UACCB board of visitors hears review of progress toward Guided Pathways launch

A photo of Dr. Rob Johnstone presenting to the UACCB board of visitors about Guided Pathways.

Dr. Rob Johnstone, founder and president of the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement, told the board of visitors at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville that the college was making impressive strides in its efforts to prepare to launch the Guided Pathways model this fall.

“UACCB has been very intentional in the way that it has strategized and operationalized the work to prepare to launch Guided Pathways, and they’ve done it very well,” Johnstone said.

Citizens Bank provided funding that helped enable the collaboration between UACCB and Johnstone and his organization to launch Guided Pathways, a movement to streamline students’ path from admission into college to graduation and optimize the student experience. Johnstone said essentially Guided Pathways helps students chose a degree path, stay on that path, and ensure they are learning the material needed to be successful within their chosen career field. Johnstone complimented the student-centered mindset of UACCB’s faculty and staff noting that one faculty member said, “We need to error-proof our model rather than trying to fix the student.” 

“That’s huge because it is much easier to say students weren’t successful because they didn’t come to class prepared or that they have a millennial mindset rather than looking internally at our processes to discover where there could be barriers preventing students from being successful,” Johnstone said.

According to the NCII website, Johnstone works to help two- and four-year colleges create structures and processes that increase student completion, learning, and labor market outcomes. His unique and engaging approach to inquiry and improvement fuses the world of foundations, initiatives, and system-level policy changes with the ground-level work of college practitioners and college senior leaders. With more than 25 years of consulting experience in industry and higher education, Johnstone has a unique dual perspective on this work. 

Johnstone provided a brief overview of UACCB’s progress toward the launch of Guided Pathways at the board’s quarterly meeting January 17 following the groundbreaking ceremony for the new workforce training center. UACCB faculty and staff formed eight work groups in May 2018 to take on various tasks necessary to launch Guided Pathways in fall 2019. Among those tasks was creating clear program maps that would guide students through the college’s existing programs. The college also categorized programs into six areas of interest, which give students who have not selected a specific program an idea of the career options available within a particular field such as healthcare or skilled trades.

Johnstone also noted that a significant redesign of developmental education courses was in process. Dr. Brian Shonk, vice chancellor for academic affairs, presented data from the fall 2018 math skills class, a course students can take simultaneously with college algebra if they did not score high enough on placement testing to enroll directly into college algebra. Of the 35 students who were enrolled in the math skills class, 89.29% passed college algebra. In fall 2017, 80.37% of the students directly enrolled into college algebra passed the course.

“These students were able to progress through college algebra, one of the courses students consistently struggle with the most, without having to take developmental courses before they could enroll in college algebra. This saves them time and money in their pursuit of a degree,” Shonk said. He added that a similar course, basic writing, was created to pair with English composition I and that science faculty are working to create similar initiatives in that department.

Johnstone said UACCB was also making shifts in advising, onboarding, and student services to enhance the students’ college experience. “The faculty and staff here also understand that the work doesn’t end this fall. They understand that this will be Guided Pathways version 1.0 and are committed to making version 2.0 a deeper inquiry,” he said.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from Phil Purifoy about the design for the new workforce training center. Fennell Purifoy Architects provided the design for the facility, and Provence Construction won the bid for construction. He said the 15,000 square-foot workforce training center would have classroom and lab space. Purifoy said the shop area within the center would be very flexible and able to adapt and evolve with program needs over time. The exterior design of the building will compliment that of the other buildings on campus. Plans for improved drainage were also taken into consideration. Purifoy said the project is estimated to take 10-12 months to complete and that construction would begin as soon as possible weather permitting.

• Heard from Kim Whitten, UACCB director of advancement. Whitten reported that the UACCB Foundation has awarded over $16,000 in scholarships for the spring semester. She also reported that the foundation received at $100,000 endowment from the University of Arkansas Foundation for advancement operations. The UACCB Foundation is also now able to accept donations via credit card and is working to setup a webpage to accept online donations, Whitten said.

• Heard from Chancellor Deborah Frazier who announced Marietta Candler, division chair for nursing and allied health, had received the 2019 American Association of Community College’s Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Recognition. One distinguished faculty recognition is awarded in each state across the nation. As an AACC Distinguished Faculty honoree, Candler will receive recognition on the AACC Faculty Wall of Distinction as well as the AACC website. She has also been invited to attend a private reception for honorees at the AACC 99thannual convention in April in Orlando, Fla.

• Considered a recommendation to change the term expiration of the current vacant board position to 2019 verses July 2020. The adjustment allows for a one-third term rotation for the board. Phil Baldwin moved to approve the recommendation. Stan Fretwell seconded the motion, and the motion carried.

• Appointed a committee to recommend or reappoint members and nominate a slate of officers. Ted Hall, Mike Arnold, and Dr. Maggie Williams volunteered to form the committee. Williams will serve as the committee chair. Steve Green and Mark Skelton will rotate off the board July 1, 2019. Phil Baldwin is eligible for reappointment to the board.

• Recognized new employee C’aira Stewart, administrative specialist for academics.

• Voted to approve the minutes from the October 18, 2018 meeting. Hall moved to approve the minutes. Fretwell seconded the motion, and the motion carried.