In July 2009 Southeast Missouri State University received a two million dollar, five-year Title III Strengthening Institutions grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance learning experiences in the life sciences through a combination of facilities investments, faculty development and course redesigns.

From October 2009 through September 2014, the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture, the Department of Biology, the Department of Facilities Management, the Center for Scholarship on Teaching and Learning, and the Southeast Missouri University Foundation collaborated, and contracted with external professionals as needed, to carry-out the four interrelated components of Southeast's Title III Project.

  • Renovate six out-dated teaching laboratories for the life sciences
  • Redesign 14 biology courses being taught in these laboratories
  • Develop faculty expertise in Twenty-First Century teaching strategies facilitated by the reconfigured laboratories
  • Establish an endowment for future life science laboratory upgrades and maintenance

Project Goals and Outcomes

The Project's first-year focus was on improving two teaching laboratories, curricula and pedagogy for the teaching of anatomy and physiology. Approximately 800 students yearly enroll in Anatomy and Physiology I and II which are required courses for students pursuing majors in Nursing, Dietetics, Athletic Training, Health Management, Biology Education and pre-professional programs such as Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Chiropractic Medicine, Pre-Pharmacy and Pre-Physician Assistant.

Increasing Student Success in the Study of Anatomy and Physiology

An intended project outcome was to increase student success rates in the anatomy and physiology course series as evidenced by three retention measures:

  • the successful completion rate for A&P I
  • the retention rate from Anatomy and Physiology I to A&P II
  • the retention rate in majors that require taking A&P I and II

For the first two A&P I cohorts (Year 2011 and Year 2012) who experienced project enhancements, rates were increased from baseline for all three retention measures.

Retention Measure Baseline Year 2011 Cohort Year 2012 Cohort
A&P I completion rate 60.6% 63.4% 64.9%
Retention rate from Anatomy and Physiology I to A&P II 78.9% 81.8% 79.2%
Retention rate in majors requiring A& P II 82.7% 85.9% 85.5%

Project Years 2-5

During the years 2011-2013, four additional life science teaching laboratories were renovated and 11 additional courses were redesigned which will affect at least 1,685 undergraduate students who are taught these or other undergraduate biology courses in the newly renovated facilities each year.

Over the five years of the grant, the accumulation of improvements in life science instruction and core offerings was anticipated to improve student success and satisfaction at Southeast, and as well, to increase the number of students who choose to major in biology or another science.

A comparison of student outcomes between baseline and project years 2-5 shows a trend of improved outcomes for three key student success objectives:

Increasing the first- to second-year student retention rate

An intended project outcome was to increase the university's first-to second-year student retention rate by six percentage points over baseline, to a rate of 75% by the end of the project period.

From Fall 2011-Fall 2014, as the number of students who experienced cumulative project enhancements grew, the overall first- to second-year student retention rate was increased by between 3-5 percentage points above baseline each year concluding, in Fall 2014, with a retention rate two percentage points less than the goal rate.

  Baseline Fall 2010 Cohort Fall 2011 Cohort Fall 2012 Cohort Fall 2013 Cohort
First-to second-year student retention rate 69% 71% 74% 73% 73%

Increasing student satisfaction in their “Southeast” experience

An intended project outcome was to increase student satisfaction in their "Southeast" experience as evidenced by students’ responses to selected questions in National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

A comparison of 2009 and 2012 NSSE results shows that, regarding opportunities for mental activities such as analyzing and synthesizing, students were more satisfied post the implementation of project enhancements; however, regarding the opportunity to think critically and analytically, the mean response score declined slightly from 2009 to 2012.

Student responses regarding the opportunities they had to: Mean response score
  Spring 2009 Spring 2012
2.b. analyze the elements of an idea, experience or theory 3.15 3.21
2.c. synthesize and organize ideas, information or
experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships
2.96 3.02
11.e. think critically and analytically 3.27 3.25


Increasing the number of biology majors

An intended project outcome was to, by the end of the project period, have increased the number of students choosing biology as their declared major by 20% over baseline. Instead this goal was exceeded each year of the project period due in part to increases in total enrollment.

By the conclusion of the project period, the number of biology majors had increased by 94% above baseline exceeding, by more than four and a half times, the 20% target goal.

More significantly, from 2007 to 2014, the number of biology majors grew at more than three and half times the rate of total enrollment and, as a ratio of total enrollment, biology majors increased to a ratio of 6% in 2014 from a ratio of 4% in 2007.

  Baseline 2007 Year Two 2011 Year Three 2012 Year Four 2013 Year Five 2014
Total number of undergraduates 9,209 11,231 11,474 11,616 11,621
Number of biology majors 379 654 683 694 736
Ratio of biology majors 4.1% 5.82% 5.95% 5.97% 6.33%

Establishing an Endowment

Faculty Development
Laboratory Renovations
Course Redesigns
Contact Us