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Hundreds of faculty from Maryland’s community colleges met on December 2 at the 7th annual Summit on Completion, to identify and collaborate on successful strategies to further enhance the colleges’ seven years of gains in student completion of both degree programs and career certificate programs. Harford Community College President Dianna Phillips and 16 HCC faculty, administrators, and staff attended the event. Organized by the Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC), the annual Summit is hosted by the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville, Maryland.

Presenters at the MACC Summit who were from Harford Community College included Jennie Towner, Director for Student Success; Pam Runge, Learning Center Manager; Courtney Gurrera, Student Success Specialist; Elizabeth Mosser, Assistant Professor of Psychology; and Chris Jones, Professor of Mathematics.

Runge, Towner, and Gurrera presented “Non-Cognitive Factors: Impact on Student Success.” At Harford Community College, the Student Success Department is committed to promoting student retention and completion. In their presentation, they discussed the impact non-cognitive factors such as motivation, persistence, and resilience have on student success. They shared how they incorporate addressing non-cognitive factors into their work with students through the academic coaching program offered through the My College Success Network and in the services provided in the Learning Center. According to Towner, “We had a packed house and the audience seemed very engaged in our presentation.”

Mosser and Jones co-presented “Psychology and Statistics: How Our Learning Community Helped Student Think Scientifically and Enjoy It!” Students question the utility of course concepts – they ask, “When am I ever going to use this?” They are also too eager to agree with any presentation of ‘research’ no matter the veracity of the claim. To address these concerns, Mosser and Jones linked their Psychology and Statistics courses during the spring 2016 semester and engaged students in joint activities aimed at increasing their scientific literacy through the application of statistical concepts to psychological phenomena. Learning Communities have been shown to have a positive effect on student engagement, persistence, and retention. They shared their process for designing and executing this Learning Community.

“Many students enter community college without clear plans for education and career,” said keynote speaker, Thomas Bailey, author of “Redesigning Community Colleges” and director of the Community College Research Center. “This lack of clarity can cause missteps and prevent students from completing. Community colleges need to provide guided pathways; and they must have sufficient financial resources to support that effort.”

Largely due to technological advances, demand for unskilled workers is steadily declining. Today’s marketplace needs workers with training and education beyond high school. To help address Maryland’s skills gap, the state’s community colleges launched a completion initiative in 2010, and have seen consistent increases in college completions since that time.

“The digital economy is creating the middle skills workplace. Middle skills jobs require training and education beyond high school, but don’t require a four-year degree,” said Dr. Bernie Sadusky, Executive Director of MACC. “In some cases, jobs requiring an associate degree or professional certification can actually pay better than jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. Community college credentials add value and create opportunity.”

About Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC)

At 16 Maryland community colleges, 23 campuses and more than 1000 learning sites across the state, 500,000 community college students annually pursue academic degrees, 150+ certifications in career and technical training, and diverse courses that refresh and develop career and life skills. Key partners in local economic development, Maryland community colleges deliver customized training designed to meet immediate, local labor needs and ensure the availability of a skilled workforce to attract new businesses and employers. MACC is an advocate for the state’s community colleges and the educational needs of the students they serve. For more information about MACC and Maryland’s community colleges, visit www.mdacc.org or call (410) 974-8117.

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