A lab at Southeast Community College designed to help students
improve their academic and study skills and be more prepared for
college-level coursework has won a national award.
The Transitions Lab at SCC has been named a winner of the
National Council of Instructional Administrators Exemplary
Initiatives competition in the Curricular and Program Innovation
The lab, an initiative of a Trade Adjustment Assistance
Community College and Career Training grant, is in the Library
Resource Center on SCC's Lincoln Campus. It helps prepare students
for success in college-level coursework by offering one noncredit
"Quick Start" brush-up continuing education workshop and the
opportunity to meet with a transition advisor.
Dr. Phip Ross, English instructor at SCC, will be attending the
25th International Conference on College Teaching
and Learning in Florida in March to accept the award and present
about SCC's Transitions Lab.
"We are proud of a lot of things that this grant has helped us
accomplish," Ross said. "We try to talk to all students who score
low on our placement test and start building relationships with
The Transitions Lab, which began in spring 2011, is a resource
for students as they prepare for upcoming classes, particularly
targeting those whose test scores place them in low levels of math,
reading and writing. These scores can frustrate students and
require many classes of developmental, or remediation, courses,
"We are really taking a close look at improving services that
serve students across the college," he said. "The Transitions Lab
is one piece of a puzzle."
From the outset, Ross said plans included strategies to bridge
curriculum from adult education to foundations courses and to
"Post-secondary education institutions can be a very strange and
confusing culture," Ross said. "Besides the academics, there's so
much to acclimate to, and we try to meet and know our students and
guide them. It's a lot of work, but if someone's in your corner,
Gathering data is an important part of the process. One study
conducted by Transitions staff showed that students who received
services in the lab are out-performing those with similar placement
scores by completing and passing courses at a rate of almost 2 to
1. So, while transitions students are often skipping over classes
due to 93 percent of its students improving placement scores, they
are more successful and earning more credits in later terms.
Twenty-three have earned employment certificates in the first two
years of the grant.
"We're preparing to celebrate our first graduates this spring,"
Forty-eight of past Quick Start students earned spots on SCC's
2013 Fall Quarter Dean's List. To be recognized on the list, a
student must complete at least six quarter credit hours of the term
with a minimum grade-point average of 3.5. Classes with a grade of
"P" (Pass) do not count toward the six-hour minimum.
The Transitions Lab staff advises students who come out of the
Testing Center with scores in the foundations and pre-foundations
level and helps connect them to other SCC resources. The staff
invites students to register for the continuing education Quick
Start course, which requires 10 hours or more of study in at least
one skill area, until the next term begins. At the completion of 10
hours or more of study, students may retake the placement test and
the $15 fee is waived.
Advisors celebrate students' accomplishments, help them enroll
in college-level courses and refer them to available college
services, such as financial aid. They also maintain contact with
the student to gather data on their progress and remain available
for advising until the student transitions to a program
"The more students who have relationships with members of
the staff, the more engaged and invested they are in their
education," Ross said. "I can't say enough about our advisors in
the lab. They are outstanding."
Transitions Lab advisors are Gerian Rada and Kristi
The three-year grant, which was awarded to SCC by the Nebraska
Community College Consortium and the U.S. Department of Labor, ends
in October. It provides community colleges and other eligible
institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve
their ability to deliver education and career training programs
that can be completed in two years or less, are suited for workers
who are eligible for training under the TAA for Workers program,
and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage,