Mohave Community College focusing on student needs

KINGMAN - While Mohave Community College is improving its properties to attract more students, it's also working hard on student achievement.

In the past four years, the college has restructured classes, introduced support systems for academic and life challenges, adopted academic alerts to strengthen intervention, and streamlined procedures to ease the college experience process.

The upshot, said MCC President Michael Kearns, is that more students are completing their classes, continuing their education and actually graduating.

"A college can't improve without making a concentrated effort to find out where the problems are and dealing with them," said Kearns. "We're training teachers to be better instructors, designing our delivery of information to engage students, and investing in our campuses to provide quality learning spaces."

Two of the areas needing assistance have been the low completion rates of entry-level math and reading. In 2012, 18 percent of MCC's approximately 5,000 students, compared to 28 percent statewide, completed their entry-level math classes. That number jumped to 31 percent at MCC in 2014.

To increase the success rate, the college redesigned the math classes, targeted concepts that challenge students, embedded tutors into classes, and integrated real-world math examples.

The situation was the same in entry-level reading classes where 32 percent of MCC students finished in 2012 compared to 47 percent statewide, and 44 percent completed the classes at MCC in 2014.

The college implemented the "Writing Across the Curriculum Project" and created an assessment system to identify students' base skill levels.

A total of 77 percent of MCC students completed their college-level courses without taking breaks in 2014, compared to 74 percent statewide. The college's goal is 80 percent by 2016.

Graduation from college translated into higher median wages of $21.29 hourly in Mohave County, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the college.

Also, MCC graduates contributed $36.6 million to the local economy in 2013, compared to an economic impact of $24.3 million if they had not received an MCC degree.

"Our initiatives are working," said Kearns. "Learning is taking place at MCC, and we're producing more graduates. But this is a wholesale change that takes time and every part of the college has to invest in our strategic plan."