THECB Recognizes OC for Excellence 11-14-12
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Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

THECB Recognizes OC for Excellence

Odessa, Texas (November 14, 2012) – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) honored Odessa College with a “Recognition of Excellence” for the Drop Rate Improvement Program (DRIP) that Odessa College created to increase student and faculty success. The Recognition of Excellence is designed to showcase models of excellence in the education community and was presented during the quarterly Coordinating Board meeting held in Austin, Texas.

The Drop Rate Improvement Program, affectionately known by OC faculty and staff as the “DRIP”, is a process that provides faculty with data-driven recommendations for improving the instructor-student relationship. OC faculty implemented this program in order to increase retention by decreasing the number of students dropping out of a class within the semester. This effort, in turn, improves students’ future success of completing their higher education aspirations.

The thought process behind creating DRIP was as follows:

When a student registers for a course, it is understood that the student has the intention of completing that course within the semester time frame. Therefore, DRIP focuses on “within-semester” retention.

After studying faculty retention rates, their interactions with students and their teaching methods, it was ascertained that drop rates had little to do with the actual teaching methods, but rather with the relationships the teachers have with their students. Findings were formulated into a functional program. A Drop Rate Standard was created for all faculty members. Those who were not meeting this standard were given support and a plan for student success.

Vice-president for institutional effectiveness Dr. Donald Wood stated, “Data driven solutions show that a faculty member does not have to change anything about the way he/she teaches.” Dr. Wood continued, “Teachers who had little involvement with students other than lectures and exams had significantly higher drop rates. The successful faculty had a common thread of connectivity to their students. These teachers knew their students by name. They knew when the student was having difficulty and they stopped to assist right then and there. They knew when the student was going to drop because they had a connection to that student.” Dr. Wood summarized, “Instructors should care about the students and let their students know that they care. If a student drops a class, it should never come as a surprise to their instructor.”

Upon implementation of the Drop Rate Improvement Program, the effort that faculty members placed into getting to know their students had a direct impact on student success. Drop rates improved significantly with all faculty members showing improvement. The OC within-semester campus drop rate is now below 10% – meaning 90% of students who start a class with OC complete that class.

“Data substantiates the success from a student-centered environment,” Dr. Wood confirmed. “We are proud to be on the cutting edge of innovative and creative methods for increasing student success.”

“It takes guts to try something different” said Dr. Greg Williams, president of Odessa College. “However, you don’t just start doing these things. You must have the support of your full team. And that’s what we always hope to have. The OC Drop Rate Improvement Program has the support of the Odessa College team. It’s about the entire team at Odessa College.” Dr. Williams continued, “We’ve been tough on this. It’s serious business. We’re not just involved...we are all committed.”

At the completion of the Recognition of Excellence presentation, Coordinating Board secretary Dennis Golden said, “I’ve been on this Board nearly three years. This is one of the most impressive presentations I’ve heard and I want to compliment you on that. You guys have changed the culture of the institution. I hope, in a way, that other institutions are listening. Maybe you could create a model that could be replicated, because you’re obviously doing some very innovative and creative things. And that’s what it’s going to take for us to get where we need to be. With fewer resources, we’re going to be expected to do more with less. You’ve translated your institution from, what perhaps could have been a faculty-centered culture, to obviously a very strong student-centered culture. And I’m anxious to see where this is going to end up. Thank you for being innovative and creative, and not sitting back and waiting for someone else to step out and take the lead. You’ve obviously stepped up to the plate and said ‘We’re not going to be happy with things as they were. We’re going to do things differently. We’re going to raise the standard and we can do better.’ That’s the kind of attitude that I think it is going to take here in Texas to get us at the forefront of higher education in this country. So, I applaud you for that. Thank you for the hard work and what you’re doing. We’re very, very excited about what Odessa College has accomplished.”

“Odessa College lives and breathes our goal to become the best community college in the nation,” Dr. Greg Williams, president of Odessa College stated. “The Recognition of Excellence we received from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is acknowledgement that we are taking substantial steps in that direction.”

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