Community college leaders met in Jefferson City recently to begin thinking about how to maximize the impact of lessons learned through MoHealthWINs, a $20 million U.S. Department of Labor grant through which Missouri’s public two-year institutions are training Missourians for careers in healthcare.
The leaders will meet regularly to examine data that will help them determine which of the innovative strategies supported by the grant led to the most promising outcomes, and which may be implemented on a larger scale after the grant phases out.
“This grant is specifically intended to help community colleges identify the approaches that are most successful in helping the target population get a credential that prepares them for work in high-wage jobs that have good long-term prospects,” said Zora Mulligan, executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA). “The target population includes people who are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance because they have lost jobs as a result of increased exports, unemployed and underemployed individuals, and those who come in with markedly low levels of academic preparation. We know that many of these students have difficulty obtaining credentials, so the grant was designed to pilot some of the most successful innovations in community college education.”
Those innovations include stackable credentials, contextualized academics within technical skills framework, flexible schedules and curricular structures, compressed scheduling that allows students to obtain credentials quickly, tutoring and supplemental instruction, intrusive student services, offering credit for prior learning, bridging credit and noncredit course work, employer driven curriculum, online or hybrid courses or programs, and self-paced academic remediation.
“The knowledge we gain through this experience will help us bring the most successful MoHealthWINs innovations to scale,” said Dianne Lee, professor in information systems/health information technology at STLCC-Forest Park. She is serving as STLCC’s representative in the discussions.
She noted that two significant innovations of STLCC’s MoHealthWINs program are the Adult Learning Academy (ALA) and intrusive student support. Developmental education faculty redesigned the traditional delivery of developmental math and literacy, offering ALA students an accelerated, contextualized, competency-based learning experience.
“The career pathway coaches worked in tandem with faculty to help students navigate the most common barriers to retention,” she said. “Both innovations show evidence of improved outcomes, including increasing the likelihood of term-to-term enrollment and successful completion.”
The group also included Jefferson College’s Laura Klaus and Kenny Wilson, Metropolitan Community College’s Barbara Weathers, Mineral Area College’s Bev Hickam, Ozarks Technical Community College Matt Scott, State Fair Community College’s Brent Bates, and MCCA’s grant management team. The group will work closely with the MoHealthWINs Evaluation Team, comprised of Cosgrove & Associates and Bragg & Associates.
MCCA is a statewide organization through which Missouri’s community colleges work together to advance common agendas. MCCA provides advocacy, education, information, and networking opportunities in service of the state’s 5,700 community college faculty, staff, administrators and trustees.