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College Hosts College Completion Discussion


Moberly, Mo - Moberly Area Community College recently hosted a one-day workshop on improving college completion rates. The keynote speaker was Dr. Katie Hern, a researcher and instructor from Chabot College in Hayward, California. Representatives from nine other Missouri colleges, as well as state educational leadership, joined MACC faculty to discuss the future of higher education in Missouri and across the country.

"College completion is receiving critical attention at both the state and national level," said Dr. Paula Glover, MACC Vice President of Instruction. "We made college completion a focus of our spring faculty professional development day to provide our entire faculty the opportunity to learn more about completion initiatives."

According to Complete College America, a nonprofit alliance of states focused on increasing graduation rates in the US, the number of undergraduate students doubled between 1970 and 2009. During the same timeframe, however, the graduation rates did not change. More people were going to college than ever before, but the students were not finishing their degrees.

As a part of the national alliance, Missouri created the Missouri Completion Academy to build an effective, statewide strategy to improve college completion rates. MACC was selected, along with eight other Missouri colleges and universities, to participate in the Academy last year.

"Community colleges will definitely play a major role in increasing the number of citizens with a postsecondary degree or credential," Dr. Glover said. "MACC has several completion projects already underway, and it was helpful to hear from a national expert on why change is imperative and what strategies have already been proven successful at other community colleges."

One of the ways colleges are working to help students succeed is to review how developmental classes are conducted. Currently, if a student does not test into a required college level course, perhaps Algebra or English, they must take a remedial course to prepare them for it. Depending on their performance level, they may have to take several semesters of development classes just to get to the point they can pass that one required course.

This can be a difficult, lengthy process and can lead to students losing interest in completing their education. In her keynote address, Dr. Hern took attendees through an interactive session that explored instructional design and practices gleaned from her recent research on developmental curriculum with the California Acceleration Project. She encouraged faculty members from different disciplines to share techniques that engage and support students of varying skill levels.

"Across the country, we're losing too many under-prepared students in remedial courses in math and English before they really make progress on their goals," said Dr. Hern. "Missouri community colleges are to be commended for taking on this urgent, national problem and taking the responsibility to do something different to help [students] be successful."

MACC's faculty professional development day included time for departmental discussions and a number of breakout sessions on topics ranging from classroom technology to innovative class scheduling and improving writing across curriculums.

"So many things are changing so quickly in higher education," said MACC Sociology professor Matt Crist. "It's important that faculty have time together to talk about these issues. Having our colleagues from other institutions and a keynote from another part of the country really added to the day. It was great that MACC was able to bring so many people together to talk about how we can help our students persist to graduation."

MACC President Dr. Jeff Lashley was pleased with the turnout and participation at the state level.

"These are issues at the forefront of higher education. I was excited to have Dr. David Russell, Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, as well as administrators from other colleges join us to look at something as important as college completion," said Dr. Lashley. "This helps us keep momentum with our own Completion Academy work at MACC and throughout the state."

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Dr. Katie Hern, from Chabot College in Hayward, California, discusses her findings on providing support to underprepared students during MACC's recent faculty professional development day in Moberly.


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Missouri Department of Higher Education Commissioner Dr. David Russell discusses student success with keynote speaker Dr. Katie Hern during MACC's recent faculty professional development day in Moberly.

Moberly Area Community College is a two-year, nationally accredited college serving 16 counties in central and northeast Missouri. Founded in 1927, MACC now has seven locations and serves over 5000 students each semester in classroom and online experiences. For more information on available degree programs, visit macc.edu


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