Gordon State College Professor Presents Work at National Conference

Dr. Stephen Raynie
Dr. Stephen Raynie

By: Brittany A. Tennant, Communications Specialist

Dedicated scholar and Gordon State College Professor of English Dr. Stephen Raynie recently presented his work at the national John N. Gardner Institute (JNGI) virtual Conference.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to increase institutional responsibility for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion, according to the conference’s website. The Institute strives to advance higher education’s larger goal of achieving equity and social justice.

Raynie presented his research, Incorporating Momentum Year Principles into the Freshmen Experience.

Gordon State College, an access institution that is part of the University System of Georgia, recently moved decisively to support first-year students with a new course, FIRE 1000. The course is composed of units constructed to develop students’ internal motivation and academic mindset: 1) Academic Self-Discovery and Self-Regulation, 2) Reflection and Growth Mindset, 3) Understanding Field-Specific Issues to Guide Future Academic Explorations, and 4) Critical Literacy in Cross-Curricular Problem Solving.

Data reveals significant retention gains for all students, but specifically for African American and other minority students, first-generation students, and academically under-prepared students. The retention rate of first-time full-time students in 2018-2019 who earned an A, B, or C in the FIRE course improved significantly. Retention gains were especially significant for minority groups as well as for first-generation students.

Retention of the Fall Semester 2018 freshmen class increased to 58.2%, an increase of 10% over Fall Semester 17 freshmen retention. The African American male retention rose an impressive 13 percent for the same group. These data points are key indicators that Gordon State College is making significant improvements in student success, and these trends will also help build enrollment.

“Dr. Raynie is a tireless worker and extremely effective advocate for our students and their success," said Assistant Vice-President for Academic Excellence Peter Jude Higgins. "He has been a primary force in so many crucial GSC initiatives that it is difficult to list them all: First Things First, our QEP; FIRE 1000, our outstanding first-year seminar; our Access Institute, particularly our FVSU-GAP program; our Learning Support program; the Always Alert academic warning initiative; and our Center for Excellence in Learning Leadership, to name just a few. He has presented at several other conferences so that other professionals in our field can benefit from his expertise and knowledge.”

Raynie is a professional of English and has been at GSC since 2001. Raynie earned his doctorate at Louisiana State University in English Literature; two master’s degrees, one in English, and one in Education. Raynie is currently the president-elect of the Georgia Organization for Student Success. He is also the coordinator of the FIRE 1000 (Freshman Introduction to Reasoning Essentials) course.