First Year Experience Program Forms All-Male Learning Community
“If I had not been in the First Year Experience program at El Camino College Compton Center, I would have dropped out of college,” wrote a student in an anonymous feedback survey for the program.
In an effort to improve persistence and completion rates among African-American and Hispanic males in its student population, ECC Compton Center established an all-male learning community in the First Year Experience (FYE) program during the fall 2013 semester.
Concerned about the turnover of male students, faculty and administrators came together in the summer of 2012 to initiate a way to reach out to this population and offer programs that enhance their educational development. The FYE all-male learning community was made possible through a grant from Learning Works.
The FYE program at ECC Compton Center is serving more students than ever before. For the 2013-2014 academic year, FYE expanded to five learning communities, marking significant growth from the one learning community available when the program was established in 2009. With 150 students enrolled this year, the FYE program has served more than 600 ECC Compton Center students collectively.
At the completion of the 2013-2013 academic year, students enrolled in First Year Experience at ECC Compton Center displayed an average retention rate (course completion rate, regardless of grade) of 90 percent, compared to a 80 percent retention rate for the general population. The average success rate of FYE students (course completion with a grade of C or better) is 8 percent higher than the average success rate for the general population.
The inclusion of an all-male learning community last fall is an extension of the Brother 2 Brother Mentoring organization established at ECC Compton Center last year. Brother 2 Brother is a peer-to-peer, minority enrichment mentoring program for male students. The FYE all-male community and Brother 2 Brother are part of a larger effort to increase the typically low enrollment and retention rates for African-American and Latino males at the community college level.
A key component for the all-male learning community is pairing each student with a male mentor who is a member of the faculty, staff or administration. The program kicks off with the students meeting their mentors during a celebratory event. The pairs have the opportunity to cultivate a relationship that supports the students’ educational development throughout the program.
Additional components of the all-male FYE curriculum and activities will include: an accelerated basic skills English class the first semester followed by a college-level English class the second semester; a course at UCLA on team building for males; a human development class; field trips to African-American and Hispanic heritage museums; motivational seminars focusing on teamwork and career exploration; and a year-end banquet for the students and their mentors.
Plans are underway to expand the FYE Program to six learning communities beginning in fall 2014 in order to serve even more students.