Community College of Philadelphia. Administrative Function and Support Service Audit. Counseling Department

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1 Community College of Philadelphia Administrative Function and Support Service Audit History of the Department Counseling Department August 2007 Executive Summary Introduction to Function/Service The Counseling Department of Community College of Philadelphia was established at the College s inception in Initially, it was housed in the Admissions Department of the Student Affairs Division. Counselors were employed to provide academic, career, and personal counseling to students and assist with other student affairs administrative duties. In 1967, an independent functioning Counseling Center was established. A paraprofessional was hired to create a Counseling Resource Center that evolved into the Career and Transfer Center. Counselors were supervised by a Director of the Counseling Center who reported to the Dean of Student Life. In the early 1970s, the College faculty organized into a federation affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, and the counselors were classified as 12-month faculty as part of the Federation. The Collective Bargaining Agreement of 1970 established a counselor/student ratio of one counselor per every 375 full-time equivalent (FTE) students. A Department Head with one-half release time supervised the counselors. The 1975 to 1980 Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the counselor/student ratio to one counselor for every 450 FTE students enrolled at the main campus and one counselor per every 700 FTE students enrolled at the regional centers and in Community Services (e.g., students enrolled in non-credit offerings). Overview of Current Strengths and Weaknesses Counselors provide a wide range of student services that include new student registration, brief personal counseling related to academic success, referrals to community-based mental health services, student success workshops, and new student orientation. Counselors teach Freshman Orientation Seminar (FOS 101) and Life Planning and Career Decision-Making (COUN 101) courses, as well as CAP A Pre-College Experience workshops, and consult with students on a variety of issues that include career, transfer, academic probation, and new student course selection. In addition, counselors at the regional centers provide welcome and admissions information to prospective students. Students are serviced through scheduled appointments and/or drop-in during day and evenings hours at the main campus and regional centers.

2 2 Counselors offices are not centralized within the Counseling Center. They are located throughout the College at the main campus. Decentralization is problematic and can prohibit strategic scheduling of staff to meet the demands of the many functions and student services provided by the Counseling Center. The management of the wide range of services provided by the counselors and the supervision of individual schedules and appointments limits a student s ability to locate and acquire services from particular counselors. At the regional centers, the counseling function and services require allocated space and administrative support that is separate from the operations at the main campus. Counselors at the regional centers are restricted by a lack of coordinated supervision. As a result, efforts to monitor accountability and the quality of counseling services provided to students are limited. Activities The Counseling Department provides career, transfer, personal and professional counseling. Personal counseling is defined as short-term and academically-related. It is not considered mental health counseling. Professional counseling duties are described in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as individual and group counseling, teaching specific counseling courses, and consultation with faculty and students in the Curriculum Advising and Development Education programs (p. 27). In addition, the counselors provide crisis intervention, workshops, consultation with faculty, resource and referrals, registration, academic advisement, and teach counseling-related courses such as FOS 101 and COUN 101. Counselors advise continuing students who are on academic probation or provisional status, although counselors at the regional centers often advise new and continuing students of any status because of the lack of consistent academic advising services at the centers. Counseling Department Mission Mission, Goals, Objectives In March 2005, the Counseling Department reviewed its mission and functions as part of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education 2004 recommendation of regular missionfocused evaluations. The mission of the Counseling Department is to support the educational objectives of the College through counseling, education and programming, consultation and collaboration, and crisis intervention designed to enhance each student s academic, career, and personal growth. The Department promotes increased awareness and appreciation of a complex world through access to a culturally diverse staff with professional training, knowledge, and skills. The counseling staff plays a vital role in student retention from initial enrollment to goal attainment, so that each student may fully benefit from the academic programs and services offered by the College. The Counseling Department s services are offered in individual and group settings, as well as through classroom and online venues. Goals and Objectives A. Support student retention through achievement and self-empowerment in the areas of academic, career, and personal effectiveness.

3 3 A1. Assist students who are on academic probation and having difficulty with course work, study habits, and time management. A2. Provide counseling support to students enrolled in on-line courses. A3. Develop and implement an intern counseling program to augment existing counseling services. A4. Assist students in evaluating their interests, abilities and values in relation to academic program selection and career decision making. A5. Aid students in the identification of transfer institutions that will best suit their future educational plans. A6. Provide personal counseling to enhance students self-esteem and problem solving skills. A7. Consult with faculty and staff about students learning, behavioral, and emotional needs. A8. Conduct annual updates and revisions of all external resources and referral services to enhance student access to community services. B. Provide experiences and activities that support student development and success in and outside the classroom. B1. Continue to offer and develop curricula for departmental course offerings, COUN 101 and FOS 101. B2. Provide workshops in the areas of career decision making, transfer planning, and academic success to student clubs and organizations, identified cohorts that need intervention, and to the general student population. B3. Plan and implement college transfer fairs to aid in students education planning process. C. Develop a departmental operational strategy that reflects best practices in the field. C1. Review annually, the progress made by the department in meeting the goals and objectives as set forth in the audit. C2. Develop a plan to review and optimize the use of resources. C3. Provide counselors with adequate office space for individual and group counseling. C4. Provide students with adequate intake and waiting space. C5. Update the College regularly regarding counseling programs and activities. C6. Assess the community services counselor role and create a plan to ensure that appropriate counseling services exist at locations other than the main campus. D. Create and maintain a Counseling Center that utilizes technology. D1. Secure an electronic counselor appointment scheduling and tracking system. D2. Secure and utilize career assessment and computer guidance programs. D3. Explore the use of web-based services for students. D4. Utilize data collected to improve and enhance services to students.

4 4 Performance Indicators, Measures, and Effectiveness Standards Description of Performance Indicators to be Used to Determine Effectiveness in Achieving Unit Mission, Goals and Objectives The Counseling Audit Committee (CAC) participated in an introductory session on determining departmental effectiveness, unit mission, goals and objectives by the external consulting team Schultz and Williams and an assessment workshop facilitated by the Office of Institutional Research on developing organizational unit assessment strategies and performance indicators. These sessions were instrumental in the CAC s determination of three departmentallevel performance indicators for the Counseling Center. These indicators are: (1) Type of Counseling, including academic counseling, career counseling, personal counseling, crisis intervention, and consultation; (2) Instruction and Programs including teaching counselingrelated courses FOS 101 and COUN 101, workshops, fairs and new student orientation; and (3) Departmental Operations including department chair supervision, departmental budget, qualifications of counseling faculty and staff, scheduling of counseling services, the number of faculty, issues related to support staff, incorporating new technologies, and physical facilities. Qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies were used to gather multiple sources of information. These strategies included focus groups, interviews, archival data such as monthly reports, survey results, institutional research reports, student evaluations, and Middle States Self-Study reports. In collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, two surveys were developed to capture and document performance and effectiveness of the Counseling Department from the perspective of students, faculty, and staff. In addition, two external evaluators were hired to evaluate how the Counseling Department met its mission including: role of counseling; teaching counseling-related courses; conducting academic workshops and programming; collaboration and consultation with faculty; and crisis intervention. The two external evaluators utilized multiple assessments and strategies to capture both qualitative and quantitative data. The overall assessments of the two external evaluators outlining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and recommendations mirrored that of the CAC s comprehensive assessment to create five emergent recommendations. Findings and Recommendations The recommendations of the audit are based on a comprehensive assessment conducted by the 12-member Counseling Audit Committee and two external evaluators. The overall assessments of the evaluators mirrored that of the Committee s comprehensive assessment to create five over-arching recommendations. The recommendations are to: 1. Develop new and innovative delivery systems for counseling services. 2. Improve the overall departmental operations of the Counseling Department. 3. Review curriculum, scheduling and instructional delivery of the Freshman Orientation Seminar. 4. Improve counseling services at the regional centers. 5. Review the function of the Career and Transfer Center.

5 5 In support of the recommendation to develop a new and innovative delivery system for counseling services, one of the external evaluators determined that new service delivery and methods should be developed to better meet the needs of all students. According to the evaluator s findings, a student development plan should be developed and implemented to offer programs and support services for all student cohorts. The student development plan should be developed with innovative counseling service delivery and strategies to increase retention and persistence. In support of the recommendation to improve overall operations of the Counseling Department, the findings from the Counseling Services Survey of Faculty and Staff are referenced. A constant in the data shows a fairly high level of No Opinion / Do Not Know responses by faculty and staff across survey questions. Improved documentation of departmental procedures and advertisement of services are outcomes of this recommendation. In support of the recommendation to review the FOS 101 curriculum, scheduling and instructional delivery, the CAC identified the following: the FOS 101 course is not offered during evenings, weekends, summer sessions and/or at the regional centers; offering of these sections is limited due to availability of trained faculty; and students do not value a course that is not part of a curriculum and/or is not uniformly transferable. The recommendation to improve counseling services at the regional centers is supported by one of the external evaluator s review of the current staffing structure and placement of counselors. Lastly, the recommendation to review the function of the Career and Transfer Center was supported by a review of the operations and functions of the center. The findings showed that the mission of the Career and Transfer Center needs to be clear and concise. Renaming and/or integrating the functions of the Career and Transfer Center into the Career Services Center could accommodate additional space and innovative services. Anticipated Functions/Services Changes and Challenges While the above recommendations provide strategies for enhancing the Counseling Department s delivery of services, it should be noted that the Department will face challenges in implementing the recommendations. This will require that the Counseling Department reexamine strategies, models, and service delivery that have existed for the past 40 years and require a change in the role of the counselor, departmental philosophy and culture. A key component for implementing the recommendations will be the Counseling Department s capacity to move away from the tradition of providing student services based on the availability of counseling staff and embrace an emerging counseling function that is not time or place bound. This will require strong leadership from the Department Head, the support of the counselors and administrative support staff, and collaboration with the Dean of Students. The new role of the counselor is critical to developing a comprehensive operations model that embraces the Counseling Department s collective and individual strengths in meeting

6 6 the needs of the students while considering the emerging changes and challenges facing the College. Time Line During the Fall 2007 semester, a proposed Action Plan and Time Line will be developed by the Counseling Department in collaboration with the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs. The Action Plan will address the various recommendations outlined in the Audit.

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