In October 2016, Craven Community College (Craven CC) received a $1.74 million, five-year federal Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Title III grant was utilized to establish the college’s Title III Connect 2 Success program. The program’s focus is to improve the success rates for developmental and first-year English and math courses.
Data from the grant application showed that 45% of entering students required remediation in basic math and English (2013-14). Of those students, 31% successfully completed the developmental courses. This evidence supported Craven CC’s need for financial resources required to implement support and intervention programs. For example, the Title III Connect 2 Success program has a goal of increasing first-time pass rate of English courses from 67.5% to 71.5% by 2020.
A reason why many students place into developmental courses may be due the high percentage of non-traditional enrolled at Craven CC. These adult learners, ages 20-39 years old, are 65% of the college’s population. The returning students experienced a gap and may also have other factors such as work and family that can make attaining a college degree more challenging for them versus traditional college students entering college directly after high school.
Title III Connect 2 Success provides support services to over 400 students. Services include advising, tutoring, and study groups; workshops about topics such as time managements, de-stressing and academic planning; and teaches students success strategies such as study skills, note taking and goalsetting.
Marti Meyers, Title III director at Craven CC, said that the program is focused on student retention and completion. “We want the college to be an open door, but not a revolving door,” said Meyers. She said that the goals of the Title III Connect 2 Success program align with North Carolina Community College System performance measures of first-year progression, retention and successful completion of gateway (first-year) English and math courses.
In addition to the advising and support programs for students, Title III Connect 2 Success is providing professional development opportunities for advisors, faculty, tutors and other staff that support students. Connect 2 Success kicked-off the academic year with a workshop. More than 60 were in attendance at the workshop led by Dr. Hunter Boylan and Dr. Barbara Bonham from the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University.
Boylan and Bonham focused on three areas: active learning, inclusive learning environment, and integrating courses with support services. They presented the theory and strategies that can be used to increase outcomes and success for adult learners.
Boylan said that community colleges have emphasized open access, but now need to focus on completion. However, the colleges do not have the resources and Title III grant funding, or other outside financial resources, is necessary to achieve completion goals.
“No longer is it sufficient to instruct students how to solve a math problem,” said Boylan. He said we must help students with challenges that may affect their ability to succeed. “Some students lack transportation, are homeless, are food insecure,” said Boylan.
“The workshop reminded us as teachers that life happens outside of the classroom,” said Eddie Sabat, Craven CC math instructor.
Deborah Kania is the former director of communications and is currently the Small Business Center director at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.