06/13/11 — Wayne Community College receives $600,000 in grants to improve programs

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Wayne Community College receives $600,000 in grants to improve programs

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 13, 2011 1:46 PM

Wayne Community College has been awarded more than $600,000 in grant funding, which officials say will strengthen pre-curriculum programs and create a program considered the first of its kind in the state.

The college first received a five-year $400,000 Title III grant from the Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education several months ago. It has since launched a "Stairway to Success, One Student at a Time: Improving Pre-Curriculum Education through Intervention and Advisement" Program, which focuses on pre-curriculum education.

Students who place into two or more courses in the program are encouraged to follow recommended schedules, regularly meet with pre-curriculum coaches and attend specific tutoring sessions and workshops.

Funds have been used to hire a full-time project coordinator/pre-curriculum coach and part-time coaches, as well as purchase materials for classrooms and offer professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.

WCC was the only community college in the state to win the award in that round of funding and received one of 48 grants awarded nationwide. Purpose of the grant is to help the college expand its capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the college's academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.

The $200,000 grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, will be used to develop new teaching methods for the WCC new sustainability technology program and create a curriculum new to North Carolina.

The school will partner with the S.C. Advanced Technological Education National Resource Center and Bristol Community College in Massachusetts to create new "project-based learning," or PBL, scenarios that teach students workplace readiness by using real-world situations. Officials say the topics will be broadly relevant to sustainability technology and include career assessment, professional ethics, critical thinking, problem solving and tools for engineering computations.

The scenarios will also be incorporated into curriculum at the two community colleges as well as the S.C. ATE Technology Gateway, and will eventually be made broadly available through the N.C. community college system and the N.C. Learning Object Repository.

Angela Wall and Todd King, sustainability technology instructors at WCC, will direct the grant, which will be effective October 2011 through September 2014.

"This grant provides WCC with an opportunity to continue its relationship with S.C. ATE. A few years ago we were an 'implementation site partner' in its National Resource Center for Expanding Excellence in Technician Education," explained Ms. Wall. "The focus of that partnership was a small-scale PBL pilot project here that, as a secondary activity, utilized learning communities, which teach support classes such as math and English with relevance to the students' major areas of study and not in isolation."

She said the new grant will expand the pilot project to include project-based learning in more areas of the college's Applied Technologies Division.

"We expect equally impressive results from this project," she said. "We are so confident of the effectiveness of PBL scenarios that we anticipate 80 percent of the cohort (students) will be retained and complete the program."