Key Focus Area 3:
Create guided expectations around student and employee orientations in diversity, equity and inclusion
Guided DEI Expectations
Where we are
Today, LCC has a standard new faculty orientation offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). It trains new instructors about LCC systems like Banner, college resources and services, college policies, and information on further professional development opportunities. The three-hour session also includes a hands-on introduction to LCC technology. However, it does not include any particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion or on pedagogy in general. Further, while adjunct faculty are encouraged to take part, the orientation is only required for full-time faculty.
Five areas of focus
The CTE keeps records of participation in all orientations and workshops and offers attendees a survey mechanism to provide feedback. These participation numbers and survey responses will help the college ensure we are meeting our targets for faculty orientation and professional development in DEI topics.
Where we are going
LCC is expanding on the good work done by the CTE to create a more comprehensive orientation required for all new faculty, both adjunct and full-time. It will remain housed in the CTE. The lengthened session will include an extensive module on the importance of DEI and pedagogical best practices for engaging all students in a more welcoming classroom. In addition, the CTE is forging stronger partnerships with Human Resources and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to embed DEI within existing faculty activities like regular CTE workshops and the Professional Activity Days that begin each semester.
Where we are
LCC has carefully built a new student orientation structure in the past few years. Today, orientation is done in smaller groups and with a more structured process, both online and in-person. New student orientation incorporates the use of student employees – essentially peers to the new students – who are reflective of the diversity of the student body. The event consists of intentional engagement activities that promote networking among students while informing them of college offerings and services. It also showcases student services dedicated to DEI in campus tours, ensuring students have the opportunity to see programs from which they can benefit without having to proactively seek them out. All these factors combine to create a more effective onboarding experience for new students.
Upon review, the college currently does not personalize orientation for students of color, but the existing orientation structure could easily accommodate those improvements.
LCC's data demonstrates our Black students are at a disadvantage before they even enroll in their first courses at LCC. Only 67% of Black students who completed orientation for fall 2020 actually went on to enroll in fall courses, compared to 76% of Asian students, 79% of Hispanic students and nearly 81% of white students. This means we are potentially losing hundreds of Black students and other students of color each year, even before they reach any of the other roadblocks to success outlined in this plan.
Interestingly, our data shows Black students and other students of color were much more likely to participate in an in-person orientation. Since the 2014-2015 academic year, between 15-20% of in-person orientation completers were Black compared to only about 5% of online orientation completers.
Where we are going
One of our first steps in improving DEI within student orientations is educating our employee body. In order to accomplish this goal:
- All Student Affairs staff (including student employees) will be required to engage in DEI training.
- Student Affairs will partner with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to develop a more intensive training curriculum for those staff whose job responsibilities include conducting orientation activities. These front-line staff are critical to ensuring the college welcomes new students with the attention to DEI that we want them to expect to see throughout their college experience.
- Student orientation will be revamped with a much stronger focus on DEI. This will include adding a DEI video and presentation from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion into all new student orientation sessions.
- DEI focused materials and resources will be incorporated into orientation materials.
- Student Affairs will partner with Office of Diversity and Inclusion to create cultural orientation ceremonies for new and returning students.
The college also intends to develop a DEI questionnaire to measure students' sense of belonging at LCC. Research suggests that a feeling of comfort and belonging is critical in student success rates, and we hope surveys can help us measure that feeling among our existing student body and develop needed programs to improve students' sense of belonging.