Executive Summary First-Year Experience Initiative (original document is enclosed below as a PDF)
The purpose of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for Athens Technical College is to improve the first-year experience of students by providing a foundation for academic and career success. Members of the College community have worked for many months to develop a First-Semester Seminar (FSSE) course and Student Success Professional Development program to support and sustain the College’s mission and number one strategic goal of student success. Comprehensive research on how to improve student engagement, persistence, and program completion at Athens Technical College led to the QEP topic selection of the first-year experience.
The FSSE course is designed to introduce new students to the academic skills they will need to attain their educational and career goals. The course will also introduce students to the resources available to them as they work toward those goals. Through the use of academic strategies and self-discovery, students will acquire knowledge and skills to help them succeed at Athens Technical College and in life. Students new to the college will take the FSSE course during their first semester of enrollment. The course will be a three-credit-hour hybrid course (a blend of on-grounds and online instruction).
Student learning outcomes for the FSSE course include:
- Students will demonstrate appropriate communication skills.
- Students will be able to apply time management strategies.
- Students will be able to identify effective study strategies.
- Students will be able to describe various student resources at Athens Technical College that contribute to the educational experience.
- Students will create an education and career plan with defined short-term and long-term goals.
- Students will develop a College Success Portfolio.
We spent more than two years discussing our future and what we wanted our college to look like in 2015. The overriding theme to emerge was student success. Our faculty and staff wanted to know what we could do better that would help students realize their educational goals. Dr. Flora Tydings President Athens Technical College
The Student Success Professional Development program will consist of two components. The first component, which will be mandatory for faculty and staff selected to teach the FSSE course, will focus on the pedagogical approaches and student exercises selected specifically for the FSSE course. The second component will consist of a Student Success Certificate program, which will be mandatory for all faculty and staff. This certificate program will focus on developing participants’ knowledge about barriers to success, the College’s diverse student population, and effective methods to engage students. Faculty members will complete additional training on active and collaborative learning and other effective pedagogical strategies that engage students in their classwork and encourage students to establish connections with their instructors and their fellow students.
The professional development program outcomes will include:
- Faculty will describe active learning strategies that engage students in the learning process.
- Faculty will integrate active learning strategies in the instruction process.
- Employees will describe their roles in the student success initiative.
- Staff will integrate effective student success strategies in performing their jobs.
The QEP Implementation Team will utilize quantitative and qualitative research methods to evaluate the FSSE course and the Student Success Professional Development program. Annual reports will provide summaries of what is working well, what has been accomplished, and what areas need to be adjusted to improve results. The QEP Implementation Team will conduct a summative evaluation of the QEP’s overall impact on students’ first-year experiences as part of the fifth-year report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.