Gateway Technical College Improves Student Test Scores with eLab™ SET
|“The eLab SET solution allows us to place students in the right course, reduce course failure rate, and give us data we wanted to share with accrediting agencies..”
- Ray Koukari Jr., Dean - Business, Gateway Technical College
Gateway wanted to reduce course failure rates and improve retention rates.
eLab SET provides Gateway with a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution that provided the platform and data needed to affect student outcomes.
Labyrinth Learning Products and Services
A key goal for Gateway is to enable a core ability for all students to “demonstrate essential computer skills” by graduation.
To ensure they met this goal, they were challenged with how to measure success and report success.
Key Concerns to be addressed:
1. The Computer basics course requirement was up to the Program Chair, not consistent among all programs.
High filure rates. Computer basics had the highest failure rate of any course in the college.
During the accreditation process it was noted that they needed more measurements & reporting to show that they were getting results. Everyone wanted “the numbers”.
Gateway realized that they needed some type of tool to help assess and report on student computer skills.
Download a copy of the Presentation from NCTA 2014
First step for Gateway was to hypothesize why there was a high failure rate
Instructor meetings – brainstorm “Why is there such a high rate for the existing Computer Basics course?”
Instructor Feedback - students were not prepared for the computers basics course. Wide range of skills left some students unprepared, confused, or bored.
Instructor Recommendation: a course for students who are not prepared enough for the existing Computer Basics course. Needs Identified: New, developmental course; Method to determine student placement
Resulting Goal - Find a method to determine who could & couldn’t take the basics course.
Design / Build / Implement
The team worked to research a find a tool that was agile enough to meet their campus environment needs now and in the future, including the various Office Suite version, email clients, and testing tools. Next they outlined what should be tested, built tests and then implement a technical solution for a beta release.
The frst step was working with Labyrinth to get recommendations on the intial design of the test, and then with three rounds of feedback the design and build phase went through internal reviews and testing. The first beta was delivered during the summer courses, to nine sections of students across all programs. The baseline grades were determined through testing sessions with existing Administrative staff at Gateway.
Test Timing & Location
The implementation plan consisted of utilizing the college Assessment Center, and the testing was done in conjunction with Compass testing.
Following compass test, students clicked a link and were taken to digital literacy test.
One concern from administrations was that the extended testing might be too long. However, results showed that most students tested in just 20 minutes. A few tested up to an hour. Also, most students were not surprised of their results, and they felt assured that they would be placed in a course that was right for them.
All students in technical and associate degree programs tested and placed into the computer course that will most enable them to be successful.
There are two courses for computer education:
• 3 Credit Computers for Professionals
• 1 Credit Basic Computing (NEW)
New to the students are three placement options depending on the score on the computer assessment:
• 0-49 go into Basic Computing
• 50-89 go into Computers for Professionals
• 90 and above – Credit for Prior Learning
Scores used from the test determine the course they take.
All technical diplomas and associate degree students are mandated to take the computer skills assessment test.
Keys to Gaining Institutional Support
• Highlight that this issue has impact across all divisions
• Failure in early classes = higher drop out rates
• Broader problem involving all students
GOAL: Help students be more successful, not determine admission.
Early involvement of all divisions
• Share vision & implementation plan
• Including others early in planning phase
• Pass along information to all
• Clear on goals and plan
Engage a wide audience to gather support
• Challenge - Business & IT get it, but not the whole college
• Try to get support from the broader audience
Gain commitment to change
• Senior management
• Provost has to be on board
• Data is key to commitment
Seek IT support
• Click another link, and go into the computer assessment
• Put another “test field” in the system
• Use API to automate the process to integrate (15 min)
Conduct a pilot
• Test process
• Test student results
Student Preparedness-- 90% of Instructors said the students were better prepared.
Alignment with Goals -- Measured all students on the "core ability" statement for basic computer skills..
Reduced Course Failure Rates -- By placing students in the correct courses, they reduced the course failure and drop out rates enabling students to be more successful in their enrolled course..
Attained Actionable Data-- Data being gathered in both pre and post tests of all students provide information for accrediting agencies, course placement efforts and the ability to make course improvements over time.
INSTRUCTOR SOUND BITES
Students feel more comfortable coming into Computers for Professionals. As an instructor, providing that basic class has made my starting days so much easier in Computers for Professionals. Most of the students come in with the basics, and I can start right in teaching what is suppose to be taught in that class. – C. Wooster
It allows me to give extra attention to the students who are just beginning and I no longer feel like I'm neglecting the students who need more help in getting started. – A. Perkins
I think the computer skills assessment has greatly helped Computers for Professionals. I wish it would have been implemented years ago. It was very difficult to teach this course when you have people who have no computer skills at all - yes they are out there. - W. Revolinski