By Title V Grant staff
In October 2011, San Antonio College (SAC) and Sul Ross State University (SRSU) began the Adelante Tejas (Forward Texas) grant partnership to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for Hispanic and low-income Texas students. This Title V grant seeks to increase the number of students declaring STEM majors at SAC and matriculate them through to corresponding graduate programs at SRSU.
SAC’s grant support staff came on board in early 2012, which included a web master, a programmer, a student success specialist, a research specialist, and a pipeline coordinator. Grant staff from SAC and SRSU quickly began a comfortable long-distance working relationship.
In April 2012, Sul Ross hosted the first site visit in Alpine, for six San Antonio College delegates. Faculty and staff from both institutions met their counterparts, toured the university campus, visited the McDonald Observatory and explored Big Bend National Park together.
In June 2012 the combined Adelante Tejas team conducted a three-day STEM Summer Institute at San Antonio College to introduce faculty to new technological opportunities that could enhance STEM instruction.
Attendees learned how audiovisual podcasts could be used to supplement traditional classes and each recorded a short podcast to get more comfortable with the process. The Adelante Tejas grant calls for the development of 10 podcasts per year. As of this writing, nine podcasts have been recorded and eight have been delivered.
The Summer Institute participants also learned about 3D visualization technologies and were shown examples of how those could supplement STEM classes to clarify difficult concepts or to virtually ‘share’ bulky classroom models and physical artifact samples with students. Currently, faculty has proposed six 3D visualization projects and four proof-of-concept examples have been completed.
Fostering student-faculty rapport was the focus of an intensive four-day academic advising training institute that took place in July at SAC. Nine SAC faculty members and the SRSU Adelante Tejas director, Leslie Hopper, attended the institute. Video of these training sessions was streamed live over the Internet for those SRSU faculty and staff who were not able to attend.
This advising institute was designed to equip faculty with the tools, support and encouragement needed to advise students. In addition to training and workshop exercises, question and answer sessions with students gave the faculty first-hand exposure to real student concerns and insight into relevant advising strategies. Grant representatives, with assistance from staff and faculty from both institutions, are developing an institutional articulation agreement and a draft has been proposed. In addition to the agreement draft, three majors have been selected for the development of transfer guides. These include a BS in Biology, BS in Wildlife-Biology and a BS in Mathematics. A draft for the BS in Mathematics has been developed and has been presented for approval to department chairs at both institutions.
As part of the articulation agreement discussion, several instruments that would assist in the SAC to SRSU transfer process have been considered for inclusion. The addition of a consortium agreement would allow students to receive credit for hours enrolled at SAC to be considered in their financial aid package from Sul Ross for each semester they are co-enrolled. Also, a joint admissions agreement would allow SAC students to receive academic and financial advising through web-conferencing from SRSU staff before official admission into SRSU.
Representatives from both institutions continue to hold weekly web conferences and plan to finalize the articulation agreement, the BS in Mathematics transfer planning guide, the consortium agreement and the joint admissions agreement in anticipation of a signing ceremony in Spring 2013.
In August 2012, some 10 members of SAC’s faculty and staff (along with one student) visited the Sul Ross campus and learned more about the unique field research opportunities available to students in and around the West Texas Chisos Mountain range. SAC geology major Reuben Uribe met with SRSU graduate students and was invited to participate in hydrology field research the following week. This unexpected invitation is a prime example of the collaboration that can develop from this partnership.
As the first grant year comes to a close, SAC and Sul Ross have developed a solid foundation for the success of the Adelante Tejas grant and we are looking forward to the next four years.