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Community College Engagement

Community College Engagement

The College Access Collaborative partners with several community colleges throughout the Commonwealth to offer engagement opportunities that focus on the pathway to and through college for students who are underrepresented in higher education. Engagement opportunities include:

  • University faculty-led workshops and mentoring for community college faculty and staff to improve the alignment of curricula and services to enhance students’ college readiness and transfer to four-year institutions 
  • STEM focused faculty lectures 
  • Student success seminar workshops 
  • Academic enrichment activities for prospective STEM transfer students from New River, Southwest and Northern Virginia Community Colleges through on-site lab tours, experiential learning opportunities and overnight visits 
  • Partnerships for innovative programs such as NOVA Woodbridge’s inaugural STEM Week and Commonwealth Graduate Education Day for community college students

Current Community College Engagement Project:

Virginia Tech/Virginia Community College System STEM Faculty Learning Community Project, 2018-present

The goal of this project is to enhance the readiness of community college students for transfer into STEM disciplines at four-year institutions by working with community college faculty. Through this project, Virginia Tech faculty will help to strengthen and update science curricula and enhance instructors’ knowledge and teaching skills. This approach has been successful with previous CAC projects, and several studies confirm the relationship between teacher professional development and student success. For example, Elliott & Oliver (2016) explored the relationship between faculty professional development and the academic achievement of diverse students. Their research results indicate that teacher participation in professional development activities had a significant positive effect on student academic achievement as indicated by student perceptions of faculty effectiveness.

The project will target faculty who teach chemistry, calculus, and physics at community colleges. Community college faculty will be assigned to one of five faculty learning communities (FLC) led by Virginia Tech faculty. One Virginia Tech faculty will oversee each FLC, which will include two chemistry and calculus FLCs, and one physics FLC. The successful implementation of this project will result in the publication of a best practices tool kit, which will guide other four-year institutions in collaborating with community colleges and replicating the project on their campuses. TCWHS and community college faculty will be awarded a $1,000 stipend for their year-long involvement with the project. All travel, meals, lodging, textbooks and other educational materials will be covered for FLC participants.