WSU Tri-Cities named AVID ‘highly certified’ institution

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities recently became the only four-year university in the Pacific Northwest to be named a highly certified institution for Advancement Via Individual Determination programming.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a nationwide program that prepares students to succeed by providing academic and social support that transcends into daily life. Although traditionally held at the elementary, middle and high school levels, WSU Tri-Cities joined a collection of colleges and universities in recent years to introduce the AVID for Higher Education (AHE) program.

WSU Tri-Cities earned the designation after meeting five essential characteristics in providing students with the supports to be successful, in addition to providing instructors with high-engagement strategies to ensure students persist, complete and are successful beyond college.

WSU Tri-Cities holds the following requirements to earn the designation:

  • Campus leadership support.
  • A campus team to develop, implement and sustain the program.
  • Professional development for faculty.
  • Inclusion of an AVID seminar.
  • Using data to inform changes and improvements to university programming.

Benefits of AVID in the classroom

Kate McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the largest benefits of the AHE program is that it encourages students to become engaged on campus, make friends through a common course, and learn study and other practical skills they can use in classes across the board.

Through the program, all freshman take an AVID seminar course that encompasses an academic subject, which at WSU Tri-Cities, is Human Development 205. In that course, students work intensively in groups, participate in service learning, learn how to use the range of campus resources, and attend at least one campus event – all in addition to the regular course material.

For student Riley Santo, the main benefit of the course was that it helped provide her with a successful transition from high school to college.

“I enjoyed that the class had a more familial structured,” she said. “You learned everyone’s name in class, we had group projects, and there were lots of conversation between the professor and students, as well as between students.”

For student Zachary Harper, the course helped boost his self-confidence for his college classes and with his campus job, and it allowed him to make friends on campus. He also learned effective strategies regarding conflict and working with groups.

“I’ve been able to successfully apply this knowledge to all of the group projects I have been working on in class since then,” he said.

Best-practice teaching methods 

With AVID, professors at WSU Tri-Cities are trained with best-practice teaching styles that help ensure student success.

All WSU Tri-Cities faculty have the option of attending a training that teaches these best-practice standards and styles, in addition to providing the option for professors to observe their colleagues’ teaching styles.

Judy Morrison, one of the leaders for the teacher preparation program, said WSU Tri-Cities’ regular teacher preparation programs are part of the AVID Teacher Preparation Initiative, which means they use AVID strategies in some of their courses and help future teachers learn how to implement AVID strategies in their own teaching.

Katie Banks, instructor in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at WSU Tri-Cities, said after going through her first AVID for Higher Education Summer Institute in 2016, she revamped her teaching philosophy and strategies.

“These high-engagement strategies allow students to refocus – away from their notes and away from other distractions,” she said. “No longer are students asked to be passive observers of my expertise as an instructor. Instead, we’re a community of learners, and we can each build from the knowledge of one another.”



  • Kate McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs, 509-372-7371,
  • Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

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