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Making the Most of Connections on Campus

Colleges can strengthen student engagement by making outside-the-classroom engage- ment inescapable. Rather than minimizing expectations for out-of-class commitments from students, colleges can require students to participate in educational experiences that are important to their success. Examples might include mandatory study groups or projects with faculty or students outside of class.

In a focus group, one faculty member notes, “is semester, when midterm grades came out, each student had to go into the computer, get his or her grades, and bring them to me. en we sat down and discussed them. e whole dynamic of my class has changed since I did that. ey saw me outside the classroom. I told them I believed they could do it, encouraged them, gave them ways to succeed if they were not passing.”

To provide better support to students, colleges can close the gap between perceived importance of student services and regular use of these services. Colleges can increase the use of services by making them mandatory and/or integrating them into course- work. Students can be required, for example, to make an appointment with a career counselor and then to write a résumé as part of a class assignment.

Colleges Making Connections

Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College (WV) created a rewards program to increase student participation in college-sponsored activities. Students receive an activity card that is punched or stamped when they attend designated events on campus. Students earn points, which they can exchange for T-shirts, jump drives, tote bags, and portfolios. is eort was inspired by the college’s CCSSE results, in which 82% of students report that they never participated in college activities.

SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) at Guilford Technical Community College (NC) is an intensive four-hour orientation experience provided to all new students. SOAR includes general information, academic success strategies, academic planning and advising, and registration. In summer 2008, about two-thirds of all new students enrolled in SOAR. Since the program’s inception in fall 2005, SOAR attendees have persisted at higher rates than nonattendees.

Peer tutoring is a practical strategy for encouraging and providing structure for student interaction and academic coaching. Carolinas College of Health Sciences (NC) recruits student tutors based on academic achievement and communication skills as assessed by instructors. At-risk students are referred to a peer tutor through the Student Success Center aer academic assessment and advising. From a student population of about 500 students, at least 50 students visit the Student Success Center for academic advising each year. To date, more than 80% of academically at-risk students who received peer tutoring successfully passed the course (with a C or better) for which they were tutored. Student evaluations of peer tutoring reect greater than 98% satisfaction with the program.

For more information about CCSSE and the 2009 surve , visit www.ccsse.org.

Very

Not at all

62%

10%

50%

21%

39%

29%

44%

25%

61%

21%

24%

41%

Support for Learners: Students’ Use and Value of Student Services

How important are the following services?

Academic advising/planning Career counseling Peer or other tutoring Skill labs (writing, math, etc.) Financial aid advising Student organizations

Often

never

Academic advising/planning

13%

35%

Career counseling

5%

51%

Peer or other tutoring

7%

46%

Skill labs (writing, math, etc.)

15%

37%

Financial aid advising

17%

32%

Student organizations

5%

45%

How often do you use the following services?

Rarely/

Source: 2009 CCSSE Cohort data.

2009 Findings 15

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