Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9: Academic Support Systems
The institution provides appropriate academic support services.
Judgment of Compliance: The College certifies COMPLIANCE.
Wayne Community College (WCC) provides appropriate academic support programs and services that promote the professional skills and knowledge of its faculty and staff and assist in student learning and progression. Academic and student support programs and services are offered through a variety of administrative divisions and departments on the campus; however, the purposes of all efforts are anchored in the college's mission and goal statements. Several of the college's goals directly address appropriate academic support services for faculty and students: to "enhance the performance of faculty and staff through opportunities and incentives," to "enhance student success through college wide programs and services," and to "provide opportunities for excellence in learning through accessible, high quality educational experiences" (WCC General Catalog).
WCC continually reviews the academic support services offered and revises support services according to faculty and student needs. Formal reviews are conducted annually as part of the college's planning and improvement process. As stated in the 20052010 Wayne Community College Strategic Plan Guide, "WCC uses a variety of assessment means to evaluate the college." One very effective method used to evaluate WCC programs and services is the Continuous Improvement Project (CIP), a review and evaluation process that focuses on academic and student support programs for the purpose of improvement. The President and the Director of Planning and Research lead all CIPs. CIPs involve faculty and staff participation on a college-wide basis. In Fall 2003, the college engaged in an Advising CIP as the result of formal and informal feedback from students and faculty who had experienced difficulty with the advising process. One outcome of this CIP was the creation and implementation of a College Transfer Advising Center in September 2004. Although formal assessment of the effectiveness of the Transfer Advising Center will not occur until Spring 2005, informal assessments indicate that students are more than satisfied with the assistance they receive and, because of the hours of operation, the convenience of accessing that assistance. More information on the College Transfer Advising Center can be found in the Academic Advising section discussed later in this standard.
Academic Support Services for Students
WCC provides a positive learning environment by offering a variety of academic support services to students in support of its academic mission. Opportunities include services to help students develop the learning skills necessary to be successful in an academic environment, as well as opportunities to develop personally and professionally. While student support services are more thoroughly discussed in Core Requirement 2.10, the following is a list of services that provide assistance to students as they progress through their particular academic programs:
Admissions, Testing, and Counseling. One of the first contacts students have with the college includes services from the Student Services Division's Admissions and Records, Testing, and Counseling areas. These service areas provide students with appropriate admissions information, placement testing, and curriculum program information. Counselors are available to assist students with academic and individual concerns and to facilitate educational and career planning. Providing occupational information, counseling college transfer students, counseling students with special needs, and assessing career/personal skills are some of the services provided. The Counseling area, including Career Counseling, continues to promote student success and progress toward attainment of educational goals as well as help students regarding academic pressures, stress or frustration, adjustment concerns, and other social or individual matters.
The Career Assessment and Training Center. The Wayne Community College Career Assessment and Training Center is designed to assist students in making career choices. The center provides individual assessment, including interest inventories and personality tests, the DISCOVER computerized counseling and aptitude assessment system for career planning, employability training, and life skills. The center provides assistance to individuals in resume writing and interviewing tips and techniques. It houses occupational information and information on post-secondary educational institutions. The center is open to all Wayne County citizens.
Disabilities Services. Wayne Community College is committed to seeing that students with disabilities have equal access to and participation in all programs of study. In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disability Act, students will receive reasonable accommodations to assure equal access to all programs and activities. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Services Counselor in Student Development and present documentation of the disability.
Job Referral Services. Wayne Community College offers a job referral service for students seeking part-time or full-time employment while attending the college. The services of the referral office are available to current students, alumni, and prospective employers. Graduating students are counseled and assisted in preparing for the right job after graduation. Information pertaining to job opportunities is provided, along with assistance in gathering and presenting material and information to prospective employers. Interviews and appointments are arranged with industry recruiters.
Developmental Education Services. The purpose of Developmental Education Services is to provide students with the skills and behaviors which prepare them to enter the curriculum of their choice with an improved probability of success. Developmental services, along with developmental courses, are housed in the College Transfer Division and are guided by the Developmental Education Committee (DEC), the College Transfer division head, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The DEC meets monthly and is comprised of representatives from across the campus who are involved in developmental education: a member from each developmental education discipline and from student services, Basic Skills, Academic Skills Center, institutional research, and financial aid. The remaining members include the College Transfer Division Head, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the two developmental education counselors. The counselors are advisors to the high-risk developmental students, that is, students testing into at least two of the three lowest-level developmental courses. In addition to advising and registering these students, the counselors conduct the DEC meetings, assess advisees' progress, follow-up on all "Retention Alerts" (instructor referrals for students who need intervention), contact and make appropriate referrals for each student who receives a midterm grade in a developmental course, and submit a midterm report to the DEC. The counselors serve as a bridge between development students and their instructors.
Academic Advising. Students, as they pursue their curriculum programs, benefit from academic advising provided either by individual faculty advisors or by the College Transfer Advising Center. Academic advisors are available to assist new and current WCC students in clarifying their educational goals, planning their coursework, and monitoring their educational progress. Students who have declared a program of study are assigned to a faculty advisor from their area of study during their first semester at WCC. Since the September 2004, students enrolled in programs of study leading to transfer to a four-year institution (AA, AS, and AFA degrees) have been assigned to the College Transfer Advising Center. Prior to the completion of spring 2005 registration, 1207 students came to the center. Students have been particularly pleased that the center is open for eight-hour periods because they can obtain assistance at times convenient for them. They are not restricted to a single instructor's office hour. Having all references and resources concentrated in one location has also been advantageous. Consistency of advising is also improving through this centralized approach. For example, all new students who registered on December 15 attended small group orientation sessions conducted by the center. Key information about college transfer programs, advising, and registration was shared during these sessions.
Special credit students seek academic advising from the college's Counseling staff. Academic advising is required for all students before they can register for WCC classes.
Academic Skills Center. The Academic Skills Center (ASC) is an instructional support service that supports the mission of the college by providing academic assistance to improve basic learning skills for college students, prospective college students, and the general public. Professional educators are available to assist students in reading, math, English, the sciences, and study skills. The staff gives one-on-one instruction and small group instruction to students in need of academic assistance. The ASC is equipped with a wealth of resources to accommodate varied learning styles. The ASC offers computer tutorials, audio and video tutorials, multimedia laser tutorials, math and science visual models, and worksheets as supplementary aids. Peer tutors work through the ASC. Peer tutors are students who have been successful in the courses they tutor and must be recommended by an instructor. The professional staff arranges the placement of students requesting peer tutors, but the tutorial sessions take place outside of the ASC in designated study rooms. Testing is an important part of classroom activities, and a number of developmental students experience test anxiety, which affects their ability to perform. The ASC offers a quiet testing area along with the opportunity to test without time restraints. The ASC administers make-up tests and retests for the developmental math, reading, and English courses. Prospective students have the opportunity to use the many resources available in the ASC also. The convenient study hours and the flexibility in the schedule appeal to prospective college students. Prospective college students who plan to enroll in the limited admissions programs enroll in the ASC as preparation for meeting the admission requirements. ASC staff and Wayne Community College counselors encourage prospective students to attend the ASC to rebuild their basic skills prior to enrolling in a curriculum. The general public uses the ASC for personal enrichment. These individuals want to enhance their basic skills for various reasons such as employment readiness, helping children with homework, and preparing for standardized tests.
Reading Lab. The Reading Lab provides students enrolled in a developmental reading course an opportunity for additional practice in building their reading skills. The computer software used in the Reading Lab gives students an opportunity to develop vocabulary and comprehension skills, as well as to challenge their rate of reading through experience with timed stories and exercises. Students work through material at increasing levels of difficulty and speed (reading rate). This software is a core component of the course. Students work at their own pace but are encouraged to challenge themselves by gradually increasing their speed. The instructor or lab monitor advises the student on level and speed increases. The software design includes reinforcing comments throughout the lesson when answers are correct. Students are rewarded by a point system for the number of lessons satisfactorily completed. The additional time available through the lab is especially important for slower readers, students with limited computer experience, and those for whom English is their second language.
The Writing Center. The Writing Center offers individual assistance in the writing process to curriculum students in all programs. The center attempts to help students improve their critical thinking and writing skills. In addition, all students may access the Online Writing Center, an extension of the on-campus Writing Center, for writing tips, Internet links, and interactive grammar exercises. The center staff asks questions to help students examine and analyze a topic; encourages and guides student writers; explains grammar problems; offers assistance in organizing, developing, editing, and revising papers; demonstrates research procedures; suggests source materials for research; and assists students with word processing.
Information Services Open Computer Labs. WCC's Open Computer Lab is available day and evening for all students and provides walk-in access to 50 multimedia Pentium PCs, 2 laser and 1 color printer, and a scanner. The PCs provide access to the Internet, instructional software, and access to online services including Blackboard Course Info and the WCC Cruiser/WebAdvisor. A lab coordinator, a full time monitor, and one part-time monitor are available to assist students with problems or questions concerning computer hardware and software.
Online Support Services. The Educational Support Technologies (EST) division supports various online services to include the college website, online library, online communication tools such as Live Support or Helpdesk, news releases, online calendars, Blackboard course information, WCC Cruiser (Campus Cruiser), and WebAdvisor. During registration and other high usage times, the EST staff strives to have support readily available for all Blackboard course information, WCC's course management system, and the WCC Cruiser/WebAdvisor users via phone, online chat, email, and walk-in. In Fall 2004, WCC adopted Campus Cruiser, a community based portal platform for managing, tracking, and sharing information electronically. Cruiser facilitates communication between students, faculty, and staff; provides convenient access to college information; and provides access to message boards, discussion groups, and other web-based features. Most importantly, WCC students are provided with free, secure email access. Additionally, WCC Cruiser provides students access to WebAdvisor, which provides students and employees secure and current web-based access to registration and all their academic history, such as financial aid information, course searches, class schedules, grades, and transcripts. The coordinator of Distance Education and EST support staff also present two fifty-minute introductory sessions for every student orientation course (ACA) WCC offers. The sessions deal with Distance Education, Blackboard, and WCC Cruiser and WebAdvisor. Additionally, the EST staff is available for both walk-in and scheduled one-on-one training to all WCC faculty, staff, and students.
The Library. The WCC library is referred to in detail in SACS Compliance Reports, Comprehensive Standards, 3.8.1, 3.8.2, and 3.8.3. A brief summary of these services is included below in order to address this standard.
Wayne Community College has one library located on the main campus. However, to support all curricula of the college, including programs at the Aviation Center and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the library provides inclusive on-line, print, and audiovisual resources. Fourteen computer workstations provide access to the Internet and North Carolina Libraries for Virtual Education (NC LIVE). These resources may be accessed at the on-campus library, in faculty offices, and online via the library website. Four additional workstations are dedicated to the library online catalog. The library also houses microfiche and microfilm readers, photocopiers, and a fax machine.
Through a cooperative agreement, students at any community college within North Carolina may borrow materials from other state community colleges. The Wayne Community College library also has a reciprocal agreement with Mount Olive College, giving WCC students access to a four-year college library in Wayne County. WIN (Wayne Information Network) is a local countywide organization involving the libraries at both colleges, the public library, the library at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, two hospital libraries, the local public library, and two private school libraries. Agreements among the WIN member libraries encourage resource sharing and the availability of materials held by any library to the patrons of the others through Interlibrary Loan and the faxing of journal articles. The WCC library can also borrow materials from participating OCLC member libraries within the Southeast region, in and out of state. WCC library patrons borrow books at no cost and can obtain journal articles at a nominal copying fee.
Three full-time and two part-time professional librarians provide general and in-depth research as well as reference services and computer assistance. Formal instruction is also provided through general bibliographic and subject-specific research sessions. Trained technical staff deliver general reference and computer assistance. Professional and technical staff are available during regular hours of library operation.
Academic Support Services for Faculty and Staff
WCC also makes available to faculty and staff academic support services that provide guidance on WCC's established policies and procedures, support for instruction including use of technology, and opportunities for professional development and career advancement.
Faculty Orientation and Faculty Mentoring. Faculty orientation and the assignment of mentors are conducted through the Office of the Personnel Coordinator and individual academic departments. Both programs support academic programs by introducing new faculty to WCC policies and procedures and, hopefully, provide a smooth transition into WCC college life.
Professional Development Opportunities: Professional development activities are offered to all faculty members each semester. Wayne Community College's long-range goal #3 to "enhance the performance of faculty and staff through learning opportunities and incentives" is documented by a comprehensive program of professional development activities designed to promote the personal and professional growth of all institutional employees. The activities include, but are not limited to, Return-to-Industry training, faculty upgrade activities, Enhancing Instructional Skills Program (EISP), educational leave, and tuition assistance. The professional development program also funds in-house seminars and teleconferences.
Policies governing professional development opportunities are delineated in the WCC College Procedures Manual. Faculty members apply to a professional development committee that evaluates requests and recommends funding. Upon completion of the activity, faculty members fill out an evaluation form that assesses how participation in the activity has enhanced their effectiveness in their area and benefited their students. Direct outgrowths of faculty development activities have been the creation of new courses, improvements in current courses, and changes in curricula. For more information on professional development opportunities see Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3.
Educational Support Technologies Department (EST). EST assists faculty with optimum and appropriate use of technology. EST offers support and training for all areas of technology, distance education, and software usage. Services include the following:
The Faculty Resource Center (FRC): The center provides state-of-the-art equipment for multimedia production and training. The FRC houses four state-of-the-art Pentium computers connected to a local network and to the Internet. A flatbed scanner, a digital camera, a color printer, and a cd-rom reader/writer are also available. The center provides a place for instructors to come and work quietly on state-of-the-art equipment. Training is available for groups of six or less or for individual instructors and staff members wanting to learn PowerPoint and general Windows operations.
Multimedia Production and Training: This service allows instructors to incorporate movies, sound, text, photos, graphics, and animation into one presentation and present it from one piece of equipment - a computer. This technology makes a great teaching aid and provides students with interactive learning courseware.
Photography and Video Production: EST provides white and color photography and makes slides, prints, and photo compact discs for instructional and marketing purposes. A studio is located in WLC 311 where portraits, commercial photos, and copy stand photography are available. These services are offered only to WCC instructors, staff, and in some cases, students for college-related projects.
Videography: EST has a TV production studio, field cameras, and editing equipment to assist instructors and staff in producing video tapes for instructional purposes. Tape duplication and editing are also available in assisting with telecourses and teleconferences.
Distance Education: Two EST staff members hold master's degrees in Instructional Technologies, enabling WCC to offer expert training and insight in online course development, instruction, and evaluation. To ensure WCC offers superior distance education courses with the highest student satisfaction and retention rates, every faculty member teaching distance courses must successfully complete an in-house training program. The program consists of completing the online course, Principles and Techniques of Online Instruction (PTOI), which is a customized online training course derived from the PTOI training course developed by the NCCCS Virtual Learning Community. Then, the faculty member works and meets regularly with the Coordinator of Distance Education throughout the entire course development/customization process.
Graphic Arts: EST offers graphic arts design to faculty and staff in both traditional and digital formats. Desktop publishing, layout and design, pre-press, and computer graphics are available. Publications and presentations can be for print or electronic media.
Printing: WCC houses a state-of-the-art print shop. The Print Shop is located on the third floor of the WLC Building (301) and offers various printing, publishing, and graphic arts design services. Digital and color printing and high speed copying with options of sorting, stapling, folding, and binding are offered as support services to faculty and staff.
Training Facilities: WCC is the CIS Project Eastern Regional Training Facility for the NCCCS to train faculty and staff members to use the Colleague system. The designated training lab (HO 232) has 22 state-of-the-art PCs and is suited for all training necessitated by the CIS Project. It has also been utilized as a training room for the introduction of students to WCC Cruiser.
Multimedia Equipment Loan: Audiovisual equipment and services are available to faculty and staff. The EST staff circulates, inventories, and maintains all audiovisual equipment on campus. Audiovisual materials such as overhead transparencies, posters, audio tapes, video tapes, and zip disks are supplied by this department. Students may use equipment and services by having an instructor make the request. Laptops and data projectors are available for check out by instructors on a class, daily, or semester basis, depending on amount of instructional use and the availability of the equipment. Presentations and other electronic course materials can be used on laptop computers or transferred to other computers by using Zip drives, USB Drives, and CD burners (CD burners are located in the FRC and open computer labs) to transfer information.
Teleconferences: Wayne Community College offers teleconferences to students, faculty, businesses, and community organizations. Teleconferences are seminars, classes, presentations, meetings, or events down-linked from a satellite or Internet-based site and made available live to participants over a television or a video projection system. Some teleconferences provide college credits such as teacher renewal certification. Teleconferences allow students, faculty, staff, and/or community members to participate in seminars or courses broadcast from anywhere in the world. Viewing a teleconference eliminates the need for participants to travel long distances to attend classes or meetings; they can just go to their nearest community college or satellite downlink facility. WCC has the capability to host or receive teleconferences via satellite and Internet. Satellite teleconferences are one-way interactive: participants can view the session and email or phone in questions or remarks, but two-way, open-ended communication is not available. Internet-based teleconferences provide for two-way, open-ended communication and enable the participants such as a course instructor and students in a classroom at one institution to hear, see, and talk to students real-time in comparably equipped classrooms at other locations.
The Information Systems (IS) Department. This department is responsible for all telephone, data processing, and computing needs of the faculty, staff, and students of Wayne Community College. The IS staff offers training for all new employees in GroupWise, Datatel, and WebAdvisor. Based on the types of requests submitted to the WCC-helpdesk, IS routinely offers customized training to the faculty and staff.
To assess the appropriateness, adequacy, and effectiveness of the college's academic and student support services, the college engages in periodic review, using a variety of measures including, but not limited to, the following surveys:
- WCC Student Exit/Non-Completer Survey (completed early leavers)
- WCC Graduate Survey (completed by graduates in the spring)
- WCC Student Services Division Questionnaire (completed every other year in the fall)
- WCC Evening Student Survey (completed every other year in the fall)
- WCC Student Persistence, Learning, and Attainment: A Community College Inventory (completed by faculty and staff)
- WCC Services Survey (completed every other year by faculty and staff)
- Advisory Committee Survey (completed annually by each department's advisory committee)
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Survey (a climate survey completed every five years by local business and community members)
As WCC transitions into a more student-centered learning college, new forms of evaluation are being incorporated into the planning and assessment process. For example, several focus groups were conducted in Spring 2004 to solicit reaction to the new college-wide learning outcomes. One of the focus groups was limited to graduating students and another one to faculty, staff, and community members. The positive response of the participants and the information garnered have convinced the college to make focus groups a permanent part of the assessment process. In addition, for the first time in Spring 2005, the college will be participating in a national survey of student engagement. The college will be participating in both the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (CCFSSE). These surveys will provide data on student engagement and learning, enable the college to benchmark educational practices, and identify areas of weakness that can be improved.