Student Success, Student Engagement

January 31, 2011 (College of the Canyons)

Ellen’s Notes

Speaker: Dr. Kay McClenney

Engagement matters!

It has to happen by design (it doesn’t happen by accident).

CCSSE (Surveyed 1M students throughout all states, etc.)

SENSE (Survey of entering student engagement)

Achieving the Dream (heavily funded for community colleges)

Provides 1300 coaches (retired college administrators, etc.) who are assigned to 130 colleges in 24 states.

Required student cohort tracking

Required eval of strategies

Focus groups- what keeps students persisting?

Have you ever thought of dropping out of college? (Most answer- “Yes”)

What stopped you? (#1 answer: relationship with an advisor, counselor or other student)

If students ran the college? (They would make orientation mandatory. On-line, they feel, is too impersonal). All students should participate in orientation.

Students want personal connections.

Students don’t do optional.

What is successful? More mandates, fewer options, more structured pathways.

High expectations and aspirations:

90% of entering students strongly agree that they have the motivation to do what it takes to succeed in college.

84% say they are prepared academically to succeed in college

80% start off in 1 or more basic skills classes

They believe they can because after all they graduated from high school.

There is a gap – now systemic alignment with HS is going on and needs to.

% of students who at least once during their 1st 3 weeks of college:

Turned in assignment late 28%

Did not turn in one or more assignments 22%

Came to class unprepared 41%

Skipped class 19%

Students can get away with this because we are not uniform in what we accept from course to course.


Most important: Academic Planning, advising. They need a road map with goals.

X (here you are) _______________________________X (Here’s where you want to be)

According to evidence:

Students starting their 1st semester of college with a math class will persist if they complete the

course with a “C’ or better. (not sure this is exactly what the speaker said)

What is a good class?

According to student focus group:

  • Teacher on same level as the students
  • Active class-interactive
  • Accessible teacher who boosts your self confidence and gives you suggestions on how you can improve
  • Teacher makes you think

2/3 of cc students are p/t

2/3 of classes are taught by p/t faculty

This contradicts the design of most colleges which is to have students full time and faculty full time. We pretend that this is the way it still is- but it isn’t reality.

Adjuncts don’t have time to be involved with students, unfortunately.

Active and Collaborative Learning (Major predictor of success)

Q- Worked with other students on projects during class = 46% (13% never)

Q- Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare = 22% (41% never)

Faculty/Student Interaction (by email, face to face, etc.)

Powerful predictor of persistence rates

15% (49% never)

Strong silos on college campuses prevent an integrated network from occurring. The Referral Model doesn’t work because it is optional (students don’t have to go).

College Success, study skills should become part of the course.

What Matters Most

  • Intensive Student Engagement
  • High Expectations
  • Focus on the Front Door (Admissions)
  • More Structure, fewer options

Enroll students for programs not courses- this is the only way they will have a pathway.

Title V, Title III, BSI and the like are programs that work on the margins of the campus. They are successful with a certain number of students. The program works but the college doesn’t mainstream the program or project. Thus, the program goes away when the $ dries up. The college doesn’t scale it up.

Student Success

Enrolling and entering a class late is not good for the student. Revenue to the college but not success to the student.

We can’t get better at what we’re not willing to look at.

It’s not enough to just have data. We need to engage in talking over the data- how can we focus? What should we focus on? Can’t get better if we are unwilling to look at the data.

Every course, program, service, college policy is perfectly designed to achieve the exact outcomes it has.

How are we going to move the needle on student success?

The college holds the students’ future in its hands.


Patrick T. Terenzini


Project 90 - Dr. Julie Phelps

3 CSN at PCC


(Ellen’s Notes)

Highlights of Dr. Phelps’ Speech

Be the voice for the students – create change.

Secret to Transformation- a very long journey!

On the transformation team you need cheerleaders, champions, realists, no nay sayers.

Valencia College has 4 major campuses.

70% are day students

Average age of students is 17-24 years

431 FT Faculty

1638 PT Faculty

64 Administrators

Valencia College’s Identified Performance Gap

  • Between college ready and under-prepared
  • Between Math and other disciplines
  • Across racial and ethnic groups

Essential Objective: To design programs that build connection and direction; that hit the performance gap problem head on.

Steps and Strategies

1) Identify your gaps

2) Decide 1 or 2 ideas to focus on

3) Are the projects now in existence focusing on the gaps? If not, get rid of them or

refine them so that they are

4) Identify challenges

5) Include students historically challenged

6) Choose “fix” strategies to bring to scale

7) Study implementation results

8) Apply lessons toward further improvement

9) Continue the cycle

Set Up Teams to Accomplish Goals

  • SI
  • LC
  • Student Success Expansion
  • Community Focus Groups
  • SAS Implementation (data planning)
  • Data Team (uses Banner software as opposed to People Soft)

Goals and Timelines

a) Progress reports (knock down silos)

b) Coaching guidance/encouragement

c) Connection to community of learners

d) Focus and discipline (What’s going to work to make the biggest difference to

students?) Example- if reading is the issue for most students then make reading


Instructional Approaches


Learning in Communities

Pairing Courses

Mandatory Life Skills Course


“Don’t lose your institutional memory. Get the story from those about to retire. Get their ideas and history of the college; what they feel worked and what they wished had been done.”

She cautioned that, “People will poke holes in everything they can. You just have to keep going.” Some of these people become “Toxic Drippers”, always standing in the way of progress and putting down those who are innovative and for the student. Dr. Phelps relayed an experience in her own department as an example.

What Dr. Phelps Learned

The philosophy she adopted and lives by for change is that Ownership is much better than Buy in. When you ask a faculty member to buy in , they can commit or not. You are poking and prodding them to accept something. When they have ownership they are much more likely to carry the ball until the campus buzzes with the idea.

Today, Dr. Phelps is full time in the classroom. She started the process of Achieving the Dream at Valencia College and it is still on-going. She laid the groundwork and her work has been continued as a result of keeping everyone on the teams engaged and going. Strongly believes and recommends that you have a leader who can motivate.

Last updated: 2/23/2011 9:09:37 AM