The Quality Enhancement Plan Institutional Education Essay

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Edward Waters College is a four-year liberal arts, co-educational institution located in the downtown urban area of Jacksonville, Florida. The College is distinctively, Florida's oldest independent institution of higher learning, as well as the state's first institution established for the education of African Americans. The College was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in the midst of the fast-paced social and political changes of the Reconstruction era, and served as a means to provide newly emancipated slaves with a public education. The College still maintains its affiliation with the AME Church and is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of one student, one faculty representative, and six lay persons. The remainder of the Board is comprised of representatives from the Eleventh Episcopal District of the AME Church. The Presiding Bishop of the Eleventh Episcopal District of the AME Church is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees selects the president to guide the College and carry out its mission.

In keeping with the initial purpose of the College, the current mission continues to focus on preparing students holistically to advance in a global society through the provision of intellectually stimulating programs, and an environment which emphasizes high moral and spiritual values in keeping with the AME Church. The College seeks to develop excellence in scholarship, research and service for the betterment of humanity. Through its traditional academic programs, the College offers baccalaureate degrees in Mathematics, Biology, Psychology, Communications, Music, Elementary Education, Criminal Justice and Business Administration with an option to specialize in Computer Information Systems. The College also offers the Bachelor of Business Administration in Organizational Management through its non-traditional CLIMB Program.

Based on 2010 census data, 92% of our students are African American. Approximately seventy-eight percent (78%) of incoming students tested into at least one developmental education course. The current enrollment is 769.

Description of the Edward Waters College Quality Enhancement Plan

Increasing Freshmen Academic Success Through Enhanced Student Engagement was both the title and focus of the Edward Waters College QEP upon its implementation in March 2006. The initial plan was designed to establish an integrative process that would increase the effectiveness of developmental course instruction and enhance the freshman core curriculum. In addition, the College planned to use the results to help guide with developing strategies, refining curriculum, and improving student learning along a continuum of academic improvement. Emphasis was placed on strengthening critical thinking, problem solving, reading, writing, oral communication, and computer literacy.

The first stage of the plan consisted of implementing a revised Summer Bridge Program in 2006. In addition, a programmatic change to the existing developmental program was implemented. The revised program, known as the Focused Academics for Motivating Excellence (FAME) Program, was designed to use interactive software to help formulate course modules that would provide each student with a self-directed, skill-centered remediation plan based on reading, writing, and mathematics. The second stage required programmatic enhancements to the Learning Labs for reading, writing and mathematics. The plan also addressed the need for the re-training of all members of the faculty. Such training would focus on identifying at-risk students, implementing assessment measures, developing learning outcomes, strengthening academic advising skills, facilitating student engagement, and utilizing best fit retention practices. Furthermore, the College's QEP activities/strategies included modifying the College Success course and first-year courses. The initial goals and expected outcomes are listed below:

Goals:

Improve core competency skills of first-year students.

Provide the College with the means for measuring and reviewing the impact of these enhancements on student learning.

Expected Outcomes:

Demonstration of the ability to master course content and perform effectively upon completing developmental courses.

Improved English, reading, critical thinking and mathematics skills upon completion of the General Education core.

Improved faculty effectiveness in meeting the needs of at-risk students.

Increased use of campus remediation and tutorial resources.

QEP Revisions

First - year implementation (AY 2006-2007) assessment results are presented as follows:

The College's 2007 NSSE scores for first-year students were significantly below those of our peer institutions for the Supportive Campus Environment benchmark.

ASSET scores indicated that the College had not achieved the objective of improving the individual and comprehensive academic skills of students taking developmental courses.

Developmental Education Surveys indicated that students completing developmental courses did not feel confident in their ability to perform various tasks related to writing, reading, and mathematics.

Pass rates, of the fall 2007 cohort of students taking developmental courses, were below those

reported in 2002 by the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) as indicated in

Chart 1 below.

Chart 1

Developmental Course Pass Rate Comparisons

Reading

Writing/English

Mathematics

EWC Fall 2007

77%

80%

59%

NADE Study Private 4 Year Institutions

84%

88%

84%

Source: (2002) Best Practice in Developmental Mathematics, Mathematics Special Professional Interest Network-National Association for Developmental Education, pg. 9.

Upon review of this data, discussion ensued regarding the apparent ineffectiveness of the existing academic support services structure for enhancing student learning. As a result of reviewing our findings, in conjunction with best practice research on the impact of the supportive environment on student learning, it was determined that the College's current academic support structure lacked the primary components for effective support service programming for under-prepared students (Boylan, 2002; McCabe, 2003). Best practice components include:

Cohesive/Coordinated services

Student monitoring

Consistency of service delivery

Trained tutors and

Computer-based supplemental instruction utilizing software with the following components: 1) pre-assessment of students' skills prior to instruction; 2) manageable units of information; 3) opportunities for practice; 4) frequent testing; 5) a variety of media; 6) feedback on student progress; and 7) assessment of skill mastery.

Based on these findings, it was determined that the College's academic support service system needed to be re-structured to be consistent with best practices in higher education developmental educational programming. Furthermore, it was determined that the College's QEP goals, activities and outcomes were too broad to effectively manage in terms of effective strategy implementation and assessment. Therefore, in keeping with SACS Core Requirement 2.12, the College decided to narrow the goals and activities of the QEP in order to 1) establish a comprehensive and cohesive academic support service system to address the academic deficiencies of first-year students; and 2) utilize the implemented system to improve student learning in a critically deficient academic area. Appendix A outlines the narrowed focus QEP activities, expected outcomes, assessment measures and timeline for Goal 1 and Appendix B outlines the narrowed focus QEP activities, expected outcomes, assessment measures and timeline for Goal 2.

Impact on Student Learning

Re-structuring of the College's academic support service system, in order to enhance the environment supporting student learning, was the focus during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 QEP Implementation timeline. The realized outcomes related to improving the supportive learning environment are as follows:

Re-structured disjointed academic support services into a comprehensive, cohesive system named the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).

Hired a Director for the Focused Academics Motivating Excellence (FAME) Program.

Hired Learning Specialists and Peer Tutors.

Installed PLATO software in CETL Learning Labs.

CETL staff attended National Association for Developmental Education (NADE), National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and First-Year Experience conferences.

Obtained Institutional memberships for NACADA and NADE.

Obtained funding to update CETL Learning Lab computers which will accommodate PLATO features and mathematics software.

Purchased BLUMEN Student Academic Support Services Tracking System.

Approved a Participation Agreement policy requiring all students testing into developmental courses to sign the agreement to participate in academic support activities as a condition for continued enrollment.

Mathematics was identified as the critical academic deficiency area to be addressed based on ACCUPLACER and The Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) scores which showed student performance in mathematics significantly below national levels. The College initiated the utilization of the CETL academic support services re-structuring model to improve learning in this area in fall 2009. Specifically, the College's objective is for 50% of the students to test out of developmental mathematics and into college-level mathematics by the end of their first semester of enrollment. Baseline data collected during the fall 2009 semester are presented below:

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of the students enrolled in MAT 098 receiving one-on-one tutoring showed an increase in ACCUPLACER post-test scores.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of the students who used the computer-based supplemental instruction showed an improvement on ACCUPLACER post-test scores.

Forty-seven percent (47%) of the students who received no intervention achieved improved post-test scores.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) of the students tested out of developmental mathematics and into college-level mathematics (MAT 104).

Tables 1 and 2 in Appendix C provide a breakdown of fall 2009 student success in developmental mathematics. It should be noted that not all developmental students participated in the process. Some did not sign participation agreements.

At the end of the spring 2010 semester, the QEP committee examined student performance in developmental math classes to determine the progress made since the fall 2009 implementation efforts. Chart 2 and Chart 3 below show pass rates for the 2009 - 2010 academic year in developmental math courses.

Chart 2 MATH 098 Pass Rates

Academic Year 2009-2010

Fall 2009

Spring 2010

Pass

58

50

Fail

24

20

Withdraw

18

30

Chart 3 MATH 099 Pass Rates

Academic Year 2009-2010

Fall 2009

Spring 2010

Pass

55

51

Fail

19

33

Withdraw

26

16

Based on these results, the mathematics faculty and the QEP committee met to determine the best course of action. Although the pass rates for students are above our projected results, there was a significant decline in developmental mathematics pass rates over two semesters. There were several initiatives resulting from this review.

The 2009 - 2010 academic year QEP outcomes indicated gaps in the CETL student monitoring system. Therefore, steps have been taken to change from a four week early warning system to a two week early warning system. Mathematics faculty members are also working collaboratively with CETL staff to coordinate efforts to ensure consistent and effective monitoring of students' use of services and progress. In addition, it was recognized that students were limited in their use of the PLATO software media features due to out-dated equipment in the labs. The Division of Academic Affairs was successful in obtaining funding for new computers which support all of the PLATO media features. In addition, the updated equipment allowed the mathematics department to install 21st century mathematics skill enhancement software.

Because developmental education is a major part of our service delivery to Edward Waters College students, the Vice President for Academic Affairs formed a Developmental Education Committee to monitor the overall progress of students in developmental math as well as other

developmental courses. This committee will work in concert with math faculty as well as the QEP

committee. The College plans to hire a director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in the fiscal budget year of 2011-2012. The College expects this director to become the official co-chair of the QEP committee who will help monitor student success in mathematics, assist in hiring qualified developmental faculty and advocate for increased resources to improve student achievement in the QEP.

The final suggestion from the end of the year assessment is to strengthen QEP outcome measures to also include indicators of what students know, are able to do and value upon finishing developmental math classes. Although pass rates will help The College measure the number of students successfully completing developmental math, student learning outcomes as measured by student work products with accompanying rubrics will help The College identify student skill sets at the end of each semester. Chart four below shows an example of suggested outcomes for one of the developmental math courses.

Chart 4

Sample QEP Student Learning Outcome

Course

Sample Course Outcome

Assessment Measure(s)

MATH 098

A student completing this course should be able to apply mathematical knowledge to analyzing and solving word problems such as calculating sale price, discount price, using percent, fraction and decimals.

1. Pre-Test

2. Unit Quiz #1

3. Test #1

4. Board Assignment #1

5.Midterm Exam

6. Final Exam

7. Post-Test

The QEP is tied to the institution's ongoing planning and evaluation processes through use of the Operational Planning Cycle which includes the development of annual operational plans, mid-term progress reports, and end of year summary reports that close the loop. Implementation of the BLUMEN Academic Support Services Tracking Software will serve to increase the effectiveness of monitoring student's use of services thereby providing additional data to assess the effectiveness of the College's QEP.

(References: Boylan, H. (2002). What Works: Research-based best practices in developmental education. Boone: NC. Continuous Quality Improvement Network. National Center for Developmental Education and McCabe,R.H. (2003). Yes We Can., Phoenix, AX: The League for Innovation in the Community college.)

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