Updates on LinC and Undergraduate Research Shared at Learning Leadership Council Meeting

Valencia’s Learning Leadership Council (LLC) met on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at the Lake Nona Campus. During the meeting, updates were provided on the Academic Initiative Review of the Learning in Community Initiative and the Undergraduate Research work plan.

Academic Initiative Review of the Learning in Communities Initiative
Robyn Brighton, director, curriculum initiatives, and Christy Cheney, professor, student life skills, provided a recap of the findings and recommendations from the Academic Initiative Review (AIR) on the Learning in Community (LinC) Initiative in 2015 and shared the strategies that have been implemented from that first review. For background information on LinC, click here.

The findings from the AIR process on LinC included:

  • Professional development enables faculty to be better prepared to teach in a learning community setting.
  • LinC can be an effective strategy for infusing learning support services throughout the curriculum.
  • LinC success in courses that fall within the Front Door Alignment are higher than their non-LinC equivalent.
  • Students enrolled in LinC reported having increased engagement with their faculty and peers, heightened motivation to learn and less stress.

Based on this findings, the following recommendations were made:

  • Require all faculty to obtain a certificate of completion from the LinC development course or its equivalency.
  • Revise the curriculum integration template to include strategies to infuse learning support services.
  • Develop cluster communities that align with the limited range of front-door, general education course options.
  • Intentionally pair courses that have higher success rates when offered as a LinC, and encourage faculty across disciplines to team teach an integrated curriculum.

Strategies implemented throughout the 2016-2017 academic year as a result of recommendations include:

  • Redesigned the curriculum integration template to include support services and college success skills.
  • Identified high-risk Start Right courses by campus.
  • Sequenced cluster learning communities over multiple terms on East and West Campuses.

Robyn and Christy also presented an overview of the First 30 model, which offers students a clear academic pathway and a plan to graduate as soon as possible in their college career. Students are guaranteed courses for their declared major and are pre-registered in 30 college-level credits throughout their first three terms. Through co-curricular and community-based learning, students engage in real-world application of content to strengthen their academic, pre-professional and personal learning goals.

The model was developed in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 terms and was in-line with the recommendations from the 2015 AIR process on LinC. Two cohorts of First 30 were implemented on East and West Campuses in the fall 2016 term with plans to double the number of cohorts for the 2017-2018 academic year. For more information on the First 30 model, please click here.

Undergraduate Research Work Plan

Laura Sessions, professor, chemistry, and Rita Luther, professor, biology, provided an update on the Undergraduate Research Work Plan that was previously endorsed by the LLC.

Three groups have been formed to complete the work, including the Course Design/Course Implementation Work Team, the Measureable Goals/Assessment Work Team and the Student Recruitment/Community Partnership Work Team.

Next steps in the work plan include defining courses; completing an extensive survey that will be sent to faculty members to find out what they are doing in undergraduate research; drafting a budget; identifying the courses and faculty volunteers to pilot an embedded course model in fall 2017; and developing the content of a course workshop for embedding undergraduate research.

The Learning Leadership Council will meet again on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at the Winter Park Campus in Rooms 225-226 from 2 – 5 p.m.

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