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Dr. Vince Tinto, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Syracuse

The Civitas Learning National Advisory Board is comprised of researchers, association leaders, and executives whose expertise has influenced higher education policy and institutional practice across the United States, and guided our work from day one. With the NAB Conversation Series, we are thrilled to give our community an opportunity to learn from these luminaries as we continue our work together to change student outcomes.

In this conversation Dr. Vince Tinto, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University, discusses program sustainability and how students make sense of their experiences to become motivated to persist.

Our community asked: How do ensure results and sustainability of student success programs over time? Dr. Tinto recommends a pre-mortem. That means thinking about what will happen after a grant runs out, or after the team moves on... and instrumenting the program appropriately from the beginning to ensure it will continue to serve students even after funding.

Our community was also curious about what influences students’ motivation to persist to completion. Dr. Tinto called out four factors: (1) Clear goals, (2) a sense of self efficacy and whether students believe they can succeed, (3) a sense of belonging, and (4) whether students feel that what they are studying is relevant to the life and careers they want to pursue.

Messages students get from institution — of encouragement and inclusion — are a critical part of these programs. The goal of these messages — delivered not only electronically but also by advisors, peer mentors, financial aid staff, registrar’s office, and all across the institution — should be to normalize struggle for students, so they don’t feel alone navigating challenges.

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