My Why… How… and What

Quote by Krishnamurti. There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born until the moment you die is a process of learning.

Krebbs, D. (2013). Life Long Learning [Photo]. Retrieved from Flickr.com

Background Information

Odessa College maintains standards of excellence that are not typically seen in other community colleges, based on a conversation with Josh Wyner (founder and executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program) on Wednesday 10-October-2018. Success rates of students, graduation rates over three years, and student completion rates are, per Mr. Wyner, among the highest in the nation.

Odessa College requires full-time faculty to engage in professional development activities that at minimum include 4 hours of relevant technology training, 9 hours of relevant career training, and 2 hours of personal enrichment, to ensure that learners have exemplary educational opportunities toward attaining academic success. And though part-time faculty comprise almost two-thirds of our instructional faculty, we do not currently have any requirements for professional development and participation in departmental/institutional meetings for them.



Why –
We believe that all learners at Odessa College deserve exceptional learning experiences regardless of the employment status of the educator.

How – Through leveraging technology, such as Blackboard Learn (the learning management system, or LMS) and Collaborate, we will provide support and training activities for adjunct faculty

What – We will develop a network of support and professional development that will give part-time faculty opportunities to participate in professional learning communities with their peers, and professional development opportunities that will help them improve their skills and abilities.


Implementing Change… From the Heart

Learners at Odessa College deserve exceptional learning experiences. We owe this to our students. For our learners, we have implemented a number of programs that are designed to support learner needs, including Design For Completion, which pairs learners with Success Coaches and Faculty Mentors, and the Drop Rate Improvement Play, which includes the following:

  • Interacting with students by name by the end of the first week
  • Close monitoring of student behavior and progress with immediate intervention
  • One-on-one meetings/frequent communication with students early in the semester
  • “Master of Paradox”: highly structured courses with penalties for missed exams/assignments, but flexible when appropriate.

These programs ensure that our learners are supported throughout their tenure at Odessa College, with guidance and encouragement, tutoring and academic supports, and other supports to help them overcome potential barriers to success.

We spend a great deal of time with new full-time faculty to ensure that they understand these program and are prepared to implement them to provide wrap-around support for all of our learners. This, along with other programs at Odessa College help to ensure that we have drop rates of less than 4% per semester, and success rates (students completing with C or better) that is over 80%.

Full-time faculty receive training in informed practices in pedagogy. They receive training in the use of the LMS and other educational technologies. And they have opportunities to truly become part of the culture of the college and the community we serve. Odessa College also has support for faculty in the form of instructional design and educational technology, through OC Global, and training and support through the Division of Teaching and Learning. Overall, this ensure that our full-time faculty also have wrap-around support to ensure that they have the tools they need to have positive experiences in their classrooms, and that their learners also have positive experiences.

Professional development requirements and participation in departmental and institutional meetings are not imposed on part-time staff. So how can we, as a progressive college that is transforming the way that community colleges are perceived at the national level, justify that the majority of our instructional staff are not required to participate in training, and do not have a voice in organizational and departmental processes?

We know that our part-time faculty are qualified and have exceptional skills in their fields. But how can we ensure that our learners are receiving the same caliber of instruction from our part-time faculty, if the part-time faculty are not required to participate in professional development? Our students need and deserve rich educational experiences and opportunities. And the opportunities that they are experiencing should not be governed by employment status of the instructor. Our learners should not have to wonder if they might have a better experience with a different instructor.

Sense of Urgency

Based on a report provided by institutional research at Odessa College, the average drop rate of our part-time faculty for the 2017/2018 Academic Year was 12%, significantly higher than the 4% of their full-time counterparts. This report also indicates that though our full-time faculty experience success rates (students completing with C or better) averaging almost 80%, that of our part-time faculty hovers around 65%. To ensure that we are providing our learners with the quality education that they need and deserve, we need to implement a network of support and professional development for our part-time faculty immediately, and hold them to similar expectations as our full-time faculty with regard to student completion and success.

As a college that has been identified as one of the top community colleges in the state of Texas by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and one of the best community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Committee, we must act quickly to implement supports for part-time instructors. As Odessa College receives more press on the stellar performance that we have experienced, more agencies and independent organizations will be looking at our data. In order for us to maintain the exceptionally low drop rates (less than 4% annually), high success rates (over 80%), and three-year graduation rates that defy national odds (51%), we must ensure that our students are receiving quality academic opportunities. In order to ensure that our learners have quality opportunities, we must ensure that all of our faculty receive training and support.

To implement the level of network of support and development that is needed to help our part-time faculty adhere to the expectations we hold for full-time faculty, we must first ensure that our part-time faculty participate in training activities that will acculturate them to the Odessa College ways of working with and for our learners. Providing them online opportunities to learn more about the learning management system (Blackboard 101 or Bb101), and the level of course quality we expect in all of our online course shells (Quality Course Components, or QC2) will ensure that they have a basic knowledge of our LMS and the structure of our courses. This should be completed prior to their assignment to any course. As every course at Odessa College has a presence in Blackboard, with at minimum a full course syllabus and grades maintained in Grade Center even for face-to-face courses, even those who only teach face-to-face need to understand the LMS and our course structure. Other professional development opportunities, such as Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and AVID-HE (Advancement Via Individual Determination – Higher Education) will be built into orientation requirements, and delivered through the LMS. Other training and development opportunities will be offered through the LMS, live through synchronous technology, or combining both. All development experiences will include opportunities for the part-time faculty to apply their learning in their courses.

Additionally, each part-time faculty member will be paired with full-time faculty member within the same discipline, who will serve as a mentor to ensure that the part-time instructor is kept informed of dates and deadlines and to provide general support. Part time faculty will be required to participate in at least one Professional Learning Community (PLC) each term to ensure that they have a voice in the processes of their department or discipline. The mentor-mentee relationship combined with participation in PLCs and departmental meetings will help to ensure that the part-time faculty members feel connected to the department and to the institution, and will help them to understand the culture and expectations of Odessa College.

Each year, we will survey all faculty to determine their training and development needs and to ensure that they have a voice in the development of annual training plans. In addition to tracking professional development opportunities in the Odessa College app, the app allows them to suggest training that they feel they need, and even suggest to provide training opportunities for other faculty in areas that they may have expertise. The adjunct faculty members will be encouraged to maintain a portfolio that they can use to track their learning and growth, and that they can share with their mentor, the Teaching and Learning team, and their department chair.

An annual support letter will be sent to each part-time faculty member from the division of Teaching and Learning to outline annual training expectations, to provide relevant information about requirements, and to offer them information on the supports that are in place for them through the network of support and development that will be implemented. Finally, the base pay of part-time faculty must increase to $1,800 per three-hour course to ensure that we remain competitive with other Texas institutions of higher learning.

 

Bleakstar. (N.D.). Mentoring concept with business elements and related keywords on blackboard [Vector Image]. Retrieved from Shutterstock

Bleakstar. (N.D.). Mentoring concept with business elements and related keywords on blackboard [Vector Image]. Retrieved from Shutterstock


References

Asacker, T. Why TED Talks don’t change people’s behavior [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/W0jTZ-GP0N4.

The Behaviour Science Guys. How to change people who don’t want to change [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/9ACi-D5DI6A.

Best practices for training and retaining online adjunct faculty. Faculty Focus: Special Report. Retrieved from FacultyFocus.com.

Bleakstar. (N.D.). Mentoring concept with business elements and related keywords on blackboard [Vector Image]. Retrieved from Shutterstock.

Kotter, J. The Heart of change [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1NKti9MyAAw

Kotter, J. Leading change: Establish a sense of urgency [Video], Retrieved from  https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Krebbs, D. (2013). Life Long Learning [Photo]. Retrieved from Flickr.com

Sinek, S. Start with why TED Talk [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/sioZd3AxmnE

Wyner, J. (2014). What excellent community colleges do: Preparing all students for success.

Advertisements

Win Over Hearts First

Tom Asacker and the Behavior Science Guys (BS Guys) talk about the reasons we don’t change our behaviours even when we have been instructed in compelling ways. The BS Guys used children and smoking as a really compelling example. When the children tell smokers that smoking is dangerous, unhealthy, and deadly the smokers were unmoved. But when the children looked like they themselves were smoking, it evoked an emotional response in the adult smokers, which caused them to be receptive to the anti-smoking message the children were sharing. Likewise, Tom Asacker talks about how we as humans are influenced by perceptions in ways that are not necessarily logical, and used the Patagonian Toothfish as an example. When Lee Lance started calling the Patagonian Toothfish, something that had been considered garbage fish by fisherman for years, by the name “Chilean Sea Bass” it became wildly popular. We perceive that the Chilean Sea Bass is a highly desirable meal fish, even though it is not from the waters of Chile, nor is it a bass, and the fish itself is rather frightening looking and not appealing at all. We are moved by perceptions… led by emotions… easily influenced by words.

In the video “Leading Change: Establish a Sense of Urgency,” John Kotter discusses the need to demonstrate why the change is needed by establishing a sense of urgency. As in Simon Sinek’s video, a sense of urgency helps establish the reason that necessitates the change… the “why.” Sinek talks about how establishing the “Why” of what you are doing relates to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is the portion of the brain that controls emotion, and basic functions including fight or flight responses. Kotter’s video “The Heart of Change” emphasizes that we need to target emotions and then the mind when trying evoke change, that we need to “win over hearts and minds” when dealing with people.

I think when most people think of effecting change in their organization, they emphasize the mind more than the emotional aspects. But the emotional side of our brains (controlled by the limbic system) is tied to learning and memory. So if we can tap into emotions, and then  support that with data and rational justification, we have a better chance of ensuring success. Additionally, when thinking about the changes we need to implement, we should keep in mind that many people have fear of change. To assuage their fears, all aspects of the plan for change should be open and transparent, keeping everyone informed. Remember “amygdala hijacking?” Well, that’s part of the function of the limbic system too. Keeping everyone informed in all of the processes will help to ensure that the amygdala does not send our co-workers into self-preservation mode, where they would be less likely to function in rational and productive ways.


References

Asacker, T. Why TED Talks don’t change people’s behavior [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/W0jTZ-GP0N4.

The Behaviour Science Guys. How to change people who don’t want to change [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/9ACi-D5DI6A.

Kotter, J. The Heart of change [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1NKti9MyAAw

Kotter, J. Leading change: Establish a sense of urgency [Video], Retrieved from  https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Sinek, S. Start with why TED Talk [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/sioZd3AxmnE

Connecting and Communicating the Innovation Plan

Because Odessa College is known as an exemplary force of change… a Leader College… among community colleges in the United States, we have the responsibility of implementing innovative changes to ensure the continued success of our learners. (Achieving the Dream, 2018). We have implemented numerous programs to provide wrap-around support to our learners, including the Drop Rate Improvement Plan, which requires that our faculty really know their learners. Additionally, we have standards of excellence and professional development requirements that are imposed on our full-time faculty.

At Odessa College, the expectation of faculty includes a drop rate of less than 4% each term, and success rates (students completing with a grade of C or better) greater than 80%. We hold this level of expectation for all faculty, regardless of the modality of the course delivery, or the employment status of the faculty member. Full-time faculty members participate in annual training over FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and also participate in training over the learning management system, educational technology tools available to them, pedagogy, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) strategies, and much more. Ongoing training activities throughout the year cover observation of courses, developing effective learning outcomes, course and program mapping, developing effective assessments, project based learning, etc.

Currently part-time faculty, though held to the same expectation for success and retention of students, are not required to participate in any professional development.

So this begs the question: How can we ensure that our students have a positive experience at Odessa College, when more than half of the teaching force is not required to participate in any training?

With the economic climate of Odessa, Texas, we will likely see an increase in the number of part-time remote faculty that are contracted to teach Odessa College classes. To ensure that our students and our faculty (especially the growing number of part-time faculty) have a positive and successful experience at Odessa College, we must implement a plan of development and support for our part-time faculty.

I have developed an Innovation Plan for providing a structured network of support for part-time faculty at Odessa College. To make this feasible and lucrative for the part-time faculty, a pay increase will be required. The pay increase will create a competitive base pay for part-time faculty, with opportunity for increases based on training and participation departmental activities, such as Professional Learning Communities.

To read the entire plan, the implementation outline, and the research supporting the plan, please follow the links below.

The plan: Developing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty

Implementation Outline: What steps can we take to ensure that our faculty and our learners have a positive experience at Odessa College?

Research: Why Must We Provide a Network of Support for our Part-Time Faculty?

List of Resources to Support Developing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty



About the video:

Video inlcudes images licensed as CC-BY-SA 2.0 through freepik.com, and photos taken by the video creator. Video was created using Camtasia; music included is part of the Camtasia Stock Library.


References

Achieving the Dream, (2018). Retrieved from https://www.achievingthedream.org/college_profile/619/odessa-college.


Developing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty at the Community College Level: Literature Review

Developing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty at the Community College Level

Julie M. Lyon

Lamar University

 

Abstract/Introduction

As the face of higher education changes to meet the demands of learners, the workforce of educators is shifting to one that is largely comprised of part-time faculty members. These part-time faculty members bring a wealth of experience to the classrooms, but may not have any training or experience in education, and many lack the pedagogical/andragogical background to ensure the success of their learners. They also may lack a solid understanding of the technologies that are available to them. And often they lack opportunities for acculturation into the community college environment.

To ensure the success of learners, institutions of higher education need to make an investment in their educators, including those who work part-time and those who work remotely from a distance. These valuable contributors toward the goals of the learners and the institution must be given an opportunity to participate in and to contribute to the processes of their departments, and must be provided with opportunities for support and for growth. Through research and collaboration, a comprehensive plan of support and development will be created and implemented, with a focus on the support and development of part-time faculty. Continue reading

Tentative Outline for Implementing a Support Network of Growth and Development for Adjunct Faculty: A Plan for Innovation at Odessa College

Developing a Support Network of Growth and Development for Adjunct Faculty: A Plan for Innovation at Odessa College

Overview: The Need to Implement a Support Network of Growth and Development for Adjunct Faculty

As the face of higher education changes to meet the demands of learners, the workforce of educators is shifting to one that is largely comprised of part-time faculty members. These part-time faculty members bring a wealth of experience to the classrooms, but may not have any training or experience in education, and many lack the pedagogical/andragogical background to ensure the success of their learners. Continue reading

Research on Developing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty at the Community College Level: A Draft

Abstract/Introduction

As the face of higher education changes to meet the demands of learners, the workforce of educators is shifting to one that is largely comprised of part-time faculty members. These part-time faculty members bring a wealth of experience to the classrooms, but may not have any training or experience in education, and many lack the pedagogical/andragogical background to ensure the success of their learners. They also may lack a solid understanding of the technologies that are available to them. And often they lack opportunities for acculturation into the community college environment. Continue reading

Bring On the Learning Revolution!

We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must risewith the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. (Lincoln, 1862).

Continue reading