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Student Success: Pushing Boundaries, Raising Bars

Network for Academic Renewal Conference
March 22-24, 2012
Seattle, Washington

Conference Program and Session Resources

“We cannot simply assume that program completion and high-level student achievement on key learning outcomes are one and the same. Access and completion are necessary but far from sufficient. To regain our position as a world leader, the United States must now work both to increase degree attainment and to improve significantly the breadth, level, and quality of students’ actual learning.”

“A great democracy cannot be content to provide a horizon-expanding education for some and work skills, taught in isolation from the larger societal context, for everyone else.”

The Quality Imperative, AAC&U (pdf)

Conference Overview

Student Success: Pushing Boundaries, Raising Bars will examine new interpretations of student success in the 21st century; review the latest findings on today’s students and how they learn; feature high-impact practices in teaching and learning; and provide innovative strategies and tools for supporting and rewarding faculty innovation and leadership. The conference will encourage participants to push boundaries and raise bars so that all students are able to pursue their highest aspirations for success in college and beyond. 

With more and more students seeking a college education, colleges and universities are being pressed to increase retention and graduation rates as if these were the preeminent measures of student success.  At the same time, employers decry the inadequacy of  the knowledge and skills that graduates are bringing to an ever more complex workplace. As education budgets are slashed and courses and programs long considered central to higher education are threatened or even eliminated, how can American higher education foster and maintain the quality of learning that will prepare students to meet the evolving needs of employers and to responsibly address the unscripted problems of our democracy and the world?   What are true measures of student success, and how is higher education ensuring that all students achieve levels of learning equal to the complex challenges they will confront throughout their lives—at home, at work, and as citizens? 

The challenges to breaking down entrenched institutional boundaries and raising bars for all students are daunting. Outdated interpretations of teaching as content delivery fail to connect students with multifaceted, integrative, and experiential learning.  Fixed disciplinary structures do not support and reward faculty innovation for integrative common intellectual experiences and collaboration across campus sectors and with the community.  Student success in the 21st century will depend on new approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment that increase self-authorship, global understanding, and responsibility for the common good.

Student Success will focus on ways that faculty with broad-based institutional support can take the lead in fostering integrative and engaged learning. Conference participants will exchange ideas and practices that change campus cultures and provide high-impact practices equitably to all students, particularly the underserved.  Together, participants and session facilitators will consider such questions as

  • What does student success for the 21st century mean?  What are the outcomes, practices, and measures by which success is achieved and demonstrated? 
  • How can evidence regarding what and how well students are learning be used to inform equity-minded changes in curriculum, pedagogy, and campus cultures?
  • How can we push the boundaries of current practices, including information technology practices, to develop educational experiences across all campus sectors to reflect global contexts for learning and the diversity of students? 
  • How can institutions support and advance the innovative use of high-impact practices and improve collaboration across all sectors of campus? How can they do this work in an economy of constraint? 
  • How can we help students navigate their transition to college whenever they make the transition, with special attention to cognitive and social development? 
  • How might the development of the new Common Core standards, coupled with the Lumina Foundation’s Degree Qualifications Profile, affect the potential for increasing intentionality and college students’ success?

We invite you to lend your expertise and voice to these sessions to frame student success for the 21st century and to propose strategies for realizing that vision.

Visit the Call for Proposals to find out more about each theme and how to submit a proposal.


Please contact the Development Office at (202) 884-7421 or e-mail for information about sponsorship opportunities for this conference.