Annual Report 2016-17

The mission of the UALRworks program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is to:

  • Increase student retention by providing financial assistance through professional work education.
  • Provide a unique experience that prepares students for success beyond graduation.

The UALRworks Program Values:

  • Professional development
  • Student Success
  • Building relationships

The vision of the UALRworks program is to be a distinctive program that makes UA Little Rock a destination institution and offers students the opportunity for a debt-free degree.

Promotes student development through intentional services, programming and structures

Beginning Spring 2017, the UALRworks program collaborated with the Office of Academic Advising, the federally funded TRIO programs Student Support Services (SSS) and Ronald E. McNair, to create the Student Success Workshop Series (SSWS). The goal was to collaborate across departments, combine resources, and streamline workshop offerings.  Workshops in the series included professional communication, using social media professionally, stress and time management, studying for finals, a resume workshop, and other success and career focused areas.  This collaboration will continue in AY 17-18. In AY 17-18, UALRworks participants will be required to attend 1 workshop per semester to align with program goals of student professional development.

Advocates for the excluded

UALRworks Student Profile

The UALRworks program provides employment opportunities to many students in historically marginalized groups.

74% (N=81/112) of  UALRworks students for the Fall 2016 term entered UA-Little Rock as first-time freshman with or without college credit, and the median age was 21. During the Fall 2016 term, the majority of the UALRworks students were females (67%; N=75/112) and 49% (N=55/112) of the UALRworks students were African-Americans.

For the Spring 2017 term, 74% (N=83/112) entered UA-Little Rock as first-time freshman with or without college credit, and the median age was 21. During the Spring 2017 term, the majority of the UALRworks students were females (87%; N=78/112) and 47% (N=52/112) of the UALRworks students were African-Americans.

The UALRworks program is coordinated by the Director of Study Abroad, who is an active member of the Safe Zone committee on campus. Safe Zone works to improve the campus climate for LGBTQ individuals.

Provides an environment in which students can pursue their educational goals

Retention Rate

Term  UALRworks Students   Institution
Fall 14 to Fall 15 71% 68%
Fall 15 to Fall 16 77% 71%

Other

GPA

Term All Undergraduate UALRworks Students Institution - All Undergraduate Students
Fall 16 2.93 2.55
Spring 17 2.90 2.67
Cumulative 2.95 2.62

Graduation Data

  Degree Type  UALRworks Students
Bachelor 32
Master 5
Associate 6

Impact of the Program

When the UALRworks program was established in the Fall 2014 term, the proposal included an outline for assessment and evaluation on the basis of six areas: 1) workplace grades, 2) student engagement, 3) manager satisfaction, 4) academic persistence, 5) average number of student work hours, and 6) workplace readiness assessment. Throughout the first three semesters of the program, the UALRworks program has made a considerable impact in all these areas, and the same can be said for the 2016-2017 academic year as the following report demonstrates.

1) Workplace Grades

Part of the original program design included the creation of an employer grading rubric which assigns a letter grade in each of the following categories: reliability, teamwork/collaboration, initiative/motivation, quality of work, and communication skills. Departmental managers completed this assessment at the midterm and end of semester. The results for the 2016-2017 academic year terms demonstrate overall high levels of employer satisfaction and high average workplace grades. In Fall 2016, 90% of the students received an overall grade of B or higher compared to 92% in Spring 2017. These results indicate that students in the UALRworks program are maintaining a high level of engagement and effort in their on-campus work assignment.

2) Student Engagement

UALRworks was designed to be not only a form of employment for students but also an opportunity for development and growth. It is important, then, to assess the level of student engagement and satisfaction in the program. Each semester UALRworks staff administered the student engagement survey to measure the four constructs of engagement: satisfaction, commitment to the organization, psychological empowerment, and campus involvement. The results from this survey indicate high levels of student satisfaction, engagement, and growth with and through the program. In Spring 2017, 40 students completed the engagement survey, and over 91% of them reported a strongly positive experience with UALRworks. 90% reported experiencing unique opportunities to learn and grow through the program. About 85% agreed with the statement, “the UALRworks program helped me stay in school at UALR” and about the same number described the program as an experience that has promoted their potential for success in the workplace after graduation. These figures are encouraging and support the founding vision of the program. Descriptive reports from students are even more inspiring. One surveyed UALRworks student reported an opportunity for students to “learn several practical skills such as time management, and several creative skills such as problem-solving, which will all help with future job opportunities.” Another student reported that the UALRworks program “has provided me with financial assistance to continue to live and work on campus and to continue my educational pursuits.”

3) Manager Satisfaction

Another goal of the UALRworks program was to build relationships between students, faculty, and staff on campus. Input from managers was critical to the realization of this goal. Managers complete surveys each semester, assigning a quantitative value to their experience in the UALRworks program. They also provide qualitative feedback in the form of open format comments and suggestions. The results of these surveys show that managers are having strongly positive experiences with the program.

Results from the Spring 2017 survey show 91% of manager respondents said the UALRworks program was beneficial to their department. 93% reported that UALRworks student employees were getting real world job experiences through the program. 82% reported that the program promoted relationships between students, faculty, and staff. Qualitative feedback was also very positive. One manager commented, “The UALRworks program prepares students to present themselves in a mature and professional manner, while also instilling in them a solid work ethic that can be difficult to find.” Many managers described the program as “beneficial for students, departments, and the overall university.”

4) Academic Persistence

The key academic factors measured in this category are retention, graduation, and grade point average. The retention rate for UALRworks students from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015 was a 70% compared to the institutional retention rate of 68%. This score can perhaps be attributed to the lack of UALRworks program support over the summer when most students opt-out. The retention rate for UALRworks students from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 was 77% compared to the institutional retention rate of 71%. Retention for Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 will be pulled after the 11th day of classes in Fall 2017 semester.

Overall, the average semester to semester retention rate for UALRworks students is considerably above the overall retention rate of the general UALR student body.

Because the program is fairly new and most UALRworks students are in their second or third years at UALR, graduation rates are inconclusive at this point. However, so far, 32 students in the program have completed their Bachelor’s degree, 5 have received a Master’s degree, and 6 have received an Associate’s Degree. Since its creation, 43 students in the UALRworks program have graduated. Graduation data will be pulled in Fall semester, as outreach efforts to assess program efficiency are began.

Student engagement is known to be correlated with higher markers of academic success such as grade point average (GPA), and in turn, higher GPA is known to be correlated with higher rates of student persistence and graduation. As a result, we prioritized measurement of student academic performance in our assessment and anticipated improved GPAs for UALRworks students.

Among the 112 students who were part of the UALRworks program in Fall 2016, the term GPA for Fall 2016 was 3.00 compared to 2.81 for the UALR students who were not in the program.

The cumulative GPA is about the same for the UALRworks students and the general student population. However, UALRworks undergraduate students' cumulative GPAs were 12% higher than the general undergraduate population (2.95 versus 2.62).

From Fall 2014 to Fall 2015, UALR works students retained at a rate of 4.4% more than the general population.  From Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, that number increased to 8.4%.

UALRworks students are proving themselves through higher grades and increased persistence compared to the overall UALR student population.

5) Average Number of Student Work Hours

UALRworks staff tracked the average number of hours worked per week for each student.  Over the 2016-2017 Academic Year, students averaged 26.2 hours per pay period, or about 13 hours per week. This is in line with projections and expectations for student work hours.

6) Workplace Readiness Assessment

One of the primary goals of the program is to produce graduates who are able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to be successful in the workplace. However, because the program is still in its first three years and very few students have gone on to the post-college workforce, data on this area is limited. This will be a focus for the program within the next 1-2 academic years. 

  • Enhance professional development for students in the program by requiring all UALRworks students to attend at least one Student Success Workshop Series workshop per semester.
  • Require orientation for all UALRworks student employees to ensure that workplace expectations, program rules, and new program guidelines are discussed.
  • Continue to streamline onboarding processes for students and managers.
  • The UALRworks team has applied for external funding, and continually looks for grants that would support various aspects of the program.
  • The UALRworks team also wants to begin highlighting the success of the UALRworks program to external partners.
  • The retention rate for UALRworks students from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 was 94% compared to the institutional retention rate of 85%.
  • Over 91% of UALRworks students surveyed reported a strongly positive experience with UALRworks.
  • 90% reported experiencing unique opportunities to learn and grow through the program.
  • 82% of managers in the program reported that the program promoted relationships between students, faculty, and staff.