2019 Self Study - Part II, Standard 6, Student Services

Executive summary:

Since 2011, enrollment gains in the Department of Communication have been significant, especially in comparison to growth in the College of Arts & Science and the University. The department is also retaining and graduating more students than seven years ago.

At present, advising of students is the responsibility of the department. The department currently employs one full-time advisor, who advises about a quarter of the department’s majors. The rest of the majors are advised by the department’s tenure/tenure-track faculty. Faculty advisement loads range from 20 – 40 students. Some students have complained that the high advising loads have negatively impacted their advising experiences.

The College of Arts and Sciences is currently creating a college-level student success center, called “The Hub.” Once the Hub is fully operational in Fall 2020, the department is planning to move advisement to the Hub, with full-time advisors taking over responsibility for academic advising.

Student-run media is independent of the department, with operation of the student newspaper, TV news program, and digital radio station falling under the control of Student Development. But the department actively supports these student media organizations, with faculty serving as advisors to the organizations and the department awarding academic credit for participation.

 

  1. Complete and attach Table 9, “Student Aid.”

Table 9. Student Aid

Provide information for each of the two years preceding the accreditation visit.

 

 

2017-2018

2018-2019

 

SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN THE UNIT

 

Total amount of scholarship dollars from funds controlled by institution

426,083.70

475,378.45

 

Number of students receiving scholarships from funds controlled by institution

137

128

 

Media individual scholarship from funds controlled by institution

19500.00

1,500.00

 

Total amount of scholarship dollars from funds controlled by unit

5500

5250.00

 

Number of students receiving scholarships from funds controlled by unit

7

6

 

Median individual scholarship from funds controlled by unit

1000

$750

 

UNDERGRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIPS OR WORK-STUDY APPOINTMENTS

 

Number of students holding appointments

0

0

 

Range of stipends

 

 

  

  1. Describe how the unit informs students of the requirements of the degree and the major, advises them on effective and timely ways to meet the requirements, and monitors their compliance with the requirements, including the 72-hour rule. Provide digital files of advising guides, manuals, newsletters or other internal communication with students. Provide a print copy in the workroom. Describe availability and accessibility of faculty to students.

The unit and the university provide students with a number of different resources to help students plan and monitor their academic progress.

Clear Paths

When students begin the major they are provided with a “ClearPath” which outlines degree requirements and suggests what semesters students should attempt to complete each requirement.

Clear Paths are available online at: https://www.utc.edu/advisement/advising-resources/clear-paths-for-advising/index.php 

The clear path for a BA in Communication (catalog year 2019-20) is available at:

https://www.utc.edu/advisement/pdfs/clear-paths/clear-paths-2019-2020/cas-communication-ba-2019.pdf

MyMocsDegree

The “MyMocsDegree” provides both students and advisors with up-to-date information about how an individual student is progressing through the degree requirements (including major, minor, and general education requirements). The MyMocsDegree lists all of the requirements of a BA in Communication, including the requirement that students complete at least 72 hours outside of COMM.

Students can access their MyMocsDegree at any time. Advisors use the MyMocsDegree during advising sessions.

A description of the MyMocsDegree advising tool is available at: https://www.utc.edu/college-business/pdfs/my-mocs-degree.pdf

Individual Advising Meetings

Each semester students are required to meet with an advisor prior to registration. Students cannot register until an “advising hold” is removed by their advisor. During the advising meeting the advisor and student discuss degree requirements, including major, minor, and general education requirements. Each student is provided with a list of suggested courses to take in the following semester.

In Fall 2018, the department adopted an advising template for providing students with notes from their advising session. The template is available at: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/student-advisement-template.docx

Graduation Status Report

A semester prior to graduation students are assigned a graduation specialist in the university’s Records Office. The specialist runs a graduation status report that determines if the student will meet all degree requirements, including the 72-hour rule. The report is provided to the student prior to the start of the student’s final semester. If a student is deficient in an area they can alter their course schedule prior to the semester commencing. 

 

  1. Describe the unit’s process for evaluating its advising and counseling services. Include measurements of the accuracy of academic advising, student and faculty opinion of the quality of advising, or other indices of the effectiveness of advising. Discuss the results of these assessments.

In 2014-2015 the University’s Advisor’s Council launched a student survey with the goal of assessing students’ experience with advising at UTC. Each semester students are asked to complete the online survey after meeting with their advisors. Results are provided to department heads on a yearly basis.

2017-18 Survey Results: Response rates to the student survey were extremely low. Only 3-4% of COMM majors completed the survey each semester. Given the low response rates it is difficult to draw valid results from the data. Among those who did complete the survey, 87% of students responded positively to questions accessing advising related to degree requirements and course planning. 83% of students answered positively on questions addressing the professionalism and courteousness of the advisor. 80% of students were positive about their advisor’s ability to refer them to other services and departments as situations required. More than 75% of students answered positively that advisors provided accurate, program-based knowledge and that they provided information to help students follow university policies and procedures. 65% of students answered positively that advisors provided students with information that would help them identify campus support services. Overall, 80% of students answered positively that they were satisfied with their overall experience.

The survey also asked an open-ended question: How could your Academic Advising experience be improved? In Spring 2018, several students suggested that heavy advising and teaching loads were hampering effective advisement. For example, student A reported “I feel advisers are overwhelmed with how many students they have on their case load on top of courses they teach. Maybe change the number of students each adviser gets so they can form more personal relationship and help students better.” Student B expressed that is was “difficult to find fault when your advisor is an overstaffed professor who is required to both teach and advise. … The only way to improve is to hire a group of advisors who are not full-time professors as well.” While Student C expressed frustration with the limited amount of time allotted for advising meetings: “[My advisor’s] schedule is so jam-packed, I was only able to meet with her for 15 minutes. I’m supposed to trust this person with the advisement and counsel of my future, and I can only get 15 minutes of hardly any advisement at all?”

These limited results suggest advisors are providing students with effective academic advising, including helping student navigate degree requirements and create course schedules. The results also suggest that advisors could improve how they advise students about campus support resources, including providing information about the Counseling Center, the Disability Resource Center, tutoring, and Career Services. Finally, the results also suggest advisement could be improved by reducing the number of advisees assigned to each advisor, enabling advisors to spend more time with advisees.

 

  1. Describe student media, student professional organizations or other extra-curricular activities and opportunities provided by the unit or the institution that are relevant to the curriculum and develop students’ professional and intellectual abilities and interests.

The university supports four student media organizations: The University Echo, the student newspaper; Mocs News, student-produced video newscasts; the Perch, the student-run online radio station; and Sequoya Review, UTC’s undergraduate literary and arts magazine. These organizations are considered independent student organizations, managed and funded by the Division of Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

COMM professors regularly serve as advisors to the three student media organizations that most closely align with our discipline: The University Echo, Mocs News, and the Perch.  COMM students are encouraged to participate in these three student media organizations and can receive course credit through COMM 1999, Special Projects.

To support students interested in public relations, the department started a Public Relations Student Society of American (PRSSA) chapter in 1995. In 2015, as a result of problems between a previous faculty member and the local PRSA chapter, the student chapter was discontinued. In June 2019, the department reformed a PRSSA chapter.

The department is also in the beginning stages of establishing a student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). The department’s chapter of National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is currently inactive.

 

  1. Describe the unit’s career counseling and placement strategy for assistance in students’ searches for employment. List placement statistics for the three most recent years before the self-study year for which accurate information is available.

Career counseling is provided by University Career Services. The Mission of University Career Services is “to provide students with the tools to be successful in their job search and to be prepared with the right documents to have in an interview.” It critiques student resumes, helps students practice interview skills through “moc” interviews, offers career related workshops, hosts career fairs, and provides job listing through Handshake. 

More about University Career Services is available at: https://www.utc.edu/university-career-services/

Placement statistics are kept by University Career Services and UTC’s Office for Planning, Evaluation, and Institutional Research (OPEIR). For students who graduated between Spring 2016 and Spring 2019, OPEIR have been able to track 82 currently employed graduates.  Of those 82, 44 were admitted as first-time freshman and 38 were admitted as transfers. GPA data for the 82 graduates are as follows:

7 students graduated with a GPA between 3.80 to 4.00;

9 students graduated with a GPA between 3.50 to 3.79;

30 students graduated with a GPA between 3.00 to 3.49;

25 students graduated with a GPA between 2.50 to 2.99; and,

11 students graduated with a GPA between 1.99 to 2.49.

 

  1. Discuss the processes in place to collect, maintain and analyze enrollment, retention and graduation rates within the major and in comparison to university’ rates. Discuss the findings of the analysis. Provide the URL where the unit shares its most recent retention and graduation data with the public.

Enrollment, retention and graduation rates, for the department and the university, are collected by the university’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Institutional Research (OPEIR). Results are made public through “Institutional Dashboards” which are periodically updated by OPIER. The dashboards are available at: https://www.utc.edu/planning-evaluation-institutional-research/dashboards/home.php

Since 2011, enrollment gains in the department of Communication have been significant, especially in comparison to growth in the College of Arts & Science and the University.

Between 2011 and 2018, COMM major enrollment increased 35.29%, undergraduate enrollment in the College of Arts & Sciences increased 2.62%, and undergraduate enrollment in the university increased nearly 3.78%. The department’s annual growth rate out paces the College of Arts & Sciences by 1191% and the university by 832%. The department’s seven-year annual growth rate is 4.41% while the college’s annual growth rate is 0.37% and the university’s annual growth rate is 0.53%.

The department is retaining and graduating more students than seven years ago.  The department is outperforming the College of Arts & Sciences and the University in retaining and graduating students.

Over the last 7 years, the department’s percentage of students retained in the major from fall semester to fall semester has fallen from a 68.6% to 63.9%. At first glance this would appear to be a setback for the department. But on closer examination the decline in retention rates corresponds with the department’s increase in graduation rates from 13.8% to 21.4%. Also of note is the fact that the number of students leaving the major without graduating has declined from 17.6% to 14.8%. When these data are taken as a whole, the department is, in fact, retaining and graduating more students than seven years ago. 

The college and university have also seen declines in the percentage of students retained from fall to fall. The department’s percentage of students retained in the major from fall to fall is slightly higher than percentages at the college and university levels.

The college and university have also seen increases in the percentage of students graduated. The department’s percentage of students graduated is higher than percentages at the college and university levels.

The college and university have also seen decreases in the percentage of students not retained from fall to fall. The department’s percentage of students not retained is lower than percentages at the college and university levels.


2019 Self-Study