September 2008, Volume 9, Number 9
Member Spotlight: Big Sandy Community Technical College
The Genesis Project
A New Beginning Through Support for Learners
Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) believes emphatically in student learning as the core of who we are and what we do. From the communities served by BSCTC to the board of directors, from the faculty, staff, and administration to the students, the consensus over the past three years became one of providing the means through which students can be acclimated to the college environment and supported to achieve identified goals. Based on this consensus, an eight-year endeavor, the Genesis Project, identifies “Improving Student Engagement and Success Through Support for Learners” as a targeted goal for BSCTC.
Through the three facets of the Genesis Project – Transition, Advising, and First-Year Experience (FYE) – our purpose is to focus on increasing the level of student engagement and involving the entire college community in achieving this end. Specific objectives for accomplishing this goal include (1) the provision of a transitional (developmental) program that leads to successful completion of a student’s educational goal; (2) the development and implementation of improved advising services that increase a student’s ability to identify, select, and execute an academic plan; and (3) the implementation of a first-year experience program that engages students and establishes connections to learner support services throughout their college career. Achieving these objectives supports our shift from a teaching-centered paradigm to one that is learning centered. It also builds on services for students and the coming together of academic and student affairs as a united entity in addressing student needs.
Strategies central to the accomplishments of our objectives include numerous actions reaching students even before they become a part of BSCTC. Partnerships with area high schools will strive to ease the transition to college through successful placement in entry-level collegiate courses rather than placement into the series of developmental coursework. Bringing high school and college faculty together to align curriculum, create mentoring relationships, and provide workshops for high school teachers will ultimately support increased success rates for the students. Providing a wider range of opportunities for student success when developmental work is necessary will also be a part of this project.
The creation of a Center for Student Engagement will support improved advising services and the effective use of these services by students. Developing new policies and procedures for working with students through their academic planning and career exploration will lead to a greater number of students making appropriate and timely decisions. This will also provide greater opportunity for students who are challenged academically to receive the assistance they need to be successful.
The FYE Program will create increased awareness of the multiple ways students can use college resources to their advantage, and will encourage them to do so.
Built into our project are measures of assessment for each initiative as well as for the overall project. As a part of our ongoing annual planning process, an oversight committee will monitor the progress, provide analysis of data and other assessment information, and oversee necessary revision as we move from one year to the next.
To date, the Genesis Project has resulted in the establishment of a Center for Student Engagement and a time line for expansion throughout all college campuses. A director of the FYE program has been appointed to further develop the program, and the college is taking the Introduction to College course to area high schools. A high school math initiative has been initiated to align the secondary math curriculum and the college curriculum, with the goal of increasing the number of students testing into college-level math.
These initiatives follow the direction established by BSCTC as an institution dedicated to addressing the needs of the surrounding community and being responsive to student needs. They build on the positive attributes of our faculty and staff and provide a mechanism by which we can continue to demonstrate that student learning is at the center of what we do.
For more information about Big Sandy Community and Technical College and the Genesis Project, go to www.bigsandy.kctcs.edu.
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