CCBC Implements New Strategies to Help More Students Succeed

CCBC Implements New Strategies to Help More Students Succeed

A successful start and finish to a student’s college journey is important to the faculty, staff and administration at Community College of Beaver County (CCBC). To ensure that happens, CCBC is making a commitment to increase student success, including persistence and retention to graduation, by implementing several new student success strategies during the Fall 2012 semester.

Initiatives include: a new tuition-free First Year Seminar course for all incoming freshmen, a revised developmental math curriculum, and early alert system to help better identify at-risk students, and the continuation of the College’s successful Student-Athlete mentoring program.

First Year Seminar

Students will be enrolled in a First Year Seminar course tuition-free during their first semester at CCBC.

This course emphasizes the growth of the individual both academically and personally. Students become part of the learning community at CCBC through an orientation to campus technology and services and by acquiring knowledge of the culture of higher education.

Exemptions include: transfer students who successfully completed a minimum of 9 credits at another institution, non-degree seeking students who plan to take less than 9 credits at CCBC, including dual enrollment, early admission and visiting students, and students who must enroll in EDUC100-College Success Strategies after placing into development coursework.

Preparatory Math

The researched and redesigned developmental math offering will be the course Preparatory Math and Algebra, to replace the traditional sequence of Improvement of Mathematics and Fundamentals of Algebra.

“The traditional developmental math courses face a number of academic problems, the most important of which is a high failure rate,” stated Dr. Melissa Denardo, CCBC’s Vice President for Learning and Student Success/Provost. “Currently, many students are required to take an entire course even though they are deficient in only some topics and they are required to learn at the same pace and experience the same instructional strategies as the entire class. Developmental math frequently presents a roadblock to students’ educational goals.”

CCBC’s program has been redesigned by faculty and modeled, in part, on the Math Emporium model and will now be a student-centered, computer-assisted, self-paced tutorial course that allows the student to focus on his or her specific difficulties. Instructors will monitor each student’s progress as well as time-on task and take appropriate action when needed by working individually or in small groups.

In addition, the College will pilot a direct placement strategy during the fall semester. Students who test into the top 10% of developmental mathematics will be placed directly into a new 4 credit College Algebra.  Students will be taught using the traditional method of teaching along with a 1 hour lab using MyMathLab software. Specific concepts will be introduced in the lecture sessions and students will practice them using the software in the lab and at home.

“The course redesign will enhance course quality and improve learning outcomes by requiring students to spend more time practicing the math concepts they are learning,” said Beth Jansto, Professor of Mathematics who designed the direct placement strategy and will pilot the first class. “They will receive automatic feedback through the online program as well as personal feedback from their instructor.”

Early Alert Implementation Plan

The purpose behind CCBC’s new Early Alert plan is to create a process measured by course completion, which the College defines as “a student who has regularly attended and effectively pursued the stated objectives for a course to earn a passing grade.”

The CCBC Early Alert process begins with all faculty being placed into a Blackboard Early Alert Course (EAC) as students. By housing the Early Alert Course within the College’s existing online learning technology (Blackboard), it will be archived for later reference and data collection. The early alert mechanism is incorporated into the testing module of the EAC.  Faculty (Early Alerters) will be able to access the mechanism at any time and will be encouraged to do so especially during the first three weeks of the semester with email notification sent to faculty during the first, fourth, and eighth week of the semester to remind them that the early alert system is available for their use.

Within the mechanism, faculty will record the student’s name and the issue(s) of concern. 

Each issue of concern will be correlated with the appropriate department on campus as indicated by the following table:





Personal Issues


Attendance/Late Arrival/Early Departure


Incomplete/Late Work

Tutor Center

Weak Academic Performance

Tutor Center


CCBC staff will be assigned as the instructors (Early Alertees) of this Blackboard course and will be responsible for directing information to the appropriate target area. Individuals to whom the concerns are directed are then responsible for contacting the student and also providing follow-up information to faculty. In addition, the Early Alertees will also have reference to all Act 101 students for notification of Supportive Services.

The Early Alertees will notify the specific target areas to which they have been assigned upon receipt of an alert in the Early Alert Course. The target area will then follow up with the student and record the results, which will be returned to the Early Alertee for record keeping and data collection. The Early Alertee will also notify the faculty member who sent the alert of the outcome.

Student-Athlete Success Program

Started by Associate Professor of Counseling Lauren Carfagna, CCBC’s Student-Athlete Success program focuses on how unique the student-athlete population is to college campuses and helps to bridge the gap between the athlete’s academics and their athletics.

“I work with them through small workshops usually every week or every other week to build their academic and social skills. I work on goal setting, time management, study skills, career planning, financial planning, team building and more,” explained Carfagna.

 “I also alert their professors in the beginning of the semester that I am working with them and that if they have any issues with them in the classroom to please contact me so that the coach and I can work to help the student athlete get back on track.”

Since implementing the program, the Counseling Office has seen a 100% graduation rate over two years, back-to-back WPCC championships for its Men’s Basketball team, and transfer and scholarship opportunities for players. The May 2012 Commencement ceremony saw 6 basketball players graduate.

“It is a great feeling to see these young gentlemen grow both academically and athletically,” said Carfagna.

In the fall semester, the College will offer a new course entitled College Success for the Student Athlete, and CCBC’s athletes will receive college credit for attending the program.