Roosevelt University Research Team Set to Evaluate Popular Summer Bridge Program

Summer Bridge

(Pictured above, Hannan Ali (left) and Lauren Simmons are two recent Summer Bridge participants).

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–December 18, 2014.  Roosevelt University’s popular Summer Bridge Enrichment Program for at-risk incoming freshmen will be evaluated in 2015 by in-house researchers who will be looking for ways to enhance the program as a model.

Led by the University’s new Policy Research Collaborative (PRC), the project will look at outcomes for students who have participated in 2013-15 Summer Bridge Enrichment Program cohorts.

Made possible by an estimated $40,000 grant from the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, the research will look at what works and what doesn’t in preparing low-income, disabled or first-generation freshmen for college success.

“We’ll be looking at everything about the program, including the grades, retention rates and persistence levels that we see among those who have been recent participants,” said Michael Maly, director of the PRC.

Established in 2014, the research unit stresses collaboration among Roosevelt faculty members, students and administrators in partnership with community organizations that need research in order to develop and implement socially-conscious policies.

Roosevelt’s Summer Bridge Enrichment Program has been offered as an option for incoming at-risk freshmen for six weeks each summer since 2002. Administered by Roosevelt’s Project Prime, the program traditionally has been seen as a “bridge” to college, giving students exposure to things like student housing, peers and campus life.

Beginning in 2013, however, the Summer Bridge Enrichment Program was overhauled by Roosevelt’s Provost’s Office, the College of Arts and Sciences and Project Prime to include developmental Math and English courses.

“We know that Summer Bridge programs such as ours can help at-risk college students to succeed,” said Amanda Wornhoff, the interim director of English composition who has been involved in the program overhaul.

“However, we haven’t had the resources until now to conduct a holistic analysis of the effectiveness of our newly revamped program.  This research project will give us a chance to do that,” she said.

Julie Hilvers, assistant director of PRC, said four undergraduate and graduate students at Roosevelt are being brought on board to do literature review and to help gather data and other research activities for the in-depth evaluation.

“PRC offers a great opportunity for Roosevelt students to be involved in research that will extend their learning beyond the classroom,” she said.

The research will include interviews with more than 100 recent and incoming 2015 Summer Bridge participants. By the end of 2015 when the research will be complete, it also could lead to successful components of the program being used as a model in other settings besides Roosevelt, according to Dinaz Mansuri, executive director of the Kaplan Family Foundation.

“We need to understand what this body of students needs to succeed and identify programs that work to meet those needs,” said Mansuri.

For the Kaplan Family Foundation, an organization that typically funds programming needs, it will be the first time its resources are earmarked for research purposes.

“This is an opportunity for us to be able to take what we learn and leverage our limited resources,” she said. “Not only could it be beneficial to Roosevelt and the Summer Bridge Program, but we also believe the knowledge gained could be useful to other programs and organizations.”

Roosevelt’s Project Prime Director Pamela Thompson Hill said she welcomes the in-depth attention that her program will be receiving. “I am very excited about our new relationship with PRC and all of the hard work that’s been put into making the Kaplan Grant possible,” said Thompson Hill.

“The research will allow us to set benchmarks and have a more comprehensive view of how the program impacts our students. We consider this partnership a win-win for our Summer Bridge program and future incoming students,” she said.


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