AQIP Current Action Projects

Applied BA in $20K: Assessing the Viability of an Affordable BAS

In spring of 2014, the Colorado General Assembly passed and the Governor signed landmark legislation to allow community colleges to offer applied baccalaureate degrees (BAS).  Aims will use the focused work of the action project to investigate the parameters and impact of the BAS at Aims.  If the results of the initial investigation indicate that Aims should pursue offering a BAS, the committee will oversee the development of one or more BAS programs, as well as proposals/applications to appropriate agencies for approval.

Aims’ reasons for taking on this Action Project now:
The development of applied baccalaureate programs is currently the only option for career and technical students who historically have been restricted from baccalaureate level education by the AAS terminal degree culture. Since community colleges are the primary engine for Colorado’s workforce development and the State’s higher education goals are focused on the need for additional baccalaureate degrees, Aims Community College should evaluate the development of additional degree pathways in applied technical areas.

Overall "outcome" measures or indicators of success in achieving project goals:
The final outcome of this project will be a completed BAS degree needs assessment and Board of Trustees presentation, and if appropriate an implementation plan. 

Creating a Seamless and Intentional Career Engagement Continuum

The primary goal is to educate college preparatory students about the career planning process to assist them in making informed career/major choices resulting in increased retention and attainment of academic credentials   This process should also reduce the length of time and amount of money students require to complete their goals as they will have the tools necessary to effectively develop and track their academic progress

Aims’ reasons for taking on this Action Project now:
One of the many reasons that students might longer than normal to complete their academic credentials is a lack of academic/career goals. As confirmed by research, using an intentional career planning process to helping students commit to a career that fits their interests, values, and lifestyle, increases the probability of the timely completion of a degree or certificate. Furthermore, this process teaches students a life skill that can be utilized throughout their lives during times of career transition.

Measures or indicators to monitor success during and at the end of the project:
We have identified the following methodologies and data collection points to assess the effectiveness of this project:

  • Students complete career inventories immediately after enrollment into college-prep and AAA course.
  • Compare career readiness pre-post scores to determine if students felt more career ready on posttest.
  • Gather feedback from advisors to ascertain if students were more engaged in the academic plan/destination graduation assignment for AAA.
  • Gather feedback from AAA instructors concerning positives and opportunities for improvement with the curriculum content.
  • Compare completion rates and time to graduation rates pre and post implementation.

Survey Emerging Scholars students to determine perceived value of 2nd semester activities in preparation of finding employment or transferring.

Faculty Peer Mentoring Program

This project involves the training of experienced faculty to mentor new full-time faculty.  New faculty will be paired up with a trained mentor that teaches in a different academic area than they do.  During the first semester, mentors will meet weekly with mentees and will observe them in the classroom at the beginning, middle and end of the semester.  The observation will be scored with a rubric and robust feedback will be provided.  During the second semester mentors will continue to “coach” their mentees and provide support on an as needed basis.  This program will be coordinated by the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

Aims’ reasons for taking on this Action Project now:
It is common for new full-time faculty at Aims to have advanced degrees in their subject area, but have little or no experience or training in the pedagogy required for effective student learning.  Aims requires all new faculty to complete a series of courses on education theory and practical application in the classroom.  The main focus of the mentor relationship will be in reinforcement of these new skills and development of teaching methodology and learning-centered philosophy. Another area of focus will be Aims specific systems, such as Banner and Starfish. The institution considers this an important project because it relates directly to AQIP Cat. 1, Helping Students Learn and to Aims Strategic Plan Long Term Goal “Prepare Aims for the learning needs of current and future students”. 

Measures or indicators to monitor success during and at the end of the project:
Project goals and measurable outcomes for the first year of the project include:

  • At the completion of the program new faculty will report a sense of professional support from their peer mentor (as indicated by surveys).
  • At the completion of the program new faculty will report a sense of understanding of the Aims culture (as indicated by surveys).
  • At the completion of the program, new faculty will show a 50% increase in the use of learner-centered teaching techniques in the classroom.
  • At the completion of the program new faculty will show a 50% increase in the use of classroom assessment techniques in the classroom.

Baseline metrics will be collected at the beginning of the semester through mentee surveys and multiple measures will be collected during the semester to understand changes in the use of learning-centered techniques.  Milestones will include mentor observations at early, mid- and late semester.  If the project is continued for successive years, metrics will be revised to reflect learning from the first mentoring cycle.

Institutional-level Student Learning Outcomes - Where are we headed?

Aims Community College is working on our approach to assessment of student learning.  Last year we focused on working with faculty to develop more substantial course/department level projects. Now our focus has expanded to institutional-level assessment while continuing to cultivate and expand course/departmental level assessment efforts.  This project addresses development, implementation, and deployment of our newly determined Institutional-Level Student Learning Outcomes (ILSLOs) for assessment of student learning in key courses across the institution.  The Assessment Office, along with multiple academic areas will determine courses where the ILSLOs best fit.  The Assessment Office will then determine structure and sequence to create a systematic college-wide assessment plan for measuring ILSLOs.

Aims’ reasons for taking on this Action Project now:
Recommendations from the Higher Learning Commission, along with best practices in assessment of student learning, indicate a need for improvement and expansion of our assessment practices and efforts as a whole.  Several comments in our last systems appraisal specifically indicated the need to redefine, expand, and improve our approach to assessment of student learning as well as develop and measure Institutional-Level Student Learning Outcomes.

We value our learners, want to ensure their success, and want to be able to demonstrate their growth. To ensure we can demonstrate growth, we must be able to measure growth.  To measure growth, much broader involvement in academic assessment needs to take place. As such, assessment goals have been included as part of our strategic planning: 

Long-term Goal 1: Prepare Aims for the learning needs of current & future students.
Under this long-term goal we have designated a mid-term goal which states that 80% of our Academic departments will participate in assessment at the course, programmatic or institutional level.

Measures or indicators to monitor success during and at the end of the project:
This project will impact the related mid-term institutional goal: 80% of academic departments to be participating in assessment at the course, program or institutional level. 

Transforming Early Alert to Enhance Student Success

The primary goal is to implement an improved Early Alert System resulting in similar student completion rates per course/program and increased faculty participation in reporting academic performance concerns on a timely basis.  A secondary goal is to facilitate the exchange of ideas between and amongst Student Services and Academic Divisions regarding best practices, such as early and frequent feedback for students.

Aims’ reasons for taking on this Action Project now:
Aims Community College is committed to student success.  Best practices indicate that early identification of academically at-risk students by faculty and timely notification to those students are critical in connecting them to resources designed to get them back on track in their classes in a timely manner. Under our current system, faculty submit reports via the web by manually filling in all requested information, including student identification number, course information, etc.  Numerous faculty members have cited frustration with this cumbersome and time-consuming system and, therefore, do not use the system.  This new automated system will allow for easy identification of student concerns, encouraging regular reporting by faculty and providing a robust reporting structure to help us ascertain the impact of the interventions.  In addition to reporting concerns, this system allows faculty to provide “kudos” to students. This project will also allow us to systematically evaluate our current intervention strategies.

Measures or indicators to monitor success during and at the end of the project:
Since we are replacing our current system, we have the ability to compare quantitative data such as total number of faculty using the system and number of students reported to ascertain if the system is being used more robustly than the old system.  Additionally, we have identified the following methodologies and data collection points to assess the effectiveness of our efforts:

  • Survey faculty regarding experience with the new vs. old system
  • Compare faculty usage between old and new system.
  • Compare student outcomes between old and new system for faculty who utilized both systems.
  • Gather feedback from students regarding perceived impact of kudos.