Teaching & Learning Champions 12: Academic and non-academic supports that promote student learning and persistence
May 16, 2020
Today on Teaching & Learning Champions, we’re joined by Monique Johnson-Jones, Executive Director, Learning Support Services & Steven Christopher, Associate Vice President, Student Accessibility/Social Support Resources. We’re talking about the academic and non-academic supports that promote student learning and persistence.
Thanks for listening to TLC @ ACC!
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[Matthew Evins:] Welcome to another episode of Teaching and Learning Champions. I’m Matt Evins, Director of Instructional Technology and Digital Resources in the Teaching and Learning Excellence Division at ACC. Today I’m joined by Monique Johnson-Jones, Executive Director of Learning Support Services, and Steven Christopher, Associate Vice President of Student Accessibility and Social Support Resources, as we talk about the academic and nonacademic supports that promote student learning and persistence. Monique and Steven, thank you for joining me today.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Thank you for having us.
[Steven Christopher:] Thank you for having us.
[Matthew Evins:] Monique, let’s go ahead and start with you. What can you tell us about the goals and the missions of the area that you oversee?
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] I oversee the ACC Learning Labs, academic coaching and supplemental instruction. I can tell you specifically that the mission of those academic enrichment areas is to help students to become both independent and active learners in order to just achieve academic success, and this is academic success how the student defines it. The students are the central focus of all of those areas and we really try and to be responsive to the needs of the students in those areas. That’s the overall mission. Now, our goal is to — a few of our goals are to develop positive attitudes towards the learning, to help our students to do this, to provide a number of approaches to tutoring or to use a number of approaches of tutoring for the level and the skills of the students who visit these areas. We also want to introduce students to the culture of higher education for those who are familiar with it, who may have started and dropped out, to reintroduce them to that culture. And we also provide services and resources for faculty and staff as well to help enhance both the classroom experience and the out-of-classroom experience at ACC. And last, but not least, we work to support the academic standards and requirements of ACC.
[Matthew Evins:] It sounds like you have your hands full there, Monique.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] I really do. I oversee three district-wide programs and one of them is academic coaching was new upon my arrival, and under the leadership of Monica Burmicky, the academic coach supervisor, it has grown and it continues to grow, yes.
[Matthew Evins:] That’s great. And we talked to Monica Burmicky last month, actually, in one of our podcasts as well.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Yes.
[Matthew Evins:] Steve, let’s jump over to you. What can you tell us about the goals and missions of the area that you oversee?
[Steven Christopher:] So student accessibility and social support resources includes student accessibility services, known as SAS locally, that serves students with disabilities. It includes the interpreter services, which includes sign language interpreters as well as CART services and closed captioning for instructional material. We do all that. We also have what’s called an alternative text and media production, which converts inaccessible instructional material into accessible instructional material, mostly for our blind and visually impaired, but also for students that have processing challenges and need material presented in a different format for them. And then we also have our Support Center, which focuses on students who are of very low income who are attending college. We do all this in this area, it has been pulled under one administrative umbrella, because the students we work with are students who require additional supports beyond what the college typically offers. So, for example, students with disabilities, under the college, they need additional supports in terms of accommodations and other kinds of supports that level the playing field for them to be able to attend. In the Support Center world, students who are very low income, come under resourced and need additional resources just to attend, let alone to be retained and to complete. Those resources include things like child care and textbook support, emergency financial aid, intensive case management to help them work through whatever issues they bring with them. What our goals are, are to — we measure the performance of our students against the baseline of all students, and the measurements include retention, staying in courses in the current semester, persistence, re-enrolling from one semester to the next, and then, of course, completion. And we measure that against the baseline of all students and look to at least meet that level, and generally we are above the baseline of all students when you measure against those three areas.
[Matthew Evins:] Oh, and just like Monique, it sounds like you have your hands full with all those services you provide.
[Steven Christopher:] Well, Matt, specifically right now we’ve just released the CARES funds for our students, and while that is being managed by the financial aid office, and hats off to them, it just opened up yesterday about 24 hours ago, and we’ve already had over 2300 requests come in for assistance, and it’s really been quite overwhelming. So some of those get referred to the Support Center for additional support. So, yes, we got our hands full.
[Matthew Evins:] Monique, what types of support is available to students to help encourage them to continue in their coursework, to have that persistence through their educational time here?
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] First and foremost, to aid in retention and persistence, we provide free tutoring, and it amazes me sometimes that the students that we serve, they don’t know that those services, that those tutoring services are free, you know. They will come to us for a referral for a tutor that they’re willing to pay, and I love bursting their bubble and letting them know, no, we provide free tutoring services for you. Right now we’re providing online tutoring. We provide computers in the Learning Labs for student use. We provide handouts and study guides for students. We provide, on the Riverside campus, tutors who are trained to assist the deaf and the hearing impaired. We have assistive devices on some of the computers to help support those students who Steve probably sees in his area. We provide screen readers, magnification software, workstations. We provide listening devices, recording devices. We provide all of the bells and whistles. We tend to do exactly what our mission states, and that’s to adapt to the needs of the students and train ourselves so that we can better serve them. So those are the supports that we provide in my area, across the area, so in academic coaching, because it’s outside of the Learning Labs. A lot of people, they hear my name and immediately it’s Learning Labs and Learning Labs and Learning Labs, and why I can understand it, because yearly we serve 20,000 plus, we have 20,000 plus visits to the Learning Lab. When I say yearly, I need to correct myself. That’s every semester. So every semester 20,000 plus visits to the Learning Lab, but we also have academic coaching that is highly used and continues to grow, as well as SI that’s been proven to work. So those supports, all of those supports, assist our students to achieve whatever their goals are upon their arrival to ACC, yes.
[Steven Christopher:] May I add to Monique’s response about assistive technology for students? Those students have essentially raised their hands up to us and say, you know, we need help when we go into these different services. Here we’re talking about Learning Labs and things like that. So we were instrumental in getting district-wide licenses for the screen readers, the screen enlargement. I often consult with Monique and/or the lab managers about what specifically do we need in the lab, and our staff work with them closely. My point is there’s a large connection between our two areas and other areas that we work well together. They provide the service, we can oftentimes provide the technical consultation to make sure that they’re helping all students who come into their doors.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Yes, sir.
[Matthew Evins:] Steve, what types of resources do your teams provide to students to help them with the nonacademic challenges of being enrolled in classes?
[Steven Christopher:] Matt, I’m so glad you asked that, and you asked it in that way. What I’m helping the college understand, I hope, is that the false dichotomy between academic and nonacademic challenges that students face, as an open-enrollment institution, students come with their whole selves and oftentimes their family when they come and enroll, and so the out-of-classroom challenges that they confront directly affect their in classroom performance. So we really don’t want to separate, say, well, they have academic issues, they have nonacademic issues. For example, we do focus on what we call essential needs, which a lot of people call basic needs; food, clothing, housing, things like that. You go, oh, well, that’s nonacademic. Well, if you’re sitting in class and you’re hungry, or you’re sitting in class and you don’t know where your money will come for rent, for your next rent payment, which many of our students are confronted with right now, they are focused on those very personal needs instead of mastering the challenging course content that they have to master in order to succeed in the class. So those challenges are intermixed one with the other, and to separate it out from an academic challenge is really somewhat of a misnomer. So our students come — and it’s important to understand the difference. All of us, I’ve had this conversation with Monique at staff meetings and things, but all of us generally come from a four-year college or university and typically residential background, and so our mindset is, well, that’s how you come to college, but the reality is that our students are much different. Eighty percent of them are part time, 80 percent of them work. So they come to our campus, typically, although not right now with our COVID-19 situation, in normal times they come to our campus and they leave right away. And when they come to our campus, they come with everything that they’re engaged with in the rest of their life and they bring it to us. Our role is to help them address those needs that they bring with them. So we do focus on basic needs, food, clothing, housing. In the Student Life area we have the food pantries, which help our students. We also have mobile food distribution set up. We have that at the Riverside campus once a month. Our partners with the Central Texas Food Bank are looking to expand that to other campuses, and we’re supportive of that. Housing is a little bit more challenging. Right now there’s a meeting with the city. They have just released some funds to help renters with short-term rent needs. Well, that’s our students and we, of course, will link into that in any way we can to either direct our students or get access to those funds. We also have what are called emergency assistance funds, which are in heavy demand right now, that they will help students pay for any unanticipated expense that would cause them to withdraw from one or more of the classes. So really, and our staff, we are staffed with social workers, primarily. That is a space that colleges typically have not had in the past, but they recognize that our students do come as whole people and they have the issues of their life with them, and if we can help address those issues, we will have higher performing and more successful students in the classroom.
[Matthew Evins:] Well, I’m not even quite sure how to respond to all that, Steve.
[ Laughter ]
One of the things that neither of you have mentioned yet, and I realized as I preparing for today’s interview that I did not build into my notes, but if faculty members are listening to this and they have students in one or more of their classes that are in need of various types of support, whether it’s, you know, the social support under you, Steve, or tutoring or other types of assistance under Monique, where can faculty point these students to as an intake process? Is it student initiated, is it faculty initiated? What does that look like from a faculty member standpoint if they have students that are in need of support? Steve, why don’t we go ahead and start with you.
[Steven Christopher:] Well, I was going to let the prettier one go first, let Monique go, but so as part of our work in the student emergency fund area, we realized that getting the word out to students and faculty were really important. Faculty, of course, are the front line, they are the people who see students more than any person in Student Affairs or anywhere else in the college. They see them every class period, if the student attends. So what we did is we go how do we get the word out to students. Well, one of the things, a project that we started last year and completed, was to put the social support resources and other resources in the master syllabus. There is a section in the master syllabus that includes a listing of the services that we have, and other folks have, and contact information. So it is in every — or it can be in every syllabus if faculty start with the master syllabus and then craft it for their particular services. However, that’s not enough, and the point is well taken that we hear students and faculty say I never knew about X, Y and Z, I didn’t know you all offered that. I’m sure Monique will carry the same message, too. The marketing and messaging of our services is a constant and an ongoing project that we do in many different ways. We have hard copy posters around campuses, we have — obviously we have a website, we have digital content working with our digital boards to put up ads about our services. We do class visits. We talk with faculty and we go to division meetings, department meetings. And it is a continuous process but, of course, everyone knows, you know, ACC, 11 campuses spread across a vast area with lots of adjuncts coming in, and so it is an ongoing project to let people know, let faculty know, let staff know and, of course, most importantly, let students know about our services.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] I am going to echo —
[Matthew Evins:] Monique.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] — some of those same sentiments that Steve just stated. First and foremost, the Learning Lab managers at the beginning of every semester, they schedule classroom visits. They personally go to the classrooms and give presentations on the resources and the supports that are available in the Learning Labs. That’s across the district, all 11 campuses. We ask and encourage instructors to include incentives on the syllabus if students visit, you know, the Learning Labs, and they will receive extra credit, bonus points, things of that nature. And one thing that we do that I think works the best is we hire adjunct faculty, and they’re called IAs, or instructional associates, to serve as tutors in the Learning Labs, and that way students are encouraged to come to the Learning Lab to receive help, and they know about it. So that if a student is struggling and having trouble, that professor can simply say, well, come and meet with me in the Learning Lab, I am providing services that day. And we also encourage adjunct and instructors to hold their office hours in the Learning Labs to encourage students who have to come there, if for a meeting, you know, that may not have anything to do with counseling or struggle in the course, but hey, they realize I didn’t know this was here and then to cultivate that habit of coming. We just make ourselves visible across the district. Our Riverbat bashes, we want to be there at the table, department, division chair meetings. We invite instructors from time to time to attend our managers’ meetings just to ask and to have a conversation with them to see and know whether or not we’re providing what they need, how can we be of assistance, what can help. It’s all of that, and it’s the advertising, it’s the boards, the monitors, you know, the posters in the elevator, word of mouth. And I guess another way that we encourage students and we get the word out and we let instructors know is we do our jobs, because when we work and we really do help students to succeed in a class, you would be surprised at how effective that is in getting other students to come to the Learning Lab and for instructors to go, oh, my God, this student told me you helped them with this paper, I have been struggling with this concept or to get it across, maybe you all can do it, and all of a sudden, you know, then there’s an influx of students coming there. So it pretty much works the same way as Steve said, and it’s a constant thing. We can never let up. So fall semester, we do all of those things. Spring semester, we do all of those things. Summer semester, we do all of those things. It’s just scaled down during the summer. But we can never let up because we just can’t. We have to be a constant reminder. And then in order for us to remain current and to check ourselves and to assess what we’re doing, we have to keep going out there. We have to keep inviting persons into our areas, and that’s across the board. SI does it, academic coaching, they do it with the business, with the presentation, with the monitors, with the word of mouth, with the success stories, and we share those to tell students, hey, look at where this student started, look at the valued added, look at where they are, this too can be you, and that’s how we do it.
[Matthew Evins:] Yeah, that’s excellent. Thank you very much.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] You’re welcome.
[Matthew Evins:] Monique, how have your areas changed or adapted since the college’s adoption of Guided Pathways?
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Ha, ha, ha, we’ve become a bit more robust, if that makes sense. We have all the parts and pieces that were there, and I believe — well, for the Learning Labs I know this is true. They’ve always been attentive to the needs of the students. SI hasn’t been there as long as the Learning Labs, and then academic coaching was fairly new, and so we had to really become robust in those two areas of academic coaching and supplemental instruction. With the Learning Labs and the other two areas in conjunction with that, we had to become more intentional in our efforts to serve the students with the onset of Guided Pathways. And so it’s we have all of these services, we have these supports, we have these resources, now let’s figure out and let’s be intentional about helping these students collaborate and across the board getting them to succeed in the way that they want to succeed, be it a completion of a degree, a certification, a transfer in whatever that was. And so with Guided Pathways we had to really pay close attention to the way we communicated not only with one another within our areas, but outside of our areas. I know for a fact academic coaching works very closely with the advisors, you know, with Kathy James. And, you know, we have Mary Gilmer who’s over supplemental instruction, so she works closely with the instructors of the campus in order to make that program be at its best to serve the students and to help them succeed, to retain and to engage, because that’s the pillar where we fall under, more so in Guided Pathways, and student engagement and persistence and helping to retain them in those areas. And so we’ve just become a bit more intentional. We also had to ramp up opportunities for all of those persons who report to me and who work with me in my areas to learn more about all of the areas of the college. Our goal was not to become experts, but we all had to become competent so that when a student came to us, we would cause no harm and we would know we cannot do this, we are not the experts, let’s know where to refer those students. And so we had to offer more opportunities for our employees to learn about those services, the professional developments of ACC, let’s get out into these meetings, let’s see what’s going over in student accessibility services, and let’s know what’s going over in student accessibility services. Same thing for advising. We may not be financial aid experts, but let’s know the basics, and one way that we were able to do that across the board was registration station. So all of the staff persons in the Learning Labs, Mary Gilmer and her team, Monica Burmicky and her team, we all had to train to help to let’s register our students, and that registration process afforded us the opportunity to learn about all of those areas and just to become better equipped employees so that we can be more effective and be more intentional in our efforts for student engagement and persistence.
[Matthew Evins:] Excellent. Steve.
[Steven Christopher:] Well, Monique said it all, so go. Actually, no. The Guided Pathways is a concept to help students focus their energies on following a path to completion. It does away with the cafeteria model where you have everything available to you as a student and you don’t really know necessarily what to pick. Our students, in a general sense, do not have the institutional savvy to know how to manage their way through that cafeteria model. The Guided Pathways concept allows for a much clearer path for our students who don’t have the experience of postsecondary education, oftentimes don’t have family, immediate family, who have had that experience to help them with it. So the Guided Pathways is actually very helpful for our students. That said, our services do not align with any particular pathway. They overlay all pathways. The way it has helped our staff and, therefore, our students, is it’s articulated each area within the guided pathway beyond the discipline. So it helps us understand the needs of our students within a broader area, within a broader context, and allows us to address those issues. While we do address issues class-by-class, course-by-course and discipline-by-discipline, this helps us conceptualize, for example, in DMCAT, what kind of supports might be needed for students in those areas. And then of course, we look at specific disciplines within Liberal Arts, within the Health Sciences. So that concept of a guided pathway has been helpful for our students to take away all the noise and clutter of all the programs that ACC offers and allows them to focus on just their general area of interest. And so that has helped us pivot on our support services for students and helped us focus them on completing and — persisting and completing their work at the college.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. Excellent. Steve, with all the work your groups have been doing, what type of feedback have you received from students on the impact of your services as it relates to their persistence in their courses or their degree programs?
[Steven Christopher:] Great question, Matt. So there’s a number of ways that we slice that. One is through our data collection. That tells us the story of how our students are doing. Again, we collect data on retention, persistence, completion, a couple of other things, too. We disaggregate it by race, ethnicity and gender. So that tells us how our students are doing in general and gives us information to improve programming and services, but we also talk directly to students. We talk to them in a number of different ways. The most general way is we have an ongoing student satisfaction survey, which students do call out different programs and say, you know, this program totally helped me, this one really needs some help to improve. So that student satisfaction survey is ongoing, but the key piece, the key feedback we get is through our intentional case management support that we offer with students. It is based on Vincent Tinto’s retention work about how do we retain students in an academic — in a postsecondary environment. And in a nutshell, his research showed that developing a relationship, a strong relationship with a trusted faculty or staff person, can make statistically significant differences in a student’s ability to persist and complete their coursework. So our services are built on that model, where our staff have long-term relationships with students, not one semester, not two semesters, but when you come to us, we will walk the walk with you until hopefully you complete your educational goals. So during those conversations, and they are not one-way conversations, they are two-way conversations where our students tell us what they need, what works for them, what doesn’t work, because that is essential for designing a program specifically for that student. What works for you, what do you need, what do you need me to do differently, what do you need the program to do differently. So we get that feedback on a day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month basis, and we adjust our programming based on what the students tell us directly.
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Right. So for my area, pre-COVID-19, we would have student surveys every semester and they would be available in the Learning Lab. Some managers like to have them after a tutoring session. Some managers give it once a semester. But I can tell you that students are very honest in the assessment of the services that they receive in the Learning Lab, and I’m going to pinpoint the Learning Lab specifically and talk the most about them because that’s the area that we serve the most students there. One of the ways in which we adjusted with the onset of Guided Pathways, as I stated earlier, was that we provided more opportunities for those persons in learning support services, Learning Lab specifically, academic coaching and SI, to learn about other areas of the institution to just become better employees, better servant leaders, you know, to these students. And so we do so through both tutor training and a tutor conference that’s held every other year at the Eastview Campus. During the lunch break at our tutor conference we run comments of students who have been served in the Learning Labs and the students, what we’ve included — there are hundreds, just hundreds of student feedback, and what we notice, the student, nine times out of ten, is going to pinpoint a specific person as opposed to speaking about a particular course, a subject, a service. It’s the person that makes the difference, which is why we spend a lot of time in my area focusing on, you know, improvement of that individual, that employee. So through those surveys, through that feedback, students let us know whether or not what we’re doing, whether or not it’s working. It’s word of mouth. The same way that we converse and we communicate with instructors, students do as well. They will say what they need and what’s not being provided, and we do our best to make the adjustments to provide it. Also — — it’s a two-way conversation, as Steve said so, you know, the students talk, we talk, we go back and forth. One of the times I can remember where the student’s voice was heard and we had to make some adjustments [inaudible] hours of operation, which is that is still, to this day, an ongoing conversation, but at one point the roar was so loud, the feedback from the students, it was so loud that we had to do something. You know, the weekend hours and it was stated, you know, well, we don’t need the labs on Sundays, you know, we can just have a few hours on a Saturday, but Sunday, just save resources and, you know, we can just open, you know, Monday through Saturday. Well, I can specifically, I still hear the echoes of the students who visit and who are served by the South Austin campus, no way, because Sunday was their day. And so we couldn’t ignore that, and we had the data, as Steve said, we used data to try to make informed decisions, we had the data to support the student traffic on a Sunday at the South Austin Learning Lab and so we had to adjust those hours of operation midsemester, believe or not. That roar became that loud. And I was happy to do so because the students were telling us, voicing their needs, and we had to at least try to meet them where they were in order to continue to help them. Students for academic coaching, it’s the same way. That’s more [inaudible]. Now, I started this statement off saying pre-COVID that’s what we did. Now, you know, that we’re in the thick of COVID-19 and providing these online services, students are given the opportunity after every online tutoring session, every online academic coaching session, the SI session, to provide immediate feedback. And so, you know, I monitor that, if not daily, weekly, to see what adjustments need to be made, and I’ve had to make a few, you know, just because to tamper down on any confusion that we were presenting to the students in the way that we were doing our jobs. And so now it’s immediate feedback that we’re working with, and at the end of all of this I’m hoping to give a comprehensive picture of really worked, what really didn’t, and in the future to help improve those services to our students.
[Steven Christopher:] Matt, can I add to that the feedback that students give us? I was struck by what Monique said about the hours of operation, and some of the feedback they give us is without actually talking to us. It takes us to be on campus to see that there is a remarkable difference between the students that are there early in the day, midday, late in the day, in the evening and on weekends. You can just see that those are completely different populations of students. They are giving us feedback by their mere presence. It is incumbent on us as faculty and staff to be aware of that difference and to raise our voices that we provide services that are tailored to those different groups of students. And, you know, I will say it, the 8 to 5 no longer works for our students because we’re open longer, students work all day, they come at the end of the day and they go, oh, hey, I want to do X, Y and Z, oh, every office is closed if I’m here at 7 at night on a Wednesday or Thursday. So they give us their feedback by their mere presence, and it is incumbent on us to pay attention to who they are, both as individuals and as a group.
[Matthew Evins:] Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. The last question I have is on topic. Are there any projects or initiatives around the projects going on in your offices that would be beneficial for faculty and staff to know as it relates to, you know, the Guided Pathways, you know, supporting faculty or students, projects that are happening now or things coming down the pipeline that you want to make mention of? Monique, do you want to go first?
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Yes, I will. Nothing new. I say that, and at the same time I’m like is it new, but now that we’ve gone completely online with all of the services that I oversee, I don’t see us going back to where these services are no longer offered online. We were already in the thick of growing online tutoring. Now it’s just gained momentum and it’s not going to lose steam. So now faculty just need to know about it so that they can help the students to adapt to this new normal. Academic coaching, that area piloted online, academic coaching, I believe, spring of 2019, but now here we are. So I don’t see us from this point forward going backward. So we’re just going to have to learn to improve our services online. Supplemental instruction was the program that was the last to come to the party of online services. Even on campus it was mostly paper and so it was a huge quantum leap, you know, COVID-19 era, that supplemental instruction, we had to learn, learn quickly, adapt, figure out what works and what does not. So the projects and initiatives now that faculty need to be aware of that I am currently working on making sure that they’re aware of, is that these services are going to continue to grow online, and I just need for them to work with us to improve those services and to promote them with the students, and to use what we’re going to provide those resources, and they’re going to come in the form of, you know, short videos and snippets of certain topics and areas in certain courses, those heavily enrolled courses where we may notice, you know, a majority of students struggle with this particular topic, this concept. Why wait on the struggle to come? Let’s just make the video, you know, use the IAs, videotape them, post dates and times when they’re going to be played and work with the faculty to get them to tell their students, and students at their leisure can play the video, we’ll record them. So we’re moving towards that area, and those would be — I’d say technology wise that’s going to be the core of our projects and initiatives for learning support services here in the very near future.
[Matthew Evins:] Great. Steve, how about your areas?
[Steven Christopher:] Well, Matt, I want to make our listeners aware that we are recording this in the middle of a campus shutdown and COVID-19, and currently all our classes are online and currently all our services are online. That has, of course, required faculty to do a great deal of work to re-engineer their instructional delivery, but also on the student support side, where previously I talked about case management and a lot of individual one-on-ones with students has required us to pivot and become comfortable in an online environment. To echo what Monique said, that practice will stay with us as we return to campus and it will provide additional platforms for us to work with students. Interestingly enough, the students have been ready for this for a long time and it’s been our staff who have been somewhat reluctant to do things differently. That said, now that they have dipped their toes in the water of doing them differently, they’re like, hey, this is pretty good, I can work with this. And so they are adapting to delivering services online, and that is something that we will initiate and support moving forward as we get out and back on campus. There’s another initiative that I’m very excited about, and it has not yet become a reality, but I hope to put it out there, put it out there in the universe and hope that it comes to fruition, and that is something called a student advocacy or a resource center, which is a one-stop location for students to get the general social supports that they need. That could include, and not limited to, of course, food, assistance, pantry, social services, emergency aid, perhaps even mental health counseling, financial counseling, even legal aid support, all in one location that’s prominent, probably on the destination campuses. We probably can’t do that at every campus. That is something that I’ve put in the academic master plan for the next 2020 through 2025. I hope that that gains traction. It has gained traction actually. It’s a matter of resources. And it really requires us to restructure our services. Going to give a shout out to the ACCelerator, similar to the ACCelerator, where a student comes in and they are surrounded by the support and services that they need. They don’t go shopping from office-to-office to get the support that they need. So this advocacy resource center concept is very similar to that. The student comes in and they’re surrounded with the services they need seamlessly and efficiently, and then they can go on and go about their business.
[Matthew Evins:] That’d be awesome. A very much appreciated resource, I’m sure, by the students, if that’s able to come to fruition. All right. Last question I have for you, which is not necessarily related to Guided Pathways at all, but sort of a grab bag question. Is there anything that’s giving you — well, today’s Friday, so is there anything that’s given you Riverbat pride this week? Monique, do you want to go ahead and start?
[Monique Johnson-Jones:] Yes. Shout out to my online tutoring manager. We realized students were getting confused when they signed up for, say, help in chemistry because our listing of offerings for online tutoring. So, you know, they see chemistry, but they really needed help in organic chemistry, which is completely different [inaudible] from general chemistry. And so it was causing a delay in when a student would receive services. They were being bounced around until they arrived upon a tutor who was trained in organic, and so immediately it was noted. Deidra [phonetic] worked with a couple of other managers and as of yesterday by noon, I think — the problem developed on Monday. I may be doing them a disservice. Wednesday, by noon or — you know, the list was completely revamped, revised, specified. As soon as a student needed General Chemistry I, II, Organic I, II, and they just came together and they just did it. They just got it done. And so that gives me Riverbat pride in that knowing that a student now, they’re not being bounced around, because we don’t encourage that type of referral system, you know, when we’re on campus, and so it was just — I was really proud of my team for resolving that challenge as quickly as they did.
[Matthew Evins:] That’s excellent. Great. Steve, how about you?
[Steven Christopher:] Riverbat pride. I am bursting with Riverbat pride this week, and over the last couple of weeks. Our current COVID-19 crisis has really accelerated the college’s development of a culture of caring for our students. It has manifest from our president, Dr. Rhodes, on down to senior administration, to mid-management and certainly to our student facing staff. The care and support that they have given, the lengths to which they have gone to support our students in a variety of different ways — right now, at this moment, our financial aid colleagues are bending, but certainly not breaking, under the amount of requests that are coming in as a result of the CARES funding. Our Support Center staff are in the trenches with them also managing the requests that move beyond the initial CARES screening. All that goes to say that our college is — — fully engaged in supporting our students, fully engaged in caring for them and fully engaged in helping them to move forward in their academic goals and to achieve the promise that they had hoped they would have when they entered into ACC. So my heart is bursting for the entire will college.
[Matthew Evins:] Well, that’s certainly from both of you a lot to be thankful to, to have pride for this week, so thank you very much. And on behalf of the faculty and staff at the college, I want to thank you both, not only for joining me today on this podcast to talk about what your teams provide for support to our students, but for being such great advocates for our students as well. It’s clear from everything you guys have both talked about in the last 45 minutes or so that you and your teams are going above and beyond to provide as many support services as is imaginable, and so I want to thank you for all that you’re doing.
[Steven Christopher:] Matt, thank you for —
[Matthew Evins:] Well, that wraps up another — yeah, absolutely. Well, that wraps up another episode of Teaching and Learning Champions. Don’t forget that you can view blog posts for each episode on the TLED website. I also encourage you to subscribe to the ACC district podcasts on any of your preferred podcast apps, or listen to individual episodes on the TLED website. Thank you very much for tuning in, and we’ll chat next on TLC at ACC.
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