Student success is the buzzword at Edgecombe Community College in 2014.
From a student-led initiative to faculty innovations, efforts to help students reach their educational goals will guide college programs throughout the year. Rebecca Stamilio-Ehret, physics and industrial/technical trades instructor, has received national recognition for her plan designed to reduce the dropout rate for female students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.
Her plan, called the Women in STEM Retention Plan, was named one of the top three training plans developed as part of the 2013 National Science Foundation-funded WomenTech Educators Training. Stamilio-Ehret’s plan combines best practices with the latest educational research. For example, she explains, “Stereotypically, men are interested in nuts and bolts and impressed by technology because it’s ‘cool.’ Women, on the other hand, tend to want to help people.
“To reach a larger pool of female students, we can’t just wow them with technology, we have to explain how they will use it and benefit by it.”
In her own classes at Edgecombe, she has found that retention and student success begin on the first day of class. “If we complete a simple activity that everyone can do correctly, the students’ confidence in their ability to master the course work increases. It changes their mindset, especially for women, from day one.”
The national WomenTech Educators Training competition included recruitment and retention plans developed by faculty from four-year colleges and universities as well as community colleges. At Edgecombe, students are taking charge of their own success.
At the start of spring semester last month, about 500 students signed a pledge to complete their education. Called the Community College Completion Corps program, or C4 for short, it is part of a nationwide initiative for students to complete their degrees.
“It makes you want to push yourself,” says Nina Sinclair, president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society at ECC who pitched the idea to college officials. “You have the support of faculty, staff, and students – your peers. We’ve got your back; we’ll push you.”
Edgecombe staff will monitor the progress of students who signed the pledge. If any students fall behind, the college will step in to see what kind of help they need to fulfill the promise.