Heidi Estrem

Professor of English, Director of the First-Year Writing Program

Boise State University

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at Boise State University

Heidi Estrem

Professor of English, Director of the First-Year Writing Program

Boise State University

Heidi Estrem is professor of English and director of the first-year writing program at Boise State University. Her research interests in first-year writing pedagogy, writing program administration, assessment, and instructor development and support have led to publications in Writing Program Administration, Rhetoric Review, Composition Studies, and several edited collections. Her recent edited collection Retention and Persistence in Writing Programs (co-edited with Todd Ruecker, Dawn Shepherd, and Beth Brunk-Chavez) offers a variety of research-based perspectives on programs and initiatives designed to better support students in their initial college writing courses.

In the past five years, she and her colleagues from across Idaho have collaborated to implement co-requisite first-year writing courses and to reconsider writing placement processes at every institution in the state. Now, only one institution has a non-credit-bearing writing course. Most campuses have implemented or are implementing multiple-measures-based approaches to writing placement through customizing The Write Class for their campus. These two changes have resulted in increased student confidence and persistence as more students have immediate success in a critical gateway course.

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15 to Finish

Boost the number of students who are on track for on-time graduation by encouraging enrollment in 15 credits each semester (30 credits per year, including summers). Financial aid dollars, as well as institutional process and practice, should support that standard.

Math Pathways

Ensure all students enroll in and complete gateway math in their first year by designing math courses that are aligned with the skills students need for their chosen program of study.

Corequisite Support

Increase gateway course completion within the first year by enrolling entering students into the college-level math and English courses, providing those who need additional help a concurrent course or lab that offers just-in-time academic support.

Momentum Year

Build momentum so students meet first-year benchmarks: informed choice of meta major or major, enrollment in 30 credits with nine in the program of study and completion of gateway courses. Provide early support and guidance for decision making, using interest assessments and labor-market data.

Academic Maps with Proactive Advising

Default students onto highly-structured academic maps that include 15 credits per semester (or 30 per year), indicate milestone and pre-requisite courses, and empower advisors to effectively monitor progress and provide intervention as needed.

A Better Deal for Returning Adults

Increase degree attainment by inviting adult learners back to complete their education, providing a redesigned system that offers accelerated courses, year-round enrollment and predictable schedules. Give credit for prior learning and experience and additional support to help students navigate the system.

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