Student Success Initiatives at Atlantic Cape

Background

In May 2012, signifying a strong commitment to student success and completion Atlantic Cape Community College joined the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network (ATD) for a three-year membership. Participation in ATD was among the recommendations of the college-wide Enrollment Management Cross-Functional Committee which was charged with developing programs to support student retention and success.

Achieving the Dream is a national network dedicated to helping more community college students succeed, particularly students of color and low-income students who have traditionally faced significant barriers to success.

Achieving the Dream emphasizes the use of data to drive change and focuses on measurable outcomes, especially closing achievement gaps.

Founded by Lumina Foundation and seven national partners, ATD has grown to include more than 200 institutions of higher education, 100 coaches and advisors, 15 state policy teams, and numerous investors and partners working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia, helping nearly 4 million community college students to have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

The ATD identified student outcome indicators are the following:

  1. Successful completion of remedial courses and progression to college-level courses
  2. Enrollment and successful completion of college-level “gatekeeper” courses
  3. Completion of all courses with a grade of “C” or better
  4. Semester to semester persistence
  5. Earning a certificate or associate’s degree

In 2016 AtD adopted a new student-focused model (Achieving the Dream's Institutional Capacity Framework) to improve success results for all students:

http://achievingthedream.org/news/15110/a-new-student-focused-model

AtD capacity framework

After joining the ATD, Atlantic Cape formed ATD Core and Data Teams, and reorganized the college’s Enrollment Management Cross-Functional Committee to include the charge of recommending strategies designed to yield greater student success. The reorganized Enrollment Management/Student Success Cross-Functional Committee was then charged to

  • Actively interact with the ATD Data Team in the analysis of student retention research as forming the basis of recommending student success initiatives
  • Advise the ATD Core Team of proposed student success strategies, plans for implementation, budgetary impact, assessment strategies, and plans for scalability
  • In collaboration with ATD Data Team, provide ATD Core Team with periodic assessment of program effectiveness
  • Review and recommend marketing, recruitment & retention practices, policies and procedures and make recommendations to on the necessary strategies, projects and budget initiatives to enhance student recruitment, persistence and success
  • Share best practices, lessons learned, success stories and effectiveness in college efforts for enrollment management with college community and stakeholders.

An Achieving the Dream InstitutionAs an Achieving the Dream Institution, Atlantic Cape has been developing and implementing research-based practices based on quantitative and qualitative analyses of its institutional strengths, problem areas, and achievement gaps.

Starting in January 2015, Atlantic Cape shifted the focus of the Enrollment Management Cross Functional Committee (EMXFC)
toward a primary objective of addressing direct recruitment and segmented marketing plans, returning to its original mission. The College introduced a new committee, the Student Success Cross-Functional Committee (SSXFC) which provides oversight and support for the student success initiatives introduced during the past three academic years, and co-chaired by V.P.’s Levy (Student Affairs) and Hernandez (Academic Affairs). The SSXFC will now supervise the standardized analyses necessary to determine how to most effectively support the transition from program pilots to institutionalized (ramped up) initiatives. To support these analyses, the SSXFC developed an Implementation Planning Template. The template was completed by the following student success/ATD initiatives (Math Boot Camp, Early Alert, Accelerated Math, ALPS) and utilized in implementation assessment meetings to determine the support (personnel, financial, space, technology, marketing, etc.) needed to further institutionalize the projects.

In 2016, Achieving the Dream (ATD) designated Atlantic Cape Community College as a “Leader College,” a national honor awarded to institutions in the ATD National Network that have shown three years of steady improvement in two outcomes that measure student success.

Atlantic Cape was awarded Leader College status by demonstrating the success of the Accelerated Learning Program it launched in 2012. ALP is an effort to improve college success rates for students that test into remedial English.

Leader Colleges are eligible to compete for all grant-funded learning initiatives offered by ATD and are encouraged to provide leadership and support to other colleges in the ATD network, disseminate lessons learned, support state and national efforts to advance the student success agenda, and continue to improve student outcomes.

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

Student Success Initiatives

Accelerated Learning Program

Project Coordinator: Stephanie Natale-Boianelli

Goals:

  • Improve students’ retention and success
  • Provide the ENGL080-level students with the skills they need to be successful in ENGL101

The Accelerated Learning Program is focused on students who place into ENGL080 Reading/Writing II and is intended to both accelerate their progress and improve their success by mainstreaming them into an ENGL101 Composition I class when they also take the ALP support course, ENGL099.

Click here for information on the 2016 Summer ALP Institute.

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Accelerated Math

Project Coordinator: Michele Leacott

Goals:

  • Improve students’ retention and success
  • Provide a fast-track to College Level Mathematics

Scope: Math099 is intended to promote student success and retention by decreasing the amount of time students need to reach college level math courses. Students who successfully complete the course are permitted to start a college level math course the ninth week of the semester.  We are providing a computer classroom setting where the students work on prescribed modules while a Faculty member and supplemental instructor assist students’ one-on-one, differential/modular learning.

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Career and Academic Support Program (CASP)

Project Coordinators: Lynette Ingram & Janet Marler

The Career and Academic Support Program (CASP) was started in 2016.

CASP includes a cohort of 200-250 college-level freshmen not engaged in other programs. The program is a longitudinal continuation of New Student Day and offers four student-success interventions at critical junctures of the first semester.

The program team completed creation of two Student Success Videos: Effective Use of Library/Tutoring and Engaging Effectively with Counselor/Advisor. Two additional Student Success Videos including Financial Literacy are to be developed in Spring 2017. The videos allow students to participate/learn while off-campus,  increasing accessibility. The videos are being shown this semester (spring 2017) in ENG 101 courses (10 courses with approximately 290 students). Student feedback in reference to the videos will be assessed/utilized in feedback loop to improve content and presentation.

To address individual needs of students, CASP will pilot Student Success Navigator program by ETS, Inc.  The program provides information about non-cognitive strengths and challenges such as motivation, time-management, dedication, etc. CASP will tailor specific workshops and interventions based on students’ level of non-cognitive strengths/challenges rather than assuming every students will benefit from the same programs.

A free trial of the program will be utilized the first semester and evaluated via student/faculty/staff feedback and outcomes data.

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Career Development

Project Coordinator: Dr. Mitchell Levy

Goal: To increase student success, the college has increased the focus on providing students with systemic career assessment and career development services. By enhancing student awareness of career options and assisting students in making informed career decisions, we afford students increased empowerment and motivation, in addition to “ownership of their educational goals.”

In this regard, a number of initiatives have been initiated:

  • Introduction of career services office on each campus.
  • Purchase of SIGI career development software.
  • Training of Peer Career-Mentors to assist students in accessing career resources.
  • Implementation of career development outreach initiative for students with 60+ credits.
  • Development of Career Development LIB Guide.
  • Increased focus on career development via New Student Orientation- including career development “break-out” workshop offered on all campuses.
  • Introduction of career development workshop during College Awareness day serving area high school students.
  • Development of career development initiative utilizing curricular infusion methodology in ESL, Developmental English, College Level English, and ALPS courses. Data collected from 250+ students participating in the curricular infusion activities indicate that 95% “learned something new about career planning” and 95% “were motivated to take next steps to achieve their goals.”
  • The data includes the specific “next steps” the students were going to take- this information is being utilized to inform program enhancement and revision.
  • The office of Enrollment Management is incorporating data derived from the curricular infusion research to revise recruitment and marketing messaging.
  • The curricular infusion research has been/ will be presented at the following professional conferences:
    • NASPA Annual Conference (2016)
    • NJCCC Best Practices (2016)
    • NASPA Annual Conference (2015)
    • NASPA Assessment and Persistence Conference (2015)
    • NASPA Region II Conference (2015)
    • NJCCC Best Practices (2015)
    • TESOL International Conference (2015)
    • NASPA Region II (2014)
    • NJCCC Best Practices (2014)
    • PENN TESOL-East (2014)
  • The curricular infusion research has been published in NASPA SAPAA Knowledge Community newsletter, Synergy (December, 2014)
  • Faculty have also utilized a Career Maturity Rubric (Levy, Romanello & Robinson, 2009) to capture student growth via in-class career writing assignments. Professor Kammer found over 90% of students in ESL class demonstrated significant increase in Career Maturity via analysis of their writing.
  • Professor Buoy, Tammy DeFranco and Dr. Levy developed a cover-letter writing initiative infused into college level English. On a rubric scale ranging from 6 (lowest) to 18 (highest), the mean rating for student cover letters before the workshop was 9.7. After the workshop, the mean rating for student cover letters was 14.3, an increase of 47%.

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Early Alert Initiative

Goal: Address low retention and graduation rates.

This collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs offers faculty a forum to refer students that are exhibiting behaviors that are not conducive to academic success as soon as the behaviors are observed (early in the semester).

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Honors Program

Effie Russell Project Coordinator: Effie Russell 

Goals:

  • To improve student success by offering challenging programs for academically accelerated students. 
  • To recruit more students by offering small class sizes and challenging classes. 

The Honors Program is designed for students who excel academically and who want to work more intensely in a small class environment (15-20 students) with full-time faculty who are accomplished experts in their field.  Faculty may recommend and recruit students for the Honors Program. The projects will be more challenging and stimulating and require reading more primary texts to supplement the textbook.  For those in Professional Studies, students may have a “contract” with the faculty member (an independent study) to earn an Honors designation in that course.  All are approved by the Honors Advisory Board. Atlantic Cape offered Honors Courses ENGL 102 and GOVT 110 during the Spring ’16 semester:

Honors courses do not require more work; the purpose of an Honors course is to offer high achieving students the opportunity to participate in engaging and creative learning environments that extend beyond those of the regular classroom. The Honors curriculum will consist of special sections of general education courses as well as specialized transfer courses. No additional cost is associated with Honors courses. The Honors Program is a part of the Student Success initiative that will attract and retain more transfer level honors students. 

Click here for board members and class information

Click here for the Honors Program website

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Math Boot Camp

Project Coordinator: Amy Shelton

Goals:

  • Improve students’ retention and success
  • Provide a fast-track to College Level Mathematics

Studies at Atlantic Cape have shown that if students can succeed in their mathematics courses, then they are more likely to graduate.

Provide a summer boot camp supported by MyFoundationsLab software (modular and differential learning) as an option to students scoring within a decision zone on the Accuplacer:

  • 58-75 Elementary Algebra for second level (MATH074)
  • 50-67 Arithmetic for first level (MATH073)

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Peer Mentors

Project Coordinator: Rahshana Davis

Goal:  Provide support to institutional programs with respect to increasing enrollment, retention and engagement.

Peer mentors provide support, information, encouragement and act as a referral source for first-time freshman who may need assistance making the transition to college. Mentors promote an awareness of campus resources, assist students in the Career Center and the pursuit of academic excellence. Second year students who have earned at least 24 credits and have a 2.5 GPA interested in becoming a Peer Mentor can apply in the Counseling and Support Services office. Selections are made during the spring semester by the Student Leadership Selection Committee. Once selections are made, students are provided training to begin mentoring during the fall semester.

Peer Mentors program started with 20 students in 2014.  Staff maintained 10% increase in 2015 and 2016. In 2016 the program enhanced recruitment and marketing via recommendations from faculty and staff and targeting honors students.

Peer Mentors participate in extensive ten-hour training including Ambassador Training via Admissions Office. 100% of training participants stated they learned something new, benefited and were motivated to reach goals. In Spring 2017 additional training will include Multicultural Appreciation, Effective Communication Skills and Study Skills for College Leaders to assist Peer Mentors in balancing academic demands and peer mentoring role.

Peer Mentors play a significant role assisting Career Center initiatives. Peer Mentors help students use Career Resources, SIGI3, Holland Codes Assessment, NJ-Transfer, and help students record what they learn and bring information to meetings with Advisors/Counselors.

Peer Mentors also assisted with:

  • Jump Start- engage high school students visiting Atlantic Cape
  • New Student Days- help new students successfully transition each campus
  • Open Houses- help high school students and families learn about Atlantic Cape options
  • College Awareness Day- help high school students view college as viable option
  • Commencement- assist staff in providing comfortable experience for 2,000+ attendees.
  • Currently, Peer Mentors visiting High Schools are being developed.
For additional information, contact Rahshana Davis at (609) 343-5630 or rdavis@atlantic.edu.

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Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) allows students the opportunity to seek credit for life and professional experience and previously earned credentials.  Students who can demonstrate college-level knowledge and competencies from experiences outside of a traditional post-secondary education may be awarded up to 25 college credits toward a Technical Studies, Associate in Applied Science degree.  These competencies can include military training, employer training programs, union apprenticeships, professional certifications and licensures, independent study, or volunteer/community service.  A separate application is required for admission to this program.  For admission information and an application, contact the Admissions Office at 609-343-5006 or bclark@atlantic.edu.

Student testimonial: "A layoff after 30 years in the IT industry put me out of work for the first time ever. I found it difficult to find a good job without a degree. With Atlantic Cape's Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process, I was able to take my 30 years of training and experience, and apply that knowledge toward my Associate in Applied Science (Technical Studies). I was granted 25 credits toward my degree thanks to the PLA. This put me on the fast track to graduation, and getting back into the workforce. It's a great program!" -- David Town

Atlantic Cape Community College is part of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC), a group of 7 community colleges that is the recipient of a U.S. Department of Labor grant (TAACCCT grant) designed to build a highly skilled and resilient workforce for high demand industries.  At Atlantic Cape, the TAACCCT grant is being used for workforce development in the Allied Health field.  Four key strategies are being used in the grant, as outlined below.

Accelerating Skill, Competency, and Credential Acquisition

Students can accelerate degree completion through Prior Learning Assessment. Atlantic Cape has robust PLA opportunities for students, who can earn up to 25 college credits that can be applied to an Associate’s Degree in Technical Studies by demonstrating college-level knowledge and competencies from experiences outside of a traditional postsecondary education. The PLA process can be modified or customized to fit different career aspirations.

Comprehensive Outreach, Assessment, and Support Services

Resiliency programming, career preparation supports and academic supports have been established for students in grant funded Health Professions Institute programs. Five resiliency competencies critical to student success are being explored and developed in the classroom: critical thinking, self-awareness, reflective learning, adaptability, and collaboration.  In addition, students are supported in the establishment of short and long-term career and academic goals and are offered advising services consistent with these goals.  Academic supports such as end of course review sessions and licensing and certification practice examinations prepare students for success on critical professional examinations in their field of study. 

Utilization of Advanced Technology

The TAACCCT grand has funded the purchase of state of the art training equipment for students in the Health Professions Institute.  Students train on equipment in use in the field and hone their skills on simulation mannequins that challenge them to respond to evolving medical conditions.

Employer Engagement

All students in the TAACCCT grant programs benefit from a work based learning opportunity.  Clinical opportunities are available in area hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes, urgent care centers and other health care facilities, assuring that students not only get a good education, but also know how their knowledge and skills can be applied in the workplace.

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