Survey aims to help students

Vanessa Flores

This fall semester, some Los Medanos College students are participating in the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) that focuses on institutional practices in the earliest weeks of college. SENSE provides a way for community and technical colleges to understand the earliest experiences of their students. According to Associate Director at the Center for Community College Student Engagement, Angela Oriano, since 2007 more than several hundred colleges minister the survey.
“Colleges are using the results from the survey to improve,” said Oriano. According to the data then is collected, analyzed and reported back to the colleges to help improve in ways that will increase student success in the first year of college. It also includes items that bring forth information from students about their first impressions of the college, such as: admissions, registration, assessment, placement, orientation, financial aid, how they spend their time as they begin college and how they determine their earliest relationships and interactions with instructors, advisors, and other students.
“This survey is a way to voice students experiences,” said Oriano. “We need America’s community colleges to do well.” According to project manager of the Initiative on Student Success at the Center for Community College Student Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, Arleen Arnsparger, as a result of what they have learned from the SENSE survey many colleges have made significant improvements in policies and practices that target entering students.
“Community college faculty and staff across the country are working hard to help more students reach their goals in college,” said Armsparger. “They are taking steps to remove barriers for students, streamline processes students must go through to start college, improve teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom, and provide the different types of support community college students need to stay in college and complete their education,” continued Armsparger. “They want to focus their time, energy, and resources on those things that matter most for student success.” This is the first year SENSE is being administered at LMC.
The Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions EXITO Grant together with the administration at LMC decided that this survey would be a good initiative to be a part of. EXITO Grant Project Manager, Rosa Armendariz said she attended a workshop on SENSE, where there they learned how to use the survey for accreditation and students. She also added that administration had wanted to do it for a while and with the grant they were able to finally get it.
Students respond to the survey in class, which is administered during the fourth and fifth weeks of the fall semester in courses randomly selected that will most likely have first-time students enrolled.
“This is something we’re trying to do, to improve the quality of the educational experience for students here at LMC,” said math instructor Ryan Pedersen. “When we identify these areas where we’re weak we can put in place practices that are to improve that.” Pedersen said that there has been overwhelming support and good participation from the instructors whose sections where chosen. The results will be provided around March 1, and LMC will advertise the results to the campus community.