It Takes a College to Graduate one Student: Connecting Scholarly Teaching to Program-level Assessment that results in Student Success
General description of the project
The success of an academic program in a two-year community college in the U.S. is generally defined by completion rate, transfer rate, job placement rate, or industry’s certification award rate. Tracking the progression of an entry cohort by a set of alternative indicators allows program administrator to identify any subtle drop in cohort enrollment, so to implement intervention strategies in hope to mitigate the situation and thus maintain the program completion rate. In this session, the presenter will share three-year enrollment data of one entry cohort of an AA in Criminology. Grouping the data by general education courses as well as program’s core courses, the presenter will demonstrate the number of students in the cohort that have completed a target percentage of the aforementioned categories of courses in each of the three consecutive years. Not only such set up can provide insights in students’ academic progress in the program, but also allows student services and/or academic advisors to intervene when necessary. In addition to discussing various commonly practiced intervention strategies, the session also calls for an inclusive classroom culture to nurture students’ sense of belonging.
The presenter argues for a two-prong approach—mentoring and monitoring–to raise course retention rate, especially in an online environment. First is to mentor students from the first week of the semester. Using evidence-based strategies of mentoring to ensure students feel included and therefore more engaged in their learning. First of all, I recorded a self-introduction video to welcome students, and meet with each student during the first three weeks of the semester, while requiring them to submit a student in-take form that asks a batch of questions about their academic and family background as well as their employment workload. I also recorded a video to familiarize students on how to navigate the course pages.
To ensure the online classroom climate that is inclusive and students feel emotionally safe, I include a music video on the beginning of each module page and adopting a value-based model (instead of a deficit model) when working with students. Other active learning strategies are group work and reflection learning journals.
The other micro approach is monitoring students’ progress, especially during the first six-week of the semester, so to identify students who might be at-risk of following the slippery slope and disappear. Most literature emphasize the importance of a mid-term review in students progress in a course (1). Not only does it provide faculty important information to implement any possible changes, but also demonstrates faculty’s genuine interest in student success. I argue for a 6-week feedback survey, rather than a mid-term review, as it is essential for faculty to self-evaluate their teaching effectiveness and to identify areas for improvement with respect to their pedagogy and a potential need for curriculum change.
Since I adopted the above strategies, the retention rate of my hybrid Sociology 101 was raised from 52% in Fall 2012 to 100% in Spring 2017 while the passing rate was improved dramatically from 50% in Fall 2012 to 83% in Spring 2017.
(1) Cohen, P. A. (1980). “Effectiveness of Student-rating Feedback for Improving College Instruction: A Meta-analysis of Findings.” Research in Higher Education 13(4):321-341.
Technology plays an integral part in mentoring and monitoring students’ academic progress, not only in one course, but also by program.
Again, on a micro level, transferring both the student intake form and the 6-week feedback form to an online survey helps the presenter in data management. Meeting students either via zoom or MS-Teams helps to narrow the virtual distance in an online environment. The group tool in Blackboard Learn permits group work that helps students to cultivate their skill of collaboration. The music videos that are uploaded to the homepage of each module helps students to further connect the videos with the learning materials of the modules. to further connect with students, I send announcement twice a week reminding students of assignment due dates. I also send reminder to students individually when they missed their assignments. I give individualized feedback on every assignment. Finally, in additional to a regular class meet for students to meet with me virtually, I also offer the option of meeting with students by appointment.
With respect to learning materials, I have incorporated Powerpoint slides, lecture notes and videos, As for learning activities, I have included both individual learning activity sheets and reflection learning journal as well as group discussion and group learning projects.
In the context of program assessment, the Office of Institutional Research plays its critical role in monitoring students’ academic progress each semester using their completion rate of general education courses as well as the program’s core course.
This two-prong approach of mentoring and monitoring students’ progress allows faculty as well as academic advisors to mitigate the situation in the event that a particular student might face certain non-academic barriers.
Explain project results
UNM-Valencia is a HSI two-year community college with 65% of our students being Latina/x.
The campus recently received a title III grant to facilitate the graduation rate of our Latina/x students. Not only does the grant requires student advising to revamp its advising model, but also provides an opportunity for faculty to explore evidence-based practices in pedagogy, and cultivate a habit of practicing scholarly teaching that is based on Peter Felten’s Principles of Good Practice in SoTL ( Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) (2) as well as Garrison’s three forms of presence in an online classroom (3).
SoTL, though practiced in a classroom, is intimately connected to students’ retention, persistence, and their eventual program completion. Such connection, initially cited by Felten, has been expanded to institutions of higher education across the globe. This proposal is an example of one such argument for one of the many benefits of SoTL. Finally, when an online instructor practices the three forms of online presence proposed by Garrison, students, particularly Latin/x, would feel more connected with their instructor as well as their learning materials.
Because of the success of the mentoring and monitoring model used in the AA in Criminology program, the campus plans to adopt the methodology to track students’ progress in all academic programs on campus. At the same time, the expansion of the SoTL Reading club campus wide provides an venue for faculty to familiarize with SOTL and to cultivate the habit of practicing scholarly teaching,
(2) Felten, Peter. 2013. ‘Principles of Good Practice in SoTL.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal. 1(1): 121-125.
(3) Garrison, D. Randy. 2007. “Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. 11(1): 61-72. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=Ej842688
Why it should be considered best practice?
This two-prong approach on mentoring and monitoring students to enhance course retention can be replicated if planned carefully. The key is collaboration among all personnel involved in the program, so everyone walks together with one goal in mind—student success. At the same time, faculty and staff also have to think in terms of people, process, and product (a concept practiced by Exxon for decades). The people are the staff and faculty. The product can the scholarship, course registration, course completion, etc. and the process is the rules and regulations and even syllabi for people to follow in order to deliver the product.
Notwithstanding in an online environment, faculty are responsible for the classroom culture and inclusive pedagogy. When they are both humble and aspirational to treat their students as partners while being knowledgeable about concepts such as stereotype threats and culturally responsive pedagogy, faculty are one step closer to preventing students from following the slippery slope and disappear unnoticeably.
Highlights of your proposed presentation
Most literature emphasize the importance of a mid-term review in students’ progress in a course. Not only does it provide faculty important information to implement any possible changes, but also demonstrates faculty’s genuine interest in student success. Sharing her 5-year course data, the presenter argues for a two-prong approach to raise course retention rate. First is to mentor students from the first week of the semester while monitoring students’ progress, especially during the first 6-week, so to identify students who might be at-risk of following the slippery slope and disappear.
The biggest challenge is to change colleagues’ mindset from a deficit model to a value-added model when perceiving students. The second challenge is to convince colleagues of the benefits of practicing scholarly teaching—using evidence-based pedagogy. Lastly is to coordinate with other faculty and staff to move forward with this project and expand it campus wide.
The Evaluation Committee will evaluate submitted proposals based on the following criteria. Each area will be rated on a scale from 1 to 7 (1= non-satisfactory; 7 =outstanding), for a maximum of 63 points.