2011 Northwestern Michigan College

Enhancing Student Preparation
2011 LAND Award for Excellence in Institutional Leadership
Northwestern Michigan College
Tim Nelson, President

Team Participants

  • Sue DeCamilis, Director of Academic Affairs
  • Ann George, Communications Instructor
  • Darby Hiller, Director of Institutional Research
  • Kari Kahler, Director-Dept. of Learning Services
  • Charlene Lutes, BRIDGE Program Coordinator
  • Nancy Parshall, Communications Instructor
  • Deb Pharo, Math Dept. Head/Instructor
  • Michelle Poertner, Tutor Manager
  • Linda Racine, Director of Program Advancement

Rationale for Nomination

The Enhancing Student Preparation Team was formed in the fall of 2006 as our AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Project) Action Project to support student learning. Faculty had been reporting for years that students were underprepared for their college level coursework and although we had a large amount of anecdotal stories; we had not collected much data to determine the pervasiveness of the alleged problem. The Enhancing Student Preparation Team spent the first year struggling with how to define student success, determining what data would be helpful and given our open access mission to determine options to support student success.

The team met approximately 30 times over the past four years and sub-committees met between the larger group meeting times. After struggling much of the first year to really wrap our head around the issue, we determined that we would use the COMPASS Placement Test to determine if the students were prepared or underprepared for their coursework. Any student that placed in a developmental reading, writing or math course would be considered underprepared.

After examining data from 39 previous semesters, we made an institutional recommendation that beginning with the fall semester of 2008, any student placing in a developmental reading, writing or math course would be required to begin their course of study with that course and complete the developmental sequence in consecutive semesters until they completed the English or math requirements for their program of study. Additionally, any student placing developmental in both English and Math would be required to take a two credit study skills course in their first semester.

This fall, we officially retired the team but the recommendation is in place and we continue to monitor the success of our students. Additionally, we have chartered a new project, Pathways to Completion that will build upon the successful work of the Enhancing Preparation Team as we commit to not only have our students succeed in their coursework but to complete their certificate or program of study and graduate.