Volunteer State Community College’s (VSCC) Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is designed to empower students to transition smoothly to college life, succeed academically, and become engaged members of the community and workforce. Focusing on the development and implementation of a First Year Experience (FYE) program, VSCC’s QEP seeks to advance the college’s mission and strategic goals of student success through increased persistence and retention rates for first time freshman.
VSCC utilized its ongoing and comprehensive planning and evaluation process, as well as campus-wide input through a call for proposals, to narrow its focus to develop a FYE program. A thorough review of the current literature and FYE best practices revealed that intentional opportunities for connection and belonging are key indicators for increased retention and persistence. This research led to the development of the three key components of VSCC’s FYE program: 1) smaller student-focused orientation sessions with purposeful opportunities for students to engage with one another and the campus community as a whole, 2) new student convocation intended to promote a sense of belonging and familiarize students with the campus, as well as opportunities for connection through clubs and organizations, and 3) two one-credit courses designed to prepare students for success both in and out of the classroom through a focus on academic success and career readiness strategies. Through these components, VSCC’s QEP will promote a sense of belonging, foster a mindset of self-awareness and well-being, and develop a desire for life-long learning.
Broad-based support for the program has been fostered through focus groups and the composition of the development and implementation committees. Through purposeful design, these committee members were selected from various divisions and departments to provide a diverse representation in order to develop and implement a QEP that will impact the college as a whole and provide the support needed for a more intentional focus on student success.
VSCC’s QEP intends to look at student success through the development of a sense of belonging and connection, opportunities for proactive advising, fostering community through involvement in and exposure to campus culture, and specific learning outcomes for academic success and career readiness strategies in the two one-credit success courses. To assess the achievement of student-learning outcomes and the overall student success goal, specific measures and means to collect data for the identified measures are being developed. As the QEP pieces are piloted for full implementation, the assessment strategy will focus on gathering data and conducting analysis to guide the implementation process. VSCC’s QEP aims to measure the intended increase in student retention and persistence through the use of pre- and post-surveys, as well as comparative analysis.
In support of VSCC’s QEP, the college will develop a budget to ensure institutional capability for the sustainability of the QEP. The college is prepared to dedicate resources towards personnel, faculty and staff development, marketing, assessment, and operating expenses. This commitment to student success is at the heart of VSCC’s strategic goals and will help push forward the successful implementation the FYE program.