DAG Committee Garners Recognition in Exemplary Practice Competition
South Florida Community College garnered recognition during the FACC Institutional Effectiveness Planning and Professional Development Commission’s Exemplary Practice competition in October for its Data Analysis Group (DAG). In a 20-minute Web cast, Dr. Chris van der Kaay, director, adult education, presented the objectives of the DAG committee, why it was developed, and its goals.
DAG is a key institutional effectiveness committee. It was established in fall 2008 to analyze and synthesize college-wide reports and survey data and to promptly report significant findings that could lead to institutional improvements. The data DAG collects can be used in administrative program assessments (APAs), educational program assessments (EPAs), and unit action plans (UPAs) as well as other data analysis needs.
DAG regularly reviews key findings stemming from a variety of external and internal data sources. The Community College Survey of Student Engagement provides information that illustrates which college services students use and how it impacts their academic performance. The survey is administered to community college students and asks questions that assess institutional practices and student behaviors that are correlated highly with student learning and student retention. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965 requires institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. The National Community College Benchmark Project provides community colleges with opportunities to report outcome and effectiveness data in critical performance areas, receive reports of benchmarks, and compare results with those of other colleges, and the Student Opinion Survey explores enrolled students’ satisfaction with programs, services, and various other aspects of their college experience. The committee also collects data from SFCC’s own surveys and reports such as the Graduate Satisfaction Survey (GSS) Survey of Entering Student Satisfaction (SENSE), graduate survey data, the employee satisfaction survey, and the dual enrollment study.
DAG also uses the Core Indicators of Effectiveness to help SFCC gauge its performance. The Core Indicators of Effectiveness are nationally recognized performance standards that are set in 16 specific areas, such as enrollment and student satisfaction. The committee sets goals for each performance indicator and determines if the college has met those goals or what the college needs to do to meet them.
“Once we’ve reviewed the data from the reports the committee members then determine what issues need to be addressed and facilitate improvement activities,” Dr. van der Kaay said. Recent SFCC improvement activities that have stemmed from DAG reports are a plan to move the Career Planning, Placement and Cooperative Education Center to the first floor of the Student Services Building to increase access and visibility for students; improving success for SFCC’s developmental learner, students who do not test college-ready and need supplemental classes in areas of reading, writing, and math by having two developmental faculty members attend the Kellogg Institute to learn more about developmental learners, hiring new developmental faculty, and piloting new course software support tools to improve success of developmental math courses; revising and implementing new strategies to the college retention plan; and adding regular professional development activities instituted on the college campus including an annual Professional Development Day.
“DAG doesn’t rely on additional resources, only those that are currently available,” Dr. van der Kaay said. “This proves to be cost effective. Another unique thing about DAG is that while all community colleges collect this data, most do it through their Institutional Research and Effectiveness departments. We have developed a group of people that come from each college division to determine individual needs.” Key college staff on the DAG committee include academic deans, the dean of student services, vice president for educational and student services, director of institutional effectiveness, faculty, and select personnel with experience in data analysis and reporting.
“As an educational institution we are required to use data and to use it properly,” Dr. van der Kaay said. “Our goal is to foster an institution-wide culture of data informed decision-making and continuous improvement.”
Other institutions that were nominated for the FACC Institutional Effectiveness Planning and Professional Development Commission’s Exemplary Practice award were Indian River Community College, Miami Dade College, Seminole Community College, and Valencia Community College during the exemplary practice competition. To qualify, the exemplary practice must have demonstrated significant improvement or innovation in an area within institutional effectiveness and/or professional development including institutional research, educational assessment, professional development, strategic planning, and quality enhancement.
“Exemplary practices are important for community colleges because they highlight innovate practices, technologies, and processes necessary to stay completive in the field of higher education and bring awareness to issues, processes and programs that are critical to the mission of community colleges,” said Juanita Scott, chair, FACC Institutional Effectiveness and Professional Development Commission. The competition this year was truly tough. There were many great new ideas and practices from all of the participants about research and professional development. The DAG process presented an innovative way to gather research data and make it available to those who use it.”