STUDENT ENGAGEMENT ACTION PROJECT
A. Project title
The goals of this project are to: 1) increase applications, yield, and retention of student cohort groups identified in Western’s Enrollment Management Strategic Plan; and 2) increase student engagement as directly measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and indirectly by improved retention.
This action item involves many other of the seven components of Western’s strategic planning processes, including branding and marketing and three national initiatives connected to student engagement, the National Learning Community Project, The American Democracy Project, and Foundations of Excellence in the First Year.
C. AQIP criteria and principles of high-performing organizations
Primary AQIP criterion
Helping students learn
Accomplishing other distinctive objectives, building collaborative relationships, understanding students and other stakeholders, and planning continuous improvement.
A mission and vision that focus on serving students and other stakeholders
A learning-centered environment
Planning for innovation and improvement
Fact-based information-gathering and thinking to support analysis and decision-making
D. Rationale for addressing this primary concern, the origin of the project, and why this primary concern and the goals of this project should be emphasized now
Western has strategically combined the academic and student affairs divisions to emphasize the seamless nature of the student learning inside and outside of the classroom as one means of increasing student engagement. The “Citizen-Scholar” concept is employed to introduce first year students and other constituents to this holistic nature of the Western learning community—one that has two distinctive signatures—“applied learning” and “service to the region.”
This action project combines components of the campus strategic plan and three national projects. Two of the three national projects are through the American Association of State Colleges and Universities: the American Democracy Project (ADP) and the Foundations of Excellence™ in the First College Year Project (Foundations). The third national project is participation in the National Learning Community Project (NLCP). Each of these projects has an “engagement” emphasis and is relevant for first year students.
This action project will address “student engagement” as a developmental process beginning with the marketing/branding of an “engaged learning community” to prospective students and continuing with the intentional educational programs provided for enrolled first year students. Further, Western seeks to improve recruitment and retention of students through the deployment of a strategic enrollment management plan called Assets and Aspirations.
E. List of organization areas (or institutional departments and divisions) most affected
Primary involvement is with the Academic and Student Affairs Division, including Admissions, Student Development, Academic Departments, and Student Services. Secondary involvement is with branding initiatives associated with the Image and Advancement sector of the strategic plan.
F. List and describe the critical processes most affected
The processes involved include “engagement” branding/advertising directed toward prospective students and their families, opinion leaders influencing college choice, recruiting activities, orientation programming, and curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular offerings related to engagement.
G. List the process measures that you plan to track as you work on this action project
Western will employ existing strategic planning implementation teams and committees associated with the three national projects to establish process measures during the Spring 2004 semester.
H. List the outcome measure that you plan to track as you work on this action project
With respect to outcome measures, Western will begin to use the NSSE survey to monitor changes in students’ expectations and attitudes toward their college experience, including:
- Level of academic challenge
- Student-faculty interactions
- Active and collaborative learning
- Enriching educational experiences
- Supportive campus environment
Both ADP and Foundations allow some peer group comparisons using NSSE results.
In addition to NSSE, the College will employ the faculty version of NSSE from the Center for the Study of Higher Education or CSHE, which measures:
- Background and demographic information
- Professional activities (e.g., preferred teaching methods, research activities, advising duties, professional development activities, informal interactions with first-year students)
- Perceptions of various aspects of their institution’s policies, practices, and values as they relate to first-year students and one or more of the Dimensions
With respect to measuring enrollment management related engagement goals, application numbers, yield rates, and retention of student cohort groups identified in Western’s Enrollment Management Strategic Plan will be used as an indirect measure of student engagement for prospective and current students.
I. Describe your annual stretch targets
Year 1: Administer NSSE (March 2004) and CSHE instruments (February 2004) to establish baseline results for measuring student engagement improvements. Enrollment management measures of application numbers, yield rates, and retention of student cohort groups identified in Western’s Enrollment Management Strategic Plan will be used as an indirect measure of student engagement for prospective and current students.
Year 2: Design, develop, and implement any campus specific measures using strategic planning implementation funding and participation in the ADP, Foundations, and NLCP national projects. Evaluate NSSE and CSHE results to establish stretch goals based on comparative results from other campuses. Reflect on results from campus measures and implement continuous improvement efforts as needed. Track progress of enrollment management measures such as application numbers, yield rates, and retention of student cohort groups identified in Western’s Enrollment Management Strategic Plan for prospective and current students.
Year 3: Evaluate progress on NSSE and CSHE stretch goals. Reflect on results from campus measures and implement continuous improvement efforts as needed. Track progress of enrollment management measures such as application numbers, yield rates, and retention of student cohort groups identified in Western’s Enrollment Management Strategic Plan for prospective and current students.
J. Briefly describe how you will keep the institution’s energies focused on this project and its goals
Campus teams such as the Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management Strategic Planning Implementation Team and the Foundations committee continue to meet regularly to monitor progress on engagement initiatives.
A series of “student engagement” community forums were initiated in 2004 to stimulate dialogue on engagement issues outside of campus teams and to disseminate information about the work of campus teams.