Campus Spotlight: Sustaining Student Civic Engagement and Well-Being at Chattanooga State Community College

BTtoP Grant Principal Investigator: Amanda Hyberger, QEP Director and Associate Professor of Music

Chattanooga State Community College received a BTtoP Well-Being Initiative Grant to support a vision of building a culture of responsibility and civic engagement on campus that leads to student well-being, centered in strong work-ethic development. A workshop was designed for incoming freshman to provide students the opportunity to discuss concerns for college success, connect to campus support resources, learn more about career pathways, and connect with local business partners through guest speakers and service-learning. Grounded in e-portfolio development and reflection, this workshop was expected to increase student connection to their peers, to campus and the larger community, as well as to academic and career goals.

A requirement from the Tennessee Board of Regents to develop a completion strategy in the 2014–15 academic year led to this work becoming a significant factor in shifting campus-wide focus from the number of students enrolled in the college to the quality of the student experience, including heightened concern for individual well-being, engagement, and relationship building. Instead of merely designing more workshops, a complete redesign of the freshman success course ran in the fall of 2014. This redesign became the campus-wide model for all the freshman success courses for fall 2015. Prior to 2015, the freshman success course was seen as a developmental support course. Housed in one division and taught mainly by adjunct professors not always well integrated into the campus community themselves, this course was not serving the needs of the majority of students.

As Chattanooga State has been moving from an ‘”access” to ”success” agenda, several assessment tools have helped to develop a better understanding of the needs of the student population and their perception of college and experiences on campus. Results from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), the Personal and Social Responsibility Inventory (PSRI), and an internal Self-Reflection Inventory, as well as student e-portfolio reflections, have helped to inform college decision makers.

Through the foundational work of the BTtoP grant project (as well as participation in AAC&U’s Roadmap project: http://www.aacu.org/roadmap), Chattanooga State was recently awarded the Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant that brings in $450,000 per year for 5 years (for a total of $2.25 million) to continue the work.