Follow-On Funding for Building Blocks Grantees

NGLC’s recent round of awards to breakthrough models in both K12 and postsecondary education were accompanied last month by awards of new funding for four Wave I grantees. Cerritos College Foundation, Sinclair Community College, California State University Northridge, and Indiana University will collectively receive $5.2 million in follow-on funding to continue their work in leveraging technology to significantly improve student outcomes. These four institutions were among the 29 grantees of NGLC’s initial Wave I funding, awarded in April 2011. That wave focused on accelerating the development of innovative “Building Blocks for College Completion” across one or more of four challenge areas: blended learning, open core courseware, deeper learning and engagement, and learning analytics. These follow-on awards recognize their institutions’ success during the initial period of funding and their promise for scaling and for influencing college completion efforts nationally during the follow-on period, which is the next two years.

NGLC set a high bar for the follow-on awards, and the institutions that have received new funds cleared that bar in several important ways:

  • They demonstrated positive outcomes during the initial period of funding (April 2011 - July 2012), including providing convincing comparative data showing benefits to students who have used their innovations.
  • They proved their capability to be readily adopted by other campuses.
  • They have clearly demonstrated financial viability and sustainability within current institutional budgets, both for the original institution and for expansion campuses.
  • They have served students effectively and have also brought positive changes to the systems, policies, and practices of postsecondary education.

The follow-on awards, in a bit more detail:

  • Cerritos College Foundation, Norwalk, CA ($1,216,430) – With a reach of 4,300 students, the Kaleidoscope project, which has developed a comprehensive first-year general education curriculum that uses open educational resources, will dramatically increase the number of institutions implementing the curriculum and the students using it. To achieve this, Kaleidoscope will develop a cadre of faculty fellows to act as mentors and community leads, fund pilot experiences for 20 additional institutions, create 20 new course designs for high enrollment general-education courses, expand student support in developmental mathematics, and improve its capacity to facilitate and measure learning. Early trials of the project have demonstrated significant increases – by nearly three-quarters of a letter grade – in intermediate algebra, a critical gateway course in math, among students enrolled in Kaleidoscope courses.
  • Sinclair Community College, Dayton, OH ($1,500,000) – Sinclair’s Student Success Plan software, a system consisting of preventive measures, early alerts, assertive intervention, holistic counseling techniques, and student self-assessment combined with web-based software for tracking students and data analytics, was converted to open source during the original funding period. During the period covered by the new grant, it will be enhanced through the incorporation of MAP (My Academic Plan), an online tool to help students stay on track that has helped increase fall-to-fall persistence to 53%, 11 percentage points above the Sinclair’s average persistence rate.
  • California State University Northridge ($2,341,062) – Project leaders at CSUN will scale the technology-enhanced hybrid course model now shown to significantly improve completion and content mastery outcomes in general education mathematics to other California State University and community college campuses. During the 2011-2012 academic year, students at both CSUN and California State University Long Beach (nearly 4,500 students in all), persisted from the fall to spring semester at a 93% rate and more than two-thirds achieved subject mastery and deeper learning. CSU Northridge and its partners will also work to increase the hybrid model’s positive impact on student success and persistence by adding more courses (including courses in the sciences), providing more instructor training, improving assessment, and improving data collection and analysis.
  • Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis ($166,179) – Cyber Peer-led Team Learning (cPLTL) is a technology-enhanced variant on peer-led team learning, a pedagogical approach used in chemistry and other sciences in which students in small teams solve problems related to the subject of study. Holding the team meetings via videoconference rather than in person provides new flexibility for students and for institutions alike. During the initial funded period, the project leaders successfully expanded the use of the cPLTL approach to two additional campuses and produced data showing improved outcomes, as was the case at the originating campus. With follow-on funding, the project will hold a national workshop on implementing cPLTL and will give presentations on what they have learned at a range of academic conferences.

These grantees join one earlier follow-on award, made in June to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology:

  • Society for the Teaching of Psychology ($288,144) – In partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Society is disseminating U-Pace, a technology-enabled instructional approach developed by psychologists at UW-Milwaukee. U-Pace instruction combines, in an online learning environment, self-paced, mastery-based learning with instructor-initiated Amplified Assistance (tailored feedback on concepts not yet mastered and constructive support and encouragement). The original project seeded U-Pace courses in three public universities, demonstrating convincing improvements in student learning both immediately and several months later; the follow-on project will include publication of a special issue of the Society’s journal, a national training workshop, and outreach to learning management system providers about integration of U-Pace into LMSes.

In all, follow-on funding for Wave I totals $5,507,815.

As the projects move forward, please join us in following the lessons they are learning about the ways in which these building blocks are creating a firm foundation for dramatically improved outcomes for students.

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