The LEAP Texas program “is a collaborative of higher education institutions with the capacity to reach more than 600,000 students,” the LEAP Texas website said.
The program prides itself on not being controlled by a particular institution or party, but rather it is a partnership of institutions “with common issues and shared purpose.”
“The mission of LEAP Texas is to provide a structure through which Texas public and private institutions of higher education can communicate, organize, and develop plans and policy recommendations,” the website said, “that address their common interests of student success and the improvement of higher education in Texas.”
But rather than just discuss student success, everyone representing at the conference, held by the program, is working to provide new and better methods that promote student success.
The vision of LEAP Texas is “To provide Texas students with consistent high quality higher education through implementation of outcomes-focused general education, authentic assessment, high impact educational practices, inclusive excellence, improved access to higher education, and similar initiatives.
Through this, the program is committed to the success of the students and the various institutions represented through,
- Upholding the commitment of faculty across our various institutions— to provide a strong educational foundation for an increasingly diverse student body—one that prepares them for work and citizenship in the twenty-first century, well aligned with stated goals of employers,
- Adhering to the required Texas Core Curriculum for Higher Education, facilitating rigor and transferability, within a context of innovation,
- Responding to the increasing national focus on student learning outcomes; and
- Applying the scholarship of teaching and learning.
There are 10 ACU staff and faculty members presenting in three of the six tracks offered at the LEAP Texas Conference this year. The presentations include,
- “Creating a Center for Careers and Experiential Learning,” presented by Dr. Susan Lewis and Derran Reese
- “Fostering Global Awareness and Local Engagement: How HIPs converge in Leipzig, Germany, and Oxford, UK,” presented by Dr. Susan Lewis and Dr. Laura Carroll
- “Creating Globally and Socially Engaged Business Students: The Case of a Social Enterprise Consulting Course in a Global Context,” presented by Dr. Sarah Easter
- “Cultivating Campus Innovation: ACU’s Envisioning the Future of Education Grand Model,” presented by Joyce Haley, Dr. Cliff Barbarick and Dr. Laura Carroll
- “‘Producing’ the Freshman Seminar: 10 Years of Cornerstone at Abilene Christian University,” presented by Dr. Trey Shirley
- “Supplemental Instruction in high DFW Math Courses,” presented by Liz Brown and Dr. Laura Carroll
- “Propelling students to success: a model of Engineering Innovation,” presented by Dr. Tim Kennedy and Dr. Lori Houghtalen
In his “10 Years of Cornerstone” presentation, Shirley said it was created as a seminar for freshmen to grow intellectually and spiritually.
“Cornerstone is a rigorous, academically-centered orientation seminar designed to serve as a foundation for first semester students by introducing them to the values of a liberal arts education, teaching them to conduct research across disciplines and inviting them to think purposefully about meaning and vocation,” Shirley said.
Shirley presentation will highlight how the program, which utilizes spotlight presentations, serve to present common issues and situations the freshman body will come across.
“The class structure employs a hybrid approach that involves both the delivery of large forum lectures paired with small classroom instruction. Led by expert lecturers representing multiple departments across campus, Spotlights are large-scale, media-rich, interactive presentations given to the entire freshman body in a high-capacity auditorium on campus. Carefully created with both high production value and specific learning objectives in mind, each 45-minute talk provides an opportunity for the entire freshman class to unite through a shared and repeated common experience throughout the semester.”
Shirley’s presentation focuses on the highlight of the program being a top-rated first-year program and the analyzing of data collected to measure Cornerstone’s success and impact.
“Recently recognized by US News and World Report as a top-rated program in the category of First Year Experiences, Cornerstone is a flagship program for ACU reflecting its deep-seated commitment to high impact practices This presentation will share years of collected evidence supporting Cornerstone’s ongoing success and provide the methods used to implement, maintain, and “produce” such an ambitious class.”
This year’s LEAP Conference is themed “2020: The Promise of a New Decade for Higher Education” and will be held on March 29-31 in Houston.