Provost Update — July 2019

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

As the summer term draws to a close, I wanted to share a brief update on several efforts that will continue into the fall and offer you opportunities to contribute to our important work.

Start Right Work Team

Last fall, we collectively identified several hypotheses related to the conditions that affect student learning and student outcomes at Valencia. One of these hypotheses was “new students who attend New Student Orientation near the start of a term (or after a term starts) enroll in part-of-term courses or course modalities that do not have a high likelihood of success.”

At its July meeting, the Learning Council commissioned a Start Right: Late Start Work Team to explore ways to best support students who begin engaging with the College’s enrollment and application processes at a late stage. If you are interested in serving on this work team, which will begin meeting in the fall, please email me.

Course Attendance and Withdrawal Policies Focused Inquiry Team

Another hypothesis that emerged from our conversations last fall was “course attendance and withdrawal policies may have unintended consequences; students who are withdrawn may not experience a sense of belonging and may withdraw from courses on their own when it may not be advisable to do so.”

At its July meeting, the Learning Council commissioned a Focused Inquiry Team to separate this course attendance and withdrawal hypothesis into smaller, testable hypotheses that will help to inform Learning Council on the feasibility and potential impact of commissioning work in this area. If you are interested in serving on this Focused Inquiry Team, which will begin meeting in the fall, please email me.

Honors Design Team

In the January Provost Update, I shared that Robyn Brighton, director, curriculum initiatives, would convene conversations to consider revisions to the design of our Honors program that would be responsive to challenges we face related to our increased scale and distribution. The design conversations will help identify the elements of Valencia’s Honors program that would be consistent collegewide, the elements that could vary campus to campus and a process by which campuses could propose their own unique expressions of the Honors program.

If you are interested in participating in the Honors design team, please complete this online survey by Monday, August 5, 2019.

Faculty Fellow for Sustainability

In the May Provost Update, I shared that we were looking for a full-time faculty member to serve in a new faculty fellow for sustainability role focused on curricular and co-curricular sustainability education. I am pleased to announce that Edie Gaythwaite, professor, speech on East Campus, has accepted this fellowship for the upcoming year. Edie is a tenured faculty member who has been involved with Valencia’s sustainability efforts for more than seven years. She participated in, facilitated and then partnered to redesign the Sustainability Across the Curriculum faculty development course; as part of the course, she created a lesson plan on microloans for SPC1608 that became the catalyst for a student club on East Campus. Edie has co-facilitated a variety of student workshops on sustainability and poverty during Justice Week and has taught students about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals during Peace Week. She recently co-developed and led a service-learning student mentoring opportunity that takes students to New Smyrna Beach to learn about shoreline restoration and the impact of plastic on sea life. Edie has also served on the Central Bear Stakeholder Group, working with Florida Fish and Wildlife on legislative issues, helping with the BearWise Community efforts and serving to educate the community on securing bear attractants such as garbage and bird feeders. She previously served as a Teaching/Learning Academy facilitator and is looking forward to returning to faculty development in the capacity of Valencia’s first faculty fellow for sustainability.

Update on a Year of Math Pathways Deliberations and Kickoff Reminder

Our math faculty and deans convened in fall 2018, prompted by the state of Florida’s efforts to redesign mathematics pathways, in an effort to improve success rates in mathematics courses and increase the percentage of students completing the math required for their degrees. With support from colleagues in Teaching and Learning, Analytics and Planning, and Advising, they spent the year assessing our mathematics pathways. Two of the primary results of their rich conversations and careful review of data were the addition of MGF1106 as one of the possible prerequisites for STA2023 and the development of three working theories about students’ experiences in math.

If it’s not already on your calendar, I encourage all math faculty to attend the kickoff event for our Math Pathways Collegewide Conversations 2.0, scheduled for 12 – 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 22, 2019, after Academic Assembly. This will be an opportunity to learn more about last year’s work and to create strategies based on the working theories.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

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