Life science faculty members from Mesa Community College and Chandler-Gilbert Community College recently received a $11,000 Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation Horizon Grant for spring/fall 2021.
With the funding the colleges are developing a teaching model designed to improve student success and reduce withdrawal rates in life science courses by embedding skill building and support systems into the curriculum, according to a release.
Participating MCC Life Science faculty are Francesca De Martini, Ph.D., principal investigator for the grant; Erica Morley, Ph.D. and Luke Mumaw. Participating CGCC Life Science faculty are Jacqueline Cala, Hannah Phipps-Yonas, Ph,D. and Kimberley Patterson, DVM. MCC counseling faculty Elena Matus McDonald and Pandi Bromley, with the MCC Foundations for Student Success program, will aid in presenting workshops.
“We are developing a unified Welcome to Life Science video to provide an introduction to our field of study and an overview of the resources available to assist our students,” Ms. De Martini said in the release. “We’ve added skill-building workshops into our curriculum and are monitoring student progress. Course embedded tutors are checking in with students appearing to need additional assistance.”
Biology classes recorded high withdrawal rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that academic interactions between students and faculty and participation in peer study groups increase retention rates, which is the goal of this grant, the release states.
“We are confident our model will increase success rates of biology students who may struggle with course formats other than in person and those who, in general, need additional support and encouragement to successfully complete,” Ms. Patterson, division chair of CGCC Biological Sciences, said in the release. “Ideally the success of our model will encourage other disciplines to implement the strategies and pursue grant opportunities to support their efforts.”