New Strategies Bolster Student Success
College students who are able to complete 50 percent of their required course credits within one year are more than twice as likely to actually finish their degree. This enlightening fact is a driving force behind Miami Dade College’s Student Achievement Initiatives.
For more than a year, the College’s faculty, staff and administrators have been collaborating on an unparalleled initiative to substantially increase student completion rates while maintaining access and quality. With the onset of the fall semester, the College began implementing all the carefully crafted strategies developed during the yearlong planning phase, which focused on identifying obstacles to student success and completion and then developing potential practices and policies to remove those barriers.
“MDC is ready for this change,” said Dr. Lenore Rodicio, vice provost for student achievement. “Never before have the faculty, staff and administrators come together in such a concerted effort for the sake of our students. Now we’re asking ourselves ‘How can we work together to help most of our students succeed?’”
Among the strategies developed as part of this groundbreaking project is a new focus on the early experience for incoming students, including:
- Targeted electronic outreach: New student communications stress the importance of placement testing, test prep options and the College’s new orientation and registration process.
- Mandatory orientations: Taking place at all eight campuses, these informative sessions for new students also feature advisor assignments and on-site course registration, ensuring students start off on the right foot.
- Test prep classes: Students can receive intensive instruction in reading, writing and math that is aligned to the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT), which helps determine the courses students should be placed in based on their skills and abilities.
- More intensive academic and career advising during the first semester: This includes creating a road map for each student with performance tracking and interventions when students start veering off course.
“Students don’t always know what they need,” Rodicio said, “so we need to help keep them on the right pathways.”
This summer, several thousand first-time-in-college students participated in mandatory orientations and advisement, and they will continue to receive continuous guidance from assigned advisors during their first year at MDC. Also, more than 1,000 students took advantage of test-prep classes to help them in advance for the PERT examination. Preliminary measures indicate that students made strides in bridging academic skill gaps through these courses.
Implementation plans also include long-term restructuring that will focus on an academic redesign – giving students more structured curriculum plans with sequential coursework and focused course choices at all levels to ensure that they know the requirements to succeed and enter programs of study early in their college careers. The College also will be working to better integrate academic and support services.
These initiatives and many others will be accomplished though continued inclusive, collegewide engagement of faculty, staff, administrators and students. “The work of implementation belongs to everyone at MDC,” Rodicio said.
This groundbreaking Miami Dade College project is supported by generous grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design Initiative, the Lumina Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, among others.