Results and Recognition
Since launching in 2012, each year L4L has undergone an independent project evaluation by Dr. Mimi Mumm, a faculty member from RIC’s School of Social Work. These have resulted in 249 pages of data analysis, feedback, and recommendations that have guided L4L’s growth and path forward in providing holistic, comprehensive services for the 985 L4L Scholars served to date. The volumes of data that we collect, including each interaction with Scholars, and ongoing literature review, ensure we are providing the most potent blend of support for student success. Results are very promising, with years of data indicating that L4L Scholars persist at higher rates than the overall RIC population, despite facing the most significant obstacles to graduation.
Some key markers of success include:
- The year-to-year retention rate of L4L Scholars entering RIC in fall 2014 as full-time, first-time freshmen is 88.5%, an increase of 2.5% since our report for fall 2013. Despite serving students who meet at-risk qualifiers, L4L’s retention rate is 12.3% higher than the overall RIC freshmen retention rate for students entering in fall 2014 (76.2%).
- In addition to the official institutional retention rate, L4L’s project evaluator developed an additional measure of success looking beyond the cohort model. It includes students at all levels of study and captures the progress of students following a nontraditional path to graduation, with “Persistence defined as persisting into the next semester” (Mumm, 2016, personal communication).
- “Learning for Life Scholars have a rate of persistence of eighty-four percent…The L4L persistence rate is higher than persistence rate for the RIC campus in general” (Mumm, 2016, p. 23-24). The full evaluation report provides rates for specific groups, such as persistence by GPA, age, ethnicity and class status.
- Since L4L’s start, 123 Senior or Master’s level students have been hired and trained to serve as Network Navigators, providing them internship opportunities and a professional certificate of undergraduate studies. The experience of more than 12 L4L Scholars was so positive that they applied and were hired and trained to become Navigators.
- L4L has achieved national recognition through the AASCU Innovation Exchange,
Part of our last evaluation in December 2016 invited twelve partners to participate in a brief survey, with one question asking, “What impact do you think L4L has had on campus?” One respondent said:
“Tremendous (impact)! Not just because of the student supports, which most others will likely speak to. L4L has also shown that programs can/should be forward-thinking, willing to partner and collaborate across campus and beyond, seek external funding to develop and support new program initiatives and growth and be greater risk-takers in trying new things and moving in new directions. It's hard work, but comes with rewards.” Another stated: “The concept of L4L is representative of the much needed evolution of the campus culture to be more nimble, responsive, and supportive to all of our students. … the impact of L4L (on) Scholars and Navigators has been transformative in their personal experiences at RIC.”
As reported in our 2015-16 evaluation, “Beyond persistence, L4L has had an impact on institutional changes at RIC” (p. 7). Four themes emerged during an L4L retreat:
- L4L’s role in “building bridge structures between community and the college…” “(There) is something about connecting people on campus with each other .... I have met tons of people on campus (through L4L)” (Campus partner and Faculty; p. 39 & 40).
- Emergence of new programs: “I may not have even thought about doing these programs if it was not for L4L” (Campus partner; p. 40-41).
- Building student capacity: ““....(S)ome of the Scholars we work with are, seeing that being an L4L Scholar is the track to becoming a Navigator.. so it is just naturally happening” (Network member; p. 41).
- Institutional change or initiatives: “What L4L has done is to create this mapping of resources on campus and made it readily available to students” (Community partner; p. 40).
Survey respondents were asked for advice on where L4L needs to go in the next four years and what changes are recommended. One response captured most of the sentiments expressed, “L4L needs to keep doing what it's doing, expanding to meet needs of more/all students. It also needs to be supported and recognized at the highest levels as a student-centered, collaborative and entrepreneurial program whose way of working could serve as a model for other RIC programs. This shift could mean a valuable culture shift at the college.”
L4L Year 4 Evaluation 2015-2016