Dr. Vince Rodriguez Named President of Coastline College

Dr. Vince Rodriguez has been named president of Coastline College.

Dr. Vince Rodriguez

Since 1998, Rodriguez has been a part of the Coast Community College District.

Since 2012, Rodriguez has served in the role as Coastline vice president of instruction.

Rodriguez holds an associate degree from Orange Coast College, a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology, a Master of Arts in education, with an emphasis on distance learning and adult education and a doctorate in educational leadership from California State University, Long Beach.

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/215194/

National Competition Showcases STEM Capabilities of Community College Students

Community college students will flex their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills on a national stage with the return of the Community College Innovation Challenge after it was canceled due to COVID-19 last year. 

A student from 2018’s Community College Innovation Challenge pitches his team’s project in Washington, D.C. 

Hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association for Community Colleges (AACC), the annual competition challenges small teams of community college students to develop science-driven solutions to real-world problems.

Last week, the NSF and AACC named 10 teams hailing from community colleges nationwide that will advance to the finals. Among those teams’ projects are proposed solutions to timely issues such as the pandemic, policing behavior and climate change.

The competition “truly showcases the innovation that is happening at the nation’s community colleges,” said Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. “These students bring to life the next level of cutting-edge thinking and we are proud to partner with NSF to provide this opportunity to students and to advance their initiatives at a national level.”

But there is a twist to the competition. Not only do students have to develop a solution, “they also have to develop a pitch and a business plan to ensure that it’s an actionable program,” said Dr. Martha Parham, AACC’s senior vice president for public relations. 

In doing so, entrepreneurs and field experts will train the finalists in June as part of an Innovation Boot Camp, during which finalists will learn how to engage stakeholders and navigate the business side of STEM innovation.

The training leads up to the final Student Innovation Showcase, in which students will have the rare opportunity to pitch their projects to Congressional stakeholders and STEM leaders who will determine the first, second and third-place winning teams. Students typically present at the White House; however, this year they will present virtually due to the pandemic.

Regardless, for the students — many of whom are from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds — the competition represents their first opportunity to engage in solutions-oriented research. According to the AACC, 29% of community college students are first generation; 20% are students with disabilities; and roughly 50% are Hispanic, Black, Native American or Asian.

“We’re looking at students who perhaps don’t have the same opportunities as those that go to a four-year research university,” said Parham.

Considering those demographics and the fact that 41% of the nation’s undergraduates are enrolled at community colleges, Parham said two-year institutions play a vital role in building a large and diverse STEM workforce.

A student from 2018’s Community College Innovation Challenge pitches her team’s project in Washington, D.C. 

In fact, among U.S. students who earned bachelor’s degrees in science & engineering between 2010 and 2017, about half had done some coursework at a community college and nearly a fifth had earned associate’s degrees

That’s one reason why the NSF has been eager to support community colleges, said Dr. V. Celeste Carter, program director of the NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education.

“There are so many misperceptions out there amongst the general community about the students that are on community college campuses and what they’re capable of,” said Carter, who hopes the competition’s projects dispel myths about the caliber of work community college students can produce. 

One team, for instance, has developed an Officer Aptitude & Stress Information System (or OASIS) that uses artificial intelligence to help police departments better analyze camera footage, GPS systems and heart-rate monitors. Another has created a “sleek, nano-cleanser mask” that has the ability to destroy viruses using nano-fiber weaves with UVC radiation. And another team is developing a filtering mechanism that collects clean water for use in rural areas, homeless populations and in times of emergency — just to name a few of this year’s projects.

“Students have said it’s transformative for them,” said Carter. She explained that, quite often, the competition paves roads to other careers, research or educational opportunities. Additionally, she said some students have even created companies from their prototype products.

This year’s teams represent the ten following institutions: Austin Community College in Texas; Bergen Community College in New Jersey; Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York; Columbus State Community College in Ohio; Henry Ford College in Michigan; Itawamba Community College in Mississippi; Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana; Johnson County Community College in Kansas; Nashua Community College in New Hampshire; Pasadena City College in California; Tarrant County College in Texas; and Virginia Western Community College in Virginia.

Jessica Ruf can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/215183/

Connecting Today’s Course Activities to Tomorrow’s Career Possibilities is Key to Student Re-Engagement

To say that education and learning has been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. Students have had to adjust to a new form of being educated while instructors were learning new methods on the fly. It was a patchwork process at best, but it caused a reexamination of existing practices.

Strategies to engage students coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic will need to be updated from those that were employed prior to the pandemic. The World has shifted and all who are involved in the educational space will need to shift also. The virtual learning environment has been advantageous for a highly motivated set of students who have been able to thrive over the past year, but very detrimental to other students who have become disillusioned with their classes and academic work.

This has been the case in both in secondary and post-secondary educational settings. While some students have had a maintained an elevated level of focus, others have been taken off track by distractions like video games, social media, and the bed while learning at home. There are students who found any excuse to not turn their screen on during Zoom or Microsoft Teams course sessions, enabling them to be counted as present on the class roll but absent in the learning experience.

The problem of student disengagement and disinterest in coursework is one that may have significant ramifications well into the future. The need for intentional efforts to reengage students in the learning process is more important now than any other time in the recent past because of the well documented anticipated learning losses.

Dr. Marcus Bright

One way to help students reengage is to emphasize their value. The value that a person puts on themselves dictates a great deal of their decision making. If their sense of self-worth and value is high, then they are more likely to be motivated to apply themselves to their studies and maximize their academic potential. Self-esteem is not something that should be neglected or taken for granted because it ties right into a student’s belief that they can do the work.

If one doesn’t believe that they can do it then they may not even try. Some students don’t engage in their studies in a meaningful way because they have convinced themselves that they won’t be successful. There is a belief gap that is preventing progress. Disengagement may be a way of avoiding what they feel will be obvious failure. This is something that can be difficult to turn around, but it can be contended against with consistent encouragement and the highlighting of the valuable attributes that students do possess. Self-esteem and self-value are something that needs to be intentionally cultivated and supported. They are foundational building blocks to greater achievement.

Additionally, supporters can emphasize the relevance of their day-to-day coursework. People don’t like to be engaged in exercises of futility for a sustained period. There is a need to draw clear and direct lines to how coursework applies to the “real world”. The practice of applying the lesson to life is critical for students who are disengaged and may not see the point of being in a particular class outside of just getting a grade.

Effective instructors can draw direct lines that illuminate clearly how today’s activities can connect to tomorrow’s possibilities. Taking the time to outline the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will be required to build a bridge from the activity to an economically viable skillset is time well spent. It can certainly be a challenge to convey that what students do now is important for their future in the years to come. It can be hard to make that connection. It’s easy to become a prisoner of the moment. A video game can seemingly have more relevance in the moment than an academic class.

Intervening on a consistent basis with different ways that coursework is relevant to students’ future and careers is critical to reengage students who may be disconnected from applying themselves to their studies. This is a time to put additional focus on being more purposeful with pedagogy and curriculum. Helping students find a longer-term purpose for their daily coursework is likely to increase attendance, engagement, and performance in scholastic endeavors.

Creating pathways that are connected to student passions and strengths is another way to increase student engagement. These core elements can be coupled with the development of complementary skillsets that can build the needed momentum to push students to new levels. Instructors can facilitate the exploration of different opportunities with students that are connected to each of their passions. Their passions should become connection hubs for supporters to plug different opportunities and experiences into.

After the connections and correlations are made plain, students can receive guidance on what additional efforts they can make on their own and the appropriate times to make intentional links with resources to help them along their journey. Finding ways to systematically unleash the possibilities that are connected to the activities that students already enjoy has the potential to transform dropout rates and significantly reduce the number of disengaged students.

Dr. Marcus Bright is a scholar and educational administrator.

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/214971/

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