Norwich improves GPAs by housing students by major

For the last two years, Norwich University has been placing rooks by academic major in the dorms to build camaraderie within the major, so that students with similar interests can excel in the classroom. That system appears to be having considerable impact.

The Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs, Frank Vanecek, said the University has seen a dramatic change in grade point averages (GPA) as a result. The concept for placing rooks by major was put in place last year, Vanecek, and its aim was to bring up GPAs among rooks in their difficult first year
“Students can easily work together when studying for tests and other assignments just by walking down the hall,” said Vanecek.
Students can now experience more interactions in the dorms as they bond within their own major.
The grouping by major allows for study groups to be formed within the dorms, according to Vanecek, and will build the platoons stronger as a unit.
According to Vanecek, the system appears to have no downfalls or negative aspects in the coming years.
“Looking at the data for academic performance, we found that the average GPAs increased by about 3 to 5 percent last year,” said Shelby Gile, the director of student success. Gile said that the university had seen a downturn in GPAs over the four to five years prior to the new policy.
“A major benefit this policy brings is that for faculty, it easily allows them to talk to their students as (a) group,” said Vanecek. Professors can go to one dorm to interact and speak with students, which helps students substantially, said Vanecek.
The university also began looking at the more challenging courses that typically do not hold retain students within the Corps of Cadets, such as the science majors, said Gile.
The administration began to look at putting majors together in the hopes of not only building a closer bond as a rook family, but as a closer learning community among the freshmen, said Gile.
“We were hoping to engage faculty to take on an advisory role, where they can walk around a specific dorm and know it will be full of their students,” said Gile
Student opinions vary on the idea of grouping housing by major. Mike Dale, a 20-year-old sophomore computer science major from Morehead City, N.C., said, “The policy helps rooks with their academics, especially as coming into college as a freshman can be very challenging.”
However he wondered if the new policy could potentially have a drawback in enabling cheating throughout the dorms, noting “as students with similar interests and majors, I would imagine there would be some cheating going on from time to time.”
“I think as a freshman I would have wanted to be put with students of the same major,” said Pete Dippolito, 21, a junior criminal justice major from N.J.
Vanecek sees only positives so far,
“We are hoping the policy will keep improving grades and even improve retention,” said Vanecek. “The policy has been proving itself to be beneficial for students and there has been no negative feedback so far.”

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