Year One: 2008- 2009
In the first year of the Activity, project implementation focused on two objectives:
- Increase the number of first-time students participating in connected services from 50% to 80% through redesign of assessment and orientation services, and
- Increase the number of Connected College gateway courses using integrative learning from 0 to 8 through the incorporation of integrative learning methods, and academic supports outcomes.
Both objectives were met through a variety of approaches:
The College's traditional one day orientation was expanded to include Family Nights enhanced by the presence of Deans, program directors and faculty and three program-based Connected College events. The traditional orientation was re-branded as a "College Kickoff" event. Approximately 2300 individuals participated in connected services. Based on Fall 2009 new student enrollment data (2659), approximately 80% took part in these Connected College activities.
Qualitative data indicated successful completion of the objectives as well. After participating in the Connected College Orientation sessions during the summer, one faculty member commented, “It's the first time that I've really talked to students during orientation.” A sad statement, but a sure sign that change was needed. Student responses were also very positive. Several commented that the opportunity to meet program directors and faculty was helpful, and many noted that it provided important information. “It helped me realize different avenues of learning,” one said.
The first group of faculty (Cohort 1) redesigned eight courses: ENG 10 Basic Writing Skills, ENG 11 Composition I: College Writing, RDG 10 College Reading and Learning Strategies, MTH 011, Foundations of Mathematics, MAN 11 Principles of Management, HST 11 The West and the World I, PSY 51 General Psychology, AST 11 Introduction to Astronomy.
Although BCC prides itself on offering a quality education, the grant has helped the College improve its courses by identifying "Gateway Courses," which are courses that have traditionally involved large numbers of first-year students but which have also had a large number of unsuccessful students, as determined by the percentage of D, F and W grades awarded in each section. Faculty teams met, not only to review and revise curriculum where necessary, but also to begin the process of developing a "Course Design Toolkit." This electronic and paper resource was published using Microsoft SharePoint and concentrated on providing traditional resources while moving into more interactive and Web 2.0 teaching tools.
The very process seemed to invigorate faculty and, as the year went on, more faculty were encouraged to get involved. At the two-day professional development session in August, one faculty member remarked that he always felt comfortable with the content, but lately was concerned that he did not have the technology skills to meet current students' expectations. He also recognized that his courses need to be more interactive. After the design teams completed their work, several department chairs and faculty members invited the Title III funded Instructional Designer to visit department meetings and to assist in classrooms because they wanted to learn more about how to integrate active learning and student supports. All 107 full-time faculty and about an equal number of part-time faculty, six division deans have been engaged in the dialogue via kickoff events, All Academic Area, division and department meetings, and other events.
Preliminary data indicates that the number of students who were successful increased in the redesigned courses. This was true in six out of eight courses.
Four full-time personnel were hired by the College using a combination of grant and College funds. This allowed BCC to strengthen what our President often calls our College's greatest resource: its people. An Instructional Designer, First-Year Engagement Specialist (FYES), Academic Advising Specialist, and Web Developer provided the resources necessary to support a major re-thinking of the College's approach to student success. There were several challenges in hiring the right people for these important positions. It took three searches to find the ideal Instructional Designer and the first FYES was terminated, necessitating a new hiring. The present team is working as a cohesive unit and is making excellent progress in moving the goals of the grant forward.