Student Engagement to Enhance Student Success

Coastal Carolina Community College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, Student Engagement to Enhance Student Success, addresses student success, a topic that is at the core of the Mission of the institution. The Mission of the Quality Enhancement Plan is to systematically incorporate effective student engagement strategies campus-wide so that greater numbers of students are successful in accomplishing their goals.

Identification of Key Issues

The broad-based involvement of the campus community in identifying key issues began with a discussion forum the President and Vice Presidents held with the faculty and staff during the Fall Semester 2004 Professional Development Session. Later that fall, over seventy faculty and staff attended the Community College Conference and became interested in developing a study skills class to help students take more responsibility for their own learning. This course, ACA 111 College Student Success, was piloted in Summer Semester 2006 and later emerged as one of the critical foundation pieces of the Quality Enhancement Plan.

In summer 2005, focus group sessions were held to gain additional input from faculty, administrators, Board of Trustees members, professional staff, technical/paraprofessional staff, and students. These sessions generated a wide array of topics for the QEP and, as a result, student success emerged as a strategic theme of the College’s Strategic Plan.

In order to facilitate the development of the plan, the College conducted a comprehensive review of scholarly works and best practices, analyzed assessment and student outcomes data, and held lengthy discussions with faculty and staff. Faculty began to focus significant attention on the research concerning the role of student engagement in ensuring student success. Therefore, the College sought the consulting services of Dr. Kay McClenney, Executive Director of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, and as a result, student engagement emerged as the unifying theme of the QEP.

The selection of faculty and staff members to serve on the QEP Committee focused on ensuring broad-based involvement in the development and implementation of the QEP. Virtually every instructional division of the institution is represented within the committee structure of the QEP and within the leadership teams responsible for implementation.

Focus of the Plan

The College defines student success as an outcomes-based orientation, which focuses on “big picture” results such as job placement rates, employer satisfaction, and College Transfer performance.

The success of Coastal’s College Transfer students is well documented in the College Transfer Performance Report and employers enthusiastically hire Coastal graduates and provide feedback concerning their outstanding skills and abilities.

The enhancement of student learning which Coastal’s QEP seeks to create, through a carefully constructed, pilot-tested, and comprehensive strategy, is an increase in the number and percentage of students who are successful through an intensive focus on what Dr. Kay McClenney terms, “inescapable engagement experiences.”

The College has identified three interrelated initiatives: Student Skills Development,

Professional Development, and Student Support Services that, while ambitious, represent a focused and thoughtful approach to enhancing the environment for student success and facilitating change.

The QEP addresses student engagement in the learning process through: the integration and implementation of a student skills development initiative based on a College Student Success course; a professional development initiative based on student engagement as designed in the Instructors’ Academy; and a student support service initiative focused on the development of an enhanced orientation, identification of at-risk students, the development of early intervention strategies, and the coordination of efforts of student support service professionals with faculty. Overall, the QEP seeks to build upon a culture of evidence of student engagement and success.

Institutional Capability

Coastal’s QEP has been developed and will be implemented with the College’s institutional capabilities in mind. Implementation focuses on leadership, personnel, resources, and realistic timelines. It has been the experience of Coastal that successful projects are best implemented within the existing leadership and organizational structure of the institution. Thus, the responsibility for implementation is shared among the key leadership groups of the College. Whenever possible, the plan utilizes existing College resources to optimize the efficiency of implementation. However, additional financial resources are identified to implement and sustain the plan. Most importantly, the QEP is integrated by design into the College’s institutional effectiveness, planning, assessment, and evaluation model in order to further solidify its successful implementation and sustainability.

Goals and Assessments

Four carefully defined goals, outcomes, and measures of success for each of the three major initiatives, and comprehensive outcomes for the QEP are clearly identified. Multiple measures and performance data will be collected as detailed on the thoughtfully constructed assessment calendars, which also specify responsibility for data collection. Furthermore, the Quality Enhancement Plan will be fully integrated into the College’s on-going, well-established planning, assessment, and institutional effectiveness model.