The ATD Leadership team originally consisted of the six administrators and faculty who saw the need for Achieving the Dream at our institution and worked to make DACC an Achieving the Dream school. After the Core and Data team was created, the Leadership team expanded to include three more administrators and faculty for a current total of nine members. This team meets before the Core and Data team meetings to discuss how our interventions are progressing and what can be done to improve any part of an intervention that may not be working. The Leadership team also serves as a liaison between the college and national Achieving the Dream representatives.
The Core and Data team is the main task force behind DACC’s Achieving the Dream initiative. When DACC first became a part of the Achieving the Dream, the Core and Data team was created to gather the quantitative and qualitative data needed to determine the best interventions to increase student retention and completion rates. This team meets monthly to hear updates on the progress of each area of focus, determine how our ATD interventions are progressing, and offer support and suggestions to the focus areas should any be necessary. All area focus members for Equity and Inclusion, First Year Experience, and Teaching and Learning are members of the Core and Data team.
The Equity and Inclusion focus area was created after data showed that African American males ages 19-24 had the lowest retention and completion rates of the student cohorts studied and student surveys and focus groups pointed to a high number of obstacles and low support systems for members of this group. In an effort to assist African American males with these problems, the Equity and Inclusion members created A-MALE (African Males Addressing Life Effectively), a support group that works to diminish obstacles and build a network for these students throughout their time here at DACC. In conjunction with the A-MALE group for African American males, the Equity and Inclusion members also created a leadership class called WISE (Women Inspiring Success Effectively) for African American females that works to provide the same information and support as A-MALE in a more structured setting.
The First Year Experience (FYE) focus area, mostly made up of student services staff, tackles the all-encompassing idea of a student’s first year experience here at Danville Area Community College. Research has found that a student’s first year can determine how successful that student will be for the rest of his or her college career, and, because of this, members of FYE are working on making this transitional time as smooth and as positive as possible. After mapping out the ideal first year experience in an effort to see where information and process gaps are currently occurring, members of this area are now focusing on DACC’s freshman orientation course Success in College. A separate task force, combining First Year Experience and Teaching and Learning members, is currently gathering data to determine what changes need to be made to the course and looking at what other schools have done to make their student success courses as informative and beneficial as possible.
The Teaching and Learning focus area is comprised of administrators and faculty on campus who are committed to finding ways to engage students within the classroom environment. A major area of focus for these members is the topic of cooperative learning, which is a method of teaching that incorporates more student interdependence as well as personal accountability into the course curriculum. The Teaching and Learning focus area has also created a Teaching Excellence Academy which will offer the faculty a venue to share their successful cooperative learning strategies and new teaching techniques with one another in an effort to expose different academic areas on campus to a variety of best practices.