New 'lab' to create comprehensive strategy for student success

Iowa State is one of 10 institutions selected to participate in the American Council on Education's Learner Success Laboratory (LSL).

The 12- to 18-month initiative, supported by a grant from the Strada Education Network, is a change management process for systems, processes, programs and culture, all aimed at boosting student success. Activities will include:

  • Integrating evidence-based practices for student retention and degree completion
  • Exploring careers and life design
  • Developing workforce skills

"We do a lot of things well when it comes to student retention and success, but we're always striving to serve students in new and better ways," said Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost for academic programs. "The Learner Success Lab is an opportunity to come together across disciplines to create a holistic vision and framework that reaches every student and every corner of campus."

Steering committee will lead the effort

Work on the initiative will be led by a cross-divisional steering committee of faculty and staff, co-chaired by Shawn Boyne, director of academic quality and undergraduate education in the office of the senior vice president and provost, and Robert Reason, associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Human Sciences. Additional members are:

  • Jordan Brooks, College of Design
  • Sharron Evans, dean of students office
  • Wonjae Kim, Multicultural Student Affairs
  • Monica Lamm, College of Engineering and CELT faculty fellow
  • Matt Pistilli, division of student affairs
  • Kenyatta Shamburger, dean of students office
  • Amy Slagell, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Charles Small, athletics department
  • Dannia Thorpe, student, College of Engineering
  • Howard Tyler, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Katie Whipple, Academic Success Center
  • Kathy Wieland, Ivy College of Business
  • Susan Wohlsdorf-Arendt, College of Human Sciences and provost's office faculty fellow
  • Karen Zunkel, institutional research

Additional members of the campus community will be asked to serve on project subcommittees.

The steering committee will launch a comprehensive review of the university's student success initiatives using the lenses of diversity, equity and inclusion; data-informed curriculum; and agility and transformation. The committee then will propose a strategic plan for student success.

"I am very excited to be supporting Iowa State University in its participation in the inaugural cohort of ACE's Learner Success Lab," said Jonathan Turk, director of research at the American Council on Education and LSL advisor. "As a two-time ISU graduate, I know firsthand how special the university is and how deeply committed it is to promoting access and success for all students."

Lab member schools

Institutions in the LSL cohort serve approximately 67,000 total undergraduate learners and represent a range of two- and four-year, public and private institutions, and several current or emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions. The other nine institutions are:

  • Elon University, North Carolina
  • Labouré College, Milton, Massachusetts
  • Massasoit Community College, Brockton, Massachusetts
  • Richard Bland College of William & Mary, Petersburg, Virginia
  • Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau
  • Union Institute & University, Cincinnati
  • University of Hawaii, West Oahu campus, Kapolei
  • Western Oregon University, Monmouth
  • Windward Community College, Honolulu, Hawaii

Questions about the initiative may be directed to Boyne, 515-294-7063.