SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

3D: Supports Student Learning and Effective Teaching

Sauk Valley Community College's learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.

The architects and engineers who camped out on the riverbank while they designed the campus in 1965 promised a campus with “flexibility, convertibility, stability.” (Out of the Prairie, p. 26)  “Everyone liked” the “mall concept” in the design phase, with clusters of classrooms along open corridors. However, 25 years later, the planning committee would report that once the building was constructed, “there was quite a bit of debate about all the wasted space” (p. 27). The long-range consequence of those early design decisions is that Sauk Valley Community College consistently ranks low on the ICCB room utilization scale. The challenge is that the college’s 140.7 Net Assignable Square Feet per FTE (2003 Master Plan) isn’t easily converted to classroom use because of the mall concept of the building design. From the 2000 master plan to the 2005 master plan, the college added two classrooms and 126 additional seats, but remained consistently near the bottom of the state rankings. The 2010 plan is focused on creating the best utilization of classroom spaces and improving student life spaces. Despite financial obstacles, Sauk has used local funding bonds and grants to routinely make selective improvements to various campus facilities.

3D.1: Facilities Support Teaching and Learning

In accordance with Illinois Community College Board rules, the college has periodically developed a Facilities Master Plan, which addresses instructional and student space requirements, to guide it in setting priorities. Sauk has consistently applied for ICCB Resource Allocation and Management Plan (RAMP) funds and had reached the top of the list for projects identified in its 2000 Master Plan just as the state froze funding. In FY11, the Board of Trustees has taken the first steps to begin the 2010 Master Plan’s 15-year redesign of the campus. The first priority of three five-year phases will upgrade and improve the technology area and completely update the science laboratories and equipment.

Despite limitations in physical and financial capacity, Sauk has made carefully selected choices to maintain and improve the facility in ways that support teaching and learning:

  • Technology area: A RAMP grant proposal in 2000 to move the technology area to the T-1 Building (west of the main building) was finally approved in 2005, by which time increased project costs made the project cost prohibitive. However, the college used available local funds for several small remodeling projects to improve the area’s instructional layout. The 2010 Master Plan has identified the technology area for the first phase of remodeling, scheduled for FY12.
  • Art and music areas: Although the 2000 Master Plan vision of a west-end fine arts center was not possible when the technology area did not relocate to T-1, some improvements were made in 2005:
    • In the visual arts area, remodeling of the existing second floor art area created significant improvements in the program’s studio, storage, and display space.
    • The music area was expanded to accommodate a recording studio, and the piano lab was relocated to that area from the third floor.
    • The band room was relocated from a second floor area behind the gym to a basement area directly below the music area.
  • Technology-enhanced classrooms: Sauk has systematically upgraded 38 of its 44 (86%) general purpose classrooms with multimedia projection equipment that enhance opportunities for student engagement activities in the lecture setting.
  • Learning Resources Center: In 2003, the LRC was renovated in response to student needs resulting from “major changes in library support technology.” Renovations included the creation of computer work stations, enhancements in study and reading areas, replacement of the circulation desk and card catalog, and ADA-compliant spacing and furnishings in the study and circulation desk areas.

3D.2: Resources for Learning and Teaching

Although much of the study demonstrates how all aspects of the institution exist in support of student learning, three departments are particularly direct providers of support services for teaching and learning:

  1. Learning Resources Center (LRC)

    The LRC, while providing the traditional library functions, also provides digital services and professional expertise available to faculty, students, and community residents. During the fall 2010 semester, the LRC had a total of 1,743 active patrons: 1,571 Sauk students and staff, 87 local high school students, and 40 community members.

    • Services: The Library provides access to a wide array of resources:
      • a collection of 76,276 print volumes; 4,369 audio-visual materials; 200 print periodicals; 12 newspapers; 1,972 ebooks; and 22 databases, including, for example, Access Science, American National Biography, EBSCO (consists of 14 different databases), Literature Resource Center, and WorldCat.
      • the online I-Share catalogue, in which students and faculty can search and obtain the resources of 76 Illinois libraries belonging to the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI).
      • 5 media viewing rooms, 19 computers, specialized academic software, and two printers.
      • reference services available by email and by phone, including a new “Text a Librarian” option, which expands access to the library staff for students off-campus.
    • Access: The LRC's regular hours ensure its availability when students are on campus. Online services, such as the research databases and interlibrary loan requests, are available at all times.
    • Course support: The library staff conducts library tours for classes upon request by faculty, averaging 25 tours a year from FY07 to FY10 and serving an average of 505 students. These tours include a demonstration of searching the digital card catalog for the physical items in the library; requesting interlibrary loans; and an introduction to the online databases and how to use them. The LRC staff has worked with Counseling to add the tours to all sections of Orientation (PSY 100 ) beginning in FY11, giving 43 tours to a total of 744 students as a result.
    • Staffing: The LRC is currently staffed by a Coordinator of Reference Services, a Coordinator of LRC Technical Services, one full-time and one part-time assistant, and three part-time workstudy students. Both coordinators have master's degrees in library and information science as well as previous library experience. A retired Sauk librarian serves as an unofficial part-time interim Director of the LRC. An active search for a director during summer of 2009 was unsuccessful in finding a full-time director. At the time of the self-study, the position is not posted.
  2. Learning Assistance Center (LAC)

    The LAC supports student learning by providing a variety of developmental services.

    • Services: The LAC’s major services and functions include tutoring, academic tools, computers, math testing services, and accommodations for students with disabilities.
      • On a walk-in basis, the LAC provides tutoring in Mathematics, Composition, Accounting, Biology, Chemistry, Spanish, CIS, Statistics, Sociology, Psychology, Physics, and Economics. The schedule of availability of tutors for each academic discipline is posted each semester.
      • Academic tools include videos, CDs, textbooks, and handouts on a variety of study skills and academic topics, and a webpage of resource links.
      • Computers are available to allow students to work on compositions, online courses, or supplemental website activities with assistance from tutors.
      • The LAC provides retest options for developmental math and on-campus college-level math courses. Students who have failed a developmental math test may review the failed test with a tutor prior to attempting a retest. Developmental math students pay a course fee to help cover the cost of standardized retesting services. A testing room is available for paper and online tests. Until the opening of the Testing Center, the LAC administered much of the proctored testing on campus.
      • The LAC maintains accommodations for students with disabilities, including, for example, elevated tables and the Kurzweil program, which can read to visually impaired or dyslexic students. Beginning in FY09, all special needs students are using the LAC’s facility for their tutoring appointments.
    • Access: The LAC’s regular hours during most times that students are on campus ensure its availability for students.
    • Staffing: The LAC has a full-time Coordinator, who also serves as a tutor, and a staff of 12-15 tutors: four are part-time college staff and the rest are students recommended by faculty. Over the past two years the LAC has also had two community members volunteer their time tutoring. As of fall 2010, two additional special needs tutors are available daily to meet the specific needs of students and assist the general student population. About a half dozen faculty members have volunteered to work in the LAC during an office hour.
    • Professional development: Since its establishment, the LAC has offered tutor training at the beginning of the fall semester. Starting in fall 2008, LAC tutors participate in a combined training program for tutors from various campus programs. The LAC also invites faculty and staff from various academic disciplines to do mini-module training periodically during the year (English, math, Special Needs Office, etc.). Most LAC employees (about 85%), participate in professional development activities.
  3. Informational Services/Instructional Technology (IS/IT)

    IS/IT has the challenging responsibility to provide rapidly changing technology resources and support to students and staff.

    • Access: The IS/IT Department is open during the day for students and staff and also provides phone or walk-in support for the evening classes. College staff and students may also contact IS/IT (during on and off hours) at or by completing the online Technical Support Request form.
    • Services: IS/IT, which works together as a team, is separated into two offices that serve the Sauk community in different ways:
      • Instructional Technology (IT) is the office that supports student learning and effective teaching. IT maintains and supports all the various forms of instructional technology found in classrooms or available for check out. IT conducts professional development on multi-media and online instructional materials, course design, and new technologies.
      • Information Services (IS) primarily supports the administrative functions of the college, maintaining the network, servers, Banner software, and internet resources; providing data; and instructing and supporting staff and students in the use of campus hardware and software.
    • Technology support: IS/IT is charged with integrating technologies that enhance instruction, providing greater access to learning through the use of technologies and providing training and support to faculty and staff. This support takes a wide variety of forms:
      • Staff and student support: Beyond regular staffing in the IS/IT office, the department employs work study computer technicians during the operating hours of the open computer lab for students. In 2009, IT established a help desk at a central point on campus where students may seek help with software or hardware issues during the first week of each semester. An Instructional Technology Specialist/Designer is available specifically to assist with faculty with online course development and to provide one-on-one training.
      • Technology-enhanced classrooms: The IS/IT staff maintains the hardware and software in 38 technology-enhanced classrooms and provides training and assistance to faculty.
      • Computer classrooms: Seven classrooms are equipped with a computer for each student and Insight™ teaching software that provides instructional features, including remote control of student computers, blocking of the Internet and applications, and display of teaching resources.
      • Equipment checkout: Faculty and staff may check out a variety of devices, including classroom technologies like clickers and presentation equipment like projectors and laptops.
      • Training: The IT staff plans and conducts technology training for faculty and staff in a variety of formats: weekly training sessions; an eight week online course; in-service presentations; and one-on-one training.
    • Staffing: Sauk has a total of nine full-time IS/IT staff, compared to the average of 12.9 at seven peer Illinois community colleges. Although currently understaffed, the group works as a team to provide coverage, solve problems, and improve and update services. 

3D.3: Evaluation of Learning Resources

All of Sauk's learning resources are subject to the institution’s planning and review processes.

  • Operational planning: Discrete units like the Library, LAC, and IS/IT do separate Operational Plans and evaluate their contributions to the college’s Strategic Plan each year. This process results in plans to make improvements in teaching and learning, among other Strategic Goals. Other resources, particularly those tied closely to a curricular area, like laboratory and clinical facilities, are evaluated within the specific academic area to which they apply. In all cases, an opportunity for annual evaluation is in place, and actions receive documentation in the Operational Plan and in the budget process when applicable.
  • Program review: Every five years, support departments participate in program review, at which time an evaluation of data informs decision-making for the future and feeds into the strategic planning system.
  • Committee structure: Each of the primary learning resources has cross-curricular evaluation available for its annual review of data and operational planning through the Sauk committee structure:
    • The Learning Resource Center Committee reviews and provides feedback for all major LRC policy and rule changes. As evidenced by committee minutes, the LRC benefits from committee review of data and resources and cross-institutional brainstorming on ways of improving service. For example, an effort to improve the holdings and use of the database collection resulted from committee suggestions.
    • The Institutional Technology Committee, a cross-institutional committee, participates in annual planning for IS/IT. The committee recommends technology priorities and assists in ongoing review of services. Valuable feedback has been provided by the student members of the committee. For example, when student members indicated that most students prefer to use the email they had prior to coming to Sauk, the website was revised to include instructions for students to forward their Sauk email to another email account.
    • The LAC participates in the Developmental Education Committee to enhance the benefit from cooperation and collaboration with other offices designed to foster student success. As a member of the committee, the LAC Coordinator has participated in the cross-institutional effort to create coordinated tutor training, establish the Testing Center, increase access to special needs tutors in the LAC, and improve services to developmental-level students.

3D.4: Data-Influenced Improvements

An examination of Operational Plans and program review documents reveals that learning resources departments are participating in data-influenced action planning:

  • LRC: The LRC compares the size of its collections with that of the libraries in the seven peer colleges (see Figure 3v). This data shows that Sauk is maintaining a larger-than-average collection, especially of electronic reference sources. Based on this data, the plan for future purchases includes . . .
    • maintaining the existing number of printed items by replacing and updating old items, rather than enlarging the collection.
    • increasing the size of the electronic collection by shifting some of its traditional library materials to digital forms.
    • decreasing the number of printed journals and magazines by only purchasing materials that faculty and students use.
    Figure 3v: Library Holdings
     Electronic  ServicesPrint MaterialsE-BooksPrint
    Print Materials Per FTE StudentAudiovisual Materials
    Sauk Valley Community College 35 78,487 1,972 240 42.94 4,102
    Comparison Group Average 14 36,438 1,213 169 18.27 3,232
    % difference 150.0% 115.4% 62.6% 42.0% 135.0% 26.9%
    State Median (IL) 20 40,924 27 204 NA 1,688
    Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Academic Libraries Survey Fiscal Year: 2008
  • IS/IT: The most recent IT survey that was distributed to faculty and staff indicated the following in regard to use of technology services:
    • All of the Faculty respondents agreed (66.7%) or strongly agreed (33.3%) that “Hardware/equipment supported by the department are reliable and available for me to perform my duties in the office or classroom.”
    • Regarding usability of the Sauk website, 81.5% of faculty reported only 1 to 3 incidents of difficulty locating information in the three months prior to the survey; 12.25% reported 4 to 6 difficulties; and only 6.25% of faculty had 10 or more.
    • Blackboard classroom tools were rated as excellent by 33.25% of the faculty; sufficient or adequate by 60.5%. Only 6.25% rated the tools as extremely lacking.
  • LAC: The LAC currently uses several methods to generate data against which to evaluate the use of its learning resources:
    • Computerized tracking provides accurate daily student usage since the LAC implemented the use of a Log-In Attendance System in fall 2006. The system has created an efficient way to track use of the LAC services and to analyze staff work schedules to provide tutoring services when most needed.
    • Student surveys, conducted every two to four years, gather information on student use of the LAC and the quality of services. Findings from the most recent 2008 survey resulted in improvement action plans. For example, students reported using the LAC to do the following (in order of frequency): homework; tutoring; testing. This information was incorporated into training to help tutors meet student expectations for service.
    • Faculty evaluation of services, conducted every three years, gathers data regarding the services faculty use most and find most helpful, as well as what suggestions they have for improvements. Of the 58 full-time and adjunct faculty who participated in the 2008 survey, 93% found the overall service of the LAC to be helpful or very helpful.  At the time of the self-study, the LAC has not yet had opportunity to gather data on its revised services, in which only on-campus math does its testing in the LAC, freeing staff time for increased availability for tutoring.