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About QEP

Blue Ridge Community College’s proposed Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Connect to Succeed: Academic Success through Intense Engagement, emerged from institutional data through the review of institutional data the College became aware of a concerning statistic regarding the large numbers of students who were not successfully completing certain freshman level gateway courses. Campus-wide discussions about how the College might better prioritize student success by meeting the student where they are, addressing the priority of timely completion, considering student challenges when evaluating data to improve services and student success, and creating means to remove obstacles hindering student access. Concerns about student engagement resulted in the recommendation that the QEP focus on the topic of Academic Success through Intense Engagement. Campus-wide dialog about the needs of BRCC students in gateway courses, including focus group discussions with currently enrolled students, helped the QEP leadership team to develop an overall strategy for implementation.

Connect to Succeed: Academic Success through Intense Engagement, was designed to increase student’s engagement and sense of belonging through the use of High Impact Practices (HIP) focused on improving academic skills and reducing the number of failing grades in selected gateway courses. BRCC has identified four HIPs as the focus of this QEP: Supplemental Instruction, class attendance, academic goal setting and planning, and the use of alerts and interventions. These HIPs will be implemented through the use of a three-tier, Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and by employing engagement coaches (ECs), who will provide academic coaching services to students enrolled in gateway courses.

An MTSS provides a structured multi-level system of academic support designed to address challenges with academic preparedness, student engagement and psycho-social challenges.  

Tier 1 will provide all enrolled students with greater knowledge of and easier access to resources available to support academic excellence. Student Services personnel will create and market an awareness campaign as they simultaneously bring Tier 1 tools and resources into every college course through the campus learning management system.   

Tier 2 will be the major focus of the QEP, by providing academic monitoring and support to at risk students in selected, academically challenging, gateway courses. Tier 2 courses were selected on the basis of those that institutional data revealed to have historically high D, F, and W rates of greater than 30 percent.  Supplemental Instruction (SI), designed to improve academic performance, will be provided to students most at risk in these courses.  Dedicated Engagement Coaches (ECs) will serve as academic trainers, intensively working in teams with course faculty to provide greater support to all students in Tier 2 courses, but particularly to address the academic challenges of students who exhibit signs of academic distress.

Many students do poorly in academic coursework due to life stressors beyond their control.  Financial challenges, family illness or death, and conflicting job responsibilities often get in the way of otherwise talented students from being successful.   In many cases, students in these situations often give up without warning, creating academic difficulty that can last beyond that one semester, to haunt their ability to access financial aid or overcome academic penalties in subsequent semesters.   Colleges and universities have the greatest difficulty supporting this level of student need. Tier 3 will offer students experiencing these types of challenges that cannot be addressed by faculty or support staff, planning services that will explore every possible internal and external resource that might help retain them.  In the end, if that is not possible, intensive advising will support them to ensure that the least harmful academic and financial repercussions are maximized in order to help them return to college at a later date.  

The College has committed to provide extensive resources to provide intensive support for students, and professional development opportunities for faculty to learn supplemental instruction and innovative student engagement strategies. 

Specific learning objectives and goals for each MTSS tier have been identified by the QEP leadership team:

  1. Proactively integrate student academic support systems college wide, to increase access and engagement. The goal of Tier 1 is to increase student knowledge of and access to college resources which support students in achieving academic goals. In comparison to the program baseline year, the number of students using academic support services will increase dramatically.  
  2. Increase academic engagement in high-risk courses to improve academic performance and course retention. The goal of Tier 2 is to engage students enrolled in six targeted gateway courses in the learning process through Supplemental Instruction (SI) and intensive engagement strategies to improve course grades.   In comparison to the baseline year, a higher percentage of enrolled students will complete gateway courses with grades exceeding C or higher.
  3.  Implement practices to improve student awareness of grade options which protect student’s future academic choices. The goal of Tier 3 is to proactively advise students at-risk of failing on strategies designed to protect their GPAs and future academic opportunities.  In comparison to the baseline year, fewer students will withdraw from gateway courses.   Several additional assessment measures will be employed to document the overall success of the QEP and to engage in a process of continuous improvement throughout the program’s implementation.                

The overall goal of the Connect to Succeed is to utilize the College’s “culture of care“ which not only supports student learning but improves a student’s connectedness or sense of belonging.

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