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Student Retention
Project by:
Jess Craig
Joyce Arntson
Evie Einstein

A Model for Promoting Student Retention & Success



    This paper outlines the Performance Outcomes for Objectives 5.1 and 5.2 of the Teachers, Not Trainers Grant. The goal of TNT Grant, Objective 5, is to develop, implement, and field test a model to be shared statewide integrating the work and support of both instructional and student services faculty. 


    Objective 5.1 Activities & Outcomes

    Procedures / Activities

    Activities included meeting onsite and electronically with faculty leaders in Instruction and Student Services to design a model to integrate instruction and student services to increase student retention and success.

    To promote student success, traditional counseling including academic, personal and career development, were combined with technical advisement to produce a model designed to promote student retention and success. As a unique approach in integrating instructional programs and student services, it was determined that a counselor would work closely with the classroom instructor and the project director to coordinate this effort.

    Performance Outcomes

    It was determined that the project counselor must have an Information Technology (IT) background, and needs to understand IT certification in additional to possessing academic counseling skills.

    Once selected, the project counselor, in conjunction with the classroom instructor and the project director, developed the following model elements for student success.

    1. Develop student characteristics of the class.
    2. The project counselor made classroom visits to encourage students to make counseling appointments.
    3. Offer counseling session for all students ever associated with the class.
    4. Send letters to students offering counseling appointments.

    Course Characteristics

    CIS 215D is designed for technical professionals who intend to install and work with Local Area Networks or LANs. System administrators learn to support users, set up and administer user and group accounts, implement levels of security, and back up and maintain the client workstations.

    This course covers the terminology, technology, topologies, and software used in LANs. Different topologies, hardware, and software are compared and evaluated for a variety of applications. Topics such as printing and workstation administration are emphasized.

    The course was scheduled to meet on Mondays from 4-7pm on a semester bases (16.6 weeks) and offered for 3 units and 3 hours lecture.  While there are no Prerequisites for this course, the Recommended Preparation is CIS 215B - Introduction to Local Area Networks. CIS 215D also included a lab co-requisite.

    Student Characteristics

    Prior to the first class meeting on January 8, 2001, a total of 52 students were ever enrolled in CIS 215D. Eight (8) students dropped prior to the first class meeting and 5 students dropped on or after the first class meeting. Thirty-nine (39) students were actively enrolled in the course. 

    The average load for student in the course was 11 units. The maximum and minimum unit loads were 18 and 3.5, respectively.  The average student age was 35 years, with a maximum age of 59 and a minimum age of 20. Active enrollment based on gender was 28 males (71.8%) and 11 females (28.2%).

    At the conclusion of the class, 37 students completed the course.


    Objective 5.2 Activities & Outcomes

    Procedures / Activities

    Activities included implementing the integrated model (from Objective 5.1) at Irvine Valley College with a field test of 20 students.

    Counseling sessions were scheduled for 30 minutes to assist students with academic, career and personal development. For student convenience, appointments were available on Mondays prior to class meeting times from 3-4pm and after class from 7-8pm. Appointments were also available two Saturdays.

    Performance Outcomes

    A total of 5 students attended counseling sessions. The results are summarized as follows (in no particular order.)

    Student 1.  One student dropped the class prior to the first class meeting because she learned through a friend that this class was one of a series of classes to prepare students for Cisco certification. Her goal was to complete MSCE.

    Student 2.  This student was currently enrolled in CIS 215D and made an appointment as a result of a letter he received. The student wanted advice on the Cisco certification process and information about degree and transfer requirements. The project counselor outlined the course sequence for Cisco certification and provided material to help the student understand the Cisco certification process. While there are a host of Internet sites providing information about the certification process, the student was advised to be aware that some sites charge significantly for preparation materials. The student's academic history was reviewed and an educational plan was developed to meet degree and transfer requirements to a California state university.

    Student 3.  Again, in response to a letter to inviting students to make a counseling appointment, this student wanted information about degree requirements. A review of the student's academic background and language skills during the counseling session indicated difficulty with English. While the student completed intermediate English as a second language (ESL), the student admitted he was having difficulty in this class. The student was then scheduled to take an ESL assessment and then enroll in an appropriate ESL class.

    Student 4.  After attending CIS 215D for about 2 months, this student was concerned that perhaps networking was not the education direction he wanted to pursue. The student was provided information on other aspect of the computer industry such as software development. After an brief discussion about the responsibilities of a ``programmer" and an outline of the MSCE requirements, the student elected to enroll in a programming class for the summer and has scheduled a future counseling session to help him determine which certificate path to pursue.

    Student 5.  One student attending the class advised a friend to make an appointment and the friend did so. This student was confused about industry and college certifications and also wanted to know if a certificate was more important that a degree. The concept of an ``industry" certificate verses college certificate is very confusing not only to students, but professionals in the computer industry as well as professionals in education. The student was advised that the industry certificate requires testing and that the courses are designed to prepare him to successfully complete the ``industry" certification test. The student was then presented with information about the college certificate as well as degree requirements for a degree and transfer to a four-year institution.

    The concept of an industry certificate verses college certificate will be covered in more detail in the final draft of this report.





    The model presented here has been designed to integrate instruction and student services to increase student success. By applying such a model, project counselors, classroom instructors, and project directors will develop a better understanding of the educational goals and intentions of each student.  Instructors and student services providers are then better equipped to offer educational consultation that result in increased student retention and success. 

    The tasks of the model are as follows.

    1. Develop student characteristics of the class.
    2. The project counselor makes classroom visits to encourage students to make counseling appointments.
    3. Offer counseling session for all students associated with the class.
    4. Send letters to students offering counseling appointments.

    The concept of an industry certificate verses college certificate needs to be defined and the benefits of each path well understood by instructors and student services providers. Communicating this information to each student will allow them to make appropriate choices for achieving their educational and career goals.

    Through time and the use of the model, instructors and student services providers may want to add elements that they find increase their students' retention and success.  This is, of course, encouraged.  Please feel free to visit the TNT Website, and share your techniques and stories of success.

    The evolutionary nature of careers, and the diverse and ongoing learning paths individuals take to realize their career goals is evident in the debate about the value of vocational certificates, associate degrees, and baccalaureate degrees. Evident in the choices one makes is the need for education to have personal value. Requiring economic investment, as well as investments of personal time and effort, continuing education after high school must be seen as critical to one's career progression.

    According to the National Alliance of Business (1998), new jobs in the 21st century will require more education. Marchese (1999) recommends that educational institutions look to their corporate and for-profit competitors to see how they incorporate career-based quality improvement and assessment as a means of ensuring industry-relevant competency. In this regard, 4-year colleges, community colleges, corporate universities, professional societies, and private enterprises are all major competitors in the challenge to provide meaningful education and training to the current and future work force. (Source:



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