URI, CCRI receive $640,000 grant

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to develop web-based tool to improve student access, advising, retention

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 16, 2007 – To help improve access to higher education and ensure that more students stay in college and graduate on time, the University of Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island have been awarded a $643,117 grant to establish ‘Academic Roadmaps,’ web-based tools that will inform, guide and advise students and their families about higher education and career pathways.

The grant was one of just 16 awarded by the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education from among a pool of more than 400 applicants.

According to Deborah Grossman-Garber, URI director of student learning, outcomes assessment, and accreditation, and one of 11 principal investigators from URI and CCRI working on the grant, the Academic Roadmap project will improve academic advising and better align the curricula between the two schools, which will make it easier for students to identify their career goals, achieve higher levels of education, and complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

The wide availability of these maps on the worldwide web will also provide advising assistance to a broad range of students at other colleges and universities in Rhode Island and beyond.

The grant will fund development of Academic Roadmaps for the fields of nursing and biology, building upon a “roadmap template” created in 2006 for the fields of wildlife conservation, nutrition and dietetics, animal sciences and geosciences. Funding will also be used to develop an interactive “My Academic Roadmap” student advising module for each of the fields that will help students to create an academic plan that fits their needs and academic preparation.

“We are persuaded that students who have a keen sense of their intellectual interests, capabilities, and career goals…will succeed with greater commitment and efficiency. All of this requires a renewed dedication to advising but with an enhanced grasp of what students need to know about pathways of learning in order to make intelligent choices. This project provides a strong relationship between and among student learning, academic choices, and student advisement,” wrote URI President Robert L. Carothers in a letter advocating for the grant.

“To improve student recruitment and retention, all institutions of higher learning must first connect students and those who influence their career choices to accurate educational guidance, delivered in a format that is accessible and understandable. This, I believe, is what makes this FIPSE project so exciting–it creates not only a usable roadmap for life sciences education and careers, but also an accessible Web-based format that can transfer to a variety of learning environments,” added Ray DiPasquale, CCRI president.