While flying to visit Valencia College last week I was fortunate to read a copy of the American Association of Community College’s report Makeit Personal: How Pregnancy Planning and Prevention Help Students Complete College. The report contains information that most of us who work at community colleges already know- that many of our students are single parents and this affects their ability to focus on their schoolwork and complete college. According to the authors (Prentice, Storin and Robinson 2012),
Approximately 15% of all community college students are single parents (Horn and Nevill 2006). Twenty-seven percent of female students report reducing their course hours or quitting school because they had problems with child care (The National Campaign 2008) and two-thirds of women who have children after enrolling in community college fail to finish their degrees (Bradburn 2002).
Through MIPCC – Making it Personal: College Completion – a collaboration of the AACC and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Unplanned Pregnancy, several community colleges have been working on ways to address this issue with their students. The report discusses their approaches, which include curricular integration in various disciplines, a segment of a student success course, online resources and service learning projects. One example that got my attention was at Mesa Community College in Arizona where the statistics faculty created assignments through which the students had to college data on students’ knowledge of pregnancy related issues. Analyzed data was shared with the entire student body along with general data on the topic. As a result, students really discovered the value of survey research and data analysis as well as digging deep into the issues and consequences of unplanned pregnancies. One single mother went on to create a film of her personal story and to design a website which received over 600 hits in the first few months. Many faculty at the college have been excited to work on the project as it relates directly to student success.
As a result of the MIPCC initiative, free course templates are available for use in a variety of college courses at www.aacc.nche.edu/mipccand www.thenationalcampaign.org/colleges. These site further presents reflection questions and sample student reflections to various content related topics. The teaching materials are also offered on the site for little or no cost. In addition, the National Campaign has published free online lessons titled Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy and Completing College which can be incorporated into a first year experience course.
Providing relevant content to college students leads to success. Providing content on preventing unplanned pregnancy can lead to completion. I suggest that anyone interested in pursuing this issue check out the above resources!
Just back from beautiful New Orleans, site of the recent Complete College America convening. There were representatives from 31 states. Though the conference was only one day, it was jam packed with multiple presentations each hour.
CCA partners with CCRC (The Community College Research Center at Columbia Teachers College), so once again I heard Davis Jenkins speak on the point that students who have a clear direction and are on a definite “pathway” succeed at a much higher and faster rate than students who don’t. Yet, what if these students really do need developmental education classes? Light bulb – contextualization! I have always felt that the Developmental English courses I talk at Cuyahoga should be redesigned for specific majors, for example English 0990 (Language Fundamentals II) for health majors or creative arts majors and so forth. This would not be a difficult step to take, as faculty could easily choose an area of interest to teach and then offer the course. So if we offered 20 sections of 0990, there could be five sections of for each “pathway.”
Such a program, though really beneficial to students and certainly an experiment worth trying, may create a “scheduling nightmare”.
Thus, what is the alternative? Perhaps, faculty can consider dividing their classes into four units, each representing a pathway. For four weeks, all readings and writing assignment are related to a pathway. There could even be a presenter on various programs. This approach could be very useful to both the undecided student as well as a student on the wrong path.
Thanks to all who attended the OACC’s Student Success Symposium: Moving Forward Together. There were more than 200 participants, including the 20 AmeriCorps Completion Coaches. I really enjoyed hearing the Coaches’ panel, learning about who they are and their successes and struggles as students and how they are reaching out to students at their colleges. Participating colleges are so fortunate to have this addition to their success efforts.
More than 145 people joined the afternoon conversations, ranging from K-12 partnerships to acceleration. I tried to sit in on most of the talks and witnessed wonderful exchanges among the colleges. Each group was asked to answer three questions: What are we doing that is working? Where are we struggling? And, how can we move forward together? Notes from the sessions were recorded, and then sent back to the group’s discussion facilitator and recorder for review and revision. These notes will soon appear on the Student Success Center Site.
The symposium conversations were just the beginning of an effort to encourage a serious interchange between and among the colleges. So many colleges are successfully implementing strategies to improve student success and complete; we should all know what they are doing! The Success Center will continue to improve cross communications through the symposiums, Success Center committees, and this site, including an upcoming list serve for all interested participants.