AMM Faculty Win Funding to Improve Grad Rates

AMM Faculty Win Funding to Improve Grad Rates

July 26, 2022

A plan to improve graduation rates among apparel merchandising and management students at Cal Poly Pomona was selected by an awards program to receive state funding for the 2022-23 academic year.

The California State University’s Creating Responsive Equitable, Active Teaching and Engagement Awards Program (CREATE) will provide $48,000 toward the proposal developed by Assistant Professors Helen Trejo and Claire Whang and Lecturer J.C. Cañedo.

Currently, underrepresented minority students – defined by the California State University as Latinx, African American, or American Indian – are struggling to graduate from the apparel merchandising and management program within six years.

The trio of AMM instructors believes that innovative teaching-learning techniques and expanding special support can help reduce these gaps.

The instructors will hold focus groups and an AMM faculty workshop to develop culturally relevant supplemental instructional techniques for the students.

Culturally relevant activities focus on students’ unique identities to support their success. This includes attention to their culture and home community, acknowledging their unique needs while holding them to high standards, and developing student-teacher relationships to build a strong learning community.

The instructors also will create a graduate-to-undergraduate peer mentoring program. A student from the master’s degree program in International Apparel Management will mentor undergraduate students.

Alumni from the undergraduate and graduate programs will also assist in developing training materials.

The CREATE funding will support the development of these teaching techniques and resources.

The overall goal is to improve student persistence toward earning their degrees – i.e., not dropping out – and improve the four- and six-year graduation rates among the underrepresented minorities.

All AMM faculty will have access to the resources to participate in this plan and reach all students when the program is implemented starting in Spring 2023.

The project was one of five across the CSU system selected to receive the CREATE funding.

In addition, the instructors plan to employ the “fearless classroom” philosophy, where they develop ways to create trust, empathy, and vulnerability in the classroom. It creates a psychologically safe classroom environment that encourages students to participate and enhances learning.