The following article appeared in the March 28, 2012, edition of Talk 2 Us,The Official Blog of the Reinvention Task Forces.
UPDATE: New Student Orientation
By Stephanie Hong Owen, Student Support and Services Task Force
Last semester the Student Support and Services Task Force examined new student orientation as one of its proposed projects. After researching other institutions, discussing with campus colleagues, and meeting with students through focus groups, the Task Force felt comfortable enough to recommend a two part-orientation model.
The first is to develop an introductory orientation video that provides information for students prior to arriving on campus. The purpose is to disseminate critical information to new/potential students on policies and procedures before coming to campus by providing them with clear steps on what needs to be done immediately after applying for admission. It includes information on degree/program offerings, financial aid, payment plan options, placement testing, and expectations upon arriving on campus. The emphasis in the video is on financial aid and the placement test. The video outline has been created and development of a final script, student casting, and filming will be soon under way. This component includes working closely with Marketing and Communication, OIT, WYCC, and key campus members. Reinvention’s goal is to roll out the video for students, potential students, and parents for Summer, 2012.
The second part includes exploring how the campuses can improve their current face-to-face new student orientation so it’s more consistent across campuses and that students are getting correct information on key service areas relevant to their learning. The purpose of the face-to-face orientation is to provide students the opportunity to engage with each other, faculty, and staff and to learn about the technological, academic, and student support systems available to them. Because each campus is unique in its student population, programs, and services, the Task Force is developing core competencies and objectives that all campuses will meet when they redevelop their new student orientation programs. Some proposed competencies include providing hands-on training for using Blackboard (classroom management system), my.ccc.edu (student portal), student email, and review of key areas of the student policy manual such as; financial aid obligations and satisfactory academic progress.
Additionally, students will learn about the academic and student support systems available to them at their particular campus such as access to Wellness Centers, Disabilities Access Services, Tutoring Services, and their campus Library. Students, furthermore, will learn about the benefits of campus involvement and service learning opportunities such as participation in student organizations such as Student Government and Phi Theta Kappa and academic programs like the Honors Program, Learning Communities, and various campus bridge programs.
Effective assessment models will also be explored since it’s important to determine the effectiveness of both these services on student retention by examining and developing improvement strategies. Determining effective assessment instruments will be done at the campus-level either through homegrown instruments or nationally recognized ones such as those administered by the The Center for Community College Engagement (CCCE).
Recently, CCCE, which administers and tracks the Survey of Entering Students Engagement (SENSE) and Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), has developed a new initiative of identifying and tracking high impact educational practices. Their first, of three reports, A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success, examines thirteen practices such as placement testing, learning communities, new student orientations, tutoring services, and accelerated developmental/remedial programs to determine their effectiveness in promoting retention and graduation. Using data collected from SENSE, CCSSE, CCFSSE (Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement) and CCIS (Community College Institutional Survey), their initial findings revealed that there was a “disconnect between institution and students” in the services they provided and the policies that governed those services. Such reports like this will help Colleges examine, or reexamine the effectiveness of their programs and services. To read the Chronicle article which summarizes the report’s findings, visit: http://chronicle.com/article/Community-College-Study-Asks-/130606/ or to read the report, visit: http://www.ccsse.org/center/highimpact/promisingpractices.cfm
By continuous assessment, and reviewing data such as those provided by CCCE (and others), City Colleges of Chicago can work toward improving those touch point services that impact retention and success, particularly those being reviewed by Student Support and Services Task Force.
Finally, as we prepare to develop the online orientation video, we’re turning to CCC student talent to serve as “actors”. Communication with campus faculty requesting assistance in casting is forthcoming along with casting and recommendation guidelines. Please look for them in the next few weeks and share with those students who might be interested in participating!
As always, if you have suggestions, feedback, or comments regarding the face-to-face new student orientation (ideas, inclusions, exclusions, etc.), please feel free to share.