Carteret Community College Title III Grant

July 26, 2011

5 Years of Title III – Keough & Staub at N-L 2011

Five Years of Title III: Successes, Challenges, and Words from the Wise(er)

click on image to download ppt

Presenters:  Patrick Keough & Donald Staub – Carteret Community College

Presented at the Noel-Levitz National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention in Denver on July 26, 2011.

The purpose of our presentation is to give a brief overview of what we have accomplished – qualitatively and quantitatively – through the course of the grant (which ends in September of this year).  To achieve the overall goal of increasing retention at the College, the grant has three primary objectives: Advising, Distance Learning, and Outcomes Assessment.  This presentation will highlight the retention efforts we have made in each of these three areas, with particular attention to the successes and challenges of implementing each.

The crux of the presentation will be the Learnings section: If you are looking down the barrel of a five-year T3 grant, and you asked me what I thought was important, I’d give you this list.

Getting started

• If you’re planning on proposing, do your best to name names – qualifications, etc…it shows you can hit the ground running.  It may also demonstrate commitment.

You’ve probably heard this already, but it really strengthens your proposal when you can say that you have qualified people ready to go as soon as the grant starts.  If you do have those positions filled, on paper, make sure you emphasize their qualifications and experience.  I can’t say to what degree this strengthened our application, but we already had a director of DL in place as we were writing the application (DL is one of our three objectives).  Again, we were able to highlight his qualifications.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, it demonstrated institutional commitment.  We were not asking to fund yet another (high dollar) position that would need to be sustained down the road…the funding was already in place.

• BTW…we’re pretty efficient around here, and it still took us about three months to get the three key positions filled: Director, Instructional Technologist, Staff Assistant.  For us, the staff assistant was critical.  I cannot underestimate the importance of this position; do not make it an afterthought.  Key skills and qualities are: Attention to detail, Time management, Ability to work under pressure and short deadlines, Good with numbers, Organized, Courteous, Ability to deal with multiple personalities – our staff assistant deals with everyone from the president to the VPs, to ALL faculty and staff.

Over the course of the grant, our assistant did a lot of great things, but the thing that she was best at was the financials…not budgeting, but record-keeping, reporting (on a monthly basis), purchasing, tracking orders, and nipping at my heels when certain things needed to be taken care of (e.g. Budget revisions).

• Become friends with the Business Office – ours does the draw downs, budget revisions, and purchasing.

I have a colleague, who shall remain nameless, that directed a T3 grant at another community college.  Between IT and the Business Office at her school, it would take 18 months from PO to actual receipt of any computers ordered through the grant.  At our school, it generally takes about one month for turn-around.

This is partly because our Business Office is extremely efficient.  The other reason is that we have a solid relationship with our Business Office, and, by extension, the Administrative Services division.  It should be needless to point this out, but we all know that words and deeds do not always follow each other: Don’t butt heads with the people who control the flow of your resources.

You don’t need to shower them with gifts (although chocolate can go a long way!), however, my advice would be to don’t wait to speak with them until there is an eleventh hour emergency order.  In short: follow their guidelines and policies (even when they may be unwritten);  cultivate relationships – stop by and say hello when you’re in the neighborhood…it doesn’t always have to be work related; look for other ways to work together (In my case, I work with the staff on developing and assessing outcomes.  I also have found myself on committees, coincidentally, with some of the key players, allowing me to develop and strengthen relationships); and, don’t forget, they are people too who like to be appreciated – compliment the staff, praise them, and thank them vociferously – in person, in public, via email, or in a meeting.  There’s no need to be an apple polisher, but they are trying just as hard as you to do their job effectively.

• Become friends with HR – we have written well over 100 contracts in our five years of providing PD.  If we didn’t have a good working relationship with them, the last five years would have been miserable.

Likewise, HR is valuable to you.  They will help you hire key staff, and they will ensure that those paid via contract are processed in a timely manner.  The same philosophy holds true here as with the Business Office: These are folks who are trying their best to perform effectively.  Appreciation and praise (and sometimes, simple acquiescence) go a long way; conversely, conflict and antagonism will set you back…way back.  It’s like the old adage about the pedestrian crosswalk: you may have the right of way versus the oncoming car, but in the end, who really wins? (hint: the larger, more powerful force).

• Become friends with IR/IE – they have the data, which unlocks they door to successful APRs, and efficient monitoring of progress toward your objectives…and any other time you may need numbers.

• Evaluator – your evaluator, if s/he is good, is worth their weight in gold. And how do you know if you have a good evaluator?  For me,  the most important indicators are: How well does s/he know EDGAR?  (if they don’t know what EDGAR is, run in the opposite direction).  And, how good are they at reviewing your books?  And, the only real way to determine this is to find an evaluator who has deep T3 experience – as an evaluator and/or as a director (our evaluator has both!).  Our evaluator comes twice a year to check  on our progress, to look under the hood of compliance and to pull out the dipstick of our financial record-keeping.

Our evaluator and I made a presentation at the 2011 IDUES (T3 & T5 directors’) conference in D.C. [For full disclosure, I was not able to attend the conference/presentation…I was in Russia on a Fulbright].  Our presentation centered on the qualities of an effective evaluator and an effective relationship, between you and your evaluator.

Click on image to download ppt

In essence, the sooner you get your evaluator on board, the better.  In fact, in an ideal situation, the evaluator should be a key member of the grant writing team.  In addition, as I mentioned above, find someone who has a nose for compliance and good record keeping.

Your evaluator should be able to easily follow the trail of purchasing. If it’s confusing or incomplete, you need an evaluator who will candidly tell you so.  I always say: I’d rather have an ornery evaluator looking over my books than a nice auditor.

• Get the word out.

Quantity does not always equal quality.  In fact, I’d be the first to admit that of our three objectives (advising, assessment, and DL), Advising has been the weak link…and it doesn’t take much looking around on our blogs to figure this out.  Our T3 blog is Assessment-heavy, and DL has their own blog dedicated strictly to issues of DL at the College.  Nevertheless, this has not stopped us from trumpeting our work. And, I firmly believe that the grant and the College have benefitted from this.

How do we benefit from sharing and transparency?  The grant has benefitted through an ongoing, public dialogue that provides us with feedback on our implementation strategies.  Every blog posting, every conference presentation,** every podcast and webinar is an opportunity for us gain constructive input on our objectives. And, to boot, it increases positive exposure (we hope!) for the College.

Other ways of getting the word out include: Twitter (both through an account where I send out tweets, or through our blog – new posts are promoted through an auto tweet); Getting involved in state-wide organizations (I’m on the executive committee of the nascent North Carolina Community College Learning Outcomes Assessment Group); Sign up for the T3 listserv (a great way to answer questions and keep a finger on the pulse of all things T3…I’ve been introduced to a number of other directors via the list).  There are other possibilities as well: I’ve poked around on LinkedIn, but have been unsuccessful in discovering a T3 group – although it’s been about a year since I last looked for one.  Of course, let’s not forget Facebook (full disclosure: I don’t do FB, so I’m not sure of it’s capabilities in this regard).

Finally, and I truly believe this: It is valuable to keep your program officer in the loop.  He gets a CC whenever I send out an email to our advisory committee.  He also receives occasional notifications of new blog posts – just to remind him that we’re still blogging.  I don’t expect him to read and respond, but he has applauded us in person and publicly for our transparency.  My caveat here would be to ensure that your grant is on a solid foundation before attracting too much attention.

** this is our fourth Noel-Levitz presentation…and our second invitation to speak at this annual meeting.  Over the course of the grant, I have made 14 presentations at the national level; 10 at the state level.

Short- Mid-Term

• Sustainability (remember, this is a developmental grant)

Is it sustainable?  With any major investment of time or dollars, this was our guiding question.  It started with online tutoring, carried through to outcomes software, early alert, advising software, and most recently, Blackboard and Moodle.  In any one of the investments, we ran it through the test of: How much is this going to cost the College once the funding is gone? Can the College really afford this without T3?

More often than not (and increasingly so in years 3-5), the answer was No, the College cannot sustain this initiative beyond the life of the grant.  Therefore, the solution was generally: let’s do it ourselves.  This started with online tutoring, continued with outcomes, early alert, and advising software packages, and it has helped drive us from Blackboard to Moodle.  In each of these cases, we could have justified the start-up expense and utilized T3 funds to get us out of the box, but there would have been no way that we could have sustained the likes of SmartThinking or Weave Online.

We found ourselves developing solutions in- house that we could tweak as needed.  The conclusion has been a much greater ease of institutionalization.  For the instances where we needed software, we either dug a little deeper into our knowledge of existing software.  For instance, the web-based Datatel has the capability to serve as advising software.  It provides the functionality we need for advising, plus the learning curve for faculty and staff has been minimal because of their familiarity with Datatel.

• PD

For our grant, 20% (~$300,000) of our funding has been dedicated to Professional Development.  And, we can proudly say (I believe) that the lion’s share has been spent on giving faculty and staff the skills and expertise to more effectively perform their duties.  In other words, most of these dollars have gone toward sending faculty and staff to trainings, conferences, etc.  These folks, in turn, bring the knowledge or skill back to campus and share it with their colleagues.

What we have not done a lot of is bringing in the hired gun.  Our belief (one part cultural, one part philosophical, and one part fiscal decision-making) has been to develop and strengthen the expertise from within. So, let me break this down.

* One part cultural.

What we learned early on is that the campus culture did not respond favorably to external assistance.  You can’t be a prophet in your own land, but when we brought in a few hired prophets, they stoned him and her. I’ll be honest.  We brought in an excellent consultant from Noel-Levitz to conduct a preliminary analysis of our enrollment management and advising systems.  After he left and we were entertaining the notion of more intensive work with N-L, the push back was so intense that we had to scrap that idea.  We could not move people out of their defensive posture – when it came to someone from the outside analyzing their work.  We tried a different consultant, with the same results.  Our advice- do a cultural map before bringing in external support.

* One part philosophical.

At the same time, what we realized was that you can be a prophet in your own land.  You may not be the best prophet, but if it helps us move forward, let’s do it.  Therefore, we really turned our focus to sending faculty and staff out, and letting them bring the message home.  This has turned out tob quite effective.  Again, it’s not perfect, but after five years, the number of staff, full-time, and part-time faculty who have gained expertise, and who have something to teach, has spread to all corners of the campus.

The implicit message here is that our community is rather tight knit.  There are more than a few that call us a family – in the true sense.  We all know each other, we get along the best we can, but to some degree, like any healthy family, we are a little dysfunctional, plus we’ve got a few eccentric aunts and uncles.

So, for five years, quite a few of us have traveled to a number of state and local conferences together.  At last year’s state DL conference, 12(!) faculty and staff participated.  Two weeks ago, eight faculty and staff traveled together to an Institutional Effectiveness institute.  And, most importantly, it’s not always the usual suspects.

One additional, yet critical piece of our approach is accountability.  If T3 is putting resources into attending PD opportunities, then the faculty or staff member must understand that this is a reciprocal agreement; that the expectation is that the individual will “give back” by sharing knowledge, providing training, etc… This may take the form of actually providing a workshop, a brown bag luncheon discussion, or a post to the blog.  On paper, this looks great.  In reality, it’s been a different story.  If you take this approach, I urge you to set up a formal system of accountability.  Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time chasing folks who will give you nothing in the end.

* One part fiscal decision-making.

This is where we come back to the sustainability issue.  By putting faculty and staff in a position where they have to be active participants (i.e. they learn and then they must share), it reinforces the knowledge and skill that they are gaining.  By spreading this wealth, and by reinforcing it as often as possible (by either attending multiple PD opportunities, or by presenting the material back on campus), we are solidifying its place on our campus.  This creates a sustainable, relatively inexpensive source of knowledge, experience, and energy.

In the end, T3 catalyst for changing the attitude toward PD.  Whereas in the past it was viewed more as a receptive activity, the shift is on toward PD being more productive.

• Be a change agent.

Another important lesson. You may be in an enviable position.  You need to learn how to think and act like a faculty member (if you are not one already).  But, we all know that “faculty member” is not a monolithic concept.  There is wide variation in how faculty, and staff, perceive professional development.  I have learned that the more I interact with faculty and staff, particularly in a one-on-one (or very small group) situation, the better I am able to work effectively with them.  This is not say that I have them eating out of my hand (see my comment above about eccentric aunts and uncles), but by developing a rapport, I am able to converse more freely with a greater number.

Likewise, one valuable lesson I have learned about getting support for change is to communicate early and communicate often.  Our faculty (and I’m sure that some of yours too) must be organized…for months in advance.  We are working on the 2013-2014 calendar now.  Textbooks for SP 2012 need to ordered soon.  So, by asking them to “fill out this form and get it back to me by Friday” may be met by compliance, but it will not be met with quality, nor will it be met by joy.  The further out you can communicate an upcoming task, workshop, etc… and the better clarity you provide (give examples on how you want it done), the more smiling faces that will greet you when they see you coming.

But, it should not all be on you.  Administrative buy-in is key also.  Not as a hammer, but as a lever.  Administration is not just the president and relevant VPs…it includes deans and chairs as well.  Everyone has to buy in.  Conversely, the more disciples you create within the faculty, the more leverage you will have as well.  Patrick’s DL initiatives are always successful because they are mostly faculty-driven.


• Keep your eyes on the prize

As all of the stuff above suggests, sometimes it’s easier to focus on the details, and lose sight of the big picture.  Why are we doing this, anyway?  Keep in mind that this is a “Strengthening Institutions” grant.  In your proposal, you pointed out the major challenges at your school, and you said that “we’re going to do this, and this, and this to make us better.”   Ultimately, better at retaining students.  So, it all gets back to – and, along with “can we sustain this?” the other critical question when considering investment of resources is – What will this do for retention?  And, if you do a cost-benefit analysis, sometimes the answer is Yes, sometimes it’s No.

• Learn to be flexible

According to the rules, you must stick to your objectives.  If you want to change them, you need a very compelling reason to do so.  However, this is not say that you cannot change your strategy (one of the beauties of T3 funding and the flexibility provided).

One of our objectives is Advising.  In our proposal, we were going to develop an advising/counseling center (CAPS), directed by a full-time faculty member on release, and staffed with some part-time counselors. The faculty member driving this concept decided to return to full-time teaching shortly after the grant started.  No other faculty member was willing and able to assume this role, and we had not requested funds to hire a full-time staff member to take over the reins.  So, a little juggling of full-time counselors later, we were left with a solution that really did not work because the heart and soul and vision had left.  So, this objective floundered for two years.  Why, you ask?  Because we were consumed by our ten-year accreditation re-affirmation process, and the time and energy were not there to work a new solution.

In the fourth year of the grant (after we had successfully gained re-affirmation), we turned our attention once again to advising.  It was a major piece of our QEP (SACS), which had a different vision, and a different visionary than the original incarnation of our advising/CAPS center.

The moral of this story is that we knew we had to maintain our objective – Strengthen Advising – but we also knew that we desperately need to change how we were going to approach it.  This past year has been fast and furious in terms of re-designing, re-structuring, and re-tooling for a new-look advising.  We are sad at this point that the T3 funds will soon be out of reach, but we have made terrific strides because we were flexible in the way we approached this objective.


December 1, 2010

Best Practices in Distance Learning

Filed under: Conferences,Faculty Professional Development,Presentations — Donald Staub @ 12:13 pm

Click on the image to download a pdf of the ppt


Laurie Freshwater, Division Director of our Allied Health Programs is presenting at the USDLA’s  4th International Forum for Women in E-Learning in Albuquerque. The title of her presentation is: Best Practices in Distance Learning.

The abstract for her presentation is:

Attrition in DL courses continues to be 10-20% higher than that of face-to-face courses.  This session will provide attendees with resources and current/emerging technological tools available to increase retention in DL courses through the establishment of learning communities and the use of learner-centered instructional approaches.

November 15, 2010

NC3ADL: Assessing Distance Learning

Filed under: Conferences,Presentations — Donald Staub @ 12:38 am

We’re at the 2010 annual meeting of the NC3ADL (North Carolina Community College Association of Distance Learning).  And, by my estimation, this is the best one yet.  Just check out the program. High quality presentations.  Very few repeat sessions.  And, as always, great opportunities to network with colleagues from far, and near(!).  And now that the conference is finished, I’d encourage to jump over to Patrick’s DL blog and check out his reporting, as well as commentary from some of CCC’s team that attended.

I am presenting on the Assessment of Distance Learning (8:30 … yikes…Monday a.m.).  My presentation will have two facets: One is how we, as an institution, are assessing the quality of DL overall.  The other is to look at how assessment in DL courses is taking place at the program and course-level.   I believe this presentation/discussion has application to both DL directors and to classroom instructors – both of whom have concerns (at different levels) about whether or not DL is passing muster.

Click on photo to download pdf of ppt

Relevant documents referred to in this presentation:

  • The Quality Assessment Plan (QAP) for evaluating and certifying distance learning courses before they go “live”
  • SACS Policy on Distance Learning:

  • Distance Learning Program Evaluations:

October 26, 2010

IUPUI 2010: Assessing Distance Learning

Filed under: Conferences,Presentations — Donald Staub @ 10:52 am


Click on image to download ppt

On October 26th, I’ll be presenting on the assessment of distance learning at the 2010 IUPUI Assessment Institute .  This is something that I’ve been working on  (and presenting on) for over a year now (and I’m very grateful to the planning committee at this esteemed conference for allowing me to present “the latest”).

Because this is a work-in-progress, each time I present, there are differences – to the data, and to the way that I’m interpreting the results (both qualitatively and quantitatively).  While I may be exploring this issue from a community college issue, I believe that this presentation has relevance to all higher education institutions: How do we know that what we’re teaching is actually being learned?

This started out as reaction of sorts to the question we were having to answer for our accrediting body (SACS): What are you doing to ensure quality control of your distance learning program?  This is still a major portion of this presentation.  But as I dig deeper into this issue,  I am spending more time at the course and program level and am trying to determine what is going on there.  And, if I may say so, it’s a darn good thing that SACS is pushing us to look more closely at this issue because as I look more closely at it at our (relatively small) school, I see wide variation in how instructors approach assessment in, and of, their DL courses.

If you would like to download a copy of the powerpoint, click on the image at the top of this posting.

Other relevant items  discussed during the session – that you may be interested in looking at – can be found below.

Relevant documents referred to in this presentation:

  • The Quality Assessment Plan (QAP) for evaluating and certifying distance learning courses before they go “live”
  • SACS Policy on Distance Learning:

  • Distance Learning Program Evaluations:

October 23, 2010

IUPUI Assessment Institute – 2010

Filed under: Conferences,Notes from the Project Director - Don Staub — Donald Staub @ 10:56 pm

On October 24th – 26th, I’ll be attending (and presenting at) the 2010 IUPUI Assessment Institute – “…the nation´s oldest and largest event focused exclusively on Outcomes Assessment in Higher Education.”  I’ll be reporting here on my interactions with the institute – my comments, questions, and observations.  I hope you’ll follow along.

The first thing I’ll be reporting on will be the pre-conference workshop:  Implementing Student Electronic Portfolios for Assessment

Followed by notes and commentary from these breakout sessions:

  • Panel Discussion (Linda Suskie – moderator): “Rethinking Assessment’s Purposes”
  • Breakout: Non-Cognitive Abilities and the First-Year Student: The Role of Assessment and Intervention (Gore)
  • Breakout: Online & Hybrid Courses: From the Students’ Perspective (Cook & Boldt)
  • Breakout: Assessing Online Courses and Online Evaluation Systems (Fatia & McGovern)
  • Breakout: Three Promising Alternatives for Authentic Assessment of SLOs (Banta, et. al)
  • Breakout: Assessing General Education: Mission Possible (Rose Carr & Stoudermire)

* * *


October 12, 2010

Assessing DL: Are they learning what we’re teaching

Filed under: Conferences,Presentations,T3 Presentations — Donald Staub @ 1:04 am


click on image to download ppt


This was a presentation made at the 2010 conference of the North Carolina Association of Community College Instructional Administrators (NCACCIA) in Asheville.  Comments and feedback on this presentation are greatly appreciated!

Relevant documents referred to in this presentation:

  • The Quality Assessment Plan (QAP) for evaluating and certifying distance learning courses before they go “live”
  • SACS Policy on Distance Learning:

  • Distance Learning Program Evaluations:

September 27, 2010

Retaining Students in Online Education

Filed under: Conferences,Faculty Professional Development,Retention Issues — Donald Staub @ 6:46 am

Mary Walton (Division Director of Business Technologies), Patrick Keough (Director of Distance Learning) and myself are in Atlanta from Monday to Wednesday of this week, attending Academic Impressions’ workshop: Retaining Students in Online Education.” We are here to spend the next couple of days learning about and planning “…methods to track students, document progress, and put specific practices in place to ensure success,” (from the brochure).

We will be posting our learnings and impressions throughout the workshop.  As a quick overview, here’s what’s on the agenda:

  1. Rethinking Retention: “…with accountability and graduation rates becoming major issues, it is even more important to address retention in online education.”
  2. Identifying Needs: There are usually specific reasons why [online]  students enroll; being able to identify such reasons and respond appropriately can make or break a program.
  3. Developing Dashboards for Data Management: “How can you monitor progress and performance within a student’s lifecycle at your institution?”
  4. Measuring Retention Success: “Identify the significant characteristics of your student population and clarify retention goals at each step in the process from application to the end of the first term.”
  5. Critical Support Services: “…Institutions are challenged to integrate a wide range of student services to promote academic achievement and retention”
  6. Early Engagement Through Online First-Year Experiences: “… methods to engage and connect online students from the first point of contact.”
  7. The Role of Faculty and Academic Advisors in online Student Retention
  8. Delivering Support Services Online

Mark Parker and Kristen Betts led the first day’s sessions on:

  1. Rethinking Retention,
  2. Identifying Needs, and
  3. Dashboards (for data display).

My take-aways from these first three sessions:

  • First and foremost, when it comes to retention in DL, we may not be perfect, but we are doing a lot of good things.  We are providing boatloads of professional development to our faculty (thanks Title III), we are providing more and more services to our students in a cost-effective manner, we are assessing what we are doing, and we are providing training to our students to be better online learners, and we are coming to conferences such as this to gather information.
  • For me, one of the more interesting topics of discussion on the day was around “managing expectations of our students.”  The key point being – we can’t do it all, all the time.  Therefore, we need to ensure that our students understand what to expect…when they’ll get a response.  As one of our colleagues put it: “Is the service reliable…’Tell me what’s available and when it’s available.’”
  • One way to think about providing services to more students would be to collaborate with other colleges.  One suggestion was to form a consortium (as they have done in Mass.) to provide online tutoring.  Pooling of resources is a good thing.
  • How about this idea that was described by a colleague here.  At their school, they use Emoticons that students send to the help-desk. An automated email is generated and sent to students that says, “do you want me to intervene?” (this engages the student, and doesn’t require the time and effort of staff, until necessary).
  • I thought this was a good idea that one school has implemented: For all first-year courses that are taught online, phase in the use of technology. Don’t present all the bells and whistles from the outset.  Let them become comfortable with the technology in phases.
  • And, in the discussion on Dashboards,  the notion that they are not just for the leadership is obvious, but often overlooked.  As Kristen Betts pointed out: “optimize your dashboards for your division directors and program chairs”… what she referred to as “micro dashboards.”

4. Measuring Retention Success

This data-rich session was facilitated by Bill Bloemer – Research Associate at the Center for Online Learning Research and Services at the University of Illinois, Springfield (UIS)  [The director of COLRS, Ray Schroeder has a blog about online learning]. Some of the interesting discussion points that came out of this session include:

  • Students at UIS are hoarding courses…then they drop to fit their needs.  “Excessive Churn” from hoarding at the beginning of the semester is wreaking havoc with gathering true enrollment data.  There is also the issue of students not getting what they want because someone else has “gamed” the system and has grabbed a section that a student may truly need.
  • Look at withdrawals by registration date.  Is LIFO true? – one school at the conference claims that their look at their data says it isn’t. Instead, they that those students arrive focused and intent on completing a course.
  • Is there a connection between age and withdrawals?  Data that Bill showed at UIS suggests that there is.
  • Is it possible, utilizing Academic Analytics (click for Bill’s recommended reading) to predict who will get an F/W in an online course? Bill led a lengthy discussion on a binary logistical regression model he had been using to look at those students who had earned an F.   He worked backwards from this population to identify a common set of prediction variables.  What he found was that, at best, he could predict that slightly over 12% of the students in a course that will W/Fail.  Some of the “best” indicators to get him to this level of success are:
  1. the individual courses (those that have traditionally high rates of W/F;  Focus on the outliers…track only the problem courses)
  2. the student’s prior GPA
  3. prior hours resulting in an F/W (“Failure breeds failure.”  If you fail once, chances are, you’ll do it again.)
  4. student’s major
  • From our Australian colleagues (UNE-Au), Rhonda and Greg: “We take the student perspective [vis a vis] course enrollment vs. student goal success.  You may lose them in the short term, but let’s focus on keeping them for the long term.”  The interventions and practices they have designed work to this end.
  • Another insightful question worth posing (and whose answer is well worth promoting in order to get the attention of administration): What is the cost of increasing retention by 1%?

5.  Critical Support Services

  • Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • The change has taken place from a campus-centered to a consumer-centered model where control is shared with the student.
  • Critical Services – what are the “stressors” for your population?  What’s their skill set?  How do you support them?  Use this to identify and develop your “critical services.”
  • One (successful) way that was suggested to increase Engagement: the weekly online chat – not required, but it’s used to talk about issues that are on the minds of the students in the program.  Kathleen pointed out that while online is supposed to equal asynchronous, giving equity to all students, she still has very high rates of participation in this synchronous chat.
  • Here are some poignant thoughts on Expectations:
  1. Don’t tell students  you will do things that you can’t
  2. You have to tell students what to expect from tutoring
  3. Every interaction is a “trust building” opportunity

Kathleen also talked about a successful Virtual Learning Community w/in BB…let the students use it themselves as a place to meet and discuss.  This has been a good way to build engagement among her students.

6. Early Engagement Through Online First-Year Experiences: “… methods to engage and connect online students from the first point of contact.”

  • Kristen Betts, Associate Clinical Professor, School of Education’s Higher Education Program, Drexel University
  • The average percentage of online of a student’s courseload is predicted to be 60% by 2020
  • She also suggested that we straight-out ask our students (in the student survey): Are you thinking about transferring/leaving?
  • She also argued that orientation is a process, not an event.  Their orientation is 75 minutes total…each person talks, then leaves but it continues throughout the year via their FYE.

Their FYE is event-focused…Key events:

  • Tea/wine & cheese party (they do this with a virtual component)
  • Invited speakers
  • Alumni speakers (work with John Smith/Wanda; offer courses online to alumni)

7. The Role of Faculty and Staff in Online Student Retention

  • Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • “An assessment of student engagement must encompass the policies and practices that institutions use to induce students to take part in these activities.”
  • Not everyone (students) need to be socially connected.
  • Faculty engagement is key for student engagement….Key Consideration for faculty: “Satisfaction with Transparency”  need to know where senior management is going…Faculty satisfaction with policies
  • Kathleen suggested that during Week 4 of course, have students provide a Formative Evaluation (e.g. What have you learned so far? What would you still like to learn?)
  • Does your school have an Online Readiness Assessment? What does ?  Or, How reliable is the assessment?
  • Key indicators for student engagement: how frequently they log in, how often they read something before posting.
  • “How can we assess how often a student is engaging in the online material?”

8. Delivering Support Services Online

  • Kathleen Polley, Director, Online RN-BS Program, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Admissions: do we really need everything we are asking for?
  • Have technology scaffolding throughout the semester in online courses [should we create technology CLLOs for each online course?]
  • U of New England – Australia: Check their library website for learning skills training (online).
  • Students look at the way you deliver your services and equate that with the way that you deliver instruction (i.e. is it quality?)

9. Benchmarking

  • Bill Bloemer, Research Associate & Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois Springfield
  • Data point:  Terms since last registered.
  • Does your degree-audit system talk with your data warehouse?
  • SP-FA retention vs. FA-SP retention
  • What are the completion/graduation rates of those who are online-heavy in course loads?
  • “Term-earned hours” is a better predictor than “attempted hours.”
  • Course evaluation question: What is your expected grade?
  • On-ground courses using online evaluations increased overall return rate.
  • Bb has anonymous evaluation feature
  • Use online evaluation results as a component of “evaluate instructional modalities” in program review
  • Are there online-specific questions on CCSSE?


September 10, 2010

Assessing Distance Learning: Are they learning what we think they are?

Filed under: Conferences,Presentations — Donald Staub @ 8:19 am

Click on image to download ppt

This presentation is being made at the first Learning Outcomes Institute of The North Carolina Community College Learning Outcome Assessment Group . The NCCCLOAG is dedicated to promoting the meaningful assessment of student learning at North Carolina Community College institutions and facilitating the exchange of best practices among colleagues.  We don’t have a website yet, so no hotlinks…sorry (stay tuned!).

The goals of the organization include the following:

  • To develop a web presence;
  • To facilitate the development of a common “learning outcome assessment” vocabulary;
  • To seek out and support our NCCCS colleagues who are charged with the assessment of learning outcomes;
  • To support presentations at professional conferences;
  • To create and present a Learning Outcomes Institute; and
  • To develop a set of best practices in learning outcome assessment.

Relevant documents referred to in this presentation:

  • The Quality Assessment Plan (QAP) for evaluating and certifying distance learning courses before they go “live”
  • SACS Policy on Distance Learning:

click on image to download document

  • Distance Learning Program Evaluations:

click on image to download evaluation

April 11, 2010

Exploring the Assessment of Distance Learning – April 11, 2010

Click on image to download ppt

On April 11th, I made a presentation on assessing Distance Learning at Carteret CC. The framework for the presentation is the new set of guidelines that SACS has on their website for assessing DL.

Artifacts mentioned in the presentation:

In my presentation, I referred to a number of artifacts – but I only showed snapshots of them. Here are some of them, more easily accessed:

  • SACS-COC document: Distance Education and the Principles of Accreditation

  • CCC-Distance Learning blog – which includes information on all of the bootcamps for training faculty.
  • The Quality Assessment Plan (QAP) for evaluating and certifying distance learning courses before they go “live”
  • A similar instrument – for assessing online courses – developed at Cal State Chico.

  • Rubrics used for discussion boards in DL courses. Here are two examples: RCP 114 (Respiratory Therapy) and ART 111.

April 8, 2010

Title III Director’s Meeting Presentation

Here is the powerpoint presentation that Don Staub made at the 2010 Title III Directors’ meeting in Washington DC.

click on image to download ppt

By clicking on the image, you can download the powerpoint.  Below, is a list of items that have been developed during the course of the grant’s implementation.  All of these are for your taking.  Your comments and feedback on the presentation and/or the materials will be greatly appreciated.  Feel free to email me at:

click on image to download

  • Data points for data warehouse

click image to download

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