From the Provost: AACC conference, spring faculty forums

Several representatives from the college attended and presented at the recent American Association of Community Colleges conference, which featured numerous sessions on guided pathways. The event was a valuable opportunity for us to learn how other colleges are implementing pathways and share some of our own experiences.

AACC conference attendees

ACC’s team at the 97th annual AACC conference. Not pictured is Willie Martinez, who also presented at the conference.

Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Barbara Mink and President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes joined me in presenting “Moving from the Cafeteria to Guided Pathways for Students at ACC” to a packed room. We discussed some of our activities over the past two years in the context of three themes: redesign preparations and execution; challenges and lessons learned; and early results and next steps. You can view the presentation here or find it on the Resources page on the Office of the Provost website.

Dr. Davis Jenkins and others from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) presented findings from their report “Implementing Guided Pathways: Early Insights from the AACC Pathways Colleges.” The report discusses strategies for managing change and says incorporating developmental education reforms is the next key frontier for pathways colleges. The executive summary and the full report is available from the CCRC at Implementing Guided Pathways: Early Insights from the AACC Pathways Colleges.

Dr. Jenkins and The Aspen Institute’s Joshua Wyner also led a great session on their report “The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two-Year Colleges.” The guide looks at six community college-university partnerships that have had high rates of transfer student success. The authors focus on three strategies: 1) making transfer student success a priority; 2) creating clear programmatic pathways with aligned high-quality instruction; and 3) providing tailored transfer student advising. The book discusses practices that support these strategies and lists actions that institutions can take. CCRC offers the report at “The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two-Year Colleges.”

Spring faculty forums

Almost 200 faculty participated in the Feb. 17 forum, in person or online.

This spring we hosted two Achieving the Dream coaches at faculty forums February 17 and April 21.

Dr. Kay McClenney visited in February for our Open Forum on Pathways & the Faculty Experience. Kay discussed nationwide trends in the guided pathways movement but emphasized that faculty ultimately hold the keys to student success through improved teaching and learning strategies.

Faculty worked in groups by areas of study.

More than 150 full-time and adjunct faculty attended the session, and another 40 participated online. Faculty sat in groups by area of study and were given two tasks: Discuss ways faculty might improve teaching and learning via assignments, assessments, classroom strategies, etc.; and discuss ways ACC might improve faculty orientation and faculty evaluation processes, and provide meaningful faculty professional development.

The event was organized and facilitated by Dr. Susan Thomason, associate vice president of instructional services; Missi Patterson, assistant dean for the faculty center for teaching and learning; Christina Michura, director of faculty development; Suzanne Sommers, Faculty Senate president; and Vanessa Faz, Adjunct Faculty Association president.

After the morning session the Faculty Senate and Adjunct Faculty Association hosted membership meetings. The day ended with a presentation by Matt Lewis, a San Jacinto College math professor who discussed strategies for integrating developmental and college-level math curriculum. The co-requisite model is designed to provide “just in time” remediation and eliminate curriculum redundancies.  ACC is piloting courses using the strategy in the fall.

On April 21 Dr. Brad Phillips, Achieving the Dream Data Coach and president/CEO of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change, led a faculty forum on “Linking Student Learning Outcomes and Occupational Competencies.” More than 50 faculty participated in a hands-on activity using the O*NET online career portal to examine the knowledge, skills, and abilities expected of workers in the occupations for which our programs prepare students. Faculty were asked to compare academic program outcomes with employer expectations. In many cases, there was considerable alignment as employers are looking for workers with skills as good oral and written communication, teamwork, appreciation for diversity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These become the “marketable skills” that faculty are asked to include in program curricula.


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