Big Stone Gap, VA –The efforts of Mountain Empire Community College to improve student success were recently acknowledged by the Virginia Community College System’s Excellence in Education Awards program.
MECC placed second in the Improving Student Success – Instructional category for the entry, “Rethinking SDV 100 – A Jump-Start to Student Success.” The EIE awards recognize the enhancement of student success through academic engagement, technology, and innovation. A total of 26 community college projects were submitted for consideration this year – the most entries in six years. Twelve finalists, including MECC, were selected to compete in the EIE awards program, held during the recent New Horizons Conference in Roanoke, VA. The event was highlighted by the special appearance of Second Lady and Northern Virginia Community College instructor Dr. Jill Biden.
“Rethinking SDV 100” was developed based on input from MECC’s student leader organization, the MECC Diplomats. For several years, VCCS colleges have required students to complete a one-credit college success course that provides information on choosing a degree program, applying for financial aid, study skills, and other college-related information. The course is normally held for one hour a week, over a 16-week period. Diplomats noted that while the class was helpful, students would benefit more if they could receive the information earlier in the semester.
Based on student input, a team of MECC staff and administrators redesigned SDV 100 into a three-day format to be held prior to the beginning of the spring 2015 semester. New students who enrolled for the spring 2015 and students who had not previously completed SDV 100 were required to attend. Lunch was provided and students were able to meet with their degree program advisor or instructor during the event.
The results of the new format were extraordinary. MECC jumped from a 75% success rate in the SDV 100 course to a 100% success rate, with every student earning an A in the course. In a survey following their course completion, 99% of students indicated they would recommend the three-day format to another MECC student. In addition, 82% of students felt they made a connection with a faculty or staff member.
“Student success is our top priority at MECC. We value open communication between our faculty, staff, and students. Generating students' input on improvements we make to our processes has proven an effective way to achieve positive results. The SDV redesign is just one example of this,” said Vickie Ratliff, Vice President of Academic and Student Services.
“As someone who completed SDV 100 a year ago as a student, and participated (as a student leader) in the new version, I can honestly say that the information is much more useful when condensed into a three-day course and take before the semester begins,” added Shaneace Martin, a 2015 MECC Student Diplomat.
Dr. Abigail Stonerock, director of faculty development for Virginia’s Community Colleges, says faculty members are breaking down barriers to educational achievement every day using ideas and innovations.
“They are elevating our educational instincts, providing new and innovative ways of approaching college challenges, and they are advancing knowledge in new and exciting ways. That needs to be recognized and celebrated.”
Stonerock adds the EIE awards should also serve to reinforce the notion that Virginia’s Community Colleges are committed to student success.
“It is an opportunity to show Virginia’s educational and business leaders how we are transforming the lives and livelihoods of Virginians, and moving the Commonwealth forward.”
The entire list of this year’s nominees can be found on the New Horizons website.
Photo (Left to Right): Brandi Barnette, MECC College Success Coach; Dale Lee, Student Leadership Development and Disability Services Counselor; Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System; Jessica Ketron, Student Support Services Program Counselor; Vickie Ratliff, Vice President of Academic and Student Services.