wake tech community college
On 3/15/19 at 12:00pm, I attended the Professional Development Session RISE Training at the Engineering and Technology Building (SE 226) at Wake Technical Community College’s South Campus in Raleigh, NC presented by Scarlet Edwards.
We learned about the new RISE initiative across the state of North Carolina. Scarlet Edwards will be teaching us. RISE is critical for fall advising. This is a mandatory meeting for Matt Henry’s team, and they were nice enough to allow me to join this professional development training.
Completion Percentages: A Clear Look
One of the important things that we looked at was a clear graph outlining the completion percentages for students attempting college level Math and English in the first two years of college. The two courses were not significantly different, so we’re looking at the math numbers here. While numbers are increasing as time moves forward and we are offering more online classes in these, numbers of actual completions are still low. However, statistics show that students who complete these gateway courses achieve degrees.
It should be noted that 2014-2015 is when the multiple measure model was begun.
The college would like to see more students completing English and Math “Gateway” courses in the first two years. Many students are holding off on these courses, and then failing them so many times that they fail to achieve a college degree, or are forced to complete their AAS degree at another institution- we do all the work toward great training, and another school achieves our completion. We’d like to stop that.
By “Encouraging” our students to take these courses before other standard curriculum courses for our degrees, we will ultimately see more completions and student successes.
Instead of offering testing for students, a new system will place new students into classes automatically, and we should encourage our students to take these classes first.
A Healthy Debate
At this point in the discussion, there was a very healthy debate which erupted. Many faculty members voiced their opinions before everyone was encouraged to save questions to the end. This training is mandatory, and it is very important that every person has a chance to hear the information. I held my questions for the end, but the following points were made very clear:
- One faculty member has been teaching for 30 years. They noted that ENG and MAT courses are important, but the job skills are more important. Pushing off things that you like (technology training) for things which you don’t like (math problems and english papers) will encourage more students to quit early rather than late.
- Another faculty member noted that we would have more completers in the programs if we could have pre-degree requirements like the nursing program has. They have a 100% completion and 100% job-placement rating because they are able to cherry pick the best students before they begin. If we had this ability, we’d have no problems
- A faculty member suggested that if we could expand our program to a 3 year degree program we could solve many of these problems.
- Another faculty member stated that since neither Math nor English were Pre-requirements or Co-requirements for any classes within their program, there was no impetus to push this agenda. As student could get perfectly far in the program without facing any barriers to success.
- Another faculty member noted that students who fail in a majority of the intro classes do so because the ESL (english as a second language) and EFL (english as a foreign language) students have passed ENG111, but still cannot read or communicate well. Those students have already met these requirements and already are on a road to failure. This program should start with ESL and EFL and then evaluate success before putting this to all faculty
- One faculty member with over 20 years teaching noted that this system has not worked in the past and would not work. This was heavily agreed upon across the room, but since we hadn’t really heard the proposal yet, I thought this point was moot.
- One faculty member was quite vocal that programming required a mathematical mindset, but did not require intense calculations. Taking the math class before buckling down toward making some headway in their degree would not help the student, but might detract them from any of the material.
- One faculty member who had to take the gateway college algebra math class recently noted that the course was set up in such a way that unless you had taken the course before, your chances of completing it satisfactorily was nearly impossible. Unless, they noted you had already known the material of the course. It was set up so that those who knew the material would pass first time through, but those without intimate knowledge of it could be “thrown to the wolves”.
- Eventually, order was restored with the interest of finishing in time. I took notes on my questions.
NC Math Completions
These numbers on this slide were disturbing. One faculty member let us know that they told us the class was an issue, many people smiled politely. Based on population numbers, only 7% of African-Americans, 10% of Hispanics, Latinos, and Asians, and 14% of Caucasians pass a gateway level math course within 2 years of enrollment.
Lets take a look at the numbers for these specifically
Gateway English Completions
Looking at other states, we see that there are similar numbers based on gateway courses. We see there are 2 specific options noted here: Gateway courses which require a pre-requisite class or classes, and Gateway courses which require a co-requisite class. In North Carolina, we require pre-requisite classes to determine whether students are ready or prepared for English and Math. We double-check this with compass testing.
Looking to other states, we see that several of them are using a similar system. Some have better numbers, others are below ours. These states, however, have seen a large increase and jump in completions based on the change from pre-req courses to co-req courses.
By adding in a secondary class— a co-requisite class— the states have found that they were able to dramatically increase the number of course completions. Some say that because students are able to continue working on ideas and concepts outside of class time.
Gateway Math Completions
Again, we see the schools have very similar numbers to ours above. Again, when introducing the co-requisite courses, completions dramatically increase. These co-requisite classes are a bit like labs for science courses, or labs similar to language courses.
Question: Are these results accurate, or are they patting themselves on the back?
Answer: Good question. Our team visited schools in these states. They asked these same questions, and yes, these are the results they are seeing by the numbers.
What Is Rise
RISE is the program in North Carolina which we will use to achieve a similar system. Durham Technical Community College is already using this system in North Carolina. We will be taking this system up in Fall 2019. We will use this information to help us advise our students and to get to know the system completely.
It is important to note that this system will be put in place to get our students into the English and Math Gateway classes sooner. Students who complete these classes in the first two years seem numerically to have greater success and completions.
Question: What if we find that students placed in these courses are not achieving these results?
Answer: Our intent with the RISE system is not to increase the passing rate. We are just using this system to allow students to get access sooner and receive concurrent support at the right time for the students.
How Will Students Be Placed?
Compass testing was an easy requirement, but not every student tested well. And, the compass test will be going away. Moving forward, we will be using a new system based primarily on high school GPA. Based on a high school GPA, students will be placed in a column which will determine where students will start: Specifically, will a student be able to enter the gateway course directly, will they be required to take BOTH the gateway course and a co-requisite course, or will they need to take a transitional course?
GPA is the main determinate, but we can also see that testing scores on the ACT will also be taken into account. If students have scored well on the ACT score (within 2 points of the Target Score) of the particular category. Poor grades can be augmented by good test scores.
High School GPA is good for 10 years. If the result is over 10 years old, or not available, the student can pay to take the test for placement.
RISE Placement Credits
In the new system, all of our pre-curriculum classes and requirements go away. Based on the high school GPA, students will receive some or all credits for transition courses.
STAC Screen Need
Currently, we’ll need to use the STAC screen to see the credits given, as well as GPA and ACT scores. It was important to remember that the RISE system will not be in effect until the fall. Eventually, we will have a new screen called “XRISE” which will give use the right information.
Question: Is the ACT really this prevalent?
Answer: Yes, most schools use it now or encourage it. If a student does not have it, we may have SAT options available later, but just place them appropriately.
DAP Accuplacer is going away December 31st, if not before. Retaking the placement test is not allowed if you have high school GPA within 10yrs. Taking the test will cost the student money, and may take 5 hours. There are 3 sections of math (mastery tier 1,2,3) and 2 sections of english (mastery tier 1,2).
Placement Test Q&A
In looking at the placement test Q&A, we ran into some questions about the placement testing. I’ll add them here:
Question: What if the student hasn’t received their official high school transcripts?
Answer: We can use an unofficial transcript to determine these courses.
Question: What if we have an army vet who joins and they don’t have a record?
Question: What if we have a student who school burned down/no longer exists/home schooled without GPA?
Answer: It happens. They’ll have to take the placement test and pay the fee. Some vets have been in the service so long that they have no GPA and have not undertaken any education, they take the test. Some old schools had paper records, and suffered a calamity or are no longer around, especially private institutions. Those students would take the test. Some home school students simply were not given grades. They also take the test.
Co-Requisite Class Debate
At this time, there was another very lively debate. Many people had some loud and angry opinions. When the information was presented, it was given to us a very straightforward manner. This matter-of-fact information was clearly noted in an effort as if the presenter was trying to gloss over information. Eventually, the facilitator and the group head got people calmed down enough to continue. Concerns included:
- One teacher with 20 years of experience who noted that this system would still never work
- One teacher with 30 years of experience loudly noted that this would be impossible to keep track of
- One teacher noted that some students would possibly be facing 9 hours just for math with a co-req, and 15 hours for math and english courses and their co-requisites. How will a student be able to start their education if they are taking 15 credit hours in the first semester?
After calming down, we settled on a few related questions.
Question: Will the co-req grade count towards the GPA?
Answer: Yes, since it has credit hours, it will count towards student GPA
Question: How will the co-req count toward our degree credit numbers?
Answer: It will not be marked as a requirement. Students who are required to take it will have to do so.
Question: What if a student fails the co-req but passes the gateway class? What if they pass the co-req but fail the gateway class? What if they’re withdrawn from the pre-req class?
Answer: We’ll be talking about this later, but if a student fails the co-req class, they will be automatically dropped from the gateway course. However, if it comes down to the end of the course and the student passes the gateway course, they will still retain credit. If it comes down to the wire and the co-req is passed, the student will be able to take the gateway course a second time.
Question: What if the student chooses not to sign up for the co-req?
Answer: The co-req and the class will have to be signed up for together. They will be taught by different instructors. To sign up for one, the student must sign up for the other.
Question: What if the student stops going to the co-req class?
Answer: If a student is withdrawn from the co-req class for any reason, they will be automatically withdrawn from the gateway class.
Question: What if a student signs up for a co-req gateway because it fits their schedule. They are not required to take the co-req class.
Answer: Yes, that is true, but if they drop or withdraw from the co-req, they will be withdrawn from the gateway course. Students can opt-in to take the co-req but they’re under the same course requirements as other students. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Gateway Transition Courses
Developmental classes will go away at the end of the summer. Since there is really only a single ENG111 transitional course now, any students in remedial programs should endeavour to take RED097 to get themselves to the ENG111 course. There are several transition courses for math, because there are several gateway math courses. In some cases, this can be very helpful, because any math class can be used for our degrees.
Pedagogically speaking, a better option in some cases might be for students to sign up for the gateway w/co-req on purpose.
Just a recap: the DAP Accuplacer is going away December 31st, if not before. Retaking the placement test is not allowed if you have high school GPA within 10yrs. Taking the test will cost the student money, and may take 5 hours. There are 3 sections of math (mastery tier 1,2,3) and 2 sections of english (mastery tier 1,2).
Students taking these classes will not have the same teacher for the gateway course and the co-req course. The gateway course teacher can take the grade of the co-req into account when deciding on a final grade for the course.
Healthy Debate #3
At the question about this, faculty had some very strong opinions
- One faculty member asked to know what the criteria which could be taken into account might be?
Answer: It is up to the teacher. They can take anything into account. Assignments, attendance, final grade, class participation, its all up to the teacher
- One faculty member said that this sounded totally subjective, and some faculty members can take it into account and others would not?
Answer: Well, it is up to the teacher to decide
- If students ask the teacher and the teacher says “They will not take any other classes into account” can they change their minds?”
Answer: Yes, it will be up to the teacher to decide
- If the student no longer wishes to be in the class or co-req because the teacher is colluding with the gateway teacher, or vice versa, how will that effect them?
Answer: leaving either class will put them in a new course and new co-req— the classes are linked. This wouldn’t be good idea though, the new teacher may decide to take the grades into account and you’re right back where you started
- So, if a student is getting an A in the gateway course, fully participates, and is leading the class, they could still fail or get a b,c,d,f in the class… totally at the teacher’s discretion
Answer: Yes, the teacher can take the other class into account. If the student is not participating in the co-req classes, the gateway teacher could adjust the grade at their discretion.
- Don’t you think this might cause a lawsuit? An A-level student can be failed or dropped massively because while they are attending all classes, the co-req teacher might feel a “D” is earned in one class and should be pushed into the other?
Answer: Its possible, but they probably wouldn’t. But they could.
This seemed like it was going to be a problem. There is no official policy, its just teacher-decided material. Looks like it could be misused, abused, taken incorrectly, etc. The school is going to be on the wrong side of this.
Take a look at each of these examples and see where they should be placed!
Example 1: Kim
Because Kim has a 2.8 GPA or higher, she can go directly into a Gateway course.
Example 2: John
John will need to take transitional math courses, unless he can complete up to MAT050 this summer. I’d advise John to track down his 2011 high school transcript (clearly not present), and to take ENG097 this summer if his GPA was 2.2 or less. This would get him into the ENG co-req in a single session.
Example 3: Brandy
Brandy can go directly into the MAT121 Gateway because while her GPA is less than 2.8, she has an ACT math score which is high enough. She can take the gateway course over the summer, or better still, just take a break. She’ll have to co-req ENG111.
Example 4: Wheaton
Wheaton is good to go with no co-req due to high GPA and ACT scores, if the ACT was in 2008. Otherwise he’ll have to take the 5-hour placement test. Wheaton looks super-duper young to be in his 30s. I think this was a plant.
Example 5: Amy
Amy has too low of a GPA to go into any gateway courses alone, but she has a high enough ACT in Math to get a co-req course. She’s applying for the spring, so if she can take MAT020 this summer, she can get into MAT110 in the fall. Similarly, if she can take DRE097 this summer, she can get a co-req english course.
Example 6: Pete
Pete can take MAT121 in the fall with a co-req. He’s got credit for the high level maths, so if pete can finish MAT010-050 this summer, he can skip the co-req. Instead, he should take DRE097 this summer and get into the co-req for english.
Example 7: Chasity
Chasity is looking at a co-req with math, but I don’t know the SAT scores… If she can complete DRE097, she can take the co-req with english in the spring.
EXAMPLE 8: Julian
Julian can take DMA040-050 and not worry about co-reqs, and eng with a co-req in the fall.
Example 9: Sarah
Sarah should take DMA050 this summer and DRE098 if she can. This will save her extra hours and cost
I felt this was good training, but I already had a leg up on most people. I worry that summer school numbers of courses offered will go down. There will be courses offered, but there will need to be a far larger number of ENG faculty on campus, and that means more rooms.
Since our departments do not really require these ENG classes or MAT courses as pre-reqs for our programs, there is not an intrinsic need for us to push these classes sooner. It actually seems to work contrary to our purposes to push these classes at the beginning, and instead better to shove them off onto the summer courses. I worry about the “taking in to account” vagaries in the language, and see a pretty hefty lawsuit. If one student sues, another just has to “think” that the work is biased in some fashion to have a legitimate case. Once a student wins, every student who was under the policy could have legal grounds for changes to transcripts, and compensation if their grades were not good enough to transfer to their college of choice.
In 2014, Wake Tech began offering traditional professor ranks to its faculty members. This certainly opened the playing field for the school and also set the stage for our college to stand out. For each rank within the faculty professor ranking system, an increasingly difficult and more comprehensive set of benchmarks are required. This evolves over time so that the accomplishments which may have been sufficient in the past are often increased and embellished. In addition to meeting a set pattern of goals, accomplishments and recognitions, faculty ranking members must be deemed to have retained and continued performing at their previous level for several years with backing evidence before being allowed to proceed in ranking again.
In 2017, I took part in the Reviewer training and faculty application review process. Beginning with an online component, we (each reviewer and I) learned about the materials, methods and processes used to determine the likelihood of rank success. We were then given a set of ranking criteria for the level we would be training. This material was/is available to all faculty members to understand their requirements and plan.
It should be noted that the beginning step in this process is a number of years with the college in longevity at full-time (9m or greater) paid time. The individual factors are made available as well as a rubric which will be used to score materials. Faculty members need not only to meet the goals and exceed them, but also to present their stories in a fashion reflecting excellence in academics, professional demeanor, and with backing evidence. These items are then investigated and approved by their departments heads, as well as reviewed and approved at a Divisional Dean level before being presented to the committees. The committee reviews each application in turn, providing their assessment and notes as well as an annotated rubric to the VP. The VPs make decisions based on committee feedback and notify faculty on a yearly basis.
As part of this training, we used our document to find ourselves prepped to the requirements. The easiest part of this was to read the materials provided, but then we had to see the drill down on the point system used for scoring. Looking at this score it was clear to see how much the college places an emphasis on pushing the envelope for success, multiple working solutions for rising status, and how simply meeting minimum expectations are noted as a failure to excel, and not rewarded. We were given this list and requested to come to our meeting with questions or notifications which would help to clarify or streamline this service.
Our first meeting occurred on a day with a snowstorm in North Carolina, so I was late. That was very depressing. Worse still, my list was not in the car, so I was in a particularly bad shape. When I arrived, they were discussing certain entries on a paragraph by paragraph basis to ensure that the materials made sense. While some items were raised, it was easily decided that current materials were on point with only minor vagaries.
After viewing several full reviews and discussing the process, we ran down through the materials and gave arguments about our findings.
Later in the semester, we were given a load of reviews to grade and package. Honestly, the materials were very easy to follow. From start to finish, the process went very smoothly. It was interesting to catch the different department and divisions in the school, and see what is truly important to each of them.
Ensuring the viability of candidates was very clear. The rubric is clear. Its states what you have to do, and it is verified and vetted by multiple individuals prior to being placed in our hands. That said, there were some individuals who were clearly unfit and others who were. Failing to meet the minimum specifications or creating documents which were painful to read and woefully inadequate is a clear indication that you are unready.
Some examples are clear: If you MUST be a conference organizer, keynote speaker, or hold a leadership position in a national organization- you will not meet the minimum requirements if you failed to hold one of these positions.
I found the work to be easy, but academic. It was easy to find myself in the groove where I could sit down with a few of these in a quiet moment when alone and move through the pages quickly. After looking over 3 documents, it was also easy to revisit the first file and see if the numbers still made sense. In this way, I could see every piece multiple times and ensure that I was accurate in my intent and consistent in my work.
I’d do this again in a heartbeat.
LEA 124 – Leadership Training: Beyond Diversity
Since I had taken LEA113 (Understanding Diversity in the Workplace) and I clearly “understand” Diversity in the Workplace, it’s time to look BEYOND Diversity and put this clear level of understanding into action.
This course was presented by Jackie Popp (Jacqueline Popp) and Kimberly Breivogel on Wake Tech Community College’s Main Campus. During this leadership training session, we tooke a look at the biases we all hold (and we all have them, even if we’re not aware of it!).
We then explored how we could respectfully interact with others while actively working to reduce or eliminate preconceived notions which prevent us from being as effective as we could be, especially in the workplace. Research-based, hands-on activities and case studies allowed us to apply learning content to the workplace. We shared experiences as we got to know each other
In this class it was very interesting to see Cindy Foster, department head of Wake Tech’s Simulation and Video Game Development curriculum. Her experiences from the state and areas where she grew up made for some excellent insights. In her case study, her group had a staff member making harassing comments repeatedly. Her team made the breakthrough realization that the staff member might not be under their management control, which opened up a loooong and frankly quite fruitful discussion on how to deal with people under your management, those outside of your management, the difference in legal matters, performance improvement plans, and written/verbal warnings.
I thought this would be a general rehash of an earlier class, and was very pleased to find it stepping above and beyond my expectations.
This year, Wake Tech Community College has fully vetted College Central Network (CCN)and CollegeCentalNetwork.com as our official hiring network. College Central is one of the most visited entry-level job sites on the Internet. It provides both students and alumni with the ability to search their respective colleges’ or universities’ secure jobs databases, plus CCN’s Jobs Central national job board, with millions of jobs posted to date. The site also features valuable content geared toward entry-level job seekers.
In an effort to get the word out to students, the school has requested that the Advertising and Graphic Design Department run the materials in our classes as a project or extra credit project. Out of 4 potential candidates, 2 final winners were both chosen from my class: Kristine Kelly and Heather Heffner.
Its always a pleasure to create projects that the school can use. It was doubly good to see actual flyers hanging around the school. We were allowed to use the new Wake Tech Logo, and the students were able to add QR codes to the flyers, which was a really nice surprise. I think it earned us some extra points.
A special thank you to Rhonda Pickett for working with us on this job. The Advertising and Graphic Design Department at Wake Tech is always ready to help, whether its a class run by Tyler Dockery, Marsha Mills, Woody Hayes, or Alison Consol. Go Wake Tech!
NCCCS Conference 2012: Closing Keynote Address
2012 North Carolina Community College System Conference closing keynote address, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Introduction of Speaker by Ms. Benita Budd, Wake Technical Community College
Benita Budd gave an excellent introduction to Dr. Ralls. I found myself waiting for this discussion with interest.
Keynote Address: Dr. R. Scott Ralls, President: Milestones and Momentum:Celebrating 50 Years of Student Success in the North Carolina Community College System
In all honesty, I was worried that this discussion was going to amount to an hour-long pat on the back. However, Dr. Ralls pointed out some great room for improvement, involvement in the future. It was definitely worth sticking around for.
R. Scott Ralls, Ph.D., President, NC Community College System
Scott Ralls is the seventh president of the North Carolina Community College System. With 58 colleges serving almost 900,000 individuals annually, the North Carolina Community College System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the United States and is internationally recognized for its efforts to foster economic and workforce development.
Dr. Ralls previously served as President of Craven Community College, in New Bern, North Carolina and is only the second former North Carolina community college president to hold the System presidency. He was one of the original champions for early college high schools, and today, North Carolina hosts one-third of all early colleges in the U.S., the vast majority located on the campuses of community colleges.
As President of the North Carolina Community College System, Dr. Ralls has championed workforce development and student success. He led efforts to gain the System’s first weighted funding for technical education; to link career-technical and science and technology pathways with public schools and universities; and to redesign customized training programs to enhance opportunities for existing employers. In 2009, under Dr. Ralls’ leadership, the North Carolina Community College System initiated a comprehensive set of strategic initiatives focused on student success and program completion entitled SuccessNC. The model was recently recognized by the Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation as one of “10 State and Metropolitan Innovations to Watch in 2012,” and was noted as one of the most “forward-thinking economy-shifting efforts underway in America’s state and metropolitan areas.”
Dr. Ralls serves on over 30 national and state boards and commissions, and is the incoming Chair of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Maryland, a Bachelor of Science with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina, and in 2007, was elected the tenth honorary fellow of Warwickshire College in Warwickshire, England.
Closing Remarks: Dr. Sharon Morrissey, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
The conference ended with more polite remarks and encouragement that as the future unfolded, we should renew our commitments to education and pursue the future of the industry.
Now, for a long and deserved drive home.
NCCCS Conference 2012: Liven Up Your Course In 3 Easy Steps
Monday, Oct 8: 11-12 Liven up your courses in 3 easy steps was presented by Kelly Markson from Wake Tech Community College.
NCCCS Conference 2012: Capstone Roundtable with Roanoke-Chowan Community College
Tonight’s ceremony had a session followed by a fine conference opening with a great food reception and discussion board afterward.
The Opening Session was followed by a short discussion set. I joined the Capstone Roundtable lead by Roanoke-Chowan Community College. This roundtable outlined how Roanoke-Chowan community college was using their capstone courses as an opportunity to connect real-world challenges with their students. Materials involved showed a strong connection between local businesses and college students, followed by a fair amount of pre-degree hiring. Rountable discussion progressed with an effort to get feedback on how to improve their processes and moved into general discussion and recommendations from Roanoke-Chowan Community College to participants, including lessons learned, and plans for future expansion.
After the initial discussion was closed, we descended to the expo floor in order to taste the fine trappings of the culinary departments from several schools, to visit traveling exhibits from several community colleges, and sample some entertainment. I myself enjoyed a brief discussion with Woody Hayes and Marsha Mills, Advertising and Graphic Design instructors at Wake Tech Community College, and stayed until the gospel choir had finished their initial set.
I was really looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions, and went back for a good night’s sleep.
In order to be more effective, organizations will have to move to more organic and participative management styles.As the workforce- especially the workforce in top institutions such as Wake Tech Community College- gets more educated, we see a stronger relationship forming between education, management styles, and institutional effectiveness. In today’s professional development session, Sam Strickland made a clear connection between a more participative management style and education and skills.
Unfortunately, numbers that showed a more educated workforce did not necessarily show an increase in organizational ability. If you want to have an effective management style in a heavily-educated workforce, you must adjust your organizational design and management style.
Three ways in which organizational design and management style can affect:
- organizational effectiveness
- individual performance motivation
- existence of organizational communication, coordination, and control mechanisms
These allow the performance of individuals to come together in ways that produce an effective organization; as well as individual performance capability.
Historically, there is a strong connections between the level of organization within an institution and its effectiveness. There are many different management styles, but no “magic bullet” style that is always effective. The key to organizational effectiveness is finding the particular approach to management that fits the type of demands a particular technology places on the organization. This should be taken to heart within each department and division.
Individual performance motivation
Motivation is frequently given in terms of individual rewards, however, this does not always translate to organizational success. In order for the organization- say Wake Tech, for instance- to succeed, smart management will make a clear, visible connection between the success of the individual and the success of the organization. Self-managing teams are another great way to help individuals feel responsible for organizational performance.
In an organization our size, the best management styles will contribute a sense of organizational performance, because they create an environment in which the individual feels they can influence the direction an organization takes, the decisions it makes, and future strategies or tactics the organization employs.
Existence of organizational communication, coordination, and control mechanisms
For an organization to effectively come together, there must exist a means of organizational communication, coordination and mechanisms of control that allows the performance of individuals to come together in ways that produce a quality organization. Teams need information on their performance for self-management and interfacing with other teams.
High Involvement Systems
High involvement systems by their very nature require greater individual performance capability on the part of the employees than other systems. These systems call for individuals to influence decisions, exercise a broader range of skills on the job, and interact with people in groups and settings outside of the norms of most business settings.
Today I attended a professional development session: Understanding the Performance Appraisal Process and Performance Management as presented by Benita Clark.
In this session, employees with Wake Tech Community College had the opportunity to ask questions about the Performance Appraisal Process. The question: “What does it take to get a 4?” was explained and examples provided on what it takes to “exceed expectations”. HR was also there to answer questions about the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and that process as well.
A little bit about this development session was bait-and-switch. When discussing “What It Takes to Get A 4”, the team basically pointed out that everyone wants a “4” (out of 4) on their performance appraisal review, and that receiving a 3 should be enough. We had recently switched from a 5 out of 5 system, and part of the presentation on “What It Takes to Get A 4” was centered around 4 actually being the new 3. And how “meets expectations” was the new standard.
In the second portion of the class, they gave examples of staff members going above and beyond to receive a “4” rating in the new system. This upset quite a few people. First, the difference between staff and faculty is a pretty large gulf. The things that staff would do to receive high grades might include taking on a big project, heading a committee with the school president on it, or getting new outside funding for the school. Secondly, the examples for receiving a “4” rating included things many people already did but were not receiving “4” ratings for: having extended office hours, building new or updated curriculum for your departments, teaching 5 or more classes in a semester, getting stellar ratings on your course evaluations, posting more than 5 office hours during the week, leading a student club, lecturing to clubs or outside groups, running special projects for the deans, etc.
This ended up with lots of muttering and displeasure from faculty members asking questions about how they could bring information from this session to their supervisors to boost their scores, how they could retroactively improve their performance reports, and how some people were already doing these things for years and had never seen top scores.
In the end, we discussed this topic so much, and so animatedly, that this part of the session ended with a note very loudly from Benita Clark that the ultimate determining factor in your performance review came from your supervisor.
At this point I mentioned that during my most recent performance evaluation, my supervisor had said “We are supposed to give every single teacher a 3. We aren’t EVER supposed to give out a 4 rating unless it has been pre-approved by the Dean.” Benita mentioned again that everyone wanted to get a 4, and that each department was different.
We had taken up so much time with our Q&A session that we had to rush extremely fast through the PIP session. The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) session was short, sweet, to the point. Benita wrote here email on the board and suggested any future questions could be addressed to her directly.
As part of Wake Tech Community College’s professional development seminar, I attended the Capstone Course Roundtable presented by Walter Rotenberry. Walter Rotenberry is the lead for Wake Tech’s SGD department (simulation and video game development).
In the roundtable discussion, Rotenberry laid out his procedure for a capstone course, which I have vaguely outlined below:
- Establish the course as a capstone for your program. Inform students prior to entering and upon their first day in the class the details involved with the planned courses of action. Include all expectations, all contingencies, the level of quality required, and how their potential employment may be affected by their level of commitment. Remind them that they will get out of the course whatever they put into it.
- Set a final date for presentation. Plan that date and make sure that the course centers around the expectations required on that date.
- Focus on what is achievable. Students in Rotenberry’s class presented all their materials to the class in their first week, each choosing their best project to work with, fleshing it out over time to a perfect, finished project to present.
- Involve the community. Rotenberry contacted his closest contemporaries at surrounding colleges (in his case, NCSU and their graduate program in Game Development) and had a few joint sessions in which his team and their team could exchange ideas, discuss current projects, and discuss current topics, trends, and ideas in the industry. This was instrumental in achieving a program in which questions would be posed, answered, and attended to BEFORE presentation
- Pitch your programs to the best in the business. OK, we presented to CEOs and presidents of video game companies in our area, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Walter Rotenbery lined up the individuals and set their dates to attend, reminding them prior to the festivities, and following up with each one.
- Make an event of it. Students came prepared to discuss their work, networked with the individuals present and enjoyed snacks. After a short time had passed, each student presented their projects to the group, and in some cases individual computers were opened so that industry folk could try out each game on their own.
- Don’t let the music stop. Walter’s students passed out business cards and links to online portfolios and games. Students followed up with individuals, and several made appointments to meet with industry designers. Several employment opportunities came out of the presentations, and it has become a permanent addition to the SGD (simulation and game development) track.
In attending this training, I could clearly see how our Graphic Design IV or our Portfolio classes could easily become capstone courses. Portfolio could easily transition to involvement with local organizations such as AIGA here in Raleigh, NC or TIMA (triangle interactive Media Association). Graphic Design IV could easily ally with the Addy Awards or with GDUSA and other magazine contests. I look forward to discussing this with Damu Murray, Woody Hayes, and Marsha Mills.