To facilitate the three main areas of concentration set forth in our Grant, a Title III Steering Committee was created and given the task of establishing a detailed list of activities that will take place. Throughout the five-year term, the Steering Committee will meet at regular intervals to assess our progress and ensure we are on target to meet our goals and objectives.
On the path to accomplishing our goals, we have dedicated ourselves to the following:
1) Strengthening Student Services
A. Institutional Management: One problem we face here at NSCC is the physical separation of Student Services offices, which has left us weakened in our ability to efficiently service, manage, and report on student academic progress. Navigating through the campus for Admissions, Advising, Career Services, or Financial Aid is difficult and makes the process of utilizing any of these services, including enrollment, cumbersome and confusing. This frustrates students so much so that many of them never complete the admissions process or drop out of classes within the first few weeks. As a solution, funding has been allocated by the State of Tennessee for construction of a 60,000 square foot Student Services and classroom building, which was completed in January 2009.
B. Virtual Advising System: We will implement a Virtual Advising System using the Hobson’s EMT Virtual Advisor product, which will allow userss to have 24-hour access to greater detailed information regarding admissions and advising activities. The system will provide consistent answers to common questions and allow Student Support Specialists, Faculty Advisors, and staff to assist students with the more personal, or problematic, aspects of their advising issues. We will personalize the system to reflect the needs of our students and solicit feedback each year to understand the patterns of our students and improve our services.
C. Early Academic Warning System: The Early Warning System (EWS) will be implemented campus-wide as a component of Luminis, a fiber-optic communication portal. The EWS will allow students to take ownership of their current status, class grades, and absenteeism; and will hold them accountable for their performance. Students will be empowered to understand how their habits and actions affect their academic situation and how they can make successful changes.
D. Career Development Training: NSCC has a successful employment office, but it was not designed to test and advise on career strengths and pathways. Therefore, we are investing in intensive Career Development Facilitator training through Kuder Educational Training Associates. The course content focuses on various elements of career advising, which will prepare the Career Services staff to assist students directly. This, in turn, will place them on the correct academic pathway, leading to greater retention.
E. Student Support Specialists: Two Student Support Specialists will be added to Student Services to provide retention support to students, support faculty in their advising duties, coordinate technical solutions for retention efforts, and provide peak-time student advising. They will assist students in identifying factors that contribute to lack of academic progress and help them develop habits of successful academic progression. Furthermore, some of their responsibilities will include assisting with new student orientation sessions, developing additional methods for students to communicate with their faculty advisors, and providing appropriate referrals to community services and technology centers.
2) Faculty Training for Advising
A. Faculty Advisory Council on Training (FACT): FACT will consist of two faculty members from each division with the mission of facilitating greater awareness of advising issues on campus, overseeing the development of appropriate faculty resources on advising, and providing actual mentors to new faculty or those having difficulty with their advising responsibilities. FACT will also administer a Faculty Satisfaction Survey to study the strengths and weaknesses for each division.
B. Speakers and Training: As part of our campus kick-off event, we will host a visiting speaker to address the importance of advising and retention. A motivated faculty is one of the most important factors for embracing the opportunity to become better advisors. In addition, NSCC will send representatives in each year of the Grant to the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) conference. NACADA is dedicated to the study of advising and has determined that Academic Advising is one of the greatest contributions to retention rate improvements in two-year public colleges.
C. Faculty Advisor Web Page Resource: A web resource for Faculty Advisors will be developed to provide links for career information, requirements of other colleges/universities on transferable courses, and general information and links regarding advising. This website will be updated regularly to keep all resource materials current and relevant.
3) Online Instruction Enhancements
A. Online Course Review: NSCC currently has approximately 110 web-based courses, which represents a 400% growth rate over the past seven years. However, this growth has been circumvented by an attrition rate that hovers at 13.4%. This attrition is due more to the quality of courses and lack of preparatory training of both the faculty and students than to issues related to advising. In an effort to address the retention issues, NSCC formed the Nashville State Online (NS Online) Committee and purchased a subscription to Quality Matters (QM), an inter-institutional quality assurance program for online and hybrid courses developed by Maryland Online. NST Online and QM will work together to implement QM reviews of all web-based courses, using the QM Rubric, which specifically focuses on course design. In addition, certain faculty members will participate in Peer Review and Master Review Training to ensure that such course reviews will continue after the expiration of the Grant. A Coordinator of Instructional Quality will be hired to oversee the scheduling of reviews and explore advances in technology.