Courses: Peer-led supplemental instruction and centralized tutoring, coupled with automated attendance taking and the increased use of student performance systems, enable the University to focus on the challenges students encounter in large core courses. The development of the Miner Learning Center provides tutoring for students enrolled in challenging core courses. Additionally, Blackboard Retention allows faculty to monitor student performance and facilitates personalized communication messages to students who are either at risk or excelling in a course.
Developing a Communication and Data Platform: The use of shared data enables the Academic Advising Center; faculty members; and the Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research, and Planning to make data-driven decisions, augmenting the existing holistic advising approach while providing personalized guidance to students.