The University of Houston System Board of Regents presented the Regents’ Academic Excellence Award to the University of Houston-Downtown’s Gateway Course Redesign Initiative. The award recognizes University of Houston System institutions’ programs and initiatives that exemplify excellence in teaching, research and/or public service.
The Gateway Course Redesign Initiative has evolved, starting with a grant in 2000 aimed at improving outcomes for at-risk underrepresented minority students. The program was expanded through the 2006 Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) at UHD to encourage the development of active classroom engagement strategies. Efforts focused on improving key gateway courses in College Algebra, English Composition II and U.S. History I. Through additional grants from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) from 2011-2016, the program expanded to include additional courses.
“With a focus on collaborative faculty development and redesign of primarily first-year courses, the initiative targets critical early interventions to the most frequent and continuous touch points the institution has with students – the faculty and classroom” said Edward Hugetz, interim senior vice president for academic and student affairs and provost at UHD.
The initiative has continued to succeed, receiving numerous grants from the THECB and strongly influencing current course design. The Gateway Course Redesign Initiative has encouraged collaboration with local, regional and national institutions to further encourage success strategies and best practices. Data practices have been published at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Student Success Summit, the JNGI Gateway Course Conference, and the SACS/COC Annual Meeting.
The most significant impact can be seen in the number of students earning a passing grade (A, B, or C) in key gateway courses. Beginning in 2011, the percentage of students earning a passing grade rose from 54 percent to 74 percent. U.S. History I has seen the passing rate increase from 52 percent to 71 percent since 2006. Other courses that have seen similar significant changes include Integrated Reading and Writing; College, Intermediate and Beginning Algebra; College Math for Liberal Arts; General Biology I, General Chemistry I, and Federal Government.