This is the third in a series of articles to recognize the continuous improvement efforts of MCC’s faculty and staff.
An all-too-common student experience for an English Composition class is for the student to create written documents, submit them for a grade and continue the cycle until the end of the semester. Oftentimes they do not understand or even read the instructors’ comments on their writing.
Rachel Kellum has changed this for those students in her Comp classes. Rachel is now doing one-on-one grading conferences with her composition students. This assists them to get more actively involved in the evaluation of their papers. Rachel reads the papers aloud with the student and provides verbal comments and suggestions. The student is allowed to take notes and then they can discuss any issues and concerns as well as ways to improve. According to Rachel, “I feel a much stronger connection to my students. It does not take any longer to grade their papers this way than it did while writing their critique. The student can also see the effect of their writing. Many times I will laugh or even cry if it is really moving.” Many of her students have expressed their gratitude for this system and they feel it helps them to better comprehend their strengths as writers. According to Kim Krier, current English Comp I student, “I love it! I think it’s great. It allows me to talk to her one-on-one and lets me get a feel for what I’m doing right and wrong. She puts a lot into it and I think she’s great. She’s amazing!”
Ms. Kellum is also passionate about art and is working to improve the college's art department. As part of this effort, she has purchased the screen recording software Camtasia, which will allow instructors to create demonstration videos of art techniques. This technology will be used extensively in an online drawing course this summer.
Rachel has also been heavily involved in the Center for Arts and Community Enrichment (CACE). As chair of the Visual Arts Committee, which runs the gallery at 300 Main Street, Rachel is instrumental in bringing guest artist exhibitions to the gallery. She also hosts an open mic poetry reading each semester and arranges for guest poets to come to Fort Morgan to share their works. These visits are usually supplemented by writing workshops offered by the visiting poets. When she is not bringing guest artists and poets to our community, she is a guest poet herself in other Colorado communities. Rachel is making Fort Morgan and MCC a hot spot for art and poetry and is a CHAMPION FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT!
AQIP member institutions sustain at least three active continuous improvement projects at any given time. Here is the status of MCC’s Action projects.
Action Project #27: Improving Part Time Faculty Training and Support
- Goal: According to project director, Betty McKie, “The goal of this project was to further develop communication and support systems for part-time instructors. We want to make sure that the instructors recognize the critical role they play in the institution, and we want to make sure that they support we provide meets their needs.”
- What was accomplished in 2012-13?
- Survey was designed and distributed to part time faculty at the main campus.
- Analysis of survey results led to changes in the part time instructor orientation process, beginning with Fall, 2013.
- MCC will follow up by expanding the survey to include part time faculty at the centers. As McKie puts it, “The geographical area we cover dictates the recognition that instructors in different areas may need different types of support.”
- McKie also notes that “The creation of a menu of services that we will be able to deliver across the service area in a variety of different ways (in person, electronically, etc.) would be a next logical step in our system of support.”
- Action project annual report submitted in September, 2013
- AQIP peer reviewers had high praise for the project and its outcome:
- “While the project has been completed, the results of changes the College has and will be making to their New Part-Time Faculty orientation will be felt for years to come.”
- “The College’s high-touch mentoring strategy of personally contacting part-time instructors will be highly appreciated and will continue to generate the school’s “TEAM” synergy. The institution is to be congratulated for instituting this best-practice. “
- “The college has been all-inclusive in its planning and should take time to celebrate this wonderful success.”
- Status: completed.
Action Project #34: Aligning Data Resources with Operational Processes
- Goal: The immediate goal is to take an inventory of data needs relative to existing operational processes. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve decision making at all levels throughout the college.
- What was accomplished in 2012-13?
- 10/21/2012 – Survey created.
- 1/8/2013 – Surveys launched and staff emailed.
- 2/8/2013 – Surveys closed and analysis began.
- Analysis revealed the need to provide center staff training and access to existing business intelligence tools. Because the Colorado Community College System has gone through a recent overhaul of this system, this activity cannot take place until Spring 2014. The next steps are to determine what access is permitted for each employee (based on position duties) and requesting that access. Once access for each employee with a need has been established, training and ongoing support will be provided by the Director of Institutional of Effectiveness.
- The main result of this project has been the ability to pinpoint perceived gaps between data resources and operational decision making processes.
- Action Project annual report submitted in September, 2013
- AQIP peer reviewers saw this project as a positive step in the institution’s desire to become a more data-driven institution: “Identification of barriers to closing the loop on data-driven decision-making will likely assist the college in its quality improvement journey and ability to measure effectiveness of the institution. The college may want to explore training in these areas. It is noteworthy that survey results did indicate a gap in training on existing resources at the satellite centers, which the college promptly addressed. This indicates leadership support and respecting people, both key principles of high performance organizations.”
Action Project #35: Developing an Instrument to Measure Quality Culture at MCC
- Goal: To develop a rubric to measure participation in Quality Improvement at MCC.
- What was accomplished in 2012-13?
- According to project director Derek Grubb (Director of Insitutional Effectiveness), “With a committee of campus leaders, a rubric was developed to measure employee efforts in Continuous Improvement. Three categories were identified: Observer, Participator, and Leader. The committee established examples of activities that would fit into each of these categories. The survey was distributed to all permanent employees to complete as a self-evaluation wherein employees would review the rubric and examples and indicate their level of involvement during the previous year. To encourage honest responses, the survey was conducted anonymously with supervisors encouraging and reminding employees to complete the survey.”
- Grubb reports that “An interesting unexpected outcome was the development of a new internal reporting process for small continuous improvement projects. While a significant amount of effort is often placed on institutional action projects, discussions during this project revealed the need to establish a process for employees to report smaller and more local continuous improvement efforts (i.e. within a course or department). The committee for this project therefore developed a simplified one-page Action Project report form to record these efforts. The AQIP Writing Committee will review these reports regularly throughout the year. These reports are already making an impact by enabling the institution to recognize employee efforts through internal newsletters and awards.”
- Action Project annual report submitted, September 2013.
- Review by AQIP received October, 2013 [click here to view full report].
- Peer reviewer remarks:
“It is a notable outcome that internal reporting processes at the institution have been impacted by the Action Project. The small, unexpected outcomes sometimes have a strong impact giving cause to celebrate. Focus on opportunities to follow through with next steps using the survey results in a meaningful way for the College’s quality culture journey.”
With all three of its 2012-13 projects completed, MCC is moving on to new projects. These projects are currently in formulation and will be announced at a later time.
All current and past projects can be viewed on the MCC website. (From the homepage, select the “About” menu, then “Accreditation/AQIP”, then “Action Projects” or click here.)