Cyclone 101 aims to boost new student retention

In the continuing effort to boost new student success and retention, all incoming, direct-from-high-school students will take part in Cyclone 101, a five-part, summer onboarding course. In Canvas, Iowa State's learning management system, students will complete activity-based lessons in topics such as academic success, help-seeking behaviors, personal wellness and responsible financial decisions.

The modules integrate other required training for students, including AlcoholEdu for College, First Amendment, sexual assault prevention and mental well-being.

Development of Cyclone 101 began in 2018 before a pandemic delay, but it will roll out this summer with the help of strategic plan funds and coordinated through the office of the senior vice president and provost.

"Cyclone 101 is designed to get students started out on the right foot when they get to campus," said Clayton Johnson, director of the College of Human Sciences student services center. "We tell them about these resources during orientation and other formats, but we know the more times we get this in front of students -- in a variety of ways -- the more likely they are to engage with the resources."

He said some students who think they have to withdraw from school or find themselves on academic probation often didn't use the resources available to them early enough.

Johnson said the course's five modules -- released weekly beginning in mid-July -- help fill the gap between June new student orientation and mid-August when students arrive on campus for Destination Iowa State and the start of classes.

"The modules provide an overview of a lot of resources on campus and some good academic habits we want students to be aware of and practice before starting," he said. "Students interact with each module in an activity, like short quizzes or matching exercises. This is meant to be an engaging experience."

The course

Johnson said the five modules are released weekly, though students can progress at their own pace. Each takes no more than an hour or two to complete. Once students have completed the modules the information will remain in Canvas for them to refer to at any time. Johnson said another benefit is Cyclone 101 gives students a chance to use Canvas -- some for the first time -- before beginning classes.

He said Cyclone 101 could expand in future years to include information for transfer, nontraditional and other students.

Town halls

Four campus town halls are scheduled for faculty and staff to learn more about  the development of Cyclone 101, preview the content and explore the different modules.

"We encourage people who work with students during orientation, or have orientation-type courses during students' first year, to attend a town hall," Johnson said. "The content will help inform them so when they are talking to students they can reinforce what was presented in Cyclone 101."

  • April 26, 3:10-4 p.m., 3204 Student Innovation Center
  • April 30, 2:10-3 p.m., virtual (Microsoft Teams)
  • May 6, 1:10-2 p.m., 3204 Student Innovation Center
  • May 16, 11-11:50 a.m., 3204 Student Innovation Center

The April 30 town hall will be recorded and posted online for those unable to attend.