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College Seminar Community College of Allegheny County
Student success courses, or first year experience courses, are courses offered at both 2- and 4-year colleges and generally result in positive retention and success outcomes. Surveys conducted on the sector have revealed that between 84 and 87% of community colleges have a first-year experience courses (CCSSE, 2012, Alamuddin & Bender, 2018).
Research indicates that students who enroll in such courses at community colleges are more likely to earn college-level credits within the first year and are more likely to persist to the second year (Karp, Raufman, Efthimiou & Ritze, 2015). Students are more are also more likely to earn an associate degree and transfer (Cho & Karp, 2013).
Research on first-year seminar courses has shown that courses focusing on knowledge transmission often have positive, but short-term, effects that fade over time (Rutschow et al. 2012). Courses that help students develop skills, however, and focus on the application of those skills and resources required for success are more likely to result in longer-term positive outcomes that persist throughout a student’s academic career (Karp, Raufman, Efthimiou & Ritze, 2015).
Therefore, SEM105 is built upon three pillars of student success:
Helping students choose or affirm career paths that suits their strengths and has a positive occupational outlook
Helping students develop an academic plan and providing them with the tools to adjust the plan as necessary throughout their time at CCAC.
Providing students with the opportunity to develop a resource plan to recover from failure or setback, including internal resources (e.g. study skills, time management strategies, etc.) and external resources (faculty office hours, success coaches, food pantries, etc.).
Faculty will benefit from knowing that their students have been exposed to the baseline skills necessary to be successful at CCAC, including students who are more competent in using academic email and blackboard; more skilled in communicating with peers and professors; more self-directed and learning actively in the classroom; and have more effective study techniques for more success in their courses.
SEM 105 will provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the academic expectations of CCAC, enhance their study and time management skills, receive assistance with mapping out their career, academic, and personal goals, and learn about the role diversity plays in their college experience.
None! A robust Blackboard shell has been developed with sample lesson plans and other resources for instructors’ use and a comprehensive resource has been created for students to use not only when enrolled in SEM105 but throughout their careers at CCAC.
All first-time college students must enroll in SEM105 within the first 9 credits at CCAC, except visiting students and students who have successfully completed 15 or more credits from another post-secondary institution.
Dual enrollment students will not be required to take the course while in high school, but will be required to complete the course during their first semester at CCAC regardless of the number of credits earned through dual enrollment courses.
Students who are admitted directly into nursing, joint union apprenticeship programs, and allied health and trade certificate programs are also exempt.
One three-credit non-teaching overage will be available for coordinators at each campus to assist with the scheduling and staffing of the course, implementation of assessment, and ensuring consistency across sections of SEM 105. One of those campus coordinators will receive an additional overage to serve as the college coordinator with responsibility for program review and consistency across the college.
As an initiative impacting all CCAC students, no single department will “own” SEM 105; rather, the campus coordinator’s department will determine where the course is housed on every campus each year. The campus coordinator will work to ensure that department heads are not overly burdened with SEM 105.