Retention Subcommittee Report - Central Piedmont Community

Achieving the Dream Core Team Structural Barriers Report by Sub-Group
Priority Area: Retention Group
**This group worked in collaboration with the Retention Committee in order to include
more voices in the conversation and receive more input.
Areas Analyzed Within Priority Area:
Transportation issues
Students not aware of timeframe and commitment necessary to obtain degree
Students taking online or hybrid classes without sufficient computer skills,
knowledge, a computer, or the understanding of the requirements (time
management, motivation, study skills, pro-active nature and related issues) for the
online/hybrid courses
Develop faculty “soft skills”, empathy, understanding, connection—“little things
that can make a big difference”
The way we schedule some classes is not always as student-centered as it might be
Lack of understanding, especially among 1st generation college students, of college
expectations, requirements, resources and study skills.
Student lack of focus – cannot decide on a specific program of study or have no
concept of a long-term course of study plan.
(see attached)
Structural Barriers: (see attached)
Who needs to be a part of the conversation that seeks to address these barriers?
(see attached)
January 2011
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Achieving the Dream Core Team
Retention group
Ideas for Consideration – December 3, 2010
Dr. Marcia Conston
Bobbie Frye
Clint McElroy
Edith McElroy
Gene Ritter, Chair
The AtD Core Team Retention Group submitted a request to the members of the College’s
Retention Committee (comprised of faculty and staff) for ideas regarding issues that affect
student retention at the College. The Retention Committee chose to focus on issues that, to the
members’ knowledge, are not currently being addressed by the College or are being addressed
but not fully so.
Members of the Retention Committee submitted four pages of ideas regarding primarily (but not
exclusively) non-academic issues that adversely affect student retention. From these four pages
of ideas (being made available to the AtD Core Team electronically), Retention Committee
members selected several issues that they feel strongly should be addressed and identified
several possible means for addressing them.
Aspects to consider further:
Inside and Outside Voices that need to be heard:
o Students
o Additional faculty/staff
o Administrators
o Community help providers
o K-12 Schools (for transitional issues, including hunger)
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Equity & Excellence
o Many of these non-academic issues (access to computers at home, knowledge of
the culture of college, etc.) touch on equity, as not all students face them
o Students burdened by non-academic issues which can be addressed
o Non-academic barriers to retention and success are barriers to excellence
Long-term impact requires changes in systems
o Do we need to do more to address needs of the “whole student?”
o Do we have adequate resources to address these additional issues?
o Are there community agencies with which partnerships can be entered or
expanded to address non-academic barriers to retention?
Institutional Changes that might be needed (as identified by members of the Retention
Committee, along with ideas for addressing them)
Please note that these ideas represent submissions by some members of the Retention Committee
and that there is not universal agreement on them. All Retention Committee members were
invited to submit ideas.
Also note that there are many retention-related issues on the full list of issues raised by the
members of the Retention Committee (and, in many cases, by the members of the
departments/divisions within which they work).
Transportation issues
Lack of bus transportation (Levine campus)
Class schedules do not always match hours of bus service at some area campuses. This
should be reviewed to see if we can work something out that is more student-friendly.
Due to changes in the way CATS issues monthly bus passes, students are challenged with
regard to when they might purchase bus passes at the beginning of the term.
Disseminating information or offering alternatives would be helpful.
Bus passes are sold at campus bookstores. This is a barrier for those on some area
campuses. An alternative might be sought (such as selling them through the cashier’s
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Students not aware of timeframe and commitment necessary to obtain degree
Comprehensive review of material covered in new student orientation with objective of
improving the process.
Survey of students who have completed at least one (maybe two) quarters and who
attended orientation to get feedback on how we can improve the orientation process and
what they would have liked to hear before they registered for classes.
Actively encourage all prospective students to attend orientation.
At orientation, stress that students discuss their schedules with counselors before they
drop out.
Have someone randomly sit in on orientation to give feedback on material presented.
If feasible, have the basic classes scheduled at all campuses.
Have as many classes as possible at area campuses to accommodate working adults.
Taking online or hybrid classes without sufficient computer skills, knowledge,
a computer, or the understanding of the requirements (time management,
motivation, study skills, pro-active nature and etc. )for the online/hybrid
Have computer labs available all day on Saturday (especially at Central)
Encourage instructors to post all available computer labs and times in their online
Encourage instructors to create a computer skills test for students at the beginning of
the course; if they are not successful in the skills, guide them to the various resources
from ITS
Have online instructors available to answer student questions/give a short
presentation during the online orientations offered the first week of classes or during
the summer orientation
Possibly have specific online advisors/counselors to intervene with students who
continue to take numerous online courses each semester and don’t finish/pass them
(example: one of my students has taken 11 online courses in the past year and has
only passed one)
Each department could create an online video for their courses that makes students
aware of the requirements/time constraints/time management skills needed for the
online courses in that department
Address special circumstances in attendance policies
Address the motivation/commitment issue by employing policy changes to restrict
online classes to serious and successful students (e.g. online GPA minimum after first
online course)
Implement E-learning Task Force Recommendations
Require that all courses have an e-learning component
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Develop faculty “soft skills”, empathy, understanding, connection—“little
things that can make a big difference”
There should be a mandatory training for all faculty (full-time and part-time) where a credible
individual/department (maybe Richard Zollinger’s department) would take 1 hour to touch on
the little things (see below) that faculty can try in the classroom that may make a difference in
the retention of our students. If every FT and PT faculty member retained just one more student
because of some of these “little things”, it would make a “big difference”. The training can’t be
long and drawn out. I expect that faculty (especially FT faculty) would be opposed to this.
These are just some suggestions for what would be addressed. Evidence to support that these
things work would be helpful to include (I am positive that they do—but do not have all of the
data right now.)
 Learn names. Learn every students name and address them by name.
 Self disclosure. Take time at the start of the semester to allow students to get to know
one another and the instructor—self-disclosure on the part of the instructor can certainly
make the students open up more and see the instructor as a real human being
 Goal is learning. Just because we “teach”, does not mean they “learn”. Faculty is
qualified to “teach” their subject matter—they would not have been hired if they weren’t
BUT are they doing it in such a way that their students are learning
 Use rubrics. Rubrics can allow the students to see how they will be evaluated and also
the areas that they need to work on in future assignments.
 Practice empathy. Be understanding and empathetic toward students—remember that
“life gets in the way”
 Mid-term evaluation. Ask students to confidentially complete a mid-term evaluation of
the course—to be sure that they are getting from the class what you expect they are. If
they aren’t change it! Teaching is not about the teacher teaching but rather about the
learner learning!
 Tell them WHY! Stop telling students what we want them to do and start telling them
what we want them to do and WHY!
 You want them to succeed. Tell students that as a faculty member your sole purpose is to
help them succeed—make sure office hours are accessible, you are approachable, and
students see you as an advocate not an adversary.
 Change the script. Oftentimes I hear instructors complain about their students—“they
never do what they are supposed to do”—let’s start saying “they are not doing it, but
why? What can I do so that they do it??” (usually telling them “what’s in it for them” is
 Be organized. Faculty should be previewing what they will teach and provide an
objective for each day. Cover the materials, then summarize to ensure understanding.
 Know that most of us are terrible listeners. We only grasp 50% of what we hear and only
retain about 25%. Repetition, restatement, and use of different teaching methods can all
help students grasp the message and retain it. Most of us do not mean to be poor
listeners, but we are distracted and our brains work faster than we talk.
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Enthusiasm is contagious. You love your subject matter and have devoted your career to
teaching it. How can we expect our students to be excited about it if we aren’t (or at least
it doesn’t look like we are!) Sure this takes energy, but it matters.
The way we schedule classes is not as student-centered as it might be
(recognizing that the biggest need is for more sections of high demand classes)
Formally evaluate student enrollment behaviors (which sections fill up and how fast)
Survey students on class scheduling preferences
Use the data collected to address any obvious scheduling holes
Lack of general knowledge of the College process for 1st generation college
Lack of knowledge about available veteran’s aid;
Lack of focus. Cannot decide on field of study;
Lack of an overall course of “study” plan;
Students lack knowledge of the requirements and expectations of college students
 Create a single required process of support for all students pre-and post-enrollment
 Evaluate who needs what support programs and require the most appropriate version of
support for every student
 Build on the Process Review Team recommendations and existing supports (Advising,
Programs, First Year Experience, ACA111, etc.)
 Build an enhanced Online Student Profile system to track students individually and as
cohorts through required support steps (and academic progress, etc.)
January 2011
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