Criterion Three. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

3.A – Core Component 3.A

The institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education.

  1. Courses and programs are current and require levels of performance by students appropriate to the degree or certificate awarded.
  2. The institution articulates and differentiates learning goals for undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, post-graduate, and certificate programs.
  3. The institution’s program quality and learning goals are consistent across all modes of delivery and all locations (on the main campus, at additional locations, by distance delivery, as dual credit, through contractual or consortial arrangements, or any other modality).

Argument

Metropolitan Community College offers a variety of two-year degrees; these are the Associate in Arts (AA), the Associate in Science (AS), the Associate in Engineering (AE), the Associate in Computer Science (ACS) and the Associate in Applied Science (AAS). More than 50 certificates are also available. (MCC Certificates September 2015)  These degrees are designed to serve MCC’s stated mission and are included under Subpoints 1-3 of the district’s purpose statement as detailed below.

In pursuit of MCC’s mission, the district:

  1. Provides courses and associate degree programs that prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to complete bachelor’s degrees.
  2. Provides courses, certificates and associate degree programs to prepare students to enter the workforce in skilled jobs and careers.
  3. Provides courses, certificates and associate degree programs to assist adult workers to upgrade their job skills, change careers, and advance in their careers.

The AA is MCC’s primary transfer degree, which addresses Subpoint 1 by setting forth course requirements that have been coordinated for transfer into baccalaureate programs. This degree was revised in 2014 to align with the requirements of our seven most utilized transfer institutions, and supplies students with up-to-date transfer information (AA Degree Revision Survey, Completion and AA Revision2, Final AA Summary Report September 2013AADegree). During this process, we reduced the minimum number of credit hours from 62-64 to 60 credit hours. This degree minimizes transfer considerations and facilitates direct acceptance of the degree into baccalaureate institutions (DHE AA Letter).

The AAS is MCC’s designated job-ready degree, answering Subpoints 2 and 3 of MCC’s purpose statement. The general education component of this degree was updated during the 2002-03 academic year to align with state recommendations, and the technical areas of study within this degree are continuously updated as needed for each specialty area. The AS, AE, and ACS degrees have all been revised within the last two years (Associate in Science Degree, Associate in Engineering, Associate in Computer Science). Certificates are revised to respond to changing industry standards, with input from advisory boards and program review.  The program review process is described in Criterion 4.

MCC’s program quality and learning goals are governed by a set of Course Information Forms (CIFs), which list all course requirements and are linked to specific student learning outcomes. (CIF, CIF FormGuidelines) The learning goals of each course are designed to bring them in line with models that have been vetted through the MCC curriculum process (Curriculum Flow Chart, MCCCurriculumProcessCalendar). This allows every course at MCC to be reviewed prior to being accepted as part of the curriculum. The review process involves all academic bodies within the system: campus faculty and academic administration (campus curriculum agenda, minutes), district-wide discipline faculty, district-wide academic administration, and the District Instructional Coordinating Committee (DICC) (DICC November agenda, DICC November Lodging Packet, DICC November minutes). This allows time and opportunity for reasonable and assessable goals and quality benchmarks for pedagogy, student engagement, and program/course outcomes to be developed that are enforceable in all delivery modes. Once approval has been obtained at the institutional level, documents are submitted to the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education if there are any new programs or program title changes (Coordinating Board Curriculum).

Since 2005, faculty have used the Quality Matters (QM) rubric for ensuring design quality and consistency across online courses.  QM standards require periodic reevaluation to maintain currency of content and updated technology. (QM Standards with Point Values Fifth Edition).  To ensure consistent educational outcomes, all online courses utilize the same CIFs as the on-ground courses and participate in integrated assessment and evaluation activities. (On Ground 218 Syllabus, Online ENGL 218 Syllabus, Phys 101 on campus, Physics 101 online)

To reinforce the commitment to quality delivery in all modes, MCC is in the process of gaining accreditation through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) for dual-credit and early college initiatives (Membership letter).  MCC maintains a handbook that guides dual-credit offerings (hs_dual_credit_handbook); examples of equivalent dual-credit syllabi may be found in Core Component 4.A.

Along with these district-wide initiatives, various programs, particularly in our career and technical fields, are also subject to individual field-specific accreditation to further monitor and ensure programmatic quality (MCC Accreditation Spreadsheet).

3.B – Core Component 3.B

The institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs.

  1. The general education program is appropriate to the mission, educational offerings, and degree levels of the institution.
  2. The institution articulates the purposes, content, and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements. The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by the institution or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college-educated person should possess.
  3. Every degree program offered by the institution engages students in collecting, analyzing, and communicating information; in mastering modes of inquiry or creative work; and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.
  4. The education offered by the institution recognizes the human and cultural diversity of the world in which students live and work.
  5. The faculty and students contribute to scholarship, creative work, and the discovery of knowledge to the extent appropriate to their programs and the institution’s mission.

Argument

MCC’s stated mission is “Preparing Students, Serving Communities, Creating Opportunities.” In accordance with the general themes behind this mission statement, MCC has adopted the following philosophy:

Metropolitan Community College is dedicated to serving the educational needs of the community. The college programs are intended to help students understand themselves, the society of which they are a part and the universe in which they live.

At the same time, MCC provides opportunities for students to develop occupational skills. Faculty and administrators cooperate to create an environment that stimulates intellectual growth and nurtures academic freedom for students and instructors alike. The programs offered are intended to encourage lifelong learning.

The general education program of MCC provides students an understanding of the complex interconnections between their knowledge, thoughts and actions, and the broader personal, local, national and international communities in which they exist. The general education outcomes are infused into the entire curriculum and provide a solid foundation of critical thinking, information literacy, and communication skills for MCC degree offerings.

The college’s previous general education outcomes were revised in 2009, and then reviewed again by a faculty-led committee as a part of the HLC Improvement Project. As a result of this review, discipline-level outcomes were created by each general education discipline. The faculty created and approved rubrics for each of the general education outcomes.  Assessment of these outcomes is described in Criterion 4 (old outcomes, current outcomes, poster, powerpoint, DACC (formerly DSCIA) minutes, General Education Outcome Revision Email, Outcomes Taskforce minutesCritical Thinking, Information LiteracyCommunications, brochure).

MCC’s career and technical education (CTE) programs continually develop and refine program outcomes in conjunction with advisory board input and national standards where available (Auto Program Outcomes, Paralegal Program Outcomes, Mechanical / Manufacturing Engineering Technology Outcomes, Graphic Design Outcomes). As part of the initiative to award credit for prior learning sponsored by TAACCT grants (MoHealth WINs Priorities and Strategies), MCC has been working to formalize workforce training curriculum and building stackable credentials (CISCO Certificate Into a CISCO Degree, CISCO CertPath4, CLA Course Information Form, CLT Course Information Form, CSIS_Credit_by_Exam_Flyer_2014).

MCC is committed to and values diversity, within the community and on a more global scale. The College’s “commitment to inclusion” statement states the following:

  • MCC embraces diversity in our student body, workforce, curriculum and community. We know that diversity supports learning, excellence and preparation of global citizenry.
  • MCC is committed to achieving a community free from all forms of discrimination and harassment in its policies, practices and endeavors. Further, MCC is committed to fostering a diverse community and to promoting greater awareness of and sensitivity to issues of diversity.
  • Toward that end, MCC asserts the dignity and worth of every human being and the value of diversity as a source of its strength, including diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, culture, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability and perspective among students, faculty, staff and administrators.

MCC supports diversity at the curricular and institutional level. Specifically, the Associate in Arts degree requires students to complete at least one course with a global diversity designation. MCC fosters diversity by offering a variety of courses focused on broadening the minds of students and providing them with avenues to engage diversity, both historical and modern, while working toward building a community of acceptance and understanding (New AA Degree).  Please refer to Criterion 1.C for a description of the history of human diversity courses.

As a comprehensive community college, MCC’s primary focus is on student learning rather than the discovery of new knowledge. However, MCC provides students and faculty with opportunities to engage in research, creative works, and academic projects. Students have access to a wide variety of learning activities including Penn Valley Carter Arts Center shows, Blue River Theatre productions, and Chorale and Northland Symphony performances. Students can engage with faculty in a variety of academic projects and activities including Summer Symposium, Brain Drain at Maple Woods, the Longview Current newspaper, and the Longview Literary Festival. As part of a Department of Education grant, the college is researching the effectiveness of various pilot courses and student services affecting developmental and first-semester college courses.

3.C – Core Component 3.C

The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

  1. The institution has sufficient numbers and continuity of faculty members to carry out both the classroom and the non-classroom roles of faculty, including oversight of the curriculum and expectations for student performance; establishment of academic credentials for instructional staff; involvement in assessment of student learning.
  2. All instructors are appropriately qualified, including those in dual credit, contractual, and consortial programs.
  3. Instructors are evaluated regularly in accordance with established institutional policies and procedures.
  4. The institution has processes and resources for assuring that instructors are current in their disciplines and adept in their teaching roles; it supports their professional development.
  5. Instructors are accessible for student inquiry.
  6. Staff members providing student support services, such as tutoring, financial aid advising, academic advising, and co-curricular activities, are appropriately qualified, trained, and supported in their professional development.

Argument

The institution has sufficient numbers and continuity of faculty members to carry out both the classroom and the non-classroom roles of faculty, including oversight of the curriculum and expectations for student performance, establishment of academic credentials for instructional staff, and involvement in assessment of student learning.

Over the past three years, MCC has seen an outflow of faculty members due to retirements. On June 31, 2013, MCC ended an early retirement incentive package. The conclusion of that program brought retirements and restructuring that resulted in MCC dropping from 303 full-time faculty before the retirement deadline to 256 full-time faculty today. A knowledge management project was initiated to preserve some of the institutional memory and knowledge being lost due to faculty, staff, and administrator retirements (Moving from a Data Driven to a Knowledge Driven Institution). At the same time, enrollment was declining and further declines were projected (Enrollment Forecasting October 2013).

Ensuring an adequate full time/part time ratio is an institutional challenge that MCC’s leadership continually works to address. Changes in adjunct loads due to the Affordable Care Act and new interpretations of the public retirement system have further stressed the college’s ability to hire and maintain an adequate adjunct pool. Fortunately, MCC has been able to call upon many retirees to help meet instructional needs.

The loss of faculty in the wake of the early retirement deadline impaired the college’s ability to fill committees, keep specialty courses on the books with lower enrollment, and engage in smaller campus-based assessments to complement the broad assessment strategy at the district level. Over the past two years MCC has engaged in restructuring, downsizing and merging committees, and redesigning our assessment and planning strategies to accommodate a smaller faculty and staff base (Faculty Staffing Needs, Spring 2014 FACULTY, Faculty vacancy task force recommendations October 2014, Officer Faculty List – Dec 2014).

MCC ensures that all instructors are appropriately credentialed, including those in dual-credit, contractual, and consortial programs.

All general education and most career and technical instructors employed by MCC are required to meet the same requirements for employment. Per the schedule of salary and conditions, instructors fall into four categories, based on their placement within certificate programs, terminal degree programs, or transfer programs. The four categories require varied levels of credentials as follows:

Column I: Sixty-two semester hours of professional preparation from an accredited institution or technical training at an advanced level in the assigned discipline.

Column II: Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the assigned discipline; or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum of 25 semester hours (or equivalent) in the assigned discipline.

Column III: Master’s degree or Juris Doctorate from an accredited institution in the teaching or related discipline, or a Master’s degree from an accredited institution with 45 semester hours in the assigned discipline, at least 18 of which are graduate hours.

Column IV: An earned Doctorate from an accredited institution in the assigned discipline; or an earned Doctorate from an accredited institution with a minimum of 55 graduate semester hours in the assigned discipline or related field.

MCC keeps a current accounting of all faculty certifications to ensure that our faculty members are appropriately qualified.

MCC’s instructors are evaluated regularly in accordance with established institutional policies and procedures.  According to district policy, “Probationary faculty members are evaluated annually for five years. Non-probationary faculty members are reviewed biennially by a classroom or assignment site visitation and/or student evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation will be made every sixth year.” This standard is set forth and enforced by BP 3.35010 (MCC Evaluation of Employees Policy).

MCC’s processes and resources assure that instructors are current in their disciplines and adept in their teaching roles. The college is committed to a constant and consistent feedback loop among peers, students, and supervisory offices that helps ensure quality classroom education throughout the district. To that end, a calendar of specific evaluation procedures has been put in place to assure that instructors are appropriate in their knowledge and skill level in their respective fields, and that their pedagogy is in line with best practices to benefit student learning.

MCC has a comprehensive yearly instructor assessment system for full-time instructors, utilizing classroom observation, student feedback, and committee review of credentials, campus engagement, and classroom efficacy. This system functions throughout the first five years of employment for regular full-time faculty. Subsequent years of employment, following the fifth year, involve a full performance appraisal every three years to ensure continued performance at a high level.

Special contract full-time instructors (which includes emergency-hire faculty, career and technical education faculty, and grant-funded, limited-duration full-time faculty) are subject to annual comprehensive evaluations for the first six years of employment. Thereafter they are subject to yearly evaluation via student response or classroom visits each year, with a comprehensive review every third year.

Adjunct faculty are subject to a full evaluation process yearly for the duration of their employment with MCC.

A Faculty Senate taskforce met to create new recommendations for the evaluation process Report of Ad Hoc Committee.  The previous student experience form was revised (Old Student Experience form) and a new one was created (Student Evaluation form-Fall2013) to go into effect in Fall 2013.  A group of faculty are piloting moving the assessment of student experience online (Online Course Evaluation Spring 2014 Pilot Results Meeting, Tips for Faculty to Increase Student Response Rate). The evaluation policy is being revised by governance groups (3.35010-DP-Evaluation-of-EmployeesMay-13-20141).

A faculty taskforce developed an online course evaluation process that is awaiting final approval OFETF_Final_Report, MCC-OFET.  A pilot study is being conducted to evaluate moving to an online course evaluation system for on ground courses (Minutes).

Professional development for faculty is available through sabbaticals, MCC’s participation and membership in the Kansas City Professional Development Consortium (which creates and delivers free professional development courses for higher ed professionals in the KC area), and support of faculty to travel to present their work and the work of the district at various conferences. Further, MCC’s tuition reimbursement program allows faculty to continue to grow academically by engaging in university coursework to remain abreast of changes in their field as research institutions continue to break new ground, or diversify their skills by learning in other disciplines.  MCC’s sabbatical program (Sabbatical Application Information, Request for 2015 Sabbatical Leave, Sabbatical Application Rubric) granted two paid sabbaticals to faculty in Spring 2015.

MCC provides an annual district in-service day for all employees to gather for professional developmental opportunities (In-Service 2014).  There is also a faculty convocation once a year for all the district faculty to have a day of professional development (Faculty_Convocation 2014, Convocation 2013 Program).  Each campus has an in-service day to start off the fall semester for information and professional development. Communications concerning these events are here (MCC-PV In-Service Agenda, Inservice Agenda fall 2014).

Instructors are accessible for student inquiry. MCC instructors are required to maintain five weekly office hours to make themselves available to students outside of class time for inquiries and extended learning. Per the faculty contract, “Each instructional faculty member will schedule and maintain a minimum of five office hours per week. Early retirees will schedule and maintain a minimum of one office hour for each 3 units of assigned load. All office hours will be scheduled at appropriate locations and times convenient for students. No more than two office hours will be scheduled per day.” These hours are monitored by division chairs to whom faculty members report.

MCC is committed to the highest level of quality in our student support services and has a comprehensive annual employee assessment system to maintain that level of quality. When hiring for student support positions, the college requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a specific subject area or related field, and two years of full-time work experience in the specific subject area. This can be supplemented with preferred qualifications in individualized instruction at the adult level, academic advising, event planning, or other student development skill sets as needed.

All support staff members are subject to an annual full evaluation process for the duration of their employment with the College. New staff members are evaluated at more frequent intervals during their initial year of service, with evaluations possible at one month, three months, and six months.

Professional development for staff is available through MCC’s participation and membership in the Kansas City Professional Development Consortium (KCPDC) and through support of travel to present their work at conferences. The tuition reimbursement program allows our staff to continue to grow academically. The college offers a wide variety of training opportunities at MCC for all levels of employees (HR Training Calendar – Spring 2015).

3.D – Core Component 3.D

The institution provides support for student learning and effective teaching.

  1. The institution provides student support services suited to the needs of its student populations.
  2. The institution provides for learning support and preparatory instruction to address the academic needs of its students. It has a process for directing entering students to courses and programs for which the students are adequately prepared.
  3. The institution provides academic advising suited to its programs and the needs of its students.
  4. The institution provides to students and instructors the infrastructure and resources necessary to support effective teaching and learning (technological infrastructure, scientific laboratories, libraries, performance spaces, clinical practice sites, museum collections, as appropriate to the institution’s offerings).
  5. The institution provides to students guidance in the effective use of research and information resources.

Argument

Metropolitan Community College provides a broad range of services to support student learning including:

Information about many of these services is communicated to students through the College 100 course, adviser and counselor interactions, instructor announcements in classes, and the MCC website.

Student needs are met by a diverse set of courses offered in a variety of schedules (16-week, first 8 week and second 8 weeks, 12 week, day, weekend, evenings, mini) and modes of delivery (online, hybrid, fully on-ground, ALEKS software, review and laboratory).  All courses, regardless of mode of delivery or schedule, utilize the college’s learning management system, Blackboard, to enable faculty to share grades, syllabi, and other materials and give faculty and students multiple ways to communicate.

Students are placed in appropriate levels of English, mathematics and reading courses based on ACT or Compass cutoff scores in compliance with the Missouri Community College Association’s college readiness policy. Testing centers are also equipped to evaluate students for appropriate placement into foreign language courses using WebCAPE language proficiency exams.

Many students who enroll at MCC don’t provide ACT scores, or they have scores that fall into a range requiring further data for appropriate placement. These students are required to take the Compass test.

MCC has been notified by ACT that as of Nov. 30, 2016 the Compass exam will no longer be offered. In anticipation of this, the college is considering various alternatives such as a system of multiple measures to replace this tool. This system could utilize a combination of at least four factors, with the current categories being considered to include high school GPA, dual-credit placement scores, high school class rank, ACT scores, GED assessment data, an MCC-scored writing sample adjudicated by composition faculty, state-mandated end-of-course exams for seniors, AP test scores, CLEP scores, and International Baccalaureate test scores.

Depending on student needs, MCC offers a variety of courses in math, English, reading, and foreign languages (CIFs). For students with high scores on Compass or ACT, their transcripts and situations are evaluated by the appropriate faculty, division chairs, and deans for placement into higher-level courses than those for which cut-scores exist. Students are advised to take courses based on placement testing and successful completion of prerequisites. Students entering with 12 credit hours or less are required to take COLL 100 (AA Requirement Information) or its equivalent. Student enrollments are screened before each semester to ensure students have met the prerequisites for the courses into which they have enrolled.  If students do not meet prerequisites, they are contacted by advising, informed that they will be dropped from the course or courses for which they do not meet the prerequisite, and offered advising assistance to create a more appropriate schedule that will help them advance toward completion while also meeting other student needs with respect to financial and scheduling concerns.

MCC provides developmental education courses for students who are not ready for college-level material in English, reading and math.  The college follows the Missouri Principles of Best Practices in Remedial Education as appropriate and continually looks for ways to improve this type of education.

In Fall 2013, MCC received three grant awards through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP): an institutional research grant, an MCC-Blue River grant, and an MCC-Penn Valley grant. The project, named FOCUS (Fundamentals for Outcomes, Completion, Understanding, and Success), is a five-year development initiative with two major initiatives. The first initiative is to design and pilot-test more effective developmental math, reading, and writing, as well as gateway courses in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

The second grant initiative creates and pilot-tests first-year student services (assessment, orientation, degree audit, career resources, and early alert) and a case management approach to provide intrusive advising and peer mentoring for first-year students. New courses and services developed under FOCUS roll out to the five campuses over the five-year term of grant funding.

In Year 1, the project for the institutional F-grant had three objectives. This document (Title III) shows the progress made during the first year.  In Year 1, the Penn Valley grant had two objectives. The Blue River grant also had two main objectives in Year 1. (Title III). The MCC Title III grant teams have accomplished implementation of the proposed objectives as identified in the grant for Year 1. As noted in Tables 1 through 3, nearly all the objectives have been met. (Title III)

While awaiting the implementation of Hobsons, a computer software package that will be used to track student records and advising, the grant team implemented the use of Smartsheet software. Beginning in the fall semester of 2014, students at the Blue River, Longview, and Penn Valley campuses were monitored through the new student tracking system. Students enrolling that fall participated in the First Year Experience orientation. Advisers used FOCUS chats as another tool to provide an orientation to the college environment.

In an effort to improve student retention in humanities courses, a humanities faculty summit was convened at the end of May 2015, and 66 faculty members participated. The focus of the workshops was to provide new ways to increase student engagement in courses. Forty-nine participants submitted evaluations. Overall, the reviews were positive. The vast majority of faculty commented that they appreciated and learned about technology and how to use it in courses. Participants also commented that it was a good experience to be able to share classroom experiences with their colleagues. Several workshops were specifically named as being useful, as were several of the speakers. A review of 46 syllabi from humanities faculty who attended the summit demonstrated that new strategies and suggested pedagogical approaches have been incorporated into courses.

MCC regularly reviews its instructional facilities to stay current, relevant and fiscally responsible.  The campus library learning centers (Libraries-Learning CentersTask Force, MCC Libraries-Learning Centers Review) and the MCC-Penn Valley’s Health Science Institute are two examples of such reviews (Task Force Exec Summary).

The college offers advising for all students. MCC’s Student Enrollment Management Task Force underwent an extensive review of institutional data and discussions involving employees from a large cross-section of departments and campuses (SEM Plan Structure). Please see Criterion 5 for further detail.  MCC also provides intrusive advising through its FOCUS grant. Special populations such as athletes and international students receive more specific advising services.

In supporting the success of diverse groups of students, MCC utilizes resources designed to deal with educational issues unique to some student populations. MCC has utilized grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to create TRiO programs focused on helping first-time, full-time students acclimate to the rigors of college. The college’s current TRiO grant allows MCC to serve 500 first-generation college students with a full staff of tutors available only to those enrolled in the program, as well as a special career services adviser. Additionally, success coaches help students  stay focused on their goals of completion and life balance while advising them on their chosen course of study. All of these interactions are currently housed at the MCC-Penn Valley campus. The grant focuses on first-generation urban students, a demographic with a very low college completion rate nationally.

A second group of students with specialized needs includes those served by MCC’s Disability Support Services (DSS) offices. Each campus employs a coordinator whose major responsibility is making sure that students with special needs, ranging from learning and documented behavioral disorders to those suffering from temporarily limiting/debilitating issues, can communicate positively with instructors about their limitations and learning needs. The offices are designed to keep detailed records of student disabilities and accommodations, as well as provide assistance to faculty in designing appropriate delivery mechanisms to maintain the rigor of each class while meeting the needs of each student who qualifies for a modification of the course, whether that is in delivery, assessment, or otherwise.

One of the major support initiatives connected to the DSS offices is the system of Campus Testing Centers housed at each campus. These facilities are designed to aid in the assessment of students who require quiet testing, extended testing time, academic aptitude assessment, or specific nationally normed testing, such as CLEP and GED. The extended services offered by the testing centers include assistance for students with test preparation, as well as off-schedule and make-up exam options which are made available to instructors to accommodate students who have circumstances warranting such special treatment.

MCC provides students and instructors the infrastructure and resources necessary to support effective teaching and learning. Other resources include Learning Centers on each campus, which provide tutoring in subjects ranging from developmental mathematics, English, and reading to science and foreign languages; library access; study and office spaces; science laboratories; virtual tutoring services; clinical, practicum, and internship sites; and training and professional development courses on Blackboard (MCC FERPA Training Final for Officers, Data Security Class, Data 101 TrainingAssessment 101 Training).

The learning infrastructure includes Blackboard websites for all courses (online, on-ground, and noncredit), library databases (physical and digital), access to email and Office 365, e-tutoring, computer lab access on every campus, Ask-An-Advisor, wireless support for personal electronic devices, and Echo 360 lecture capture.  The IT executive committee is working with the faculty Academic Technology and Senate committees to standardize classroom technology and keep technology current and efficient.

MCC provides guidance to students on the effective use of research and information by offering courses such as LIBR 100 and 110 to help students conduct effective research. Because information literacy and critical thinking are two of MCC’s general education outcomes (Gen Ed Outcomes 2012), instruction and assessment are imbedded into various courses required for degree completion.

Finally, MCC also makes a concerted effort to ensure that student athletes have a firm academic footing during their time participating in intercollegiate athletics. One example of the myriad ways in which athletics programs at MCC strive to emphasize academics for student athletes is the soccer program at MCC Blue River. A comprehensive “study hall” is required of any player in this program who has fallen below the C level in any course. This “study hall” is directly overseen by the head coach. The coach gathers grade reports every three weeks, adjusting athlete participation based on classroom performance. Should students need more directed instruction, they are required to utilize their guided study time to facilitate appointments with the appropriate tutor in the Academic Resource Center, with the coach requiring verification of the time spent with the tutor and subjects  covered.

To assess the effectiveness and satisfaction of students and faculty with MCC’s support system, a Noel-Levitz assessment (Noel Levitz 2014 Website, Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory) is administered during spring of even years and CCSSE during spring of odd years (CCSSE Assessment Plan 2015, CCSSE data). MCC also administered the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) in Fall 2014 as part of the college’s obligations for the FOCUS Grant. Data from these surveys is compiled and analyzed by the MCC Department of Institutional Research and Assessment and then presented to various employee groups and departments on every campus for analysis within context and these groups determine interventions to improve effectiveness and satisfaction.

3.E – Core Component 3.E

The institution fulfills the claims it makes for an enriched educational environment.

  1. Co-curricular programs are suited to the institution’s mission and contribute to the educational experience of its students.
  2. The institution demonstrates any claims it makes about contributions to its students’ educational experience by virtue of aspects of its mission, such as research, community engagement, service learning, religious or spiritual purpose, and economic development.

Argument

Metropolitan Community College provides an enriched educational environment through many student clubs and organizations and co-curricular and service learning opportunities (Report). The MCC Purpose Statement states that in support of MCC’s mission, the district provides and supports activities to enhance student learning outside the classroom, including courses, cultural activities, and other educational opportunities to enrich the lives of members of the community.

Examples of co-curricular programs include:

MCC-Blue River and Maple Woods: Student Ambassadors

Student ambassadors are the face of MCC to prospective as well as current students. The primary role of ambassadors is to support the admissions staff with recruitment. This support comes in multiple forms, and includes responsibilities such as campus visits and tours, group campus visits, and special recruiting events (EXPLORE and other large events). Further ambassador support tasks revolve around communications (phone calls, mailings, thank-yous, and so forth) with students and high schools groups that have visited or are interested in visiting. Ambassadors are also requested on occasion for other on-campus events for current students, to highlight available resources and provide insight into what a day at MCC might look like for interested students.

Community service is also a large aspect of the ambassador program. Each ambassador must complete at least 10 hours of service, on and off campus, each semester. Currently, Maple Woods ambassadors are required to serve at least four hours each week in the admissions office (including a mandatory Friday ambassador meeting).  On-going development and training for ambassadors following the initial training at the beginning of each semester is offered at both campuses. The student ambassador program allows current students to develop as individual leaders as well as a collaborative team.

Phi Theta Kappa

As an international organization, Phi Theta Kappa’s mission is to “recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students” as well as to “provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming”. Phi Theta Kappa recognizes and encourages academic achievement by honoring students with a 3.5 cumulative GPA with an invitation for membership. Student members vie for scholarships based on academic standing. Phi Theta Kappa is student-centered but adviser led, so advisers play a significant role. Advisers are faculty or administrative staff members appointed by the college to guide a chapter’s operations.

MCC-Penn Valley: Upsilon Kappa

The Upsilon Kappa chapter of Phi Theta Kappa fosters individual growth and academic achievement through the completion of the society’s Honors-In-Action project, in which students focus on a relevant theme, ask a research question, conduct scholarly research regarding their chosen topic, and synthesize their findings through a formal presentation to the campus community. The chapter also participates in a yearly college project, which is determined by the chapter’s officer team and the campus president. In order to complete these projects, Upsilon Kappa members attend chapter and regional meetings to brainstorm with other students and find ways to collaborate with the campus and community.

The chapter further promotes scholarship by conducting and implementing research-type projects while finding ways to make them applicable to the college and community. In terms of leadership, students are encouraged to participate in Competitive Edge, which builds critical thinking skills, hones soft skills, and helps students create professional resumes. Students are also encouraged to lead others by providing assistance to students who are feeling lost or behind in their classes. Socially, the chapter collaborates with Campus Life and Leadership and other student organizations when needed. Such activities include participating in “Scout Out Your Resources,” a project to help new students build the knowledge necessary to avail themselves of campus academic and social resources, as well as other campus events. Members also frequently collaborate with administration on campus to see where the organization can best utilize their abilities.

MCC-Longview: Kappa Tau

The Kappa Tau chapter follows the Five Star Chapter Plan guidelines for activities that lead to success and recognition in Phi Theta Kappa. Kappa Tau is a five-star awarded chapter, a status that was awarded by participation in a college project, an initiative that supports the chapter’s college, developed jointly with the college administration. The chapter also works with the Honors Study topic, a topic developed every two years by the international headquarters, something that is challenging, interesting, timely, interdisciplinary, international, issue-oriented, important, intellectual, and action-oriented. The topic for 2014 and 2015 is “Frontiers and the Spirit of Exploration” and is the basis of chapter research and investigation and the development of the next Honors-In-Action projects.

MCC-Blue River: Drama Club

The drama club has a fine service learning history, including annual participation in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, participation in local festivals, volunteering in libraries, and showcasing four on-campus productions open to the public each year.

Over the last two years the club has been less organized as faculty leadership shifted, but the current members remain very active on campus with shows for the Harvesters food bank four times a year (which are open to the public), earning roles off-campus for local and national commercials, and volunteerism in the on-campus “All for the Children” initiatives. Many members are involved in making independent films using MCC-Blue River student artists, and some have played lead roles in Blue Springs and Independence theater shows over the past year. Each year, members also journey to Johnson County Community College to participate in the “Auditions for Four-Year Transfer” event, a competition that culminates in several students securing theater scholarships to baccalaureate institutions.

MCC-Blue River and Maple Woods: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Most baccalaureate degree programs in accounting at MCC’s transfer institutions require a student to take one three-credit hour course in income tax.  MCC business faculty felt there was an inordinate amount of weight placed on covering that material in a single course. Students leaving school with degrees in accounting should feel comfortable preparing simple individual income tax returns, but faculty realized that most students did not.  They determined that with a philanthropic approach to income tax education, that would change.

Faculty sponsors at Maple Woods and Blue River created a program that incorporates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and MCC’s Individual Income Tax course. The IRS provides the textbook/training materials for students (at a savings of approximately $200 per student). The IRS also provides a web-based software program.  The course is offered every spring semester in the following format:

  • Thirty hours of intense lecture/lab time is used to train the students on tax law and tax software during the week prior to the start of the semester.
  • Students then have the remaining month of January to complete the IRS online assessment, which endorses them as a certified tax preparer.  (This is a resume-building certification.)
  • From February 1 through April 15 each year the college district offers free income tax preparation sites open to the public.

The certified students volunteer their time as part of the class, and prepare income tax returns for people in the community at no charge.  This community service helps thousands of people in lower-income brackets. This service learning opportunity benefits the students and the community.  Students come away from this experience with an increased knowledge of income taxes, as well as an increased appreciation of community service.  Students often come back to serve again, because the experience is quite addictive.

This experience utilizes the assistance of NextStepKC, the United Way of Greater Kansas City, the Internal Revenue Service, and multiple MCC campuses. It has been an invaluable service to citizens of the surrounding communities and to the students who volunteer. Many students are able to obtain employment after being VITA certified, due to being able to show that they have gained such valuable professional experience.

This initiative has recently completed its ninth year.  Sadly, it is unlikely that this program will be able to continue at MCC. Because of declining support from the local agencies, it has become too much for the faculty sponsors to handle in addition to their other responsibilities (Maple Woods VITA Postcard, Maple_Woods_-_VITA_flyer, Tax Class ppt – 2014, MWCC_BSAD_252_Individual Income Tax_Syllabus_Spring_2014).

MCC-Longview: Multicultural Club

Our students reflect the spectrum of culture, language, and religion found throughout the world.  The Multicultural Club of MCC-Longview acknowledges both individual and cultural differences enthusiastically, and identifies these differences in a positive manner. While exploring similarities and differences among cultures, it develops an understanding and appreciation of one’s own cultural heritage as well as that of other cultures.

The firsthand stories of the Multicultural Club continually help to bring the world alive and make it more understandable.  Most students have seen or heard of many places only through books, movies, or television. However, true appreciation and understanding evolve from direct interpersonal contact with and knowledge of the cultures of diverse groups, including their values, stories and myths. One cannot accommodate for cultural diversity if one is unaware of the unique aspects of different ethnic groups, specifically to those of students in the Metropolitan Community College service area. The impact of culture on learning and behavior is natural and should be recognized through inclusion of appropriate activities and knowledge of a person’s cultural background.  A club which supports and celebrates diversity and provides a welcoming environment for every student allows them to feel empowered.  The Multicultural Club is providing students with exposure to beautiful traditions, music and rhythms, instruments, celebrations, books, people, homes, art, and other facets of diverse cultures. Ultimately, this club fosters the ability to function harmoniously and productively in a multicultural society.

MCC-Maple Woods: Veterinary Technology Club

The Veterinary Technology Club at MCC-Maple Woods provides students the opportunity to better themselves, the college, and the community around them.

Students in the Veterinary Technology Club participate in community events, including assisting the Heart of America Kennel Club at microchipping and Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) clinics. They host a booth at the annual Gladstone Walk and Wag, and help with wet labs at the Central Veterinary Conference (CVC) in Kansas City.

Veterinary Technology Club members have social events, such as lunches and dessert parties. In the fall they have an annual flag football game (first year vs. second year students). In May, they host an Oath and Pinning Ceremony for students graduating from the program. New student orientation is hosted in the summer for incoming students, along with the annual summer social, where the new class is welcomed with food and games. Students also collaborate on a week of breakfasts and lunches to celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week. Student trips to the zoo and aquarium are events that have been held in the past.

The Veterinary Technology Club participates in student programs held on the main campus to inform others about the program and the animal health field. In October, they host an annual Haunted Barn as a fundraiser for the club and community. They extend an invitation to the other clubs on campus to make the Haunted Barn a fundraising and leadership building success for all clubs at Maple Woods. Students involved with the Haunted Barn learn how to be creative, entrepreneurial decision makers and problem solvers, work as team members, communicate effectively, and become leaders.

Each year students are responsible for adopting 28-32 dogs and 28-30 cats out of area animal shelters. They work with the Veterinary Technology Program medical team to get the animals physically healthy, behaviorally acceptable, and socially friendly. During the semester, they hold adoption days where they meet with community families to get the animals adopted out free of charge.

MCC-Penn Valley: Advocates for Civic Engagement (ACE)

The purpose of this group on the MCC-Penn Valley campus is to encourage civic engagement and political participation in the American political system. The organization accomplishes this by sponsoring nonpartisan events that serve to raise awareness. The group also seeks to educate the campus and greater community on current community issues and candidates for public office. Political knowledge is an essential quality to citizenship in democratic systems. ACE promotes active participation in political/social/economic activities affecting our daily lives.

Activities include candidate forums, voter registration drives, current events forums, MCCA Rally Day, Constitution Day activities, poll worker recruitment and election night watch parties. Community partners include the Kansas City Election Board, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Missouri Association for Social Welfare, and various elected officials.

MCC-Penn Valley (HSI): Student Nurses Association

The MCC chapter of Student Nurses Association at the Health Science Institute of the MCC-Penn Valley campus is part of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). NSNA mentors the professional development of future registered nurses and facilitates their entrance into the profession by providing educational resources, leadership opportunities and career guidance.

Students have an opportunity to participate in a leadership university where they can learn how to work in cooperative relationships with peers, faculty, community service organizations, and the public in a service learning environment. They learn about shared governance and can earn course credit for projects.

If students elect, they can become a delegate to the national convention where current trends in nursing are discussed. After choosing a topic and conducting research, students can submit written resolutions on issues before the group. At the convention, students present topics relevant to nursing education, nursing practice, state regulations and the health needs of the public. Resolutions are then reviewed by the legislative director and the resolutions committee before review by the House of Delegates.

An adequate supply of RNs in the workforce is one of the essential components of a safe and effective health care system. Future nurses also need to have opportunities to practice leadership behaviors, make informed decisions, formulate responses to issues that are evidence-based, and learn to conduct themselves professionally. The Student Nurses Association provides them with such opportunities.

MLK Day of Service

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday recognized across the MCC district. Over the past several years, MCC students, faculty, and staff members have participated in “A day ON, not a day OFF” by serving agencies within their communities. Participation in the MLK Day of Service allows students to gain knowledge about social issues concerning their community. The support from faculty and staff members as site sponsors allows students to build connections outside of the classroom.

MCC-Penn Valley students have taken part in a variety of projects on campus for the community, such as creating blankets for Children’s Mercy Hospital and assembling packets of toiletries for homeless.

For the past four years, MCC Business and Technology students and staff have served at a local food bank, Harvesters, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There were 17-19 participants each year for the past four years.

MCC-Blue River students and staff have served in multiple locations, including assisted living facilities and local elementary schools. Blue River participants have volunteered for community organizations including ReStore, Habitat for Humanity, The Groves, Rainbow Center, Meals on Wheels, ASPCA, Hillcrest and Community Services League. Blue River has many staff, administrators, students (student club members, men’s and women’s soccer team), and community members who participate every year. Blue River’s contingent of volunteers also includes retired employees who have organized meetings in their own homes that day to make blankets for the patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital. On average there are 40-45 Blue River volunteers during the yearly event.

Many students have volunteered on the MCC-Longview campus, with about 120 participants in 2015. In 2014, students served at 11 locations during MLK Day.

Student clubs and athletic teams are encouraged to volunteer together at MCC-Maple Woods, to build their teams while supporting the community. Maple Woods student athletes have been regular volunteers with MLK Day of Service at Maple Woods for at least the past four years. There have been more than 100 participants each year for the past two, serving at least 10 area sites.

MCC-Penn Valley (HSI) and MCC-Blue River: Mock Mass Casualty and Introducing Children to Health Care Fields

A major co-curricular event that included MCC’s Health Science Institute and MCC-Blue River police and fire students was the Mock Mass Casualty. It provided students an interactive learning experience to use their skills in a simulated emergency. (Mass Casualty Outline2014, Mass Casualty Simulation Marketing, Mass Casualty Meeting Agenda4152014, Mass Casulty Meeting Agenda4212014, Mock Mass Casualty Timeline of Events May 2 2014)

Another co-curricular event involved elementary and middle school children, their grandparents, and students at the Health Science Institute.  It introduced children to health care fields, was an educational opportunity to the community and allowed the college students to practice their skills.  Grandparents College2013, Grandparents University Certificate, GUbrief2012, GUfeedback2012, GUoutcomes, GUtimeline.

MCC-Blue River: All for the Children

MCC – Blue River students plan, coordinate, and staff all the activities at this annual event, which focuses on child abuse awareness in positive and entertaining ways. (All for Children, All for the Children Press Release, All for the Children Pitch Material, All for the Children, All for the Children Survey)

 

3.S – Criterion 3 – Summary

The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Summary

Metropolitan Community College’s primary focus as an institution lies in the general education and career training of the students entrusted to it by the Kansas City metropolitan community. This section of the accreditation argument focuses on four key points relating to this aspect of the college’s performance:

  1. MCC’s degrees and certificates are appropriate to the two-year sector and are broadly accepted by four-year colleges and universities and employers as acceptable in their scope, delivery, and outcomes as commensurate with the knowledge required for successful matriculation and/or employment. All courses listed in the MCC course catalog are required to meet the standards set forth by the Course Information Form (CIF) corresponding to each course and are assessed by discipline faculty and academic administration on an ongoing basis.
  2. MCC consistently challenges the intellectual growth and abilities of students, and is dedicated to assessing the efficacy of teaching, course delivery, and the success of students who have matriculated out of the institution and into jobs or four-year educational opportunities.
  3. MCC focuses the preponderance of its resources on the main mission of the institution, which is educating students. The faculty and staff employed by the institution are all satisfactorily prepared for their various roles, and because of their preparation and the resources put in place to support their work, students receive a high quality education with strong support services to bolster their success.
  4. MCC provides a well-rounded education in an environment designed to constantly and consistently reinforce classroom learning with challenging opportunities and dialogues outside of the classroom, facilitating an approach that serves the synthesis and real world deployment of knowledge.

 

 

 

Sources

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