June 26, 2018
Advisor, Director, CCA Content Expert: Sharing My Game Changer Expertise
As Director of the Advising and Academic Success Center and Assistant Director of the Learning Commons at Garrett College, I collaborate with my institution’s Admissions, Academics, Marketing, Records, and Financial Aid departments daily. My multiple roles at my institution have allowed me the opportunity to gain expertise, lend vision, and enact results to multiple Complete College America Game Changer strategies.
I first embraced CCA strategies by embedding the 15 to Finish campaign materials into my New Student Advising Day Welcome Session presentation. The visual materials are a supplement to the discussion I have with new students, parents, and guests upon first entering the college. In addition, I train all New Student Advisors, Academic Success Advisors, Faculty Advisors, and First Year Experience instructors on the many advantages of urging students to enroll in at least 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year. Between the 2017 and 2108 academic years, the number of students enrolling in at least 15 credits per semester has increased 17%.
As an adjunct developmental math faculty member, I assisted with the college’s movement toward a Math Pathways initiatives, beginning with developmental math course redesign. During the first phase of redesign, we restructured developmental mathematics from two 6-credit courses to three 4-credit courses, with the option for students to advance through more than one course in the sequence per semester. In the second phase of redesign, we condensed further to two 4-credit developmental math courses, with the same advancement option. When my institution was granted entrance into the first In The World Math Pathways grant, we developed and launched a statistics-focused developmental math course, the first of its kind at my institution. Program evaluation was completed to determine the most appropriate math course by program and students received appropriate advisement as a result. This new one-course sequence allows students to advance to a college-level statistics course swiftly (one semester) as opposed to what previously could have taken up to three. This has also assisted in transferability of math coursework by program to our partner 4-year institutions.
My institution embraced partial Corequisite Remediation before I had arrived. As an advisor, I became proficient in the advantages of this format of remedial coursework. My institution’s corequisite model includes what are called ‘blended’ courses for English and Math. Students scoring within a defined Accuplacer score range (present ranges: 20 points below the college-level benchmark for English and 15 points below the college-level benchmark for math) are eligible to enroll in these courses. The blended courses include 3 college-level credits and a 1 or 2 credit remedial lab. During my time at the college, I have pushed to widen the score threshold for students entering into these courses due to the anecdotal and data-proven success. The widened eligibility of corequisite remediation has allowed my institution to slim down our purely developmental course offerings, moving from three to two in the math sequence and two to one in the English sequence. On average, 78.9% of students successfully complete the ‘blended’ course on the first attempt, immediately earning college-level credit as a result. Alternatively, only 65.8% of students pass a remedial course on the first attempt, and fewer than 53% of those students go on to successfully complete the corresponding college-level course. My institution continues to explore further broadening of corequisite remediation. Additionally, with regard to reducing the remedial load students may face, my institution has expanded the opportunities in which students are permitted immediate entrance into credit-bearing coursework using multiple alternative measures to placement, such as: high school GPA, ACT and SAT test scores, transfer college credit, dual enrollment, and prior learning. Each of these alternative avenues boasts high student success rates.
I have both assisted in and lead the development of my institution’s Summer Refresher Courses, an internal initiative that has impact on both Math Pathways and Corequisite Remediation CCA strategies in reducing the amount of remedial coursework students may require. New students may use this one-day, low-cost, non-credit summer course to brush-up on basic math, writing or reading skills prior to taking the placement test for the first time or after a first attempt. Students may opt to utilize this resource if they feel they will not perform well, are facing test anxiety, feel they can do better with help up-front, or as an intervention after a test attempt. On average, about 50% of enrollees in either course (Math or English/Reading) advance at least one remedial course in the associated sequence.
Beginning with my role as an advisor and continuing now with my role of director, I am proficient in my institution’s definition of Academic Maps and the benefits of keeping students on plan. Garrett’s course catalog conveniently includes a recommended sequence of coursework, or default pathways, outlining degree completion in two years. Advisors urge students to stick as closely to this default pathway as possible in their work with individual students. Presently, my institution is exploring student self-registration for the very first time. The intent is to use the Jenzabar platform to launch the EXi Advising Module, a module in which students may register online for courses within the constraints of a personalized academic planning tool developed with an Advisor. Additionally, I continue to explore academic maps by my participation in Maryland’s statewide Guided Pathways exploratory group and the Getting Students on a Path subgroup.
Proactive Advising is the core of advisor’s work with students at my institution. The mission of academic, personal, career and transfer advising at my institution is to effectively assist students in the development of meaningful educational and life plans that are consistent with their aspirations, interest, skills, and work and life values and in the implementation of these plans through purposeful major selection, successful degree completion, smooth transferring to 4-year institutions, honest personal reflection, and relevant work and service learning experience. Since the start of the Advising & Academic Success Center, and when I began my work as an advisor, students experience early and frequent Academic Advisor contact through personal outreach, academic interventions, and engagement activities per the AASC contact plan. The AASC is also heavily involved in the First Year Experience courses in which advisors utilize career planning tools, long-term academic planning strategies, study skills workshops, and general academic advising know-how. As director, I have implemented Dr. Jenny Bloom’s Appreciative Advising framework in the AASC and Learning Commons (library), with hopes to spread implementation across campus. I feel proactive advising is a great strength of my small institution.
Since my institution’s transition to the Jenzabar enterprise information system in 2016, I have maintained an active role in several components of Technology Implementation. This summer, I will develop an implementation plan for student self-registration using Jenzabar EXi Advising and weaving in the continued proactive work of Academic Advisors. Additionally, I lead the implementation of technology-supported Early Alerts through the Retention Module of Jenzabar. Following research and training, I successfully launched an Early Alert program across campus that adapted a previous manual alert system into the Jenzabar technology. Results following one year of implementation include doubled faculty participation in alert submission, tripled adjunct participation in alert submission, total student midterm deficiencies have decreased by 14.8% and residential student midterm deficiencies have decreased by 3.6%. On average, 36.3% of alerted students show some measure of improvement during the alerted semester, 32.5% are assigned the status of good academic standing at the end of their alerted semester, and 61.3% of alerted students are retained into the immediately following semester. Following year one, I plan to continue to assess short-term success indicators, begin to assess long-term success indicators (retention, career GPA, graduation), provide professional development and training for student-facing staff, share success findings across campus, utilize retention modeling and scheduled automatic interventions, and identify a method for using Early Alerts for other alert types (behavioral).
Above all, I am passionate about higher education. One of the greatest achievements an advisor can celebrate is when an advisee walks across the commencement stage. My passion for students is what drives me to continue to seek new and innovative ways to complete both small and large tasks and to work collaboratively with my peers. I look forward to fulfilling my role as a CCA content expert, providing other institutions with real, tangible knowledge and guidance in their efforts to advance student success.
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