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Institutional Mission and Effectiveness
The institution demonstrates strong commitment to a mission that emphasizes achievement of student learning and to communicating the mission internally and externally. The institution uses analyses of quantitative and qualitative data and analysis in an ongoing and systematic cycle of evaluation, integrated planning, implementation, and re-evaluation to verify and improve the effectiveness by which the mission is accomplished.
Mission : Part A:
The institution has a statement of mission that defines the institution's broad educational purposes; its intended student population, and its commitment to achieving student learning.
Ventura College Mission and Goals Statements
The mission statement of Ventura College defines our purpose, identifies the population we intend to serve, and outlines our commitment. Our mission statement is included below.
Ventura College is a comprehensive community college with a long-standing tradition of active outreach and service to local and global communities. Originally landscaped to be an arboretum, Ventura College remains a beautiful, unique campus with a special interest in the study and preservation of the environment.
The College offers a comprehensive curriculum with a diverse selection of disciplines, learning approaches and teaching methods. It is a leader in providing instruction and support for students with disabilities. Educational experiences provided by Ventura College include classes in basic skills; courses for high school students; programs for students seeking an associate's degree, certificate or license for job placement and advancement; curricula for students planning to transfer; a program for community seniors; non-academic community service classes; training program for such organizations as agriculture, business, education, health care, and government; and other educational activities to meet learning and employment needs.
The College community is made up of a dedicated, caring and diverse team of professionals who are committed to assisting all students achieving their personal and professional goals and developing their full potential in an ever-changing cultural, socioeconomic, and technological world. It does this by providing support services and co-curricular experiences to educate the whole person, one with the knowledge, critical thinking skills and judgment to be a responsible leader and citizen in an open, democratic and diverse society.
As one of the oldest community colleges in California , Ventura College has a strong and deep connection to the community. It fulfills its long-standing responsibility for enhancing the quality of life of Ventura County by aligning its programs and services to regional needs, being receptive to requests from the community, and forming unique partnerships.
Ventura College strives to create an educational environment that is conducive to maximizing student learning and promoting student welfare through the identification and fulfillment of its institutional mission and goals. Based on collaborative efforts by the college's Council on Institutional Development (CID), the college is fortunate to have easily recognized college wide objectives pursuant to its college mission and goal statements. These high-profile objectives allow our staff to review the strengths and weaknesses of our institutional effectiveness efforts through the values the college has established for itself.
The mission current mission statement evolved from campuswide discussions that focused upon issues of student learning and creating a student-centered model for Ventura College . Most of these discussions were facilitated by the Council for Institutional Development (CID), which is a "think tank" assembled by the former president of Ventura College in 1997. In forming the CID, the president, in conjunction with the Academic Senate president and President's Cabinet, asked the questions, "Who are our students?" and "How can the college best serve them?" Using this analysis, they identified categories of staff necessary for CID discussions to generate a complete picture of the college. They examined the relationships between the assigned activities and the varied needs of our students.
To obtain a balanced perspective on campus issues, CID participants include staff from academic, vocational and basic skills instructional areas, financial aid, tutoring, counseling, admissions and records, the Educational Assistance Center (EAC), as well as from the traditional representative committee memberships, such as student services, general education, and Academic and Classified Senates. To allow the broadest participation, individuals that are not ad hoc members are rotated off the committee. Over the last five years, CID has consistently filled the 31 designated appointments and has been able to provided balanced discussions related to the needs of the college's diverse student population and strategies for the college's overall improvement.
Core statements of the mission statement were discussed and embraced by the CID and the Ventura College faculty and staff, and then accepted and approved by the President's Cabinet. The Mission Statement exemplifies Ventura College 's commitment to supporting teaching strategies that respond to diverse learning styles.
IA1: The institution established student learning programs and services aligned with its purposes, its character, and its student population.
The college has established student learning programs and services aligned with its purpose, character and student population. The college offers a comprehensive program of academic, vocational, basic skill and community service programs. It also offers a variety of opportunities for co-curricular student learning opportunities
In addition to providing courses, programs and services that meet the educational goals of students, there is a college wide effort to explore teaching strategies that meet the diverse learning styles of the student population. Over the past six years, an array of projects and programs on teaching methods have been instituted, establishing student learning programs/practices and services aligned with Ventura College's purpose, character and student population.
Institutional efforts at Ventura College to support and enrich teaching and learning effectiveness have been derived from an array of departments, groups and individuals. The combined efforts of numerous projects display a campuswide willingness to explore new teaching strategies and methodologies. Some of the more prominent efforts are briefly described below:
1. Teaching Techniques Exchange Group: The Teaching Techniques Exchange Group (TTEG) has emerged as the clearinghouse, sounding board and impetus for innovative teaching. In 1996, two faculty members created a cross-discipline faculty idea exchange network. For the past six years, this group of full-time and adjunct faculty has been meeting monthly to discuss, share and evaluate successful teaching, learning, classroom management, and assessment techniques. Some important innovations include the following:
Paired classes that include back-to-back courses in English and Biology, allowing students an opportunity for a paired learning model centered on environmental studies;
Faculty participation in the Great Teacher's Seminar and the subsequent "Best of the Best" staff development presentation during which seminar participants report back on best practices;
A highly successful Symposium for Teaching and Learning held as part of the Ventura College fall 2002 Flex Week. Fifty-eight faculty members attended the symposium, which featured topics such as meeting the needs of a diverse student population; paired classes and learning communities; service learning and teaching techniques exchange. In addition, a follow-up survey determined if techniques learned during the Symposium were being used in the classroom, with survey responses indicating positive results. This activity was repeated in spring of 2003 with an even greater number of participants.
While TTEG meetings are open and at-large, participation fluctuates depending on the topic. Regularly, about 25 faculty participants from disciplines across the campus attend.
2. Multicultural Collaborative Learning Consortium: Between 1998-2000 Ventura College participated in the Multicultural Collaborative Learning Consortium (MCLC) with De Anza and Yuba Community Colleges. The Consortium was formed to promote learning strategies for diverse student populations. This project engaged faculty in conferences and workshops that promoted collaborative learning through innovative classroom structuring that addressed the variety of learning styles for diverse student populations. (See 2003 Progress Report in the General Reference Bin.)
3. One Book/One Campus Program: In spring 2002, the California Council for Humanities invited all Californians to read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. According to the council, this project was "designed to strengthen California communities by bringing people together to read John Steinbeck's classic novel, and share their experiences as Californians." In support of the One Book/One State Program, and coordinated by English department and library staff members, faculty and managers developed an innovative six-week program: One Book/One Campus. This cross-discipline collaboration involved the whole campus in teaching and learning about the novel. Teachers in such diverse disciplines as political science, history, learning skills, economics, English and sociology discussed strategies for using the novel in their classes. Other disciplines, such as art, photography, ESL, biology, child development, nutrition, anthropology and creative writing developed classroom activities. As many as seven disciplines conducted panel discussion on the novel in their classrooms, while the art, photography and history departments created a special campus photo exhibit, and the college offered four film presentations recounting the migration and immigration experience depicted in the novel. In addition, college staff engaged in a marathon oral reading of the novel, in both English and Spanish, in the campus quad area. This program was undertaken again in fall 2003 with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried , and evaluated through the Office of Institutional Research. A majority of over three hundred students surveyed responded positively to the six week learning community. While the program and results are discussed in depth in Section II, it is worth noting here that 82 percent of the respondents said they better understood what they were learning in classes because of their participation in the One Book/One Campus program.
4. Another display of institutional enthusiasm for teaching and learning effectiveness comes in the form of financial support from the College Foundation. Since 1996, the College Foundation has offered Staff Innovation Grants of up to $1,500 for faculty and staff who undertake projects that "improve and enrich student instruction and advance research, scholarship, or professional development." Some approved projects include developing an "Ethics across the Curriculum" course; attending a summer seminar in thinking skills for Learning Skill classes; creating an interactive seminar on innovative ways of teaching/counseling; and developing a link between reading and writing classes.
5. In addition to funds from the College Foundation, our Staff Development Committee has supported and funded teaching innovations through either a special project proposal mechanism or by fund allocation per division. Some of the activities generated from staff development resources include in-service workshops related to classroom management techniques; presentations on using Power Point in the classroom; collaborative group techniques; and methods for engaging students (See 2003 Progress Report in General Reference Bin).
The college has begun to demonstrate its effectiveness by making use of evidence of student learning to evaluate systems and programs, make changes to improve student learning, and evaluate the results. Several notable examples follow.
In fall of 2002, Ventura College implemented assessment and placement for composition courses. Faculty in the Language Arts Department initiated the change in response to the inadequacies of voluntary assessment and subsequent self-placement. Prior to fall 2002, only a small percentage of students went through assessment, itself a violation of Title 5. Additionally, students often placed themselves in a composition course for which they were unprepared. In October 2002, the Language Arts Department voted overwhelmingly to proceed with a new system of assessment and placement. The department believed that an integrated curriculum with appropriate entry skills and objectives for each level would improve students' abilities to succeed. Faculty members updated all composition course outlines, clarifying prerequisites and proof of readiness, which would be determined by successful completion; students could also use the challenge process by composing an essay graded by two or more faculty members. Department members also undertook a research project designed to verify or revise previously determined cut scores on the DTLS (Descriptive Test of Language Skills), a two-part assessment instrument measuring reading and English conventions. To ensure compliance with Title 5 and its requirement for multiple measures, the department, working with a consultant, developed a questionnaire to be used in conjunction with the DTLS; the questionnaire allowed staff from Matriculation to examine issues such as high school grades and work schedules, factors determined through research to assist in projecting student success. (IA-1)
To support the changes in assessment, the Language Arts Department undertook two additional projects. After extensive collaboration, the faculty established grading criteria for degree credit composition courses designed to maintain prerequisite standards. Additionally, to ensure standardization, the department held mandatory holistic reading sessions for all full and part-time faculty.
Assessment and placement has been in effect for five semesters. Though most composition faculty believe that students are now more appropriately placed, some believe the cut scores might be low. Thus, in conjunction with their consultant, members of the Language Arts Department have begun to research the appropriateness of cut scores (IA-2).
The college has made several notable attempts to coordinate its institutional advances and improvements with its acknowledged college goals.
Because the Language Arts faculty recognize the needs of the Ventura College students in mastering reading and writing skills, they have established a rigorous course sequence. Students receive intensive instruction in several areas, including computer-assisted instruction. Furthermore, students are required to take more units than the average community college student. To validate the program, Ventura College requested data from California State University at Northridge (CSUN), one of the major transfer receiving institutions, on the success rate of Ventura College transfers relative to other transfers. The results affirm that the college has established its English program in response to the needs of its students (IA-3). All students at CSU must take a written proficiency in English exam before being granted their degree.
83 percent of Ventura College students passed the exam; 17 percent failed
76 percent of all other community colleges passed the exam; 24 percent failed
80 percent of CSUN native students passed the exam; 20 percent failed
In the aggregate, Ventura College students were better prepared than students from other community colleges and native CSUN students-even though VC has no entrance requirements and CSU takes the top 33 percent of graduating high school classes.
Another unique student learning assessment occurs at the conclusion of most library orientations, when students complete a classroom assessment technique (CAT) called "The Muddiest Point." This CAT allows the librarians to understand the strong and weak points in library orientations, using the results to improve quality.
Student Development has conducted research on "success of students using matriculation services" and the "success rate of EAC students". Plans to duplicate this research through the Office of Student Learning have been requested for Fall 2004.
Instructional components of the college have utilized the targeted college mission and goals as a springboard toward improving teaching and learning through curriculum advances. Through academic departments' involvement in program review and shared governance vehicles such as the Curriculum Committee, the college will continue its review of the general education components of non-transfer vocational programs, and is working to develop new AA general education degree options for students taking high unit vocational courses that would otherwise exclude them from earning AA degrees. Also, the college has developed several self-contained programs in automotive technology and computer-controlled machining that fully integrate general education.
In additional, the college has developed a very successful work experience program that enrolls approximately 300 students per semester. The college's Cooperative Work Experience Education (CWEE) and Internship Program are organized into two components: general work experience, which is directed by the work experience coordinator; and departmental internships, which are conducted by faculty academic internship supervisors within each department. Faculty internship supervisors receive stipend compensation per student intern within their discipline and auspices. Handbooks for faculty and students inform policies and operations for both work experience and internship programs (IA-4) (IA-5).
In line with the Distance Learning Plan developed over the past several years, the Distance Education committee is on schedule in creating a handbook that will include policies and practice guidelines (IA-6). Ventura College has undertaken a concerted effort to expand distance education opportunities for students while recognizing that student services must also be available online, and that those online services must be available to students with disabilities. Student Services and the Educational Assistance Center (EAC /DSP&S) are early participants in this institutional effort. The college's Assistive Technology Specialist has worked closely with the committee to ensure that the accessibility guidelines established by the California Community College Chancellor's Office for distance learning were adhered to in the development of our WebCT platform and new distance education classes.
The development and utilization of the Ventura College Planning Utility software represents another effort to facilitate institutional effectiveness and progress. In the fall of 1999, the Ventura College Council of Institutional Development (CID) led the college as an Alpha Web site in developing a computer utility that would be used for developing operational plans, integrating them for budgetary review, and evaluating them as part of a new program review process scheduled for development during the following year. The planning utility software was devised with the intent of matching staff "action plans" and funding proposals with their established institutional goals. In fact, the software programming of the planning utility itself requires that end users indicate, in narrative form, how their proposed "action plan" conforms to specific institutional goals (IA-7). Validating that it addresses these unmet institutional goals is a major criterion for a proposal's acceptability.
The student services divisions have improved internal cooperation and communication. Through the success team, personnel in student services have organized and participated in three in-service staff development activities over the past year aimed at improving communication and customer service skills.
In addition, student services have traditionally been involved in campuswide and districtwide planning, demonstrating increased leadership and influence. In the past, the districtwide planning group, Future's Forum, and the Ventura College CID have offered student services strategic planning and action planning opportunities. The college's external and internal scans, mentioned earlier, are of particular merit. The input from the college community and the CID Educational Forums and internal scans highlighted issues and directed the college's agenda for change. Also, a comprehensive student survey, the Survey of Student Perceptions, provided a broad evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of our student services. The results from the most recent survey administered in 2003 to almost 1,800 Ventura College students gave the college valuable information about satisfaction with student and campus services as well as opportunities for improvement.
IA 2 : The mission statement is approved by the governing board and published .
The Ventura College Council of Institutional Development, created to focus attention on the development of a renewed strategic vision of the college's mission and goals, includes representatives from every major area of the institution's functions: the president, executive vice president, students, faculty, staff, and management representatives from various functional and shared governance areas of the campus. CID was also charged with developing a comprehensive planning and budgeting process that would systematically engage the entire college community.
Ventura College has made serious strides to ensure that its mission and goals become an integral feature of its landscape, attempting to achieve this full operational integration in a number of important ways. As indicated, the establishment of mission and goals was the result of extensive collaboration and the collective effort of the entire college community. The mission and goals were reviewed, critiqued, and approved through the full spectrum of shared governance process, and received wide distribution and exposure-appearing in all online and printed college materials, and introduced at all staff orientations and committee functions. The college mission and goal statements have been approved by all representative segments of the college, including the Academic Senate, Classified Senate, Associated Students, and Governing Board.
In 1999 and again in 2003, the Ventura College community reviewed and updated the college mission statement. The current statement is published in most college documents, including the catalog, and is available on the college Web site. Recently, the Governing Board again reviewed and approved Ventura College's mission (IA-9).
IA3 : Using the institution's governance and decision-making processes, the institution reviews its mission statement on a regular basis and revises it as necessary.
The college has consistently used the mission as the guide, along with an on-going assessment of community and student needs to establish the college's goals. The college goals are reviewed and revised on a regular basis. The college goals are used by all planning units in the development of unit plans. This is evident in the organization of the college's software planning utility program used to write all college plans.
Decision-making as to the implementation of plans and revisions of policies and procedures are made on the basis of how they support the college goals and its mission.
Decision-making occurs within the framework of the college's shared-governance system. (Refer to the Strategic Decision Process on p. 20.)
The faculty and staff of Ventura College have a long tradition of commitment to serving students. To keep that commitment and renew the campus' focus on its mission and values, the college president and the Council for Institutional Development maintain ongoing discussion about the mission. These minutes are widely disseminated. Since 1997 the college has entered into a series of discussions in various venues as a means to explore and codify the mission, review and implement programs or procedures that are consistent with our mission, and improve the effectiveness of our response. The CID has served as the central clearinghouse for information and as the host for campuswide dialogues and discussions regarding the mission, vision, and goals of the college.
This process began in spring of 1998 with a review of campus services and programs, student demographics, and goal attainment (IA-10). The college president, in conjunction with the CID, proposed bringing the community and the college together for dialogue. The college's Institute for Community and Professional Development developed and conducted an external scan event during which community leaders from business, education, private and non-profit agencies, government, and utilities discussed issues of education and training with Ventura College faculty and staff. About 80 people attended this event. Afterwards, the president issued the findings and conclusions in a document , "Beyond 2000: Education & Training in the Next Century" (IA-11).
This event and its documentation was included as part of the process for campuswide review, which continued into the fall semester. In February 1999, the Council for Institutional Development hosted an off campus planning retreat for faculty and staff of Ventura College (IA-12) . During the retreat, the Classified and Academic Senate presidents and the college president created cross-functional teams of faculty, staff, and managers who reviewed the college's mission and values and drafted a revision of these statements into college goals. The president's office distributed copies to the constituent groups of the Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and Administrative Council for review.
Additionally, in order to have the widest possible campus review, on February 24, 1999, the executive committee of the Council for Institutional Development facilitated a campuswide open forum with an all-day drop-in discussion regarding the mission, values and goals statements for the college. The Campus Center was equipped with stations that became the repository of notes from the ongoing dialogue. This process crystallized college goals and acted as a review of the mission. Staff used easel boards to capture comments and ideas, and CID members staffed tables to answer questions or facilitate discussion. On March 9, the Executive Committee of the CID-comprised of Classified and Academic Senate representatives, student government representatives, the president, vice presidents and a dean representative-met to refine the ideas that had been gathered on campus. The committee presented a final draft of its mission, values and goals to the full membership of the CID on March 10, 1999.
Once the mission and goals were finalized, the president set up a Planning Implementation Team. Relying on the familiarity of faculty, staff and managers with recent dialogue and revisions, this team discussed ways to tie planning into the college's mission and goals statements.
Over a two-day period-March 24 and 25, 1999-the Planning Implementation Team held open meetings to gather information from the campus regarding strategies for implementing the college plan and achieving college goals. The executive committee of the Council for Institutional Development collated the strategies, removing redundancies and pairing some to others, and drafted a plan that was presented to the entire council.
After reviewing this draft, the CID issued "The College Plan 2000-2003," which contained the college's revised mission and its statement of values and practices (IA-13) . In addition, this process yielded a plan that contained nine college goals, success indicators for the goals, and institutional strategies for achieving each goal. It was understood that this document would be reviewed in 2003 .
A high-profile display of our institutional support for the mission and goal statements is supported by the fact that their currency is maintained. The discussion of a process for reviewing the mission and goals began in spring of 2002 with the college president engaging the Academic Senate on April 18 in a dialogue (IA-14). In January 2003, 39 faculty, staff, and managers participated in a two-day retreat hosted by CID as the kickoff to updating the Educational Master Plan in order to include it in the coming accreditation self study (IA-15). Once again the campus community began reviewing its mission and goals as presented in the college plan (IA-16). The process included discussion boards in the staff lounge that featured records of the issues, and the latest drafts of the master plan and comments. Additionally, meetings were held on campus both during the day and evening in order to facilitate the flow of information (IA-17). Finally, 39 faculty members, staff and managers, along with the CID membership of faculty, staff, managers and students presented an updated draft of the Educational Master Plan to the campus via the Ventura College Web site and through hard copies located around campus (president's office, library, etc). Members of the college community provided feedback through open forums and email (IA-18). This draft was disseminated to the shared governance bodies for review. As a result, the wording of Ventura College's mission and goals was revised and an additional tenth goal defined by the college community.
This process provided a method for the mission and goals to develop organically and include all of the college. Furthermore, the campus community has created and adopted the college goals as its own and is better able to work towards accomplishing them.
The Ventura College goals are as follows:
Goal I: Develop and maintain excellent educational programs and services in a unique learning environment.
Goal II: Increase enrollments and access to higher education for all.
Goal III: Expand the use of instructional and administrative technology to make Ventura College a recognized leader of technology among California Community Colleges.
Goal IV: Foster a climate that promotes and reflects Ventura College's core values.
Goal V: Create and expand programs to attract outstanding and diverse professionals to Ventura College and provide training programs that enable all to be active members of the learning community, to achieve their long-term professional goals, and to meet student and regional needs.
Goal VI: Create a physical environment that generates, provides, and supports Ventura College's mission, goals, and initiatives.
Goal VII: Form partnerships with education, business, and other organizations that will achieve mutual goals and strengthen the college and the region.
Goal VIII: Create a strong, unified image that reflects Ventura College's aspirations and importance to the campus and external communities.
Goal IX: Enhance the financial strength of the college by aligning the resources with its mission and goals, continuously improving operational efficiency, and acquiring new revenue sources.
Goal X: Continuously improve institutional effectiveness by defining a clear and distinctive mission, establishing an ongoing collaborative planning process, maintaining participatory governance, and gathering and utilizing relevant data to assess the college's progress toward fulfilling its mission and goals.
IA4 : The institution's mission is central to institutional planning and decision-making .
The college's concerted effort to promote "participatory and shared governance" and maintain fluid relations among all segments of staff demonstrates commitment toward effectiveness. The dedication to "continuous quality improvements" and new innovation moves through the shared governance structure of our college. Based on this structure, all college staff, regardless of function or title, have open venues to share ideas or participate in efforts to improve our teaching and learning. Much of the review of institutional effectiveness, including new ideas, comes from staff at the departmental/office or divisional level. However, institutional effectiveness is frequently a conscious, or at least implicit, agenda item every time college staff meets. These meetings include shared governance groupings, standing committees, ad hoc committee meetings, or special topic gatherings. Ventura College is sincere in its desire toward seeking ongoing review of its operations and delivery of quality instruction and services. The college's dedication to "continuous quality improvement" for operations guides its commitment to serving students well.
There are many programs and activities at Ventura College that demonstrate the commitment to student learning and exemplify the mission and goals. In many respects, the Standard One Self Study subcommittee suggested that institutional effectiveness, as a concept, essentially transcends the entire operational performance of the college. Because of this, the Standard One subcommittee of the Accreditation Self Study Team decided that a unique approach responding to the issues in Standard One was warranted. Recognizing the campuswide commitment to the mission, and understanding the college goals as outlined through the collaborative process, the Standard One team sought information regarding programs and services through an Activities Matrix Survey that utilizes the ten goals as organizers (IA-19).