Georgia Highlands College (GHC) is a limited-mission, four-year state college, which serves as the associate-level access institution for northwest Georgia and offers limited number of bachelor’s degrees targeting the economic needs of the region. The mission is to provide access to excellent educational opportunities for the intellectual, cultural, and physical development of a diverse population. We are proud to offer students an Associate’s degree for less than $8,000.
GHC has over 30 active programs of study, including four degree options: an Associate of Arts degree, an Associate of Science degree, a Bachelor of Science degree, and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. GHC conferred 759 degrees and awards in fiscal year 2018. This represents an increase of 42.9% from 2013 (n=531) to 2018. There were 6184 students enrolled in Fall 2018 representing an 12.6% increase in enrollment over the last five years. In Fall 2018, 38.9% self-identified as first-generation status, 40.4% were Pell eligible, and 21.8% were adult learners. These numbers shown declines from previous years, but this has been largely due to increases in dual enrollment.
Using 2013 as baseline Complete College Georgia, GHC has increased the one-year retention rates of first-time, full-time students by 3% but it is important to note that although our retention rate has fluctuated in the last couple of years, the number of students retained has increased by 19.3%. GHC has increased the three-year graduation rates by 5.9% for the Fall 2015 cohort, compared to the Fall 2014 cohort.
This year, GHC has chosen to showcase five of our high impact completion strategies, which include the African American Male Initiative program, QEP: Quest for Success, Learning Support Co-Requisite Remediation, Gateways to Completion work, and Special Topics courses. These initiatives are driven by the need to increase retention, progression, and graduation rates. Our overarching goal is to help students identify and actively progress toward the achievement of the student's educational goals. The strategies that we highlight involve cross-campus collaborations amongst faculty, staff, administrators, and students.
Over the last 18 months GHC has worked hard to implement our EAB Navigate build. After being delayed by Banner 9 upgrades, GHC went live with Navigate launching to the QEP student population in January 2019. In Fall 2018, a pilot group of students (n=60) at the Cartersville Campus were introduced to the QEP: Quest for Success during orientations for new students. As a part of their pilot, these students took a paper form of a career and non-cognitive assessments. These tools were converted to electronic format as a part of Navigate and our efforts to promote a purposeful choice and focus areas. The QEP has been discussed previously.
All pathways have been grouped into focus areas. Each pathway within individual focus areas have aligned curriculum across the first two semesters. GHC is waiting to understand more about how students can choose a focus area on the application for admissions and where this information should be stored in Banner. At this time, all maps have been redesigned to include core English and math, three area F courses, and 30 credits in one year. To promote purposeful choice and help with pathway exploration a Special Topics course (a new model of first year seminar at GHC) was added as the part of the first year of the pathway. This course counts for Area B credit. We are now shifting our attention to formalizing the co-curricular experience and have met with various groups of stakeholders to gather the information needed to develop the content for these milestones and add them to the program maps.
GHC chose to focus on many sub-areas of this aspect of our MY/MA plan, including: administering Mindset Survey, engaging faculty and staff in learning about their role in the Momentum Year, changing recruitment messaging to begin with purposeful choice, creating a current student communication plan, continuing with our Gateways to Completion and STEM Center efforts, revamping Special Topics courses, promoting innovative pedagogy through CETL Faculty Learning Communities, establishing a co-curricular experience with a common theme, promoting resiliency with #Adulting workshops, continuously improving the transition experience of Charger Orientation, and more. The following is a brief update on two key activities:
Mindset Survey. We administered the first round of the Mindset Survey and we found that administering the survey in-class worked best for our institution. In Fall 2018, we took the same approach to target English 1101 faculty to administer the survey in class. We improved our participation rate from 2017, but it is unclear if this strategy is yielding the results we had hoped for. In the second administration in December 2018, only 19 students completed the survey. We realized that while the first administration yielded some initially interesting results, those could not be analyzed thoroughly because of the lack of second-round responses. In August 2019, we took a more direct, personal approach to reaching out to faculty. We are awaiting our survey results.
Engaging faculty and staff in the Momentum Year. We have continues to work at clearly communicating the link between the Momentum Year/Approach and the QEP: Quest for Success. This effort seems to have had an impact as we have had several faculty report that they are doing activities related to Mindset (using the GPS model) in their courses. However, we have been unable to track this consistently. With a new administrative model in place, we should be able to track classroom innovations more closely. Additionally, engagement will be playing a significant role in our new strategic plan.
The African American Male Initiative (AAMI) program at GHC has a documented track record of increasing the retention and graduation of Black or African-American males.
Increase Access for underserved and/or priority communities.
Black or African American students comprise the largest minority population at GHC. Black or African American males are nationally and locally at substantially more risk of dropping out or stopping out than their female counterparts. The AAMI program at GHC started in 2008 with a focus on success, retention, and completion. It is included at GHC in a more general program toward minority male success, Georgia Highlands African American and Minority Male Excellence (GHAME), open to all males with a focus on minority males. The community partner for GHAME is the 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia chapter.
The AAMI program at GHC provided students in the program with mentoring from faculty and staff as well as from community volunteers, with academic and career advising, and with troubleshooting assistance for issues as different as financial aid planning to transportation challenges. To help retention, the program created involvement opportunities for the students such as leadership training, field trips and community service.
A five-year view of all measures is included in the data appendix.
Participation. The number of AAMI participants in Fall 2018 was 93 from a total enrollment of Black or African American males of 367 for a participation rate of 25%, same as Fall 2017. The goal is to exceed GHC’s all-time high participation rate (29% in Fall 2013).
One-year retention. First time, full time Black or African American males who started in Fall 2017 and were members of GHC’s AAMI were retained to Fall 2018 at a rate of 96.4%, while those who did not participate returned the following fall at a rate of 47.2%. The overall retention rate for first time, full time Black or African American males was 64.2% at GHC, the highest one-year retention rate for this population in the State College sector and above the State College average of 40%. GHC has led its sector in one-year retention for FTFT Black or African American males for the past three years. The goal of retaining AAMI members at a one-year rate of 90% or higher was met.
Three-year graduation for associate degrees. First time, full time Black or African American males who started in Fall 2015 and were members of GHC’s AAMI graduated with associate degrees by the end of Summer 2018 at a rate of 30%, while those who did not participate graduated at a rate of 1.7%. The same substantial difference in graduation rates for AAMI and non-AAMI members is seen throughout the five year view.
The overall three-year graduation rate for Black or African American first time, full students was 14.7% at GHC, compared with the State College average of 9.3%. For three of the five most recent cohorts, GHC has exceeded the sector average.
The goal is to exceed the three-year graduation rate for Black or African American males at any college in the State College sector, which for the 2015 cohort would mean exceeding 28.8%. This goal was met for AAMI participants but not for AAMs overall.
Degrees conferred. The number and percentage of associate degrees conferred to AAMs were 25 and 3.4% respectively, down from the prior year (FY 2018=38 associate degrees awarded to AAMs for 5.5%). The percentage of degrees awarded to AAMs that were awarded to AAMI members increased slightly in FY 2019 to 40% (FY 2017=37%), though total degrees awarded to AAMs was slightly lower (FY 2018=10, FY 2017=14). The percentage of degrees conferred to AAMI members remains higher than the participation rate, pointing to the productivity of the program overall.
Needs and challenges have been primarily a shortage of personnel. Those faculty and staff who assist with the program are able to do so only in addition to their official jobs, as time permits. This has led to an inconsistency of services.
DEMONSTRATION OF PRIORITY OR IMPACT
At Georgia Highlands College (GHC), our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Quest for Success, places advising at the forefront of student academic and personal success. With purposeful and holistic advising, students will be able to
Quest for Success aims to increase the value of the student experience at GHC by emphasizing advising as a core component of learning. First-time GHC students participate in a three-phase advising process that connects them with professional advisors, faculty members, institutional resources, and other students. During the first two terms of enrollment, new students work within their advising network to formulate an individualized plan for success, an online, evolving record of the student’s progress and experience at GHC. During their second term, students meet with a faculty advisor who checks their progress and begins to discuss next steps toward completion of the degree and goal attainment. In crafting a success plan, students will also learn to recognize factors that can impede progress toward their goals. Imbedded in this process are targeted activities to allow students to strengthen their purposeful choices and ensure that they have clear pathways to their educational goals.
Overarching Goal 1: To help students develop self-direction and decision-making skills related to their academic success.
SLO A: Students will determine their reason(s) for attending college.
SLO B: Students will assess their academic strengths and weaknesses.
SLO C: Students will identify and utilize appropriate resources for addressing weaknesses and developing strengths.
Overarching Goal 2: To foster student success through improved academic planning skills.
SLO D: Students will develop a success plan tailored to their academic needs and professional interests.
SLO E: Students will participate in a comprehensive advising process.
Quest for Success allows students to learn about themselves, to plan their academic careers, and to receive guidance as they navigate their college experiences. Our QEP is mission-driven and will enhance students’ experiences and success at GHC.
In Fall 2018, our pilot included 60 general studies students at the Cartersville campus. Students were introduced to Quest for Success at summer orientation in small group settings, allowing for student communities to begin forming. Students also had the opportunity to a complete career assessment that will help guide future advising conversations. The pilot students completed two mandatory advising activities before they registered for their spring classes. Advising Activity 1 consisted of small group, peer meetings led by professional advisors. AA1 introduced students to more in-depth concepts related to their academic planning, as well as including elements of mindset (purposeful choice). Advising Activity 2 (AA2) was a one on one meeting with a professional advisor who reviewed the student’s current progress, addressed any concerns through a semi-structured interview, referred students for services, and helped the student develop a comprehensive academic plan.
Of the pilot group, 87% of students (n=52) completed Advising Activity 1 (AA1), while 85% of those students (n=44) completed AA2. In Spring 2019, 73% of the pilot group (n=44) were retained and 93% of those students (n=43) met with their faculty advisors.
The Spring 2019 Cohort of the fully implemented Quest consisted of 467 students. AA1 had a completion rate of 89% (n=415). AA2 had a completion rate of 82% (n=381). Persistence rates from Spring 2019 to Fall 2019 for these students was 69.8% (n=326). This is a full nine percentage points higher than students who did not participate in Quest for Success.
For Summer 2019, 185 students entered the Quest for Success. While 98% of those students completed a combined AA1/AA2 activity (resulting from the compressed summer schedule), only 58% (n=107) went on to enroll in Fall 2019. This is consistent with the higher number of one-term students who begin at GHC in the summer with an explicit goal of attending another college in the fall.
We continue to monitor and track students who are in the Quest model. The tables in the appendix show additional measures of the QEP’s success thus far.
The implementation of GHC’s QEP has been instrumental in improving retention for those students in the program. However, this is a high-touch, high-impact initiative. It has required a fundamental restructuring and reconceptualizing of advising at GHC. In Fall 2019, the advising director and QEP director decided to modify AA1 and AA2 to better meet the needs of students and advisors. The use of Navigate as a tracking and communication tool has been effective, but there is still much to be done. We have identified several places where more data collection and better tracking of students as they move across services on campus can give us a more complete picture of what is making these students more successful than their peers and predecessors not in the Quest for Success.
Corequisite remediation and math pathways for students that start in Learning Support have a substantial impact on students’ success in gateway and follow on classes. Longer term, they are expected to increase credential attainment.
Increase the likelihood of degree completion by transforming the way that remediation is accomplished.
Historically, a third to half the incoming freshmen at GHC require remediation, so steps taken to increase their success can have a dramatic impact on progression and completion. GHC keeps a running comparison of cohort success among students starting in Fall 2009 (before the Learning Support transformations currently in place were begun) and the three most recent fall terms to track the impact.
Beginning in Summer 2018, GHC no longer offered foundation level Learning Support courses; ENGL 0989, MATH 0987, MATH 0989 were phased out during Fall 2018. The limited number of students in summer meant fewer LS students and allowed for course development in the co-requisite classes. Full implementation in Fall 2018 highlighted the need for further work on course content and student placement. This included the realization that GHC’s Accuplacer WritePlacer score had been set too high, dramatically increasing the number of students placed into ENGL 0999. The score was adjusted for Spring 2019, and the numbers reflect this change. The introduction of Accuplacer NextGen in January 2019 created logistical challenges in the areas of admissions, LS placement and student advising, and the institution had to implement additional computer system updates to accommodate. Spring 2019 saw additional modifications in co-requisite courses, student placement and system automation, as the institution adjusts to the major change of the all co-requisite model.
Overall Placement in Learning Support. After steady reductions in the percentage of new (first time, full time) students placed into Learning Support (ending with a placement rate of 31% in Fall 2017), placements increased in Fall 2018 to 51%. The increase was due to what seems to be an anomaly in English placements because of placement scores that were higher than other state colleges (Fall 2018=25.5%, double the rate of any prior year since new LS methods).
Gateway and Follow-On Course Success. In the Data Appendix, two baseline comparisons are made with 2018-19 Learning Support students: 1) a historical comparison of success and progression with students who started in Fall 2009 and 2) success and progression comparison with students in the same cohorts who did not start in Learning Support. This report focuses on co-requisite remediation; for Fall 2009, equivalent placement scores in MATH 0099, READ 0099, and ENGL 0099 are used.
This section presents gateway and follow-on outcomes for Math corequisite remediation only. The Fall 2018 English corequisite outcomes are documented in the Data Appendix due to unusually high Fall 2018 placements, which probably affect the validity of statistics from this year.
Foundations courses were discontinued in Fall 2018 and that cohort of students in corequisite non-STEM classes (MATH 1001) was substantially different from prior fall groups. First, it was larger (six times the size of prior groups at 236 students). Second, preparation and target goals for the students were more diverse. Students who would have placed into non-STEM foundations in the past placed into corequisite remediation instead, affecting the preparation level.
In addition, students who would have placed into STEM foundations were directed into the non-STEM gateway as a prerequisite, some with a corequisite requirement for MATH 1001 and others without one. Instead of advancing into the non-STEM follow on course (Statistics), these students took College Algebra in the second term. Hence for the first time, student objectives for completing the non-STEM gateway could be transitioning to either Statistics or the STEM gateway, College Algebra.
These changes and corresponding curricular changes for MATH 1001 were associated with pass rate declines. The gateway pass rate in non-STEM math for students starting in corequisite remediation in Fall 2018 was 73%, down from an all-time high the prior year of 90% and the lowest rate of gateway success since Learning Support changes began at scale at GHC in Fall 2014. Interestingly, the pass rate in MATH 1001 was also reduced for non-LS students (76% in Fall 2018, lowest of the terms considered, including the baseline term, Fall 2009).
Similarly, students who passed MATH 1001 with corequisite remediation in Fall 2018 and took the follow-on course, Statistics, in the spring had a pass rate of 69% compared with an all-time high of 90% for prior year group. The Fall 2018 rate is the lowest rate of follow on success for corequisite MATH 1001 in the five years of corequisite remediation at GHC. However, non-LS students who passed MATH 1001 in Fall 2018 did substantially better in the follow-on course (pass rate of 86%, creating a follow-on pass rate gap of -17% for corequisite non-STEM math students).
For students who started in MATH 1001 and moved to MATH 1111, the pass rate for those who started in corequisite remediation was considerably lower in MATH 1111 than for non-LS students (53% versus 70% for non-LS students in MATH 1001 who took MATH 1111 next). However, the 53% pass rate for students starting in corequisite non-STEM math and moving to MATH 1111 was a slight improvement over students starting in STEM foundations the prior fall and moving to MATH 1111 (47%).
For students starting in STEM math, the removal of the foundations class in Fall 2018 appeared to have less impact. Pass rates in the STEM gateway class (College Algebra, MATH 1111) were 61% for students starting in corequisite remediation and 69% for non-LS students. Both rates are comparable to prior year rates; in fact, the pass rate in the gateway class for students starting in corequisite STEM remediation has ranged only between 60% and 62% for the past five fall terms.
However, completion of a follow-on class in the spring term for those passing MATH 1111 with a corequisite reached an all-time high with the Fall 2018 students for the five years of corequisites at 27%. This figure combines success in any of the follow-on courses (Statistics, Pre-Calculus, or Applied Calculus). Corequisite students still lag non-LS students on this measure (non-LS=34%) but their timely completion of follow on classes has been steadily rising.
For calculus-based (STEM) pathways in particular, students starting in corequisite remediation with MATH 1111 show a steady increase in pass rate in MATH 1113 (Fall 2016=50%, Fall 2017=52%, Fall 2018=58%). The corequisite pass rates are still below those of non-LS students MATH 1111 followed by MATH 1113 (Fall 2018=71%) but the increase is encouraging.
Retention. The gap in one-year retention between FTFT students who start in Learning Support and those who do not widened from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018 over the prior year (63% versus 68% for non-LS students, leaving a -5% gap). Prior year retention rate gaps have been as follows: Fall 2014-15: +1 (more students retained who started in Learning Support than students who did not), Fall 2016-17: -5, Fall 2017-18: -3. The one-year retention rate for Fall 2009 Learning Support students was 59%, while non-LS students were retained at 61% for a -2% retention rate gap. At GHC, no sustained improvement in one-year retention has been correlated with corequisite remediation and math pathways.
Completions. Having started at scale with transformed remediation in Fall 2014, GHC can now look at three-year completion rates for the baseline year (Fall 2009) compared with Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 cohorts using the new LS methods. The full historical comparison is shown in the data appendix, using three-year attainment of any kind of credential from any institution that reports to the National Student Clearinghouse.
Comparing Fall 2009 and Fall 2014 students at the three-year mark, the Fall 2014 corequisite students had attained slightly fewer overall credentials than then Fall 2009 students with equivalent placement scores in the highest level math remediation (18% credential attainment for Fall 2009 students, 17% for Fall 2014 students). For the Fall 2015 cohort, corequisite students had attained 3.3% fewer credentials than their Fall 2009 counterparts.
Limiting the figures to attainment of associate degrees only (no certificates or diplomas), the Fall 2014 cohort of corequisite math students attained 2.5% more associate degrees at three years than the Fall 2009 group of equivalent LS math students (Fall 2009=13.1% attained associate degrees, Fall 2014=15.6%). However, this advantage in associate attainment for students in corequisite remediation using the new LS methods was reduced to just 0.5% with the Fall 2015 cohort. The Fall 2015 corequisite math students had substantially fewer three-year completions than their Fall 2014 counterparts (Fall 2015=13.6, close to the Fall 2009 level of 13.1%).
Possibly most surprising is the gap between corequisite level Math students and non-LS students in three-year associate completions that opened with the Fall 2015 cohort. For Fall 2009, the gap was just 1.6% in favor of non-LS students starting in gateway math (corequisite students=13.1%, non-LS students=14.7%). For Fall 2014, the associate completions gap was actually reversed in favor of corequisite Math students (corequisite=15.6%, non-LS=14.6%) and the gap remained small. However, for the Fall 2015 cohort the gap in three-year completions widened to 10.1% (a tenfold increase in gap size) with corequisite Math students dropping back to Fall 2009 levels with 13.6% associate completions while non-LS gateway Math students surged to 23.7%. This change will draw further assessment.
For students starting in corequisite English, the completions picture is more positive. The Fall 2014 cohort of corequisite English students exceeded the overall three-year credential rate of corresponding Fall 2009 students by 8.4% (Fall 2009=13%, Fall 2014=21%). Limiting the comparison to associate degrees completed (no certificate or diploma), the gap narrows to 3.6% but Fall 2014 students still attained more degrees. The Fall 2015 cohort of corequisite English students did even better, exceeding the corresponding Fall 2009 students by 12% in overall completions and 4.5% in associate degrees. This pattern is closer to what would be predicted by the literature on corequisite remediation than the pattern for corequisite math.
In addition, corequisite English remediation students were comparable to their non-LS counterparts in terms of three-year degrees completed in all three years. For Fall 2009 and Fall 2014, students in corequisite English remediation attained more degrees than their non-LS counterparts. In Fall 2015, that pattern was reversed but with a gap of only 2.8% (corequisite English students=17.5%, non-LS=20.3% attainment of associate degrees). This gap is much narrower than the gap between corequisite Math students and non-LS Math students who started in Fall 2015.
For co-requisites, the greatest challenges continue to be format and student engagement. Course linking has helped with aligning course material, but it creates many logistical complications in scheduling, staffing, student placement and room space. Faculty continue to work on how much the co-requisite material should be remedial and how much of it should be reemphasizing the coursework in the connected college course. The co-requisite classes have also struggled with higher student absentee rates—this has been approached on an instructor by instructor basis, focusing on suggested strategies rather than creating a departmental policy.
With an eye to the overall student success goal (success in college-level courses beyond the gateway classes), the changes stated in the Summary of Activities section were incorporated this year. Increasing that success and the overall level of completions among students who begin with Learning Support requirements will most likely be an ongoing challenge.
Students who fail to complete work in courses that most colleges require in initial semesters also do not graduate. Time to degree and thereby costs of a degree increase as well.
GHC is wrapping up Year 3 of the G2C effort for Cohort 1 and Year 1 of Cohort 2. The G2C Cohort 1 involved the following five courses: BIOL 2121K (Anatomy and Physiology), ENGL 1101 (Composition I), HIST 2111 (American History I), MATH 1001 (Quantitative Skills and Reasoning), and MATH 1111 (College Algebra). Cohort 2 includes only ENGL 1102.
Piloting of new approaches and techniques began in Fall 2017 after an analysis process for each course was completed during Year 1. GHC also participated in a pilot of the data analytics included on the G2C platform. The analytics are focused on early reporting of student performance in a term. An analysis of outcomes from this pilot is not yet available.
Student success in the target courses. Impacts on student success in the pilot sections have varied and detailed data for two illustrative examples, BIOL 2121K and MATH 1001, are provided in the data appendix. Each example reflects success in different ways. Summary data for the other courses are also included. Specific targets for student success have not yet been set.
For BIOL 2121K, the G2C sections added to a set of transformations that began before the G2C analyses were complete. Overall DWFI rates have fluctuated over the last four-years. While G2C courses initially showed improved DFW rates, the improvement has not been sustained. However, while students may not be as successful in G2C sections of BIOL 2121K, they seem to be more successful in 2122K, for those who make it to that point.
For MATH 1001, the G2C sections had a positive impact immediately with lower DWFI rates. However, as the course was scaled up those positive gains were not strong. Much like the BIOL 2121K courses, the students who complete a G2C section of MATH 1001 are more likely to succeed in the follow-on course (MATH 2200).
Analysis and reporting. A portfolio of tables and charts has been developed and is updated at the end of each term. It gives both a term-based and a cross-term view of student success in the target and follow on courses. Division by demographics is included and the portfolio continues to improve and expand. The faculty coordinators for each course use this information to make adjustments to their work.
During the past two years GHC has learned that it is very hard work maintaining an effort that is asking faculty to enhance their instruction. Helping faculty to understand that enhancing instruction does not mean lowering the rigor of their instruction is a difficult message to get across and those faculty who have been involved in G2C continue to be excited about what each course chose to focus on. Their energy has encouraged other faculty to be involved. The absence of a CETL director was an unintended obstacle, but that has been addressed for the coming year.
GHC continues to seek out ways to ensure faculty and staff that this is not another initiative and that everything we are doing has a common theme of student success. The Momentum Year Plan has forced us to have conversations that we may have avoided in the past. Specifically, the pressure testing activities in Spring 2019 revealed what we had suspected: Most students at GHC were unable to complete the degree of their choosing at the campus of their choosing. No campus offered an opportunity to earn a degree in more than three pathways because of scheduling. Through intentional efforts to collaborate across divisions, GHC has begun implementing new approaches for AY 2019-20 to address the problems and obstacles for scheduling. This could not have happened without the opportunity and support from the USG to engage with data-driven conversations about scheduling, timely completions, and student success. We have filled a key position on campus that will enable us to continue to progress with this work, but more restructuring may be necessary to achieve our optimal results. The work of several initiatives will influence these decisions (CAR, strategic planning, etc.). Pulling together the work of various groups (Mindset team, Chancellor’s Learning Scholars, Advisors, and Leadership) will allow us to leverage resources more efficiently. We continue to collaborate and hope our efforts improve retention and graduation rates, as well as deepen the student experience, both in and out of the classroom.
|Jennifer Hicks||Director of Academic Support (Advising & Tutoring)|
|Dana Nichols||Vice President of Academic Affairs|
|Jesse Bishop||Dean of Planning, Assessment, Accreditation, & Research|
|Elizabeth Tanner||QEP Director|
|Diane Langston||Sr. Data Analyst|
|Josie Baudier||Director of Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning|
|Melanie Largin||Dean of Mathematics|
|Jon Hershey||Dean of Humanities|
|Laura Walton||Advising and Orientation Coordinator|