Projects Underway

Improving Student Performance in SUNY Orange Placement Assessment and Developmental Courses Through the Use of Video Presentations

Mary Ford

Project Team
  • Stacey Moegenburg, SUNY Orange

Orange County Community College

2012

Tier Two

Project Abstract:

SUNY Orange’s proposal meets the objectives of the IIT Grant and advance SUNY Orange’s goal of reducing the number of students in developmental courses, helping students place into freshman level, non- remedial courses as early as possible in their college careers.

Utilizing IIT grant funds, the college proposes to produce a series of customized video presentations about how SUNY Orange uses the Accuplacer placement assessment. This program will include several short (five minutes) modules that focus on different aspects of the exam and relevant resources:
1) the purpose of the three-part exam, its format and testing conditions, its ramifications for students’ college careers – including input from students who have taken the exam;
2) subjects covered in the math segment and an overview of math placements;
3) discussion of the reading component and overview of reading placements;
4) discussion of the writing component of the exam, which is comprised of an essay, and an overview of
placements;
5) continued discussion of the writing component, including the rubric used by the English department to
evaluate the essays with references to sample essays; and
6) discussion of additional available online resources for developmental math, reading and writing
students - links provided.

These presentations are an efficient way to expand and supplement a current SUNY Orange outreach program designed to improve student outcomes whereby the OEP Director, the AVP of Liberal Arts and faculty members meet with high school students, teachers and administrators to acquaint them with the content, rubric and importance of the writing portion of the placement exam – the segment that results in the largest number of developmental placements. OEP also collaborates with Orange-Ulster BOCES and Goshen Secure Center, a detention center operated by the Office of Child and Family Services, on this initiative.

Through its outreach program, SUNY Orange has offered “practice” writing assessments to classes of high school juniors, and some high schools have revamped curricula to bring their courses and, particularly, their 12th grade courses into alignment with the writing assessment in order to reduce the number of graduates who test into developmental writing. The College is currently completing a full cycle of this pilot program at one school – the students took a practice placement last year, their teachers incorporated aspects of the college’s developmental writing curriculum into their 12th grade curriculum this year, and the students, as graduating seniors, have now taken the writing placement exam. Data on this pilot will be available to share with SUNY colleagues through SUNY’s Innovative Instruction framework. As additional districts learn about its outreach programs, and express interest in replicating them, SUNY Orange has recognized that it is not possible to scale up throughout the county with current staffing. The College wishes to develop virtual alternatives as a cost effective way to share with all interested school districts year after year.

To ensure widespread dissemination, the video presentations will be housed on SUNY Orange’s admissions webpage. They will also be available to be linked to or embedded in high school guidance departments’ webpages with other information regarding college admissions. High school teachers will be able to show individual videos or the entire series, and guidance counselors will be able to use them as part of their college presentations. In addition, high school students will have access to the videos through the SUNY Orange website, which will direct applicants to them.

SUNY Orange will be able to track interest in the videos that are accessed through the college’s admissions website, and the site will also feature a survey monkey component to chronicle students’ assessment of the value of the information provided. In addition, the placement exam itself will flag students who self-identify as having viewed the college’s video presentations and their placements will be compared to those who did not have prior knowledge about the exam.

For students who do place into developmental courses, the college proposes to use instructional technology to strengthen the college’s developmental courses: first, by housing the material developed for the admissions’ webpage on the college’s Learning Assistance Services and departmental webpages as well as on the admissions webpage to provide additional resources for current developmental students at the college; and second, by scheduling a series of “Best Practices for Developmental Instructors” seminars for instructors through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) as well as department-sponsored seminars for adjuncts who teach developmental courses. The seminars for adjuncts will focus on course content and pedagogy and, by offering support to this group of instructors, the college will invigorate its developmental courses. Stipends will be offered as an incentive for adjuncts to attend these seminars, and videos of these events will be a resource for current and new instructors.

This proposal fulfills the objectives of the SUNY IT Grant. By addressing students’ needs before they enter SUNY Orange and by strengthening developmental courses, it employs instructional technology to improve learning across disciplines. SUNY Orange’s videos can be shared through the Power of SUNY Innovative Instruction framework. Through the use of assessment data and feedback, SUNY Orange can gauge the effectiveness of the project. Because the placement component builds on existing collaborations with school districts, it illustrates how partnerships can improve the quality of students’ learning. These program’s objectives align with the National Completion Agenda and the goals of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Project Outcome:

Four placement videos thoroughly describe the accuplacer process and what to expect from the exam process. All materials are available here.