Stephen F. Austin State University

Information for Faculty and Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is SFA doing this project?

This project was created to address issues discovered through evaluation of our educational programs. This project was designed to meet the goals of: improving graduation rates, improving first-year retention and helping to improve students' higher-order thinking skills.

The university is currently engaged in our reaccreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) which occurs every ten years. This project is part of that process.

What is "Make an Impact at SFA?"

Make an Impact @ SFA! is a program that encourages faculty to use "high impact" practices in their courses. These practices have been demonstrated by extensive research to improve student learning and success. Effective high impact programs should:

1. Demand that students devote considerable amounts of time and effort to purposeful tasks.
2. Place students in circumstances that essentially demand they interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters.
3. Increase the likelihood that students will experience diversity through contact with people who are different from themselves.
4. Give students frequent feedback about their performance.
5. Provide opportunities for students to see how what they are learning works in different settings, on and off the campus.
6. Allow students to connect personally and professionally to others through opportunities for active, collaborative learning.

The addition of one or more of these activities in the context of an academically challenging curriculum increases the odds that students will be prepared to persist to graduation and develop higher order thinking skills.

Will faculty be required to do this?

Faculty will not be required to participate in this program. Faculty who wish to apply may be selected to receive specialized professional development opportunities.

How does this program work?

This program will offer the opportunity to gain further knowledge of high impact practices to twenty-four faculty through a Faculty Learning Community (FLC). They will then implement these practices in at least one course in the following semester.

What do the students get from high-impact practices?

These educational practices have been demonstrated to improve the higher order thinking skills of students. Higher order thinking skills allow students to analyze and synthesize what they learn both inside and outside of the classroom. High-impact practices have also been shown to improve retention and academic performance of students.

How does "Make an Impact at SFA" improve the quality of the institution?

Student engagement is significantly enhanced by participation in high-impact programs. The positive effects of student engagement are a deeper sense of commitment to the institution, improved retention, better grades and higher graduation rates. Each of these would help significantly improve the quality of the Stephen F. Austin Experience.

How will faculty benefit from this program?

One of the most prevalent issues for faculty is motivating and engaging students. High impact practices have a significant impact on the motivation of students. Students engaged in these experiences tend to be more self-motivating and ultimately more successful.

Our office realizes that developing this type of course requires time and effort. Faculty selected for the FLC will be able to choose a resource to help them design and implement their plan for their course. Faculty may choose between a one-course release, a graduate assistant or a stipend. SFA 101 instructors who are selected for this program will receive a stipend.

Contact Information:

For more information about this program, email or come by our office (LIB 218).