Enhancing Agricultural and Applied
Little information is available on how to effectively increase student enrollment and student credit hour production in Agricultural and Applied Economics. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss a case study of a comprehensive approach to enhance the educational program in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia.
In the last 3 years, the number of majors in the department has increased from 130 to 210, which is well over a 50% increase. The number of student credit hours increased over 30% in the last 3 years reported, but the latest figures are not yet available. The department generated over 15% of the college's student credit hours in 2003, compared with 12% 3 years earlier.
The department's strategic plan addressed the undergraduate program in detail. The relevant modeling issue was: How can the department enhance the quality of its undergraduate programs? Enhancing the quality of undergraduate programs involves focusing on providing students with economic knowledge, analytical skills, communication skills, and the ability to apply knowledge and skills to solve practical problems. Also important are integration of the department's research and public service programs with the teaching program, increasing student and faculty diversity, securing adequate teaching support, improved methods for evaluating teaching performance, and better integration of the department's teaching program with the University.
The specific objectives of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department to enhance the undergraduate program are:
* to increase the number and diversity of majors in our undergraduate program;
* to increase the quality and diversity of the department's faculty involved in teaching;
* to evaluate and revise the current curricula, teaching loads, targeted student body, class size, and scheduling with an objective of being better integrated with the University;
* to secure adequate funding to develop enrichment programs for the department's undergraduate majors;
* to increase the web capabilities of the department, whereby all pertinent information can be accessed through the web; and
* to reconfigure and renovate classrooms to enhance and expand the learning experience.
This presentation focuses on the methods used to enhance the educational programs that have resulted in recruiting a larger and more diverse student body and generating more student credit hours. In particular, the comprehensive approach to increase the total number of majors in Agricultural and Applied Economics to 200 students in 3 years will be described and assessed.
High-Quality Instruction and Educational Opportunities
The Agricultural and Applied Economics Department has a long history of outstanding teachers. The department's faculty have won numerous teaching awards. New faculty with a strong commitment to teaching have been hired and placed in the classroom. Experienced faculty members have been reassigned to different courses to provide the best possible offering of courses. Outstanding teachers have been assigned to the introductory course to provide a strong foundation in microeconomics and to recruit students to our majors. In addition, faculty members serve effectively as advisors.
Students have great opportunities through study abroad and internship programs. Each summer several of our students have internships in Washington, D.C., and Brussels. In 2004, seven students from Agricultural and Applied Economics had paid internships in Washington, D.C. Students travel in the department's study abroad courses in Mexico and New Zealand. Other students work toward international agriculture certificates by studying and/or interning in foreign countries. These are just some of the examples of outstanding educational opportunities that help attract students to the Agricultural and Applied Economics programs.
After several years of effort, the department's introductory course, Applied Microeconomic Principles, received approval by the Board of Regents for inclusion in the social science core curriculum. This is the only College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences course that can be counted in the core courses. This course is being promoted throughout the College to increase its enrollment. Outstanding teachers in the department teach this course for recruitment purposes.
The department has been able to change a College requirement in chemistry. After battling over the chemistry requirement for years, the department was finally able to convince others on campus that our calculus requirements were more relevant to this discipline than chemistry and that the calculus courses maintain rigor in our program. We continue to encourage students to take chemistry, but many prospective students have already taken other lab sciences, so this change in requirements has been valuable in recruitment.
Several new minors have been developed in the department.
* Environmental Economics and Management
* Environmental Law
* Food and Fiber Marketing
* Natural Resource Economics
These minors are attracting new students to the program and increasing student credit hour production.
The Environmental Economics and Management degree has been changed to a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences (BSES). This change, which enhances student perception of the major, is being advertised to increase student enrollment.
Participation in new University of Georgia interdisciplinary majors, some of which are at Tifton and Griffin, offer this department an opportunity to increase the number of student credit hours. The purpose of the off-campus majors are to use the unique College resources at Tifton and Griffin to attract additional students to the College. Several Agricultural and Applied Economics courses have been taught at Tifton and others will be taught in the new program in Griffin. These interdisciplinary programs provide an opportunity to involve extension and research faculty in the instructional program.
The department has developed new recruitment materials, including exhibits, brochures, and posters. Attractive and unique illustrations for our three majors-Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness, and Environmental Economics and Management have been developed by an artist from the College. These illustrations are used in the various recruitment materials.
The Department sponsors exhibits and representatives (faculty, staff, and students) at numerous recruitment opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. These activities include 4-H and FFA conventions, major fairs, etc. Departmental majors are advertised in student newspapers, on campus buses, and in other outlets. The advertisements are based on the theme of "Dynamic Majors for Business Careers." All relevant information on majors and minors are readily accessible on the web. The departmental web page features current students and alumni to help recruit students.
The department is using internships to help recruit high school minority students. In the summer, students are involved in paid internships in the department. Departmental faculty and staff have worked with these students to expose them to our programs and hopefully recruit these students for the department and university.
Personal letters have been sent to new students who have gone through UGA orientation and expressed an interest related to the department's instructional program. The specific interests targeted include business, environment, and pre-law. Also, students who were undecided were contacted and informed about the department's majors. The recruitment letter called the students' attention to the department's web page, which has been updated for the recruitment effort. The students were also invited to contact faculty in the department for more information on our majors.
The department communicates with advisors in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Business School, and College of Arts and Sciences to present our majors and to describe changes in curriculum.