Student Success Initiative


What is the AVID for Higher Education Student Success Initiative?
What are the AHE Student Success Essentials?
What is the system impact of the AHE Student Success Initiative?
Who to Contact?

What is the AVID for Higher Education Student Success Initiative?

A systemic initiative to support students who are under-prepared for college by:

  • Providing an academic training program to develop college success skills needed for academic success, persistence and graduation
  • Reducing barriers that traditionally limit levels of academic achievement
  • Facilitating  professional development  using student success pedagogies applicable across academic disciplines and  student  services
  • Designing a college plan around the five AVID For Higher Education Essentials

Joe Cuseo (2012) points out the following areas that impact student performance and success.

  1. The gap in college completion rates between low-income and high-income students, and between white students and students of color.
  2. The gap between the number of students who intend to transfer from 2-year to 4-year colleges and the number who actually do.
  3. The gap in collaboration between schools and colleges/universities.
  4. The gap between the quality of graduate-school preparation of college faculty and the quality of their professional performance as undergraduate teachers and advisors.
  5. The gap between higher education's emphasis on student acquisition of discipline-specific content and the need for students to develop cross-disciplinary, lifelong learning skills.
  6. The gap between the current (and urgent) need for higher education to make transformative change to meet the needs of today's growing number of first-generation students.

AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, created AVID for Higher Education (AHE) to address these gaps and assist postsecondary institutions that are committed to assisting students achieve their goals but who may be under-prepared for the academic, cultural and financial challenges that postsecondary higher education creates.

In 2009, AVID Center created a pilot to systemically support structures at the college level for aspiring but under-prepared students. Six institutions of higher education from four states (California, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington), representing 2-year and 4-year institutions, participated in the pilot. The AVID for Higher Education pilot identified several key conditions necessary for AVID to effectively address student success at an institution of higher education:

  • There must be strong campus leadership, vision, and support.
  • Student must have access to rigorous credit-bearing coursework rather than remedial, developmental coursework.
  • There must be coherence in student experiences.  This coherence can be achieved through structures such as cohorts, academies, learning communities and linked classes, or innovative online options.
  • Instruction must be learner-centered and engage students in AVID’s WICOR components (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading)
  • Students are supported in their learning by their participation in an AVID or AVID-like course during their freshman year.

In 2010, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) provided funding to implement AHE Student Success Initiative in eleven colleges across the state. The institutions selected represented public two-year and four-year colleges and universities as well as three private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). These colleges spent a year planning how to comprehensively address the issue of student readiness and success, both in terms of completion of advanced academic work and in engagement in the collegiate environment. Using the key conditions from the 2009 pilot, five Essentials were developed and must be addressed by each participating institution.

The AVID for Higher Education Essentials listed below are designed to transform campus culture by engaging all key campus members and programs in the change process. Each essential has several key elements that further define it. Although the essentials are customized on each campus to support student engagement and success, fidelity in their implementation is required. Full descriptions of the Essentials are available here.

Essential 1 — Administrative Leadership and Support: Campus leadership actively supports and participates in the implementation of AVID for Higher Education.

This includes, but is not limited to, selection of an AVID Liaison who serves as lead of the AVID Campus Team and the provision of adequate resources—financial, staffing, and materials. Leadership on the campus selects those who will participate on the Campus Team, keeping in mind that representatives from academic, student and financial support departments need to be involved and engaged in the process.

Essential 2 —The AVID Campus Team: Campus-Wide Collaboration: The AVID Campus team works collaboratively to develop, implement and sustain AVID for Higher Education.

Led by the AVID campus liaison, the AVID Campus Team is responsible for developing and monitoring an AVID Campus Plan that includes provisions for student and faculty services and workshops as well as plans for future growth and development of the program. AVID staff meets with the Campus Team and representatives from campus leadership a minimum of four times a year for the first two years to monitor progress and provide support and assistance as needed.

Essential 3 — Faculty Development and Professional Learning: The Campus plan includes on- and off-campus AVID planning and professional learning opportunities.

The AVID Campus Team determines the sessions and the faculty and staff who will attend professional learning opportunities offered by AVID. During the first two years of participation in AHE, campuses send Campus Team members and other faculty members to a three-day Summer Institute that is specifically developed for higher education campuses. Faculty for the institutes is composed of AVID staff and campus leaders from participating institutions. Additionally, AVID liaisons are encouraged to attend a meeting each fall and spring semester to share their experiences and network with other liaisons in the AHE network.

Essential 4 — AVID Experience: First Year through Completion: AHE students receive support through the AVID seminar and other curricular and co-curricular experiences that continue through graduation or program completion.

AVID campuses are required to create or modify existing first year seminar courses so they include those skills that research proves are critical to success in postsecondary education. These include writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading (WICOR). Additionally, opportunities for mentoring and tutoring by an AVID-trained tutor are provided participating students. An AVID Student Center is established where students may meet in learning communities, arrange sessions with tutors or faculty, participate in workshops or lectures, or simply meet with their fellow students. These services are available throughout the student’s enrollment at the AVID institution.

Essential 5 — Assessment and Research: AVID campuses participate in the evaluation of AVID for Higher Education through data collection and related research.

AVID Center is committed to thoroughly evaluating the results of AVID for Higher Education and modifying the program based on the results. Staff from AVID Center analyzes both fidelity to program components and progress in student success in terms of participation and attainment of degrees or certification. In 2013, many of the two-year campuses will have data regarding student completion. This will be the first cohort AVID has followed since implementation of the AHE Essentials.

Joe Cuseo has written an extensive research review of the AVID for Higher Education Five Essentials. To access this document, use the link here.

System Impact of the AHE Student Success Initiative

The first cohort of AHE colleges and universities has just completed their first year of implementation with students; an evaluation of student outcomes during that first year (and their return for a second year of college) is currently underway. Initial results will be available in September 2012. However, anecdotal evidence from participating colleges and universities points to the following system impacts of the AVID for Higher Education Student Success Initiative:

  • Impacts on Students: Students in the AVID SSI are more likely to take ownership of and be accountable for their learning.  They demonstrate improved academic behaviors, competencies, and a sense of self-efficacy reinforced by peer support and mentoring. They are changing their belief in their own ability, and are applying the learning strategies to coursework in rigorous college-level courses.

  • Impacts on Faculty: The AVID Campus Planning Team identifies institutional barriers to student persistence, acceleration and completion, develops a vision to remove these barriers, and advocates for and monitors the AVID students.  The AHE professional learning opportunities provide them with research- based instructional pedagogy and concrete strategies for student engagement and teaching within various disciplines.

  • Impacts on Campus Culture: High expectations for student success and high levels of student support become the norm, and belief systems shift to more positive commitment to student achievement.  AHE helps institutions transition from a teaching environment to a learning environment.

Some of the program outcomes mentioned include changes in policies and procedures that accelerate developmental education and increase student access to credit bearing courses; cohort structures that support development of the learning communities that provide peer support for learning; faculty development that focuses more directly on student engagement and success; and increased student persistence and successful course completion.

To read more on the distinctive qualities of the AHE Student Success Initiative, click here.

The brochure for the AHE Student Success Initiative will provide additional information on the specific elements of the program.

Who to Contact?

For additional information about the AVID for Higher Education Student Success Initiative, contact:

Eileen Friou
Office: (972) 591-2527