LBWCC national finalist for student success award
March 07, 2018
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBWCC) is named by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) as a finalist in the student success category of the 2018 Awards of Excellence, which recognize exceptional work among the nation’s two-year colleges.
LBWCC is the only college in Alabama named as a finalist in any of the six categories of recognition, said President Herb Riedel.
“We were encouraged at the state level to submit an entry for student success due to a number of measures implemented during the last few years that resulted in higher retention and graduation rates.”
Since implementing a new strategic plan geared toward student success, LBWCC improved both retention and graduation rates by 12 percent since 2011.
“We developed several priorities in the strategic plan, including redesigning developmental education, distance education enhancements, awareness campaigns, data-informed decision making, enhanced support for students, and a creating a culture of innovation,” he said.
In developmental education, LBWCC addressed the success rate of math students by creating an Emporium model that enhances student learning and equips students with the foundational skills needed for future courses, he said.
“This model allows students to work hands-on problems in class with the assistance of faculty and lab facilitators. Since it is a competency-based approach, they progress at their own pace and can test out of modules when they have successfully mastered the material.”
Since the Math Emporium was implemented, pass rates rose to 51 percent, more than doubling the percentage of successful completers, he added. It also impacted the first college-level math course success rate, which improved by 40 percent.
LBWCC also enhanced distance education by creating a policies and procedures manual and advisory committee, and providing extensive training for faculty involved in online courses. Those faculty members offer virtual and traditional office hours for students needing assistance.
“These enhancements led to a 10 percent increase in pass rates for online courses since 2011, and even surpassed pass rates for traditional courses in 2016,” said Riedel.
A student awareness campaign was implemented beginning 2015 by displaying yard signs around campus with six tips to encourage students to practice smart academic behaviors. The Phi Theta Kappa chapter hosts an annual “commit to complete” pledge campaign to enhance awareness of the benefits of completing a college credential.
In addition, LBWCC bolstered efforts to use data more effectively to drive student success planning. An annual report on nine achievement goals is reported to faculty and staff, and the College recently completed a fifth year of benchmarking through the National Community College Benchmark Project.
Supporting student success also led to enhanced proactive academic coaching and counseling through Student Support Services, a federally-funded Trio Program, and hiring a director of student success and two success coaches. The College also redesigned its first-year orientation course, streamlining advising procedures to increase student awareness, accountability, and success.
“We believe strongly in allowing our faculty and staff to be innovative, and all administrators are asked to create an annual goal for their area that helps create an environment of innovation and organizational agility,” he said.
LBWCC implemented a recognition award for employees involved in an innovative project they successfully designed and implemented which results in a positive impact for the College.
“We are proud of all the ways our faculty and staff have worked together to provide students opportunities to be more successful. Their creativity, innovation, and teamwork have led to substantial improvements for students. New initiatives are providing students necessary foundations of learning and preparing them to go further in their education or careers,” Riedel said.
Winners in the Awards of Excellence categories of advancing diversity, CEO/board relationship, community college safety and planning, faculty innovation, outstanding college/corporate partnership, and student success will be announced at the annual AACC conference staring in late April.