CompassII Engaged Environmental GE for Accelerated Student Success
Project Directors: Alison McCurdy (CSULA, Department of Chemistry and
Biochemistry); Amanda Ryan Romo (ELAC, Department of English)
2013 Team members: CSULA: Ximena Hernandez; Silvia Heubach; Alison McCurdy.
ELAC: Amanda Ryan Romo; Yanwei Cai; Eddie Hidalgo
Goal: Multiple high impact practices will be integrated into parallel GE courses at ELAC
and CSULA to increase student success and transfer
 Learning Community: students cohorted in 3 linked GE courses in one term (at
ELAC); in 2 or 3 linked courses in one term at CSULA
 Environmental science theme (contextualized learning of foundational skills)
 Community engagement – environmental concerns – collaborative literature
research project with a community partner (YMCA)
Courses – both at CSULA and ELAC:
 GE Chemistry, GE English Composition, GE Math – statistics
 Reading and Writing across the disciplines (1 unit)
 Integrated seminar at CSULA (1 unit): CSULA and ELAC students attend;
community engagement project; peer mentoring; demystify 4-year school for
ELAC students
Most Positive aspects
 Cohort; Revision of GE chemistry labs. Community engagement Research
project forced the students to “commit” to their academics more than they had
 Inter and intra-disciplinary discussions with faculty colleagues - makes us better
 Planned changes implemented in Year 2 will greatly improve the viability of the
LC model - it may “catch on” for all sorts of other combinations of courses
Most significant challenges
 Faculty turnover; budget constraints lead to uncertainty in staffing and offerings;
ELAC student recruitment and retention in PRESTIGE courses; all the courses
together were overwhelming; faculty taught seminar as an overload.
Assessment data: pre/post surveys (improved confidence in math, writing; seeing
interconnectedness of disciplines); GPA (not strong); retention at CSULA 95% compared
to 87% in entering class.
Changes in Year 2:
 Learning Community: students cohorted in 2 or 3 linked GE courses in one term
(but other non-LC students in classes)
 Environmental science theme
 Community engagement – introductory; field trip with Friends of the LA River
Courses at both CSULA and ELAC: Now no non-required courses!
 GE Chemistry, GE English Composition, GE Math – statistics
New Features at both CSULA and ELAC:
 Common Reading in all 6 sections at both schools(No Impact Man by Colin
Beavan); Moodle discussion for all 6 sections
 Additional Themes: Media Literacy, Claims require supporting evidence
 Optional workshop/social hour: Career workshop; advisement; transfer
advisement; social hour; lecture about LA River; invited speakers

Compass II - Engaged Environmental General Education for