The effects of cuts in community college funding were evident when surveying faculty attending the Faculty Development breakouts. With no new funding stream from dedicated funds for faculty and staff development, colleges are cobbling together carryover faculty development funds, funds from grants that can legally be used to ensure student success, and miniscule college funds. The amount garnered from college funds is a mere pittance compared to when districts had stable state funding.
Thanks to those districts that acknowledge the importance of professional development and have continued to support their programs with reassigned time and funding for speakers, workshops, printing, and technical assistance to faculty eager to improve their curriculum, courses, and delivery systems. This was evident from information presented in a breakout by Carol Burke and Dick Ryerson who shared information and resources for "Faculty Development on a Shoestring."
Highlighted were Orange Coast College's (OCC) Academic Senate Professional Development Institute (PDI) Handbook and its 1999 Mentorship Program for new tenure track faculty. When OCC hired over sixty new faculty over a two-year period, the local senate developed a 40-page PDI Handbook to provide information on OCC's five committees dedicated to professional development: Alternative Methods, Conference and Workshops, In-Service Training, Professional Improvement Credit, and Sabbatical Leave. The Mentorship Program reviews mentor attributes, mentoring topics for the mentoree, and Friday workshops.
Many faculty have had contact with 4C/SD and are familiar with its history, and the CD ROM of 4C/SD's Best Practices Report 2001-2002. At this time that CD ROM is available only to the participants of the 4C/SD Spring Conference of 2003. However, there is an effort to make the best practices available on the 4C/SD website next year. Six programs have been developed and are being offered at sites across the state: "Hire Me" Workshop Series (Cypress), Professional Development an Program Review for Managers (LACC), Discovering Mt. Sac, Developmental Education Certificate program (Mt. Sac), Southwestern Staff Development Program, State Center Leadership Program.
The Faculty Development breakout on "The Role of Professional Development in Student Success" reviewed strategies that improved retention and reduced student anxiety about taking classes required for transfer at two colleges, Ventura and Harbor.
Participants in this interactive breakout began by reading Emily Dickinson's poem "1129" and engaged in a 5-minute free-write exercise on their thoughts on an aspect of the poem. Participants were paired up to discuss their free-write, followed by a video of community college students discussing the poem. The last video clip showed a group of students that were so motivated that they met on their own to develop and plan a play. One student shared her first day anxieties about taking yet another English class-she had twice dropped the English composition class (taught by other teachers): "I was freaked out about taking this class and was determined to not participate at all." The student outcome was dramatic-on the video this student transformed into an eager and active class participant.
Participants were also introduced to web pages offered by faculty development organizations that provide resources for faculty interested in effective teaching and learning, workshops, and, as noted in the Technology Committee article in this Rostrum, some groups offer such training and materials at no cost. On a more immediate level, attendees were reminded that enhancing the course syllabus beyond the dates of exams and grading criteria leads to better informed and more confident students, having a direct impact on student success. The syllabus can be a tool for student success by adding catalog and articulation information, policies on attendance, academic honesty, cell phone use policy, missed exam policy, exam schedules, and grading policy, and a faculty commitment statement. Discussing the syllabus the first day of class, then having the students take a "quiz" on the syllabus has resulted in students who no longer ask the question, "I was absent last week, did I miss anything important?"
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