Tag: Phoenix GPS Program

Undergraduate researchers honored and recognized

research-top-storyThe experience is worth celebrating, but so is the recognition.

A number of UW-Green Bay undergraduates had a fantastic opportunity to participate in graduate-level research this year and were honored among the winners of the outstanding presentation awards at the 14th Annual UW-System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.

Their research and presentation was one of 16 finalists selected from among 400 presentations representing undergraduate research from across the UW System.

Their presentation — “Phoenix GPS: A Wholistic College Transition Approach for Underrepresented Students” — reports on the year-one results of an intensive, year-long enrichment program for first year students at UW-Green Bay. Team members were Hannah Blum, Ashley Grant, Jordan Grapentine, Sarah Londo and Alex Wilson. Serving as their mentor was Denise Bartell, UWGB professor of Human Development.

“These students are a shining example of the value of undergraduate research experience for students from all majors,” said Bartell. “Despite coming into the project with very different levels of prior research experience, all developed graduate-level research and group work skills, had the opportunity to present at a national professional conference, and are currently working with me on a manuscript for publication of this data.”

Like her fellow student researchers, Alex Wilson served as a peer mentor in the program. She said the new challenge helped her to grow in ways unexpected: “I came to the realization that the project had a positive effect on my attitude and academics, and that I now place a greater perspective on empathy.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after the first semester, I found that I was providing to students what I haven’t always had in my life,” she said. “As a low income, first-generation college student, I understand that there are different barriers for every student. Providing opportunities for first-year students to succeed, despite the barriers, became something that I believe in. The types of experiences that the GPS students are having during their first year acts as an equalizer. Our data shows that many of the opportunities that we provide, such as tutoring, relationship building and service learning will create a learning environment that a student is more likely to want to stay in.”

The Gateways to Phirst Year Success (GPS) program provides historically underrepresented students with an engaging learning community experience, a network of mentors, and opportunities to develop academic agency and connections to campus and community.

GPS students earned significantly higher GPA’s, engaged in high impact experiences at higher rates, and were retained at significantly higher rates than similarly situated students who did not participate in GPS, and these results were strongest for students of color.

Underrepresented students who participate in GPS are 17.6% more likely to be retained at UWGB into year two (92.2% vs. 74.6%) and 13.1% more likely to be retained through the end of the second year (81.3% vs. 68.2%), as compared to underrepresented students who don’t participate in GPS.

Underrepresented (UR) GPS students earn significantly higher GPA’s than other underrepresented students in the first year (3.07 vs. 2.74), are significantly more likely to have declared a major (60.9% vs. 49.0%), and report participating in almost twice the number of high impact experiences during their first year (5.4 vs. 3.0). They are also significantly more likely to utilize campus resources in their first year when they need help, and participate in significantly more co-curricular activities, as compared to other UR students.

The GPS program also eliminates the equity gap for UR students in UWGB’s Human Biology 102 course — GPS students performed as well as represented students in this course.

Researching and quantifying the data was only one step in the process for the student researchers. Presenting their data to larger audiences presented a learning curve as well.

“The first few times we presented, we relied heavily on our peer mentor to paint a picture, but we’ve all gotten really comfortable with the numbers and data collection,” Wilson said. “The statistics demonstrate the successes that we saw during the time spent with students.”

Wilson also found that the lessons she learned translated well to outside the project… even outside the University.

“I talk about this program quite a bit,” she said. “The challenges I experienced as a peer mentor come up regularly in my work environment and I have a better idea how to manage. The knowledge I’ve gained as a research assistant is incredibly valuable. It was unexpected, but the growth I’ve witnessed through involvement has been obvious and important in my everyday life.”

Bartell said the program speaks volumes about the power of students’ commitment to helping others maximize their success in college.

“This group of research students represent a diverse set of majors, from Human Development to Spanish to Human Biology,” says Bartell. “They all chose to participate in the research project in order to continue their service to the University and to the underrepresented first-year students who are served by the GPS Program.”
(Pictured in the photo at the top: From left to right, Jordan Grapentine, Ashley Grant, Hannah Blum, Prof. Denise Bartell, Alex Wilson and Sarah Londo at the National Resource Center’s First-Year Experience Conference in Dallas, February 2015)

Phoenix GPS Program invites campus to Friday’s poster session

Associate Prof. Denise Bartell and the students of the 2014-15 Phoenix GPS Program would like to invite the campus community to their annual Poster Session and Reception, set for 1 to 2:30 p.m. this Friday (May 1) in Phoenix B of the Union. During the event each of the five GPS teams will share stories from the service learning projects they developed and completed this year, which ranged from creating a scholarship for students who are single parents to working with local elementary school children to teach them about the value of sustainability. “Please come join the students, faculty and staff of the GPS Program as they celebrate the significant contributions this year’s cohort has made to UW-Green Bay and the Green Bay community!”

Phoenix GPS students learn, help others learn about success at college

News from director Denise Bartell and the Phoenix GPS Program: The students from the Hopscotching the World of Nonprofits team have just completed their service learning project working with the NEW Scholars program of Scholarships Inc. A college readiness program for under-represented students, the NEW Scholars work on reading, writing, and character while earning credits toward financial scholarships. The UWGB students worked with them for two afternoons, getting to know the middle schoolers and joining in with their book club, writing, and team building activities. On a Saturday morning in April, the UWGB students, who are under-represented college students themselves, met with middle schoolers’ parents and shared what college was like for them and how they got there. Finally, the NEW Scholars visited campus for a tour led by the GPS students, complete with a stop to see the friendly staff at the AIC and an actual dorm room (a highlight)! The visit concluded with a large circle where middle school students asked questions and UWGB students shared their own words of wisdom about what college was like, ranging from “sleep is important!” to “there are lots of people at UWGB to help you” and “try to get into the GPS program because it’s made such a difference for me!” The GPS program is an intensive yearlong learning experience for first-year students that culminates in a service learning project completed by each team.

Students promote scholarship to honor professor’s late mother

Here’s another good story from the Phoenix GPS Program. A student team has chosen as its service project the idea of raising money for a student scholarship at UW-Green Bay. Their goal is to endow a fund creating a $1,000 annual award for the Rosemary C. Bartell Memorial Scholarship at UW-Green Bay. They would designate the award for single parents at UWGB in memory of the mother of Denise Bartell, Director of the Phoenix GPS Program and associate professor of Human Development. Rosemary, who passed away in January 2015, was a single parent to Denise and her brother Richard for most of their lives. To learn more about the project.

Academic Advising and Phoenix GPS team up for ‘peer advising’

For what is believed to be the first time in its existence, UW-Green Bay is making use of peer advisers. The PAC people (Peer Advising Consultants) represent a collaborative effort between the Office of Academic Advising and the Phoenix GPS Program. The advisers, a group of four sophomores who completed the GPS program last year, will be available to assist students with basic registration questions, provide information about campus resources, and serve as student representatives of Academic Advising. Director Darrel Renier says that, in addition to providing a valuable advising resource for students on campus, the PAC program provides second-year students with a valuable high-impact experience, and is part of a broader effort to improve sophomore retention on campus. The PAC will be doing pre-registration sessions and assisting during drop-in hours beginning next week. A link to more information about the peer advisers can be found at www.uwgb.edu/advising/staff/.

Video: Phoenix GPS helps students navigate critical first year

Phoenix GPS programNow in its second year, UW-Green Bay’s Phoenix GPS program is helping University freshmen get engaged and stay engaged as they navigate that all-important first year. We talked to students and faculty about what makes the program unique.

“The Phoenix GPS program — GPS does stand for gateways to Phirst year success and the ‘ph’ in the ‘first’ year, is you know, a little play on the Phoenix,” said Associate Prof. Denise Bartell, Human Development and Psychology. “Really what the program does is it builds on existing structures at the University and kind of adds to them. It’s a yearlong program — in the fall semester, the two primary curricular components are that every student is in one of five kind of special sections of first-year seminars that we’ve designated as these GPS courses. The second curricular component is the intro to Human Biology class.

“So we’ve taken those two curricular elements,” Bartell continued, “and then we have sort of built on top of it the extra work with the peer mentors and the academic advisers, the co-curricular engagement, the social events that our students are doing with each other. And then of course that spring course where they’re doing the service-learning project and the personal development work as well.”

For GPS peer mentor Alex Wilson, the program is all about making connections.

“We spend a lot of time getting to know them in the beginning,” Wilson said. “We want to encourage them to spend as much time on campus as they feel comfortable, getting involved with things they’re interested in, things they could be passionate about, to try and discover who they are and what they would want to do with their life and their major.”

Associate Prof. Christopher Martin, Humanistic Studies, said Phoenix GPS is making a difference.

“Something that the GPS program does really well is tie what students are doing in the classroom to all of these other activities around the school — activities that are shown statistically to promote better engagement, better grades, better success in college, better success after college, all these excellent kinds of things,” Martin said. “So one thing I’ve seen with my students is, over the course of the year they have gradually become more aware of this factor, more engaged, more willing to try things they might not have tried before.”

Phoenix GPS program

That’s certainly been the case for Kayla Duesterbeck, who was part of the program during its inaugural year.

“I came into college having a fear of speaking in public, speaking in front of cameras,” Duesterbeck said. “I think the most I’ve gotten out of GPS was the little push I needed to get out of my comfort zone and actually put myself out there for once.”

Associate Prof. Katia Levintova, Public and Environmental Affairs, also was part of the program’s first year.

“I think the biggest change I have seen was the build up of confidence,” Levintova said, “so just to see that, that’s just amazing, in probably what, five months, people became not only confident in themselves but also kind of confident enough to share with others and kind of spread this particular approach in making this campus their own.”

Added Associate Prof. Lora Warner, Public and Environmental Affairs: “What this program has really done is identify a lot of the keys to success in college — getting engaged socially and getting some academic skills,” Warner said. “And so now when they move on, that they’ve got this really, really good foundation — and the confidence, really to go forward.”

The transformation has been noticeable, Wilson said.

“It’s a chance for them to grow and they have,” she said. “It’s been awesome.”

More information about Phoenix GPS is available online.

More media: Students’ role in recycling study gets additional airtime

We’ve got more media coverage to share on a Brown County recycling study and UW-Green Bay students’ role therein, this time courtesy of WBAY, Channel 2. Reporter Kristyn Allen spent time this week at the county’s resource recovery facility as UW-Green Bay students and Associate Prof. Christopher Martin sorted through mounds of recyclables as part of the waste characterization research. It’s all part of Martin’s “Hugging Trees: Humanity, Morality & the Planet” Phoenix GPS (Gateways to Phirst-Year Success) class, which incorporates a service project as part of the first-year effort to get and keep students engaged in college. You can check out more about the class and Phoenix GPS online, and check out the news story.

Phoenix GPS students to host poster session, reception

The Phoenix GPS Program will host a poster session and reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, May 2, in Phoenix C of the University Union. The event spotlights the contributions students have made to the larger community through their GPS service learning projects; over the course of the semester, students in each of the five GPS classes have designed and completed service learning projects with local community agencies. Prof. Denise Bartell, director of the program, is a contact if you have questions or would like to RSVP, at BartellD@uwgb.edu.

GPS Program raising items for House of Hope

The Phoenix “GPS” (Gateways to Phirst Year Success) Program is hosting a Green Bay House of Hope Donation Drive and is asking for participation from faculty and staff. The drive will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, April 21 to Thursday, April 24 in front of the Phoenix Bookstore. Your donation means support for homeless mothers and children. Specific items needed include teenage women’s clothing, children’s clothing, toothpaste, conditioner, tampons or diapers. Every donation is greatly appreciated.

New video: Phoenix GPS posts testimonial piece

The Phoenix GPS (Gateways to Phirst Year Success) program has a great new testimonial piece posted on its homepage, http://www.uwgb.edu/gps/. As we’ve told you here previously, the GPS program is a support community for first-year students that aims to increase connections to the University and foster student success. The effort received a boost in September, when the program received a $161,000 grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. The new video features faculty, freshmen and student mentors talking about their experience with GPS. Visit the GPS homepage (above) to check out the video and get more info. You can also read more about the program and its grant by linking to our September news release.