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Achieving the Dream


analyzed data and created final report. North Harris College personnel ... Dr. Cher Brock, Vice President, Instruction. 18. Faculty Focus Groups - Questions ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream
  • North Harris College
  • Focus Groups
  • Spring 2007

Achieving the Dream
  • Nationwide Initiative
  • to help students succeed
  • addresses needs of
  • Students of color
  • Low income students
  • First-generation students
  • North Harris College
  • is dedicated to student success
  • This qualitative study addresses
  • students needs
  • offers strategies to help students succeed

Table of Contents
Focus Group Methodology
  • Moderator - Dr. Vicki Bradley
  • developed questions with college personnel
  • conducted focus groups
  • analyzed data and created final report
  • North Harris College personnel
  • supervised focus group process
  • recruited and contacted participants
  • videotaped focus groups
  • Focus Group participants
  • volunteered their time
  • were assured confidentiality regarding sensitive

North Harris CollegeFocus GroupsSpring 2007
  • 1 Student Group
  • 2 Faculty Groups
  • 1 Community Group

Executive Summaryof Final Report
  • Focus group participants
  • were supportive of and loyal to North Harris
  • shared a wealth of ideas to help the college
  • Similar results for two or more focus groups
  • assistance needed for prospective students
  • North Harris College is
  • difficult to locate (-)
  • inexpensive ()
  • friendly ()
  • Strategies based on focus group results
  • increase student success
  • increase colleges visibility

North Harris College - Achieving the Dream
Student Focus Group Spring 2007
  • Objective
  • To gather data about student success
  • Met on 3/21/07
  • Nine participants
  • 19 to 28 years old
  • 6 female 3 male
  • Recruited by
  • Dan Mitsven, Program Manager, Student Activities

Student Focus Group Questions
  • Why did you choose North Harris College?
  • Please talk about your experiences at North
    Harris College.
  • How could North Harris College improve?
  • How does North Harris College differ from other
    NHMCCD Colleges?
  • Written Activities
  • Best/Worst Prepared Students
  • Self-Identified Ethnicity

Students explained why they chose North Harris
  • Financial reasons
  • Its convenient. The cost.
  • I received a scholarship from my high school.
  • Moved to the area
  • Whats North Harris College?
  • I didnt know about North Harris College.
  • Someone told me about it.
  • Chose to wait to attend university
  • Because of a personal tragedy
  • I needed time to choose.

Students talked about their experiences at North
Harris College.
  • Positive Experiences
  • Friendly welcoming
  • It is easy to meet faces even instructors and
    administration heads.
  • It is a family environment.
  • Easy to get involved
  • There is always something going on here
    classes, workshops, joining clubs.
  • Here it is easy to become a club officer. Just
    be willing to do something and do it.
  • Negative Experience
  • Internet courses
  • I guess I just like to bug the teachers. Its not
    cool. There is no one-on-one time with the
  • It is easy to get sidetracked. You might even
    sign in, but you might go read My Space

Students suggested ways that North Harris
College could improve.
  • Faculty Teaching
  • Keep on topic
  • Teacher would talk and talk, but not about the
    lesson. I wanted to pass, but there was no
  • Differentiate between facts and opinions
  • Teacher was opinionated. Said, What did I
    state about ___? It was just opinion, not fact.
  • Answer students questions
  • Teacher would write on the board and not answer
    my questions. I was really upset.
  • Grade students individually for group projects
  • Please do not give one grade for the whole
  • Respect students ideas
  • One teacher made really racist comments,
    carefully picked comments. For example, a
    student said, Lets donate to Katrina. The
    professor said, Turn to page 25 in the book.

Students suggested ways that North Harris
College could improve. (continued)
  • Counseling Advising
  • Let us know you care about us
  • I went to five different ones. They didnt
    care. They said, Go read this book. Go get a
  • Break everything down into steps
  • No one told me I had to file for graduation. I
    will have to come back from Arizona to walk now.
  • Advisors could specialize
  • Advisors should know about your major.
  • Could each one of them know about different
    schools? (for transfers)

Students compared North Harris College to other
NHMCCD Colleges.Students primarily compared
environmental factors.
  • Cy-Fair
  • The cafeteria is really nice.
  • Fairbanks is small.
  • Kingwood
  • Its very different.
  • Its green. A lot of trees.
  • Nice quiet campus.
  • Students are snobby and cliquish. Like high
  • Montgomery
  • I didnt see much difference.
  • The University Center (TUC)
  • Very small. It looks nice. It was quiet. Nobody
    was there. We visited on a Friday.
  • Tomball
  • I took one internet class. It was kinda big. I
    got lost. It is a beautiful campus library.
    Really nice.

According to the Student Focus Group Responses
were written, not verbal.
  • Best Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • focused self-driven
  • enthusiastic
  • appreciate diversity
  • Actions
  • develop good study habits
  • ask for help when needed
  • always attend class
  • get plenty of sleep
  • come to class on time
  • bring pen paper to class
  • take good notes
  • Worst Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • lazy and unmotivated
  • calloused or bigots
  • procrastinate
  • Actions
  • do not buy textbooks
  • take too many classes
  • do not attend class
  • dress inappropriately
  • come late to class
  • sleep in class
  • do not have pen paper

The Question How would you identify yourself if
you could write it in your own words, for
example, on the Census?Objective to explore how
self-identifiers relate to students of color.
  • The Answers
  • Some students focused on their multiple
  • Mexican, Italian, Spanish
  • Mexican and Italian
  • Pakistani and Chinese
  • Hispanic and Columbian
  • Some students preferred to use Census choices.
  • Hispanic
  • White
  • White Caucasian
  • Africa American (Black)
  • Prefer Other or will accept African American
  • Responses were written, not verbal.

Theme of Student Focus GroupThe Comfort of
North Harris College
  • Most of these students spend a lot of time on
  • I wish theyd get dorms.
  • When summer comes I dont know what to do with
  • They are very comfortable at North Harris
  • It is such a cozy environment.
  • Im loving it! I recommend it to all my friends.
    Home cooking!
  • Take your time. Enjoy it!
  • Some of them need help transitioning.
  • It is time to leave North Harris College.
  • They are kicking me out! I have to move out.
  • They have mixed feelings about transferring.
  • At a four-year university I am like an ant
    in New York City! It is overwhelming. (Student
    is concurrently enrolled.)
  • They need help graduating.
  • How do you know when youre ready to graduate?

North Harris College - Achieving the Dream
Faculty Focus Groups Spring 2007
  • Objective
  • To understand faculty perceptions of student
  • First Group (Faculty Senate members)
  • Met on 4/16/07
  • 10 participants (instructors and a counselor)
  • Second Group (Library Council members)
  • Met on 4/24/07
  • 15 participants
  • 8 instructors 6 librarians 1 student
  • Groups recruited by
  • Dr. Cher Brock, Vice President, Instruction

Faculty Focus Groups - Questions
  • What have students told you in the last year
  • Why do students say they choose to attend North
    Harris College?
  • What do students tell you about their experiences
    of North Harris College?
  • What ways do students say North Harris College
    could improve?
  • What has been your experience with students
    during the past year?
  • Written Activity - Best/Worst Prepared Students

Faculty reported that students said they like
North Harris College.
  • close to where they live
  • very reasonably priced
  • recommended by a friend or relative
  • fits their needs because they work all day
  • specific programs and resources that interest
  • a warm atmosphere a family-like institution
  • As students, they
  • can try a lot of different things before they
    choose a major
  • do not have to wait in line for advising

Faculty reported that students said they were
surprised and impressed.
  • In general
  • This isnt 13th grade!
  • (This is not one more easy year of high school.)
  • It is an attractive campus.
  • There is a lot going on here - music and
  • I didnt know all this was here! (at the
  • Summer school students from four-year colleges
  • We are learning the same thing at (four-year
  • You cover a whole semester in a summer class!
  • Youre like a real professor!
  • Boy, you grade hard!

Faculty reported that some students said they
have difficulties.
  • Computer use
  • Compatibility students or colleges technology
    is behind
  • On-line registration
  • Takes too much time. Too many steps.
  • They get bumped off
  • cannot get courses they need
  • Lack of
  • knowledge - just boggled by the process
  • keyboarding skills
  • Textbooks
  • Too expensive complain about the price of
  • Frequent new editions cant use past editions
  • They are surprised they have to buy a book.
  • They want to share a book.
  • Ask professor, Can I borrow a book for the

Faculty reported that students saidNorth Harris
College could improve.
  • Instructors
  • Is there any requirement for knowing how to
  • Students dont like it if the teacher doesnt
    enforce rules.
  • Not being there when students need them.
  • Assignments
  • Too much work to do!
  • For library writing center, students do not
  • understand and they do not know what to ask.
  • have a written assignment to hand us.

Faculty reported that students saidNorth Harris
College could improve (continued).
  • Facilities are not updated.
  • difficult to concentrate due to
  • no sound proofing between classrooms
  • temperature Its not consistent.
  • glare of lighting on (white/chalk) boards
  • District-level compatibility
  • copy cards
  • difficult for students who take classes on
    multiple campuses
  • foreign language software
  • can only use lab at school where they are

Faculty reported that students said North Harris
College could improve (continued).
  • Additional concerns
  • Not enough classes at preferred times
  • Morning/night, certain types of classes, certain
    days of week
  • Im late because the parking is so far away.
  • Do you know how much I had to pay for this
    drink! (in cafeteria)
  • They need stable child care
  • for two hours so they can attend class
  • They would like there to be no developmental
  • Why dont more instructors look like us?
  • (ethnicity and age)

Faculty reported their experiences with students
this past year.
  • Positive Experiences
  • We have fun and I feel like we can stay on task
    at the same time.
  • I feel like I have a very good relationship with
    my students.
  • The rest of the semester was quite wonderful.
  • (only one negative incident)
  • A student said, I took your class because my
    friend told me that you would always explain.
  • Negative Experiences
  • Very frustrating trying to motivate them
  • They dont ever respond unless called on
  • My absences are horrible!
  • They dont know their professors names.

Several faculty had a concern for students.
  • Some students enter and leave classrooms during
  • breaks the whole rhythm of the class
  • I was pouring my entire heart and soul and mind
    into the lecture, and . . . suddenly a student
    stood up to leave the class.
  • Students talk to each other.
  • They are distracted and distract other

According to the Faculty Focus Groups
Responses were written, not verbal.
  • Best Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • responsible for own actions
  • respectful polite
  • focused/enthusiastic/motivated
  • read well
  • computer literate
  • Actions
  • Do
  • have textbook
  • assignments
  • attend class
  • on time to class
  • sit near front of class
  • have materials ready to learn
  • pay attention participate
  • Worst Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • unmotivated trouble focusing
  • immature blame others
  • will not read
  • are too busy to do well/overworked
  • rude/disrespectful
  • Actions
  • Do
  • not have textbook
  • not do assignments
  • not attend class regularly
  • come to class late
  • fall asleep in class
  • do not bring materials to class
  • do not participate
  • use personal communication devices

Theme of the Faculty Focus GroupsDiscipline
  • Faculty tended to emphasize
  • their particular disciplines
  • how discipline differences impact
  • course work requirements
  • faculty relationships with students
  • Disciplines represented at Faculty Focus Groups
  • Biology, Chemistry, Developmental Studies,
    English, ESL, History, Nursing, Psychology,
    Speech and Theater

North Harris College - Achieving the Dream
Community Focus Group
  • Objective
  • To involve the community in improving college
  • Met on 4/18/07
  • Five Participants represented
  • Local not-for-profit organization
  • Local financial establishment
  • Houston-area college
  • Local community (2)
  • Recruited by
  • Dr. Bennie Lambert,
  • Vice President, Student Development

Community Focus Group - Questions
  • What are your connections to North Harris
  • What do you know about North Harris College?
  • What have you heard about North Harris College?
  • Would you recommend North Harris College?
  • Why or why not?
  • What are some possible ways for North Harris
    College to involve the community with the college?

The community members have connections toNorth
Harris College.These connections speak well of
the impact North Harris College has made on this
  • Past and present work
  • for the college
  • in partnership with the college
  • Past students
  • themselves
  • their adult children
  • Present community members
  • visit campus
  • parent of a past instructor
  • Responses grouped.

The community members knew about North Harris
College this past year.
  • Knowledge
  • News Dr. Sam has left. The bond proposal
    didnt pass. Chancellor is retiring.
    Enrollment has leveled off.
  • Events BBQ cook-off. Halloween Carnival.
  • Perceptions
  • Students like North Harris College. They are
    generally pretty positive.
  • There are more activities on campus than in the
  • News Sources
  • web site Very good. Excellent. Easy to get
  • campus newspaper
  • meetings on campus
  • This Week Chronicle newspaper

Community members had heard about North Harris
  • Many people they talked to said
  • My son/daughter went there.
  • I went there. I took a course.
  • Some people they talked to did not seem to know
  • North Harris Colleges location
  • Even people who live near the college say,
    Where is it?
  • It is isolated physically.
  • Who can
  • take dual credit courses?
  • use child development center?
  • apply for financial aid?
  • Types of courses
  • Two-year degree
  • If people dont need a degree, just improve
    their skills.

Community Membersrecommend North Harris College.
  • To students
  • Accessible Take the toll road. Use I-45. Take
    1960. There is a bus route that goes right in
    front of the college.
  • Inexpensive
  • Hours are transferable. Transfer up to 66
    hours to a four-year college.
  • The staff is friendly and helpful. They know the
  • Remedial courses are available.
  • There are intramural sports.
  • For students just coming out of high school.
  • Take courses. Save money!
  • Be home with parents to be sure homework gets
  • It is a good place to nurture your dreams and
    your visions.

Community Members recommend North Harris College.
  • To the community
  • Community members can use library.
  • You can rent facilities such as
  • theater
  • dining room
  • There are no parking fees.

Community members had ideas for how North Harris
College can involve the community.
  • Suggested Strategies
  • help prepare first-year college students
  • increase college visibility
  • create a community advisory board
  • For details, see Proposed Success Strategies.

Focus Group Connections The following issues
were addressed by two or more focus groups.
Student and Community Focus Group Connection
  • Prospective students may need to
  • learn how to utilize registration and advising
  • Terminology
  • Location of services on campus

Student and Community Focus Group Connection
  • Community members have heard
  • and
  • prospective students new to the area had to ask
  • Where is North Harris College?

Student, Community, and Faculty Focus Group
  • Good News
  • North Harris College
  • is inexpensive!

Student, Community, and Faculty Focus Group
  • Good News
  • North Harris College
  • is fun and friendly!

Proposed Success Strategies
College 101 College for First Generation
Students (Community Focus Groups idea)
  • Panel of current students
  • to talk to prospective first generation students
  • because college can be intimidating!
  • Its scary walking into these buildings!
  • Prospective students need to know
  • where to go who to talk to
  • what the words mean (example 3 credit hours)
  • how to ask questions
  • how to feel worthy enough to come to college

Transferring to Big U (Dr. Bradleys idea
based on Student Focus Group theme)
  • Panel of Alumni
  • to talk to current North Harris College students
  • to prepare students to transfer to Big U
  • Students transferring to university need to know
  • similarities differences with North Harris
  • hints about Big U

Are You Prepared for Class?Create poster
including visual representations.(Dr. Bradleys
idea based on Student and Faculty Focus Groups
  • Worst Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • unmotivated
  • are calloused or a bigot
  • Actions
  • do not have textbook
  • do not attend class regularly
  • do not bring pen paper
  • come to class late
  • sleep in class
  • Overworked students
  • take too many classes
  • too busy to do well
  • Best Prepared Students
  • Attitudes
  • enthusiastic focused
  • polite
  • appreciate diversity
  • Actions
  • do assignments
  • get plenty of sleep
  • come to class on time
  • bring pen paper
  • pay attention/focus
  • take good notes

Faculty Workshops for Student Success(Dr.
Bradleys idea based on faculty and student
  • Faculty meet to strategize for student success
  • Share ideas with each other
  • Bring in speakers
  • Develop plans for student success
  • Professional Development
  • classroom management techniques
  • lecture techniques
  • modeling respect for students
  • Increase student understanding of faculty
  • Coursework expectations
  • Reducing
  • tardiness and cell phone use
  • student absences

Advisor Workshops(Dr. Bradleys idea based on
student concerns)
  • Advisors meet to strategize for student success
  • Share ideas with each other
  • Bring in speakers
  • Develop plans for student success
  • Advisors need to let students know they
  • are knowledgeable regarding
  • majors
  • local universities
  • care about the students
  • can explain things step-by-step

Increase North Harris Colleges Visibility
(Community Focus Groups idea)
  • Take action
  • create DVD/video
  • to give to area organizations
  • update yearly
  • create a community newsletter
  • do a survey
  • find out what people dont know about North
    Harris College
  • receive media exposure for community involvement

Increase North Harris Colleges Visibility
(Community Focus Groups idea)
  • Get involved in the community
  • visit community organizations
  • Promote North Harris College
  • Answer questions
  • join local organizations

Increase North Harris Colleges Visibility
(Community Focus Groups ideas)
  • Increase familiarity with the college by visits
  • to elementary schools Start early with the
  • with families and young children
  • with the juvenile justice system
  • They are throwing kids away at 11 years old!

Create a DVD/Video(Community Focus Groups and
Dr. Bradleys ideas)
  • Include testimonials
  • past students from all walks of life
  • students who have made it and are now working
  • Create Photo Montage of Campus
  • provide cameras and journals to
  • students
  • faculty
  • staff
  • community members
  • Combine results to highlight
  • students expertise (students who create the
  • campus places and activities

Create a North Harris College Community Advisory
Board(Community Focus Groups ideas)
  • Representatives from all areas of the community
  • students and their families
  • civic clubs
  • public school personnel
  • community business leaders
  • The Board
  • 8 to 10 people
  • meet quarterly
  • rotate membership every 3 years
  • Purposes
  • The committee could help come up with ideas to
    get the word out.
  • plan events such as dances and picnics
  • meet with community at the events
  • visit public schools

Campus Tours(Dr. Bradleys ideas based on ideas
from Student, Community, and Faculty Focus
  • Prospective students and visitors
  • Can be intimidated
  • North Harris College is big!
  • Students need to know their resources
  • Library
  • Writing Center

Park and WalkPossible Collaboration between
Kinesiology Parking Lot Maintenance
  • Concern
  • Students long walks from parking lots
  • (based on faculty focus group responses)
  • Houstonians general need for more exercise
  • Solution Park and Walk
  • Promote healthy exercise on campus
  • Advertising campaign to promote benefits of
  • Contest
  • Length one week of classes
  • Winner walk the most miles
  • Set up parking lot signs
  • in fractions of a mile
  • from parking lot to buildings
  • to demonstrate actual distance

Questions for Further Exploration
Follow-up on Students Concerns of Intolerance
  • What are more examples of racism at the college?
  • One teacher made really racist comments,
    carefully picked comments. For example, a
    student said, Lets donate to Katrina. The
    professor said, Turn to page 25 in the book.
    (Slide 11)
  • Which students are bigots at the college?
    (Slide 14)
  • Definition intolerant person somebody with
    strong opinions, especially on politics,
    religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept
    different views
  • How can intolerant attitudes and actions be
  • What can be done?
  • Who can help?

Ethnic Self-Identifiers
  • Ethnic Self-Identifiers
  • how students identify themselves based on
    ethnicity and/or race
  • Examples _____ - American, two parents
  • How can students use ethnic self-identifiers to
    help them feel more comfortable in college?
  • How can the complex range of possible
    self-identifiers be incorporated into the college
    system by
  • Administrators?
  • Advisors?
  • Faculty?

Faculty Emphasis on Discipline Distinctions
  • How do discipline distinctions influence
  • how students should approach each course?
  • faculty interaction with students?
  • the faculty as a cohesive whole?

  • Assess if more students, faculty, community
  • share these concerns
  • agree with these solutions
  • have additional concerns and solutions
  • Implement suggested strategies
  • prioritize concerns
  • involve students, faculty, and community