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Optimizing Transfer through Student Success Courses

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  1. Optimizing Transfer through Student Success Courses Alexis Ehrhardt Danville Community College Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana Community College Research Center Teachers College, Columbia University Innovations Conference March 5, 2012

  2. CCRC Study Qualitative examination of student success courses conducted at 3 community colleges in the Virginia Community College System Interviewed 72 faculty and staff, and 97 students Revealed information about the availability and take-up of student services and students’ aspirations and goals for college Observed 19 student success courses Reviewed course syllabi and training materials

  3. Transfer Aspirations A recent National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report found that 20 percent of community college students who did not complete an Associate’s degree transferred to a 4-year institution A 2008 National Center for Education Statistics report found that 36 percent of students described their reason for attending community college as to “transfer to a 4-year institution” (p. 12) Of those students, 39 percent (14 percent overall) left community college without completing a degree or certificate within 3 years (p. 23)

  4. Student Success Courses Also called College 101, introduction to college, college orientation, or the freshman experience Forums that provide incoming students with information and skills that can help them meet the academic and social demands of college In Virginia, Student Development or SDV 100 is a required 1-credit course for most programs of study Most courses are 8 to 16 week Specialized course options

  5. Course Content Areas

  6. Findings: Application With limited instructional contact hours and a large volume of course content, we found that SDV courses were providing a cursory coverage of a wide range of content Instructors often noted that they had to “get to everything,” so in-class activities: Were primarily lecture, Rarely revisited out-of-class assignments, and Often provided information in a decontextualized manner Students have limited opportunities to use the information they’ve gained in class and, thus, are less likely to use the skills and/or information

  7. Transfer in Success Courses SDV courses we observed provided varied information about transfer: Mention of resources Introduction of transfer office staff Writing assignments that required a review of website information about transfer

  8. Application of Transfer Knowledge Students reported limited use of transfer services: Staff confirmed these trends Only some students had a sense of how to gather information about transfer Few students expressed any understanding of the transfer process For some it was unclear when to begin planning for transfer “Well I don’t understand if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, so that’s another thing…I’m thinking ‘Is this something I do once I get ready to transfer or is that something I should be doing now?’…I don’t know.” (Student)

  9. Implications for Transfer Faculty and staff suggested that students’ lack of understanding about transfer is not rectified in traditional success courses. Additionally, students are not utilizing transfer centers and academic advisors effectively. As a result, some students are making course selection errors that affect their ability to transfer. “I have one student…He’s already taken like two Biology classes that he doesn’t need. They’ll transfer, but…he needs Chemistry…Nobody told him.” (Staff)

  10. PopulationCity of Danville and Pittsylvania County • Population (2011) • City of Danville 43,055 • 48.3% African-American, 47.7% Caucasian, 4% Other • 54.4% Female, 45.6% Male • Pittsylvania County 65,506 • 22.1% African-American, 75.5% Caucasian, 2.4% Other • 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male • Population Living at Poverty Level (2006-10) • City of Danville 24.4% • Pittsylvania County 15.1%

  11. EducationCity of Danville and Pittsylvania County • Education (Residents 25+, 2006-10) • City of Danville • 75.8% High School Graduates • 16.2% Bachelor’s Degrees • Pittsylvania County • 76% High School Graduates • 12.8% Bachelor’s Degrees • Danville Community College (DCC) • Steady increase in full-time enrollment since late 1990s • 2,910 in 2010-11 • 42% male, 58% female • 41% African-American, 56% Caucasian, 3% Other • Annual headcount more unpredictable; ranging from 6,100 to 6,950 during same period

  12. DCC by the numbersFall 2011 • 1,622 full-time, program-placed students • 487 full-time students enrolled in one of seven transfer programs • 53% of graduates transferred, according to National Student Clearinghouse (2010-11) • 250 contacts each semester

  13. Transfer Program at DCC • Individual Appointments • Academic advisement • Program worksheet • Transferable electives • Build a college list • Create a transfer plan • Educate about transfer process in terms of deadlines and admissions requirements; also, Guaranteed Admissions and Articulation Agreements

  14. Transfer Program at DCC • College Visits • Three per semester within a three-hour radius of the college • College Representatives on Campus • Located in Student Center throughout Fall and Spring semesters • Transfer Day • Annual event that brings 25-30 four-year institutions to DCC • High School Recruitment • Visit area high schools once each Spring; visit individual classes by invitation

  15. Transfer Program at DCC • Transfer Resources • Transfer Website • Transfer Guide • Transfer Center • Blackboard Organization • To and Through: Transfer Information • All transfer students automatically enrolled each semester • VCCS Website • Guaranteed Transfer

  16. SDV 100-TR • Why was it created? • With hiring of transition counselor in 2008, someone qualified to teach it • Increase transfer rates generally • Make students aware of transfer resources at the college • Maximize transition counselor’s time by providing standard information in group setting • Prepare students for transfer process • Serves any student enrolled in one of seven transfer programs • Students are referred to course by counselor at time of admission, or faculty advisor during registration

  17. SDV 100-TR • Basic curriculum • Bridges to Success • Customized by DCC faculty when course was created • Combination of original and borrowed material • 14 Chapters, standard to Student Success Courses • DCC Catalog • DCC Handbook/Planner

  18. SDV 100-TR • How this section differs from others • Community College Transfer Guide • Outlines the transfer process • Provides step-by-step guidance • Includes worksheets and spreadsheets • College Application and Essay • College Visit, time permitting • Use of Personal College Success Plan (PCSP)

  19. Challenges • Getting all students to enroll within first semester • VCCS Policy Manual Section “All curricular students placed in at least one developmental education course should take the student success course (SDV 100, 101, or 108) in their first semester of enrollment at the community college.” • Amount of information for one-credit course, in general sections as well as transfer • Course typically does not transfer; four-year institutions require their own student success course

  20. SDV 100-TROpportunities • New text and supporting materials for Summer 2012 • Reinvent the course in the eyes of students and faculty • Increase number of students who complete SDV 100 within first 15 hours • Engage students • Book written specifically for community college students • Standard content with personal stories • Visually engaging • My Student Success Lab (face-to-face and online)

  21. Benefits of SDV 100-TRSpring 2010 Student Survey • “I’m so glad I took this course. Mrs. Ehrhardt was a great help to me for preparing my transfer process.” • “This class has helped prepare me for what I might expect when I transfer. It has been well worth the time.” • “Most of the course material I already knew, but Alexis answered a lot of personal questions considering courses and college. Her explanations were very helpful to me.”

  22. Benefits of SDV 100-TRFall 2011 Student Survey • 86% agree or strongly agree that they understand what courses they need to take to complete their program of study at DCC • 73% agree or strongly agree that they are familiar with the online transfer resources (course equivalency database, general education requirements) at their four-year institution • 82% agree or strongly agree that they understand the steps they need to take to apply to a four-year institution • 86% agree or strongly agree that they are aware of guaranteed admission agreements

  23. Benefits of SDV 100-TRSpring 2011 Student Interviews • Quote 1 Q. What kind of information were they providing? A. They gave information like if you want to transfer to be a math major there’s certain schools that don’t accept it.  There’s some schools where you have to take some of your prerequisites again to transfer to the school.  Some of the classes that you take here don’t transfer and everything like that.  The first one…Miss Ehrhardt…she actually went over everything in detail this time.  And she gave a list for each school and throughout the state of Virginia what their class is, how they transfer from here, like my math class 163 will transfer to Radford and Tech and everything like that as the same amount of credits as it does here. 

  24. Benefits of SDV 100-TRSpring 2011 Student Interviews • Quote 2 Q. I am sure you will do fine.  I am sure you will do fine.  So has the SDV class in this kind of new semester, this new phase in your life, has that affected how you think about college or your own future plans? A. Yeah.  With the transferring, sometimes I procrastinate so it is helping me to do stuff more on time.

  25. Final Thoughts Specialized transfer student success courses: Enhance students' understanding of the process necessary to transfer to 4-year institutions Provide a relevant context for information and assignments Allow transfer information to potentially reach a larger group of students In implementing these types of courses, colleges should consider: Modifying course content to engage students in a range of meaningful instructional activities Disadvantages of homogeneous grouping of students (e.g., transfer aspiration, degree program)

  26. Presenters Contact Information: Alexis Ehrhardt, Transition Counselor Danville Community College Email: AEhrhardt@dcc.vccs.edu Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana, Research Associate Community College Research Center Email: rucks@tc.edu For more CCRC publications on student success courses, visit us on the web at: http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu, where you can download presentations, reports, and briefs, and sign-up for news announcements. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter.