Choosing Foundations of Excellence
Miller, Christine Elizabeth
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College-going rates in the United States continue to rise. Concurrently, college graduation rates in the U.S. are lower than those of peer nations, and retention rates in the U.S. have been flat for years. The first year of college represents a difficult transition for many college-going students. Foundations of Excellence is a year-long self-study that targets the institution with the objective of improving student success in the first-year of college and beyond. The process was developed by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education based on extensive research and professional expertise; as of 2011 almost 200 institutions have completed the process. This multiple case study includes three participants: Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University, and Gainesville State College. This research explores purposes for participation, perceptions about the experience, and outcomes. Based on this research, all three institutions experienced substantive changes with respect to the first-year experience. This research also identified some best practices and lessons learned with respect to the Foundations of Excellence process. The process may be a worthwhile undertaking for many postsecondary institutions with a large number of first-year students. Foundations of Excellence merits further exploration and ongoing research.