Recognizing that students with disabilities are more likely to need developmental coursework upon entry to college, less likely to continue beyond freshman year and, upon graduation, experience much higher rates of unemployment than their non-disabled peers, the Thriving and Achieving Program (TAP) applies a positive psychology, strengths-based approach to the transition and academic support of students with disabilities to the university setting. TAP seeks to counteract the lived experience of students with disabilities who have typically been told throughout their lives what they cannot do and for whom traditional academic support resources like tutoring ineffectually addresses the impact of the disability on learning. Students are required to complete semester-long contracts to participate in a comprehensive program of strengths counseling, academic coaching, workshops and technology training to enhance learning. In seeking to unlock the potential of students with disabilities, TAP helps students gain confidence, maintain motivation, and develop strategic study skills to meet their academic, personal and career goals.
TAP staff include 8 academic coaches and a graduate student intern. Academic coaches (upper division undergraduate or graduate students) are paid for 10-12 hours a week of student meeting and training time. Coaches meet individually with 8-12 assigned students on a regular basis to provide peer mentoring and tutoring.
Growth: The program began in 2009-10 and has grown from 34 participants to 120 for the 2010-11 academic year.
Knowledge: All students felt TAP helped them identify their strengths, learning styles and goals, and to gain greater ownership of their part of the learning process. Pre and post tests indicate increased willingness to use accommodations, communicate with faculty and use assistive technology with their study skills among TAP participants.
Academic Success: An 87% passage rate on the upper division writing proficiency exam, 88% retained good academic standing and 38% improved their grades.
National Certification: The nationally recognized College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) certified the TAP academic coach training program after receiving documentation of 63 hours of coach training on required and elective topics.