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WITC gets high marks from CCSSE report

WITC's results from the 2009 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) indicate that an overwhelming majority of WITC students feel that personal connections they experience at the college are critical to their academic success.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s results from the 2009 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) indicate that an overwhelming majority of WITC students feel that personal connections they experience at the college are critical to their academic success.

“We participate in CCSSE to continually improve the quality of education we offer our students.” says Bob Meyer, president of WITC. “Quality is about the student experience — about what we do to engage our students, help them achieve their educational goals, and, ultimately, improve the quality of their lives through education.” 

Among the findings, 98 percent of survey respondents would recommend WITC to a friend or family member and 93 percent of students rated their educational experience at WITC as good or excellent.

“From my perspective of what the results say, WITC isn’t just a place to get a quality education, WITC is the place to be for connecting with fellow students, faculty and staff and provides services to students that help students accomplish their goals,” said Jennifer Kunselman, Research and Planning Coordinator at WITC. 

The study also found at WITC students report strong relationships; say instructors to be available, helpful and sympathetic; and that staff are helpful, considerate and flexible. Findings like these helped WITC to rank seventh as the best two-year college in the nation in 2007.

WITC will use the results in many ways, from improving and adding services to assist students, with marketing, to its Quality Review Process, as well as Strategic Planning for the direction of the college.

Research shows that the more actively engaged students are — with college faculty and staff, with other students, and with the subject matter — the more likely they are to learn and to achieve their academic goals.  CCSSE’s national benchmarks of effective educational practice in community and technical colleges address five areas, including: active and collaborative learning; student effort; academic challenge; student-faculty interaction; and support for learners.

 CCSSE benchmarks focus on institutional practices and student behaviors that promote student engagement and that correlate highly with student learning and persistence.  WITC benchmark scores were higher in all five areas compared to the Wisconsin Technical College System Consortium and the CCSSE Small School Cohort.

WITC drew praise for its Industrial Maintenance Technician program, which offers practical, hands-on experience in welding, hydraulics, electricity and mechanical maintenance. In 2008, WITC incorporated Amatrol Virtual Integrated Technology Concepts into the program curriculum. These virtual trainers, which look and act just like real trainers in the lab, reflect the college’s hands-on approach to learning. The virtual trainers also allow students to learn at their own speed and at times convenient to their schedules.

 “Students that attend WITC build strong relationships with each other and college staff that not only help them succeed while learning, but also face the many challenges along the way,” Kunselman said.  “The study shows that a large portion of our students face multiple responsibilities while they are attending WITC.  Many have long commutes to the WITC campus they are attending, they have jobs in addition to taking classes, and many have families that are dependent on their care.  The relationships that students build at WITC help them face these challenges and play a big part in their succeeding at WITC.”

The CCSSE survey — administered directly to community college students at participating colleges —helps participating institutions assess quality in community college education, focus on good educational practice, and identify areas in which they can improve programs and services for students.