Project Plan

Writing Success


Student success in writing courses in college ENG and DEV ENG has drawn much attention and effort at colleges across the United States.  Sinclair is no exception. Sinclair writing faculty in both the Developmental Studies and English departments have worked individually for many years with a goal of improving students’ success in writing.  The Writing Success AQIP project will foster collaborative efforts between both departments and enlist broader institutional support to expand the search for new or refined teaching methods and other opportunities to improve writing success and retention.

AQIP Criteria

Primary:   1.  Helping Students Learn

Related:   4.  Valuing People
                 7.   Measuring Effectiveness
                 3.   Understanding Students’ and Other Stakeholders’ Needs

    9. Building Collaborative Relationships


Sinclair’s Institutional Planning and Research (IPR) Department team have analyzed student success and retention in DEV 075, DEV 110, and ENG 111. The non-success rate for developmental English was 31-44% depending on the specific course taken and the non-success rate for English Composition (ENG 111), the first college-level English course, was 27%.  English 111 is required for completion for most Sinclair associate degrees.  During FY 2004-05, there were 10,449 course registrations for these courses.  Disparities also exist between minority and non-minority students with regard to success in English courses.

Students’ failure in English 111 has a significantly greater impact on students’ retention to the next academic year than failure in any other “gatekeeper” college-level course, including MAT 101, Elementary Algebra.  The retention rate for students who were successful in English 111 was 76.5 %.  This is compared to only 41% for those who were not successful.

Since students who continue to be unsuccessful in these courses are likely not to reach their educational goals, it is imperative that we identify and address the barriers that prevent them from succeeding.  This project provides the necessary vehicle to engage faculty to develop policies, procedures, and pedagogy that will improve student success in writing courses.

Organizational Elements Affected by Project

This project affects every degree seeking student and every associate degree program across the college because every degree program has a writing requirement.  Academic Advising will be instrumental to ensure that every student is placed in the appropriate learning environment.  The Achieving the Dream project team will be an integral part of the AQIP Writing Success project since our efforts will roll into Achieving the Dream and our measures of success are the same.  Institutional Planning and Research will be affected through the development of study methodology, data capture, analysis, and reporting needed to evaluate and refine the project activities.  ENG and DEV ENG faculty and chairs will be affected by the demands of data collection, by participation in faculty development activities, and by changes in teaching and/or other intervention strategies.

Processes Affected by Project

 The following processes may be affected by the project:

·         Advising

·         Prerequisites

·         Student Success Course

·         Training academic counselors, faculty and students

·         Student orientation, scheduling and registration processes

·         Course placement testing

·         Student referral to and from support services (ILP and Early Alert)

·         Information technology (tools, electronic permissions)

·         Record and policy alignment and consistency.

Definition of Process Measures

Process measures likely will be refined as the project progresses.  However, measures may include:

Academic Advising and registration:  Advise 100% of the new students who have recently taken a placement test and placed into place one or more DEV ENG; advise students to begin the English sequence within two quarter and, once begun, complete the entire sequence; consider co-requisites for both ENG and DEV ENG for college-level courses; new students will be encouraged to take the Student Success course as part of a learning community or as a co-req paired with either DEV ENG or college English.

Faculty Development:  100% of writing faculty will participate in or help develop the faculty development sessions; faculty satisfaction of development sessions will be at 85% or better; faculty implementation of new methods and data collection will be 100%; faculty will establish practices that ensure continuity and consistency in students’ learning, including alignment of competencies from course to course, grading approaches, performance standards, textbooks across sections, syllabi, methods of assessing learning, and ensuring testing and placement practices align between the ENG and DEV ENG.

Registration and IT:  Successfully implement some form of automated prerequisite checking.  (Method is to be determined)

Student Orientation:  Materials and orientation sessions will strongly recommend that students take writing classes in an uninterrupted sequence, that tutorial services and faculty help are available for English students, that meeting with an advisor is an important step to college success, and that developing competent writing skills is critical to their academic and career success.

IPR:  Data is collected and analyzed; results show success or non-success or ways to refine the intervention strategies.


Definition of Outcome Measures

Success, for the purposes of this project, is defined as individual course completion with a grade of C or better, and success in the next course in sequence as appropriate for the students’ program of study and in the transfer of those writing skills into other disciplines.  The goal is to increase the student success/pass rate to 70% in DEV 075 (currently 56%); 80% in DEV 110 (currently 69%); and 80% in English 111 (currently71%).

The target population for this project is the Achieving the Dream (AtD) Cohort.  New, Fall Quarter entering, degree-seeking students – beginning with the Fall 2007 term population which will represent the baseline.  The treatment group will consist of those students starting in the fall of 2007, fall of 2008, and the fall of 2009 and will be tracked through the spring of 2010. 

Performance Targets

Year One: Document and assess Sinclair’s current writing success and retention rate; review the literature on methods used at other colleges to improve student success and retention in writing; identify promising strategies from the literature and visits to other colleges; identify factors that impact students’ success and retention in select Sinclair developmental English and college English courses (DEV 075, DEV 110, ENG 111). Define three to five pilot projects. Define the study methods and required data collection.

Year Two: Conduct the pilot; collect and analyze data; modify or abandon projects; and continue the pilot. We will specifically look for factors that impact:  1) Students’ success and retention within the individual identified courses; 2) Students’ success in progressing through their appropriate course sequence; 3) Students’ success in transitioning from DEV English to college English (for those initially placed into DEV 075 or 110).

Year Three: Identify strategies which promise best results and implement across other appropriate course sections.  Continue to collect, analyze, and report results.  Refine processes based on analysis.  Fully implement successful strategies across all course sections within the ENG and DEV ENG departments.

Keeping Focused 

Sinclair has established an AQIP Writing Success Project Team and developed a formal project plan to meet the objectives of this project.  The project will be led by a dean or director. The College’s AQIP Coordinator and participants from the Strategy Forum will join other stakeholders as team members.   The AQIP team will use standard project management techniques to ensure the project stays focused.  Our President’s Council leadership group will serve as the AQIP Steering Committee and monitor project status.


Jack Bennett and Teresa Prosser, Team Leaders for AQIP Writing Success and