Collaborative Relationships a Cornerstone to Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships
Shane McGovern, Director of Dual Credit Programs at Mohawk Community College in New York, shares his story on how the college improved its collaborations with its secondary institutions.
Upon accepting my position of Director of Dual Credit Programs at Mohawk Valley Community College in the spring of 2006, I was asked to look into pursuing accreditation through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). After some in depth analysis, and familiarization with the accreditation standards, I realized our program was lacking true collaborative relationships with our K-12 partners. There was not a formal or consistent method of connecting college and high school faculty in a way that would produce ongoing dialog related to the development of our courses being taught in the high schools.
I found that the foundation was built for an effective program, but we lacked true partnerships. We did have faculty liaisons representing each discipline who made themselves available to their assigned high school faculty, but they were not required to meet with them in a formal setting at any point throughout the year. They functioned more as a point of contact within each department for Dual Credit instructors to ask general questions about course content and course requirements. The liaisons did not observe the high school teachers in a classroom setting, they did not review high school instructor syllabi, nor were they required to lead an annual professional development session in their content area. There was no continuous conversations related to delivery of our course content.
When I first introduced the concept of a faculty liaison as defined by NACEP, where the liaison plays an integral part in the ongoing evolution of college courses taught in the high school through collaboration, observation, development, and recruitment, I expected pushback from both our college and high school counterparts. What happened instead was both a relief and an inspiration. Our high school faculty were hungry to learn from their college peers. They had been waiting for verification that their content, method of delivery and course rigor were equal to what was expected of courses being taught on campus. The college faculty became engaged at a level I could have only hoped for. They were willing to meet with their high school mentees one on one in the classroom, at formal professional development sessions and in any other way they felt would be effective for communicating with their groups as a whole. Conversations began about best practices, incorporating multi-media platforms, accommodating multiple learning styles, overcoming hurdles and curriculum alignment at preparatory levels.
Not all of our college liaison/concurrent enrollment faculty relationships are perfect. We sometimes struggle to keep concurrent enrollment faculty engaged, especially after they have been teaching the same course for a number of years. Yet the transformation in this aspect of the program over the past decade has been incredible. By incorporating NACEP’s standards as a guideline we have been able to create an atmosphere of collaboration, shared development and comradery. The attitude of “us and them” has diminished and the focus is now on how we can work together to best serve our common principal stakeholders, the students of our region.