Stories From the Field

Center’s Work at the Heart of Institutional Transformation

Laramie County Community College (WY)

In 2013, Laramie County Community College (LCCC or L-Triple-C as the locals refer to it) began a journey towards renewal, transformation, and a deep commitment to improving student outcomes. To say it was needed would be an understatement. With a lackluster 13% three-year graduation rate, the lowest persistence and completion rates in the state of Wyoming, and a culture that had lost its way, the institution was teetering on the brink. Fortunately, supported by the good work of the Center for Community College Student Engagement (the Center), LCCC has found its way.

Throughout this transformation, the Center’s work has been an instrumental component. Here are just a few examples. In 2013, LCCC launched an aggressive seven-year strategic plan with its first two goals focused on improving student outcomes and transitions. At the time, the College was utilizing the Center’s work on promising practices identified in its 2012 national report, A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success, and framed many of the specific strategies within the plan after those practices. Specific strategies employed by LCCC included the elimination of late registration; the use of high school GPA instead of standardized tests for student placement; the establishment of a holistic, case-management model for student advising; the design and integration of mandatory orientation; and a first-term student success course for all degree-seeking students.

Shortly thereafter, LCCC doubled-down on a disciplined approach to instilling continuous improvement in the entirety of the institution’s work. A major component of this effort was the creation of an institutional “report card” that assessed the College’s progress and improvement on a series of Key Performance Indicators, including both effectiveness and efficiency measures. Although refined, the report card is still in use today and integrated into many of the College’s primary processes, from budgeting and academic program review to new human resource planning and the assessment of student learning. The primary data sources for many of the system’s indicators are taken directly from the Center’s Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) and Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)—the benchmarking components are utilized to drive performance improvement.

A more recent example is the inclusion of the Center’s research on growth mindset from the 2019 publication A Mind at Work: Maximizing the Relationship Between Mindset and Student Success. In 2017, LCCC became just one of 13 community colleges chosen to be part of AACC’s Pathways 2.0 initiative. Guided pathways has helped the institution tie together many of its efforts towards the implementation of high-impact practices. LCCC has established seven pathways that are both academic/curricular in nature (meta-majors), as well as the framework for creating pathways-based communities of interest. A foundational element of each pathway is the newly redesigned student success course (STRT 1000: Strategies for Success) that helps students develop the abilities AND mindset to be successful in college as well as life. The redesign of this course was catalyzed by a workshop facilitated by Center Executive Director Dr. Linda García, which helped the institution conceptualize practical ways to integrate growth mindset into the curriculum and the broader pathways communities.

There is little doubt that the LCCC of today is quite different from what it was a decade ago. But in a culture of evidence, one has to ask, has it made a difference? The outcomes would suggest so. Graduation rates have more than doubled. The College has increased the number of degrees and certificates awarded by more than 38 percent over the past ten years. The last six years have seen the largest graduating classes in LCCC’s history, even while witnessing significant enrollment declines. Most important, it is what students say now about their experience and engagement with LCCC that has been the most rewarding outcome of the College’s transformation.