by Dana Murphy, Chair, Learning Accelleration 

Retention Data for first-time, full-time Students who took Success Seminar using On Course

Cohort Semester Students enrolled in
first-year class(es)
Number retained one
Retention % for one
Number retained one year Retention for one year Graduation Rates for the
same period
Fall, 2003 471 348 74 245 52 6%
Fall, 2004 338 341 76 230 51 6%
Fall, 2005 428 319 75 213 50 9%
Fall, 2006 487 356 73 263 54 9%
Fall, 2007 418 318 76 226 54 18%
Fall, 2008 479 422 88 287 60 29%
Fall, 2009 611 550 90+ 378 62 28%

For the fall semester, 2000, National Park Community College created a one-credit hour FYE course titled Success Seminar. All first-time full-time students were required to enroll in the class, which was offered in the first five weeks of each semester. Students who were placed in two or more transitional classes (for remediation) were also required to take College Study Skills. For three years, the instructors of the course changed textbooks (using first Becoming a Master Student, then POWER Learning, and finally Cornerstone). In the summer of 2003, the supervising instructor for all FYE courses attended the On Course I Workshop. Since that time, the On Course movement has become part of our culture at NPCC. Thirteen instructors have attended OC I, and two have attended OC II. NPCC has hosted three OC workshops on its campus. 

Through the adoption of the On Course textbook and involvement with the OC movement with workshops and conferences, NPCC has made a commitment to student success that goes beyond its campus. NPCC used its Success Seminar as a pillar for its work with Achieving the Dream. Success Seminar instructors are engaged state-wide with initiatives for student success, serving on committees for our two-year college organization, in TRIO programs, and in state-wide Achieving the Dream initiatives. And, we continue to change and grow our FYE course as we identify challenges to student success.

In spring 2010, NPCC adopted a two-credit hour FYE course in response to the strong retention and persistence numbers for its Success Seminar. In addition, we adopted the Study Skills Plus edition of On Course. (Our College Study Skills course was eclipsed by this two-credit hour course.) All full-time entering students now receive instruction in the eight choices of successful students as well as study skills. We hope to pilot a one-credit hour FYE course for part-time students (who have the largest achievement gap of any group on our campus) by fall, 2011.


National Park Community College increased fall to spring retention of Pell Grant recipients in their student success course from 60.5% (average 2004-2007) to 73.8% in 2010- 2011. This improvement is associated with their first year success course called College Seminar that is required for all full-time, degree-seeking students. The success of the College Seminar course stems from a redesign of the course to utilize cooperative learning strategies, the On Course curriculum, and a module on fiscal responsibility. The course has also been scaled up to reach 85% of the College’s students.