1st Year Experience

College: Rio Hondo College
Contact Name: Robert Holcomb, Ph.D.
Email: rholcomb@riohondo.edu
Phone Number: (562) 463-3123

What issue or concern is the intervention designed to address?
It was designed to address the issue of entering students putting off taking their math courses and then struggling to complete them and not being informed about campus resources.

What were the desired outcomes you expected from this intervention?
The desired outcome is to increase the number of entering students that begin their math sequence immediately and those who utilize campus resources offered through the counseling department.

What data was collected to identify the issue or concern on your campus?
We looked at enrollment patterns in math as well as student contact numbers in counseling.

Summarize the research used to determine that this intervention should have been piloted:
Describe the Intervention:

The First-Year Experience (FYE) Program
This academic year (2010/11), two counseling classes are linked to two math courses, constituting two cohorts.  More than 70 students are currently enrolled in the program.  Instructors meet regularly to discuss student progress, interdisciplinary assignments, and other aspects of enhanced learning and student success.

In addition, the program coordinator hosts monthly events that promote peer networking, community service, academic enrichment, and personal growth.

(See attachments for photos and event information.)

What if any data have you collected to measure the effectiveness of the intervention?
At this point we have only raw data.  We’ve recorded the course registration numbers of the four sections and the student identification numbers of all FYE students enrolled in the program as well as those who have attended monthly cohort events.  At the end of this semester, we will submit all the raw data to the IR Department.

We will observe the passing rates of all FYE students in comparison the general student population.  We will also measure passing rates for students who attended monthly cohort events as opposed to those who did not.  We will disaggregate according various other features as well.

Summary of findings based on data:
They will be available by early spring 2011.

Next steps:
How will you scale your program up to include a larger population?
We will increase the number of cohorts each year until reaching a target of 10 cohorts, which would include approximately 350-400 students.  This will be according to what the data dictates.

How can this program be sustained if outside funding is no longer available?
There is an opportunity to sustain the First-Year Experience program through a recent Title V grant the college has received, which will provide 3.2 million dollars over 5 years.  All three student success programs that were implemented (piloted) through the Basic Skills Initiative have been written into the grant.  Beyond that, this program has the potential to become institutionalized, according to the data and campus-wide support.

What have you learned about the effectiveness of this program?

  • It is important to schedule FYE events at convenient times for students.
  • Instructors are eager to work together but it requires the precarious coordination of schedules.
  • Students build important peer bonds through cohort learning
  • Students enjoy getting together for extracurricular events that foster personal growth.
  • Students often wait to ask for assistance and the coordinating office must proactively keep tabs on students throughout each semester.
  • Math and Counseling classes can complement each other nicely.
  • Food gets people to show up.

What improvements can you think of to strengthen the program?

  • provide a better presence from the coordinating office
  • maintain nominal stipends for participating faculty each semester
  • increase visibility
  • robust program assessment/evaluation
  • continue to expand accordingly
  • develop a faculty handbook