College studies options

Staff talks about redesigning learning


Adria Watson

Psychology instructor Estelle Davi discusses the book “Redesigning America’s Community Colleges” with faculty and staff as manager David Wahl listens.

LMC faculty and staff participated in a college wide conversation Oct. 2 sparked by the book “Redesigning America’s Community Colleges” by Thomas R. Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars and Davis Jenkins. Members of the college community had been provided copies of the book during All College Day in August, and Monday’s meeting focused on Chapters 1 and 3, which are chiefly about redesigning programs and rethinking instruction.

The conversation was facilitated by LMC professors Kasey Gardner, Julie Von Bergen and Josh Bearden. Gardner and Von Bergen are co-chairs of the Academic Senate task force looking into guided pathways and meta-majors. These models provide students with clearer course maps to complete their education.

The state of California is offering money to explore this approach, and this event is part of the larger college conversation about whether LMC should apply for funding.

The event was organized like a workshop in which participants were placed in small groups to address discussion questions. A variety of topics arose around the questions including culture, diversity and student learning styles.

One question posed was “What student services practices might LMC implement to support students in developing productive behavioral habits, approaches to learning, and mind-sets?”

LMC professor Scott Hubbard said what one thing that can be to better the situation is to find a way to get every staff member to provide input, since only 30 to 40 people are at every meeting. He also suggested professors should interact with students more actively in the classroom, considering they can only focus on subjects for a limited time.

“The longest a person can hold their attention span for is 20 minutes,” said Hubbard.

LMC professor Marie Arcidiacono suggested instructors attempt to have students adapt to different teaching styles, but in a way that the students can still be successful in their classes.

“It’s important to have trust with faculty and staff. We need to teach students how to learn to break the style they’re used to in K-12,” said Arcidiacono.

When the discussion reached the question about how teachers might include “culturally relevant curricula and other diversity efforts into all subject matter”, LMC professor Estelle Davi reacted strongly, underscoring the importance of discussing culture in classes.

She said the conversation must confront racism, and added that she has seen the how the issues around diversity have affected the community.

“I love how this conversation is bringing new life to these topics and we must talk about diversity and racism,” she said. “For 45 years I’ve dealt with these issues and I’m not saying we’re coming back to the beginning, but we need to talk about racism.”

As the conversation came to a close, Gardner explained next steps to the group.

In an interview after the event, Gardner explained the task force will lead the college in assessing “where we are on the path to adopting guided pathways. We have to do the assessment in order to get the grant.”

He added that a group from LMC will attend a conference in Oakland to “learn more about guided pathways.”

Bearden explained guided pathways are important for students because it gives them a clearer direction about which courses to take in completing their degrees. He added that it’s vital for students to participate in the process and understand how much it benefits them.

“We want to make sure everybody involved is on board. The hope of the task force is that this will be discussed so that more people know about it,” said Bearden.