I hope your semester is going well! In partnership with IITS, CSUSM’s CougarBot, a virtual assistant for new first-year and transfer students, is busy, busy answering students’ questions. We are hopeful that the bot’s ability to answer students’ quick questions allows more time for faculty and staff to assist students with their more complex questions.
With the goal of meeting students where they are and helping them navigate their academic challenges, this fall the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUGS) is piloting a Check the Pulse Campaign with the goal of directing first-year students who maybe struggling to available support early in the semester. OUGS is also piloting a 1-unit course for second-year students on probation. Additionally, OUGS has partnered with Financial Aid to provide academic support for new Success and Spicer Scholars.
With the goal of expanding research-informed academic support for CSUSM students, this month OUGS welcomed Ms. Maricruz Macz as the Director of Supplemental Instruction. She will build upon a program that CSUSM launched thanks to our faculty colleagues in Biological Sciences over 10 ten years ago.
Finally, I write with a gentle reminder about a powerful resource on campus. Student Affairs successfully launched the Cougar Care Network (CCN) in Fall 2015. CCN is CSUSM’s innovative early support initiative that allows Faculty and Staff to refer students for additional information, resources, and support to ensure their personal and academic success. The Cougar Care Network serves as a safety net to assist students who may be experiencing challenges in- or outside the classroom. Thank you for making great use of this tool; students are being served. While many of you have made use of CCN this year, I also understand that some of our colleagues have hesitated wondering if they should use CCN. They’ve wondered, for instance, if it is only for students in crises or emergencies. CCN is a tool to help our campus support students. If you think a student needs support, he or she likely does. Simply click here or read below for more information.
Thank you for your role in helping students connect to the many campus resources to support them on their journeys to graduation!
Cheers to an engaging semester. We hope you stop by the new Extended Learning Building to tour the new learning centers. Students are loving the new space!
Dawn M. Formo, Ph.D.
Dean, Undergraduate Studies
Division of Academic Affairs
Since its inception, Cougar Care Network (CCN) has been CSUSM’s early support initiative. CCN is designed to assist with student success, retention, and persistence. Students are referred to CCN for academic, personal, financial, and other concerns. More specifically, referrals can be made for academic distress, change/disruptive behavior, lack of attendance, and significant life changes. In 2018-2019, there were over 1,500 students referred to CCN with faculty as the largest referral source. This is the fifth year of CCN, and we have seen an increased need to support students experiencing mental health (primarily anxiety and depression) and basic needs (food and housing insecurity) issues.
While the Dean of Students Office houses the Cougar Care Network program, students’ needs are addressed through a network of campus partners across all campus divisions (e.g., Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement). The network is a testament to the collaborative and caring nature of our faculty and staff. If you would like to learn more about CCN, please visit the CCN website or request a presentation for your department.
Jason Schreiber & Jennie Ruiz
Dean & Associate Dean of Students
This will come as no surprise to you. Research shows that student-faculty interaction can often help students' academic performance. Additionally, research also suggests that students can benefit from faculty showing interest in their academic progress (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). We thank you for being a positive influence to students in need. Below are a couple of scenarios and how you might intervene:
With the semester in full swing, CougarBot —CSUSM’s virtual assistant—is continuing to support our incoming first-year and transfer students. Students have so far asked over six thousand questions and received responses from an expanding library. The questions the chatbot has been receiving cover all aspects of students’ social and academic lives.
For instance, students have asked Cougarbot about classroom and other locations (bookstore, Financial Aid Office, Learning Centers, and many more), how to access their email accounts, how to access Cougar Courses, how to register for online classes, how to buy a parking permit, and more. Our students use CougarBot for answers to more mundane topics such as the location of microwaves, too.
Students have also been asking CougarBot for ways to meet people on campus, and the bot has been providing helpful tips and advice, a promising sign of how our chatbot is helping students adjust to university life.
We want to thank our partners across campus for their support in ensuring that all the new responses added to CougarBot are accurate and appropriate. We will continue to keep the campus community informed on CougarBot’s development.
Informed by national models to support students on probation, the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUGS ) is continuing to pilot a 1-unit academic recovery course, similar to the version which ran in Spring 2019 for first-year students; however, this time as UNIV 180-1, for second-year students on academic probation. The course promotes holistic student success by focusing on the foundations of personal narrative, mindset and grit, personal responsibility, healthy coping skills, learning strategies, and intensive academic planning and support. Two sections of this course are being offered. We are optimistic that this course will support second-year students’ academic recovery. We look forward to learning through our course assessments how best to revise this course so that CSUSM’s second-year probation students can succeed. If you have questions about the course, contact Ashley Gragido at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to share that CLASS will play an integral role in the success of Success and Spicer Scholarship Recipients! During the first week of the semester, the ASC hosted a welcome event for these two great groups of students with Financial Aid colleagues congratulating and sharing information about scholarship renewal requirements and highlighting opportunities within our learning centers.
Success and Spicer scholarships support different populations, yet all will be required to make at least 5 visits to a single CLASS learning center each semester. These visits are one of the requirements for scholarship renewal the following year. Together, this population consists of 55 students. Success Scholars are first-year students, some of whom are underserved; some received the scholarship based on merit; others are underserved merit scholars. Spicer scholars are second-year students who have financial need. We are incredibly excited to provide this support to our students!