Distance Education InFocus Grant
The Distance Education InFocus: Improving Course Design and Strengthening Student Support (InFocus) grant provides $2.68 million to support work that will increase student persistence, retention, and success for Hispanic and other low-income students. From the grant abstract, InFocus will accomplish this via:
- Improving academic support in high-risk online courses: InFocus will provide seed funding to help ACC phase in employment of three full-time Embedded Tutors who will, along with the college’s existing seven part-time online Embedded Tutors, support any of the approximately 4,600 credit students who are struggling to succeed in one or more of the college’s 19 online “high-risk” courses each year. High-risk courses are defined as those that are required for many associate and bachelor’s degrees but are successfully completed by less than 70% of the students who enroll in them each semester.
- Enriching learning in high-risk online courses: InFocus will provide funding to train distance education faculty in the nationally recognized Quality Matters rubric through the College’s Online Course Redesign Academy (OCRA) and to certify all online high-risk course curriculum via the QM certification process.
- Providing targeted, intensive advising support to online students who are struggling: InFocus will help ACC build its capacity to implement an evidence-based, intensive approach to intensive academic advising for online students who are struggling in high-risk courses.
Read the following articles about the grant:
February 2021: Chelsea Snow, Distance Education Advising Specialist, presented at the Texas Advising Academic Network Virtual Conference (TEXAAN) and won the “Best in TEXAAAN” for her presentation, “Fostering Team Spirit in A Virtual Environment”. Chelsea co-presented with Jennifer Browning, Assistant for Student Affairs. Out of 30 formal presentations eligible for this award, their presentation received the highest participant feedback scores.
December 2020: Read more about the Infocus Grant: ACC Awarded Two National Grants to Target Equity Gaps in Higher Education.
Distance Education Speaker Series Recordings
Embedded Tutor Program
Presented by DeEadra Albert-Green, Ph.D.
Manager, Online Learning Lab
Academic Coaching: Helping Students with “Better Grades, Less Stress” Virtually!
Presented by Monica Burmicky, Supervisor, Academic Coaching Services
ACC Clinical Counseling Services for Students
Presented by Janie Wang
District Clinical Counselor
Coordinator, Online Learning Support & Embedded Services
Daniel “Jamey” Hall
Distance Education Embedded Tutoring Specialist, InFocus Grant
Distance & Alternative Education
|Dr. Erasmus Addae||AVP Distance Education|
|Dr. Denise Robledo||Interim Project Co-Director|
|Dr. Ruth Reinhart||AVP Student Support Services|
|Dr. Guillermo Martinez||AVP Student Engagement and Analytics|
|Dr. DeEadra Albert-Green||Manager of Online Learning Labs|
|Dr. Monique Johnson-Jones||Executive Director, Learning Support Services|
|Kathy James||Director, Advising|
|Dr. Judy Sanders||Chair|
|Dr. Al Purcell||Chair|
|Dr. Lorlie Ellis||Dean|
|Dr. Hector Aguilar||Dean|
|Dr. Giao Phan||Dean|
|Dr. Thomas Nevill||Dean|
|Dr. Matthew Daude Laurents||Dean|
|Dr. David Fonken||Dean|
|Stephanie Long||Associate Professor, Geographic Information Systems|
February 25, 2021
On February 25, 2021 the Title V InFocus Advisory Committee met for the first time. The purpose of the InFocus Advisory Committee is to review progress reports on the implementation of Title V grant activities and recommend any improvements to assist in achieving project goals and objectives.
Dr. Denise C. Robledo provided the committee with an overview of our InFocus grant priorities for the first year related to curriculum redesign, embedded tutoring, and intensive advising. The first grant priority was hiring seven full-time grant personnel. All grant personnel have been hired except for one distance education advisor. Second, instructional designers have been working to identify and recruit faculty who teach online high-risk courses to assist them in pursuing an official quality matters certification for their course. ACC high-risk courses are those which have a less than 68% completion rate. The Title V grant will make available faculty stipends and cover the cost of peer review fees for online high-risk courses for the first three years of the grant. Dr. DeEadra Albert-Green presented the committee with progress on priorities related to online embedded tutoring. Embedded tutors will be enrolled in online high-risk courses to facilitate interaction and communication with students enrolled in the course. Embedded tutors can provide just-in-time academic support or work with students and faculty to schedule individual or group tutoring sessions.
In Spring 2021, 67 faculty representing 149 individual online course sections have volunteered to work with embedded tutors. 71 of the 149 individual online course sections are high-risk courses. The 71-course sections have an estimated 3,152 students enrolled. In our upcoming Advisory Committee meeting in April 2021 updates will be provided concerning the student criteria used to assign our Title V, distance education advisors’ caseload for Summer and Fall 2021. Distance Education advisors will be providing online students enrolled in high-risk courses with intensive advising to ensure they are aware of academic resources and student services critical to their success.
The advisory committee will also be provided with an overview of the Title V InFocus evaluation plan and its Year 1 milestones in April.
The Title V InFocus Advisory Committee met on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 for the last time of the Spring semester. The goal of the InFocus Advisory Committee is to provide recommendations on how to improve the implementation of InFocus grant interventions.
The InFocus grant required that we hire 7 personnel. We have concluded hiring at this time and have identified 2 Instructional Designers, 3 Embedded Tutors, and 2 Distance Education Advisors who will lead grant interventions. Our last hire will begin employment on May 17, 2021.
The InFocus Leadership team met with the Office of Research & Analytics (OIRA) who provided a data tree for our InFocus Evaluation plan. There will be no major changes to the evaluation plan that was outlined in our original Title V InFocus grant narrative. The InFocus Distance Education intensive advising serving Hispanic students enrolled in online high-risk courses will begin in Summer 2021. Distance Education advisors will be assigned all full-time and part-time Hispanic students enrolled in online high-risk courses. The Title V Distance Education advisor caseload will not have a cap at this time and will remain intact for the full academic year. Emily Hardegree from OIRA forecasted that our distance education advisor caseload may roughly be over 800 unduplicated students for the Fall 2021 semester. This is not an unusual caseload for two distance education advisors to have.
Embedded tutoring services have been adopted by roughly 67 online high-risk courses for Spring 2021. This represents the majority of our online high-risk courses with the exception of five in which we have not recruited faculty participants. These include GOVT 2305, GOVT 2306, HIST 1301, BIOL 1309, COSC 1336. Interested faculty may contact Dr. DeEadra Albert-Green, ACC’s online learning manager if they would like an embedded tutor enrolled in their course. Also, a solicitation was advertised for ACC to procure an online tutoring platform to support embedded tutoring services and also to assist with data collection and reporting of students who are employing online tutoring at ACC. The solicitation ended on April 2 and evaluations of proposals are underway.
Title V Instructional Designers have started recruiting faculty to submit online high-risk courses to quality matters. The Title V grant makes available faculty stipends and course certification fees for the first three years of our grant. Instructional design staff have identified 55 faculty who teach high-risk courses that have completed Quality Matters (QM) training and an internal review of their course. Roughly 9 faculty since March 2021 have responded to our invitation to submit their courses to an official peer review team to earn a national QM certification.
Recommendations provided to our Title V InFocus leadership team from our advisory committee was that they would like to be provided more comprehensive information on our outgoing communication regarding the Title V InFocus grant activities and faculty recruitment into grant activities. This will ensure that critical information regarding the InFocus grant is being communicated to stakeholders in an effective and efficient manner. At this time, recruitment of faculty for embedded tutoring and course redesign will be directed to academic deans and department chairs. Moreover, academic deans and department chairs will be provided with regular monthly updates outside of the two scheduled advisory council meetings for each semester.
For any questions about the grant, please contact Alicia McWilliams, firstname.lastname@example.org.