Our goals for this project are aligned with many initiatives that are ongoing at our institution, Wake Tech Community College. Two of the items that we would like to focus on are how our goals are aligned with Wake Tech's current Quality Enhancement plan titled EPIC (Elearning Preparedness Across the College) and how our review of data helped to start discussions on supporting at risk students in our geology classes.
EPIC is an initiative to improve online student success by increasing student preparedness and creating an online certification and training program for all of our online instructors. The student preparedness aspect requires all students who have not already successfully completed an online class at Wake Tech to take pretests on several items including computer skills, Blackboard skills, and tools for being a successful online student. If the pretests are not passed successfully, the students will work through a series of modules on the topic and then take a post test. The second portion of EPIC is creating an online training certification for our instructors, which includes 30 hours of professional development. The EPIC instructor certification includes many of the strategies to improve student success that we also learned through the SAGE 2YC project. Some of these included creating a growth mindset for our students, using both formative and summative assessments, creating societally relevant material, creating accessible material, and stressing the importance of communication with students. Some of the topics that were important to both students and instructors were helping students to understand time management skills and creating a sense of belonging in online classes. The EPIC Assessment team has collected data over the last four years for this initiative, and will produce a report in 2020. Adrianne Leinbach was on both the EPIC Assessment Team as well as the team that began work on the student pre and post tests. Through her work with these teams, Adrianne was also able to share much of what she has learned during her work with SAGE 2YC. Initial data from EPIC does show an improvement in student success and a slight decrease in withdrawal rates. Geology was actually the first math/science class that Wake Tech taught online starting in 2002. Currently both Adrianne Leinbach and Gretchen Miller are EPIC certified, and Adrianne has an EPIC Master Certification. Two of Wake Tech's other geology instructors also hold EPIC certifications.
The second item that we are starting to work on with our institution concerns some trends we found while reviewing data we have been collecting for the SAGE 2YC project. Our analysis of the data shows that students in certain demographic groups are less likely to be successful in our courses, particularly in the online sections. Understanding this has helped us develop better tools to support our students, such as better communication with the students. We have opened up conversations with several people throughout our institution, including an instructional designer who has experience with helping instructors improve success in their classes.