Stephen F. Austin State University

Information for Students

Make an Impact at S F ACollege should make you smarter. It should also help prepare you to find a job after graduation. Stephen F. Austin State University is engaging in a new project that will help students do both. Entitled, "Make an Impact at SFA" this project is intended to promote teaching and learning methods that have been demonstrated through research to improve students' abilities to think critically and solve complex problems. These are the kinds of skills demanded by today's employers and which help students succeed in college. While the proposal is quite complex, we've answered some of the most common questions below. If you have further questions, contact Dr. Randy McDonald, Director of the Office of High Impact Practices at rmcdonald@sfasu.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is SFA doing this project?

Most importantly, this project was created to address issues discovered through assessing our educational programs. This program should help address the issue of improving graduation rates, improving first-year retention and helping to improve students' higher-order thinking skills. The university is also currently engaged in our reaccreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) which occurs every ten years. This accreditation is very important to the university. This project is part of that process.

What is "Make an Impact at SFA?"

Make an Impact is a program that encourages faculty to use "high impact" practices in their courses. These practices have been demonstrated by decades of research to improve student learning and success. This kind of learning…

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

Doing one or more of these activities in the context of an academically challenging curriculum that provides opportunities for active, collaborative learning increases the odds that students will be prepared to persist to graduation and develop higher order thinking skills.

So, will this be done in every class?

Many faculty are already using this kind of learning in their classes. This program will offer specialized development opportunities to 24 faculty each year (12 each long semester) who would like to enhance their learning in this area. They will then implement these practices in at least one course in the following semester.

When does this program start?

Elements of this program are already underway.

Who can I contact with questions about this program?

Dr. Randy McDonald, Director of the Office of High Impact Practices at rmcdonald@sfasu.edu.