Focus groups reveal tips for engagement – ​​Campus Current


Zack Buster

AACC’s Office of Student Engagement helps conduct surveys and focus groups to gauge student opinions on how the college can better engage them.

Students participated in focus groups to help AACC administrators understand how to prevent them from dropping out.

Hundreds of students have been invited to participate in three focus groups — small meetings where students can voice their opinions on ways the college can retain its students — this semester.

“[The] the experience was good; it was a diverse group of students,” KyAnna Arrington, a transfer student who started taking classes here in 2018, said. “It was… you know, a safe space where you can talk about whatever you need to talk about. Some things, you know, can get a little personal, a little sensitive.

Two vice-presidents of the AACC formed The Enrollment, Retention and Completion Committee in November to explore ways the college can help students stay in school.

“There’s been a decline in retention,” vice president of learning Tanya Millner, the college’s provost, said at the time. “We’re trying to find ways to meet students where they are and bring them back to campus.”

Amberdawn Cheathamwho co-chairs a subcommittee on student engagement, said student engagement is key to creating a quality college experience.

“Better student engagement increases a student’s sense of belonging,” said Cheatham, AACC’s director of student engagement. “And if a student feels a sense of belonging, he feels a sense of belonging to the community, right? So they’re going to do whatever they have to do to continue being part of the Riverhawk family.

Fewer students have been enrolling in community colleges, both nationally and at AACC, recently, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, more and more students are dropping out.

The Cheatham committee is looking for “to see how engagement in and out of class has a real impact on people’s decision to continue enrolling,” she said.

The committee found that students lack knowledge about the benefits that come with being a member of the AACC community.

“What we’ve found is that students don’t know about the resources that are here on campus for them,” Cheatham said. “So we asked them about, say, tutoring or HelpLink or whatever. … We had a whole list of resources that we showed, and students were like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know we had that on campus.’ »

Cheatham added, “One of the takeaways for us is to figure out what’s the best way to deliver the resources to the students and figure out which resources should be prioritized.”
Arrington agreed.

“So I think in general there’s a lack of commitment,” Arrington said. “And also just knowing where things are, knowing where resources are that students can use. … So we have a lot of resources, there are a lot of things that we could take advantage of … but I think the main thing is that the students don’t know it’s there.

Ben Nussbaumer, a fourth-year hotel resource management student who participated in one of the focus groups, echoed those sentiments.

“One of the biggest issues is that students just aren’t really aware of what’s going on on campus,” said Nussbaumer, president of the Student Government Association. “So I think one of the things the college can do is…go over more things like using the Nest during student orientations.”

The Nest is AACC’s website for student clubs.

Cheatham said the focus groups also revealed that students want “to have the resources that will help them combat their day-to-day issues.”

Students highlighted issues such as transportation.

Cheatham said students also complained of screen fatigue as they attended many meetings and classes on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

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