National studies have shown that the first year and particularly the first weeks of the first year are critical to students completing their educational goals. In the past, discussion surrounding student success at Sinclair has tended to focus more on student deficits and less on the systems that influence success. Through this action project, we will study related but often disconnected college systems and programs that have direct effects on the success of entering students and improve and integrate current resources and practices in order to increase new student engagement and support services for entering students.
Primary: Category 1- Helping students learn
Secondary: Category 3 - Understanding Students’ Needs
An action project focused on the experience of entering students is timely and important based on a number of factors. Feedback from the AQIP Quality Check-up Visit conducted in spring 2010 included perceptions from students that, due to the large size of Sinclair’s urban campus and the diversity of the student body, it is difficult for students to immediately engage with the college. As described above, Sinclair’s SENSE data suggest that entering students require more meaningful and engaging contact with professional staff and faculty.
The college is currently undergoing plans for conversion from a quarter calendar to a semester calendar (effective fall 2012). This major change necessitates a new approach to advising and presents an opportunity to provide different services to new students, starting with those who will transition from quarters to semesters while enrolled beginning in 2012. Changes currently underway in the Academic Advising Center will be incorporated into this project.
We have an opportunity to study and improve tools and practices that were developed by the college through several distinct initiatives: a Title III funded- Student Success Plan which resulted in customized software and advising processes; SCC 101, the first year student success course; new student orientation (for online as well as face-to-face students); and the emphasis on student engagement and active learning strategies across a wide variety of faculty development opportunities provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning. Each of these initiatives has been in place for a sufficient length of time to determine efficacy and scalability, as well as the potential for integration with other established processes. This project will help Sinclair sharpen its focus on several key processes that the professional literature and college data indicate are vital to the persistence and success of new students.
Organizational elements affected by project:
This project has broad implications across the organization and will provide opportunities for collaboration between the Instructional and Student Services Divisions. Areas to be directly involved include Academic Advising, Admissions, Strategic Enrollment Management (Enrollment Center, Financial Aid Office, and Registration), Instruction (Academic Foundations Department, other academic departments with gatekeeper courses, and SCC 101), Student and Academic Support Services (Student Success Planning Services, Career Services, Disability Services, Counseling Services, Student Leadership Development), and the Learning Centers.
Processes affected by project:
The first year student interacts with and is influenced by a variety of college systems and processes that may be changed and improved by this project, specifically advising, counseling, orientation, and instruction. This project seeks to adjust and align these processes in ways that will improve and enhance new student engagement, persistence and success.
1. Study of Sinclair systems and programs that influence student success
2. Improvements of systems affecting entering students
o Lessons learned from qualitative indicators provided by students and faculty incorporated into systems and process changes
o Effective elements of quarter to semester systems and practices, specifically those affecting advising and orientation of entering students sustained beyond the conversion time period
o Specific improvements for engaging “at-risk” entering students with a focus on degree completion and/ or transfer identified and implemented
o Lessons learned from Title III grant integrated into first-year systems and processes
o Changes made to SCC 101 syllabus and learning materials that focus faculty and entering students on essential learning outcomes and content
o Increased emphasis on strategies that enhance early student engagement by faculty teaching gatekeeper courses
o Development of a comprehensive orientation program with clearly defined learning outcomes, a master syllabus with measurable unit level outcomes, and student progression toward critical ”success” milestones (registration, persistence and first term success).
3. Improved engagement of new students with the college as evidenced by
§ SENSE and CCSSE indicators and benchmark comparisons
§ Qualitative data from students, student services staff and faculty
4. Improved student success as measured by course completion and term-to-term persistence
Contact: Scott Markland, Senior Director, Student Services firstname.lastname@example.org