The Rumor of ATD’s Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated!

Recently a number of folks have come up to me asked “What is going on with Achieving the Dream?  I haven’t heard anything lately!”  I have two reactions at once:  Yeah – people at STLCC are still interested in ATD!!!  AND Rats, I have not done a good job in getting the message out!

So – before I give a quick update on the progress made in regards to the four ATD strategies, I want to ask for YOUR help!  Please respond to this blog (or email me) with the BEST ways I can get ATD information to YOU!  Presently ATD information is being disseminated via the members of the District wide Student Success team members, the Campus based team meetings, the Assessment Notes (thanks Larry McDoniel!) and this blog.  Clearly I need to do more – so send me your ideas!

ATD update – bullet point version!

  • All First Time in College (FTIC) students will be required to register via a New Student Registration Workshop (NSRW).  During this experience students not only successfully register for their classes after meeting with an advisor, but also begin learning about how to be a successful student at STLCC.
  • Placement testing practices are being examined from doing a better job at preparing students to take the test the first time to possibly allowing all students the option to retest.
  •  All FTIC students will register for New Student Orientation (NSO)as part of their NSRW experience.  Last fall was the first time all campuses offered such an experience.  The dedicated staff members across the college who hosted NSO worked together to ensure that information vital to student success was delivered on every campus.
  • All students who test into Eng:020 or Eng:030 or Rdg:020 or Rdg: 030 must take the new college success course called Smart Start: Student Success (STR:050) The course has been created. Training for the course will be offered on all the Fridays after spring break.  Anyone interested in teaching the course should contact Dennis White ( ). Dennis is the district wide coordinator for the course.
  • The Developmental Education Redesign Team (DERT) led by Juliet Scherer has invited all faculty and staff to offer ideas as to how to best serve students who come to STLCC below the college ready level.  Discipline DERT teams (RDG DERT, ENG DERT, and MTH DERT) have all been formed as well! Contact Juliet if you want to get involved or want more information! The First Four Weeks (F4W) has once again made an impact.  Last semester 250 faculty members participated.
  • This semester 281 faculty members have signed up with 41% of that total being full time faculty members – up from last fall. Two of the most popular strategies chosen dealt with explaining exactly what it takes to be successful in a particular course taught by a particular faculty member as well as clearly explaining grading policies! 

So ATD is alive and well and moving forward!  Hope to hear from you as to how I can best have you hear about ATD!

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The First Four Weeks!

Fellow Dreamers,

Where did October go? Much has happened since my last post! Every campus based student success team has met and discussed two pilot programs: Math Boot Camp and The Model Student – an active reading/note taking aid. Our own David Freese helped the Cardinals to a world championship! And the Rams even won a game! Talk about Dreaming BIG!!!

But today’s post focuses on the First Four Weeks (F4W) – an initiative that invited all faculty to select from 34 strategies aimed at helping students get poised for success during the first four weeks of the semester.

As usual, STLCC faculty showed their commitment to student success! 250 faculty members chose to take part in the First Four Weeks even though they heard about it for the first time during service week!

After the four weeks were over, participating faculty members were asked for their feedback via email or faculty forums held on each campus. All faculty whether they participated or not were asked for their opinions concerning F4W via a Student Voice survey.

From the feedback I received – the strategies that faculty reported having the greatest effects are:

  1. Meeting one on one with students
  2. Calling/contacting students who did not come to class
  3. Giving a syllabus quiz
  4. Learning students’ names
  5. Giving an early assignment/test with few or no points early on then following up with feedback.

Responding to the feedback, the following changes have been made for the spring:

  1. F4W will be sent out to all faculty before Thanksgiving as a Student Voice survey.
  2. Faculty will be asked to simply commit to four strategies. (They will not designate New, or Continuing or which week they will implement the strategy.)
  3. There are only 26 strategies – 8 less than in the fall.
  4. Faculty members may list a strategy of their own.

One negative of using Student Voice is that it is not simple to save or print.  Directions will be included as to how to screen capture each page if a faculty member would like to save his/her choices. Also, Student Voice does not allow links within the survey itself. Links to additional information will need to be listed at the end of the email inviting faculty to participate.

So what do YOU think about the First Four Weeks initiative? From all the anecdotal evidence – it appears to be a success. I know we are all going to be looking at the fall to spring retention numbers to see if F4W (as well as other ATD efforts) have begun to have a positive effect!

Keep Dreaming!!!

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Moving Forward with Achieving the Dream

Fellow Dreamers,

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and a lot has happened!  To begin with – my daughter got married! Hooray!

And on the Achieving the Dream front we’ve been working on all four of our strategies: registration, orientation, a college success course and developmental education.  Here’s a synopsis of that work! 

We have:

1)      Organized a motivated team that is examining our students’ experience from the moment they decide to come to STLCC to the point where they have completed their registration.  This team has met once and has chosen to focus on the registration experience, assessment (COMPASS), technology and financial aid. 

2)      Brought together an enthusiastic group from all four campuses to perfect the orientation experience!  This is not just about the several hour event held on each campus for our new students, but is about the entire time from registration until class begins.  This group is looking at all the messaging we could make available in various formats in that timeframe that would help our students be better prepared to be successful! 

3)      Begun to create a NEW College Success course.  One group began that process using Integrated Course Design (ICD) in the summer.  ICD is the process shared by L. Dee Fink Ph.D. in his book: Creating Significant Learning Experiences. The summer group produced a course profile for the class and named it: Smart Start: Student Success.  This semester, a new team is further defining the course. The goal is to create a “course in a box” to some degree.  Next semester faculty training will be designed.  We will be looking for passionate faculty to go through the training and teach the course next fall!  Email me if you might be interested!

4)      Invited every member of the college to play a part in redesigning Developmental Education.  Despite terrible weather, over 90 faculty and staff members came to the first meeting of the Developmental Education Redesign Team (DERT) on Sept 14th on the Forest Park! Attendees had a chance to share their innovative ideas in 6 different facilitated breakout sessions.  The feedback from those sessions is being compiled and analyzed.

In my next blog entry, I’ll tell you about the First Four Weeks – an initiative that invited all faculty across the district to be a part of Achieving the Dream!  I’ll also tell you how the visit from our ATD coaches went.  They will be at STLCC from Sept 28th until Sept 30th!

Keep Dreaming!!!


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My First Blog Post!

Fellow Dreamers!

Welcome to my blog! My goal is to not only share the nuts and bolts of what is going on with Achieving the Dream at STLCC – like what is happening at each of the ATD related meetings, but also to share my personal viewpoint.  I hope you will enjoy keeping up with everything going on related to student success at STLCC as well as my spin!  I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on my musing as well as on your STLCC Achieving the Dream experience! Would love to hear student success stories!

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