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Executive Summary

Early Results | Background

Designed to last from 2014 through 2019, Victoria College's Quality Enhancement Plan, as approved by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, is focused on increasing critical thinking outcomes through student engagement and active learning techniques.

Students Engaged in Active Learning (SEAL) targets student engagement directly through Pirate Orientation in a joint effort led by the Directors of Advising and Counseling and Student Activities.

Staff and Faculty campus wide are offered specific training workshops in six key areas through Boot Camps hosted by the Center for Academic and Professional Excellence (CAPE).

Faculty compete to participate in the year long SEAL Academy, a peer group community of practice that dissects excellence in andragogy, and partners with CAPE specialists to transform courses into learner-centered classrooms that promote deeper learning.

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Early Results

Pirate Orientation

Starting at the end of Summer 2014, Pirate Orientation has run eight day-long workshops directed at First Time In College (FTIC) students. In-house survey results show new students overwhelmingly report feeling more aware of campus support systems, and assessment is currently in progress on other KPIs.

Boot Camp

As of February 2015, 73 employees completed over 438 contact hours to earn Level I certification. CAPE specialists and guest facilitators have run over 353 Boot Camp sessions and total over 1,230 contact-hours with adjuncts, staff, and faculty from all areas of campus.  

SEAL Academy

Piloted in 2014 (calendar year) by ten instructors on Team 1, SEAL Academy is now hosting 19 faculty members from adjunct to full time on Teams 2 & 3.  Team 1 members are rapidly completing the final analysis and assessments to earn SEAL Instructor certification on their transformed, learner-centered courses. One member of Team 1 recently signed up for additional course development via a case studies conference at the University of Buffalo in New York.

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Background

In a report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (2007), it was noted that college students are wholly underperforming in critical thinking and reasoning. Business leaders mirror that concern when they list critical thinking as one of the top applied skills (defined as using basic knowledge acquired in school to perform in the workplace) necessary for conducting business, yet find that only 3.7% of community college graduates can demonstrate it at an “excellent” level and 22.8% are considered “deficient” (The Conference Board, 2006).

“Employers are calling with new urgency for graduates who are broadly prepared and who also possess the analytical and practical skills that are essential both for innovation and for organizational effectiveness . . . curriculum needs to help students develop . . . leadership, teamwork, problem solving, time management, communication and analytical thinking” (National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, 2007, p. 16).

Critical thinking at Victoria College is a student’s ability to apply both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to subject matter to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies.

To measure critical thinking, VC conducted the ETS Proficiency Profile on campus. Results indicated prior to implementing SEAL were as follows:

Level of Proficiency  Spring/Fall 2012   Spring 2014 
Proficient

 3%

 2%

Marginally Proficient

 17%

 11%

Not Proficient

 80%

 87%

OPERATION: SEAL the DEAL will focus on improving this skill with learner-centered approaches that engage students through active learning.

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