Recommendation V (5)
In order to meet the standard, the team recommends that student services evaluate:
- The method by which Student Services determines and monitors learning support needs they provide or need to provide DE students; and,
- The comparability of face-to-face counseling and tutorial services with online counseling and tutorial services. (II.B.3)
The Student Services division at Las Positas College has a variety of ways in which they determine and monitor the learning support needs of all its students, including Distance Education (DE). The college administers two surveys, a Student Satisfaction Survey (R5.1) (administered biennially) and a DE Survey (R5.2) (administered annually), with the intent of better understanding all student learning needs. The DE Committee meets regularly and is active under their charge, which reads, “To explore and recommend policies, procedures, and tools to enhance student learning and services in the delivery of distance education.” Furthermore, individual departments are evaluating their own DE services during the college’s annual Program Review Process and are thoughtfully working to improve those services (R5.20). In addition, several Student Services programs including Counseling and the Veterans Resource Center have department specific assessments monitoring their DE students at the point of contact (R5.3, R5.4). In response to the above recommendation, The Accreditation Steering Committee worked to evaluate the methods for DE student monitoring and support, and subsequently improved them to meet the Standard as noted by the Team Report.
The Accreditation Steering Committee coordinated the evaluation of DE student monitoring and support across campus, drawing on the expertise and knowledge of administrators, faculty and staff across the Student Services Division and on the Distance Education Committee. The Student Services representative on the Steering Committee first elicited responses from the DE Committee Chair, the Campus Researcher, the Student Services Deans, and all department leads/chairs regarding what process were already in place to both monitor and support DE student learning. The collective responses were shared at the Accreditation Steering Committee, whose members worked to identify gaps in the monitoring of DE students and ways in which the campus could better coordinate its efforts. In evaluating the various ways by which DE students’ needs were being assessed, the Accreditation Steering Committee recommended several improvements to the process, with implementation of the recommendations occurring in fall 2016.
The most notable change in the assessment of student learning needs came in the re-writing of the DE Survey. The first change to the survey aimed to isolate 100% DE students from those who take both online classes and face-to-face classes (R5.2; Question #2). This change enabled Student Services programs to compare their face-to-face support services with those provided online. The second and most substantive change involved the addition of a student services satisfaction question (R5.2; Question #9) isolating individual student services departments and assessing DE students for satisfaction with each service. The data obtained from this survey (R5.19) has been distributed to the leads of each of the identified student services department and the Dean of Student Services, then used to guide conversations in department and division meetings (R5.5). As each student service department received results from the DE student services satisfaction data, they were able to compare that data with student satisfaction data for face-to-face students to measure comparability of services (R5.6; see Chart 2).
Chart 2 – Face-to-Face vs. Online Comparability Data
As a result of the comprehensive assessment of DE students, and more specifically with their learning support needs involving student services, departments across the division are working to improve the DE services that they provide. Some of the most notable changes have taken place within Counseling, the Veteran’s Resource Center and Tutoring. While Counseling developed and implemented an e-counseling program in the spring of 2015 (R5.7), great strides have been made to both improve the existing program and to expand DE counseling to utilize a web-based real-time communication software, Cranium Café (R5.8). The spring 2015 roll-out of e-counseling offered restricted services to DE students, but continued development and implementation of additional distance counseling interventions has led to more comprehensive services being offered. Counseling has now grown the e-counseling (email based-counseling) program to allow for degree audits, pre-requisite overrides, goal setting and more. With the acquisition of Cranium Café, DE students are now able to access 1-hour web-based counseling appointments designed to mirror the experience of face-to-face counseling appointments. DE students are given equal access in scheduling counseling appointments, and can obtain comparable counseling services (e.g. career counseling, goal setting, transcript evaluation, student educational planning, transfer services, etc). Counseling offices have been outfitted with web-cams, speakers, and headsets that allow counselors to seamlessly move between face-to-face counseling and DE counseling (R5.9). The Counseling office is currently offering DE appointments to those students who are enrolled 100% online (~10% of our student body) (R5.10) though the long-term plan is to offer both DE counseling and face-to-face counseling to all students.
The Veterans Resource Center is another strong example of where the DE services offered are comparable to those available to face-to-face students. They began piloting a web-based real-time communication software called Zoom in fall 2016. This program allows the veterans counselor and coordinators to fully serve DE student veterans with all available veterans counseling services. The program has begun serving a small segment of our veteran student population, but is in the process of developing marketing material (R5.11) with plans to expand DE services in a substantial way that will allow for the service of student veterans beyond our current population (R5.12).
Tutorial Services has also been working to expand the level of services it provides to DE students. The current program primarily consist of email tutoring for math (including statistics) and English (R5.13). The tutorial email address is maintained by the LPC DE Coordinator who trains tutors how to access the corresponding site, answer and archive emails. Two peer tutors are hired to check this site daily and answer any questions found at the address. The tutors may also suggest for students to view helpful videos on the topic or problem, as well. English email tutoring is handled by faculty in the Reading and Writing (RAW) Center. The RAW faculty regularly check the website (http://www.laspositascollege.edu/RAW/) for papers submitted by students and provide needed feedback and support.
In an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing tutoring services, the DE coordinator administers a weekly survey (R5.14) to assess satisfaction with DE math tutoring, while the RAW center administers an automated survey (R5.15) at the conclusion of DE writing tutoring. The data from these surveys is then aggregated and reported at monthly DE committee meetings, and used to evaluate how to improve tutoring services to DE students. Several changes have been implemented as a result of the student survey data including expanding the availability of DE tutoring earlier in the semester and into the evenings. Those changes increased the availability of tutoring to DE students, and the DE Committee, led by the DE Coordinator, teamed up with the Tutorial Center Coordinator to present a demo of an online tutoring platform, NetTutor®. NetTutor® was then purchased and implemented in January 2017 to further expand DE tutoring services and meet the increasing demands of the college’s growing DE program (R5.16).
One of the major benefits of NetTutor® is that it is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, making tutoring more available to our students at times when they may need it. Additionally, Net-tutor does not use LPC peer tutors, which allows for around-the-clock support in all forms including traditional tutoring, question drop-off, and paper/essay review. NetTutor® is available through the Online Education Initiative (OEI) at a reduced cost, and was determined to be the best DE tutoring option for our college moving forward. The DE committee and Tutorial Center recommended that tutorial services purchase Net-Tutor to enhance the campus DE tutoring offerings, and this recommendation was then supported by the Vice President of Student Services. In support of the acquisition of NetTutor®, the college increased the Tutorial Center Faculty Coordinator position from 50% to 100% for the spring of 2017 (R5.17 College Council minutes 10/16). NetTutor® was purchased in fall 2016 and implemented at the outset of the spring 2017 semester (R5.18).
In summary, departments throughout student services have more thoughtfully evaluated their DE services, and subsequently increased their awareness of the learning support needs of DE students. All departments continue to utilize what is learned in the assessment process to drive improvement in services to DE students across the division.
Las Positas College has addressed Recommendation 5 in order to meet the standard. This is evidenced by the college’s evaluation of the methods by which it assess the DE student learning support needs and the resulting improvements made to that process. These improvements include a more robust and thoughtful DE survey and department specific point-of-contact surveys for DE students offered in Counseling, The Veterans Resource Center, and Tutorial Services. The college further meets the recommendation by evaluating the comparability of face-to-face counseling and tutorial services with online counseling and tutorial services, and using the results of those evaluations to make improvements to its programs.
- R5.1 Surveys - Student Satisfaction Survey - fall 2016
- R5.2 Surveys - Distance Education Student Survey - fall 2016
- R5.3 Surveys - Online Counseling Survey
- R5.4 Surveys - Zoom Survey Veterans
- R5.5 Minutes - DE Data Discussion - Division Meeting - 2-7-17
- R5.6 Data - DE v Face-to-Face Comparability Data
- R5.7 Reports - E-Counseling Usage Data - 2015-2016
- R5.8 Minutes - #4 Comparable Services to DE Students - Dean/Counselor Meeting - April, 2016
- R5.9 Minutes - #4.h Cranium Café - Dean/Counselor Meeting - August, 2016
- R5.10 Emails - DE Student Demographic Data - 10-18-2016
- R5.11 Emails - DE Counseling Marketing Email - 1-19-2017
- R5.12 Emails - Zoom Implementation at the LPC Veterans Resource Center - 10-18-2016
- R5.13 Website - Online Tutoring
- R5.14 Survey - Weekly Math DE Tutoring Survey - fall 2016
- R5.15 Survey - Reading and Writing Center DE Tutoring Survey - fall 2016
- R5.16 Memo - Online Tutoring Summary - 10-12-2016
- R5.17 Minutes - #5.e. Integrated Planning Information - College Council - October, 2016
- R5.18 Email - Net-Tutor Dean Email - 12-5-16
- R5.19 Data - DE Survey Student Services Data - fall 2016
- R5.20 Program Review Update - Counseling - Section C & E - fall 2016