Plan for communication and engagement over time.
Step 1

Create and revisit a plan for communication and engagement.

Needs for communication and engagement evolve over time, so it is most effective to plan two to three months in advance and then to revisit the plan. A plan includes goals (what needs to be communicated), the audience (who), strategies (how), and a timeline (when).

Resources

helps define and develop effective communication and engagement strategies.

helps in developing a strategic plan for communication and engagement with diverse stakeholder groups.

highlights sample communication and engagement strategies for different stakeholders.

supports mathematics faculty, administrators, student services staff, and institutional researchers to plan effective messaging about mathematics pathways.

Step 2

Gather input to improve communication and engagement quality.

Responses from brief faculty and staff surveys can give the leadership team important information about communication and engagement practices. By periodically polling faculty and staff, the leadership team learns the degree to which current practices are effective, discovers how the transition to mathematics pathways affects stakeholders, and understands the adequacy of engagement strategies.

The leadership team may find it helpful to understand the Stages of Concern, one of the components of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin (Hall & Hord, 2015). CBAM highlights the importance of attending to the human aspect of change. The Stages of Concern addresses the affective side of change, describing predictable concerns that stakeholders will have so that leadership teams can plan actions to address them accordingly. The seven stages of concern are described in more detail in Essential Action 6.

Practitioner Point of View

Faculty Engagement at Metropolitan Community College - Kansas City

All systemic change depends upon the hard work and commitment of the people who are on the front lines of the work. Engaging these stakeholders in a positive and effective process is a key leadership challenge. In the case of implementing mathematics pathways, many leaders are concerned about how to support mathematics faculty in the change effort. Engaging faculty is especially difficult in situations in which change is seen as a mandate, faculty are already suffering from initiative fatigue, or the institution is facing other disruptions such as budget cuts or turnover in leadership.

Metropolitan Community College–Kansas City (MCCKC) took a strategic approach to supporting and engaging faculty in mathematics pathways. This approach - found in the Dana Center's "Notes from the Field" series, Number 1 - provides lessons to others engaged in similar efforts.

Step 3

Build capacity for implementing and sustaining the pathways over time.

Professional learning is fundamental for long-term sustainability of mathematics pathways. Many institutions can provide the support needed through their centers for teaching and learning. Other institutions may choose to collaborate with neighboring campuses. Professional learning should not be limited to faculty. Administrators, advisors, tutors, and other staff may need support to prepare for their roles in mathematics pathways.

Regardless of the structure, the leadership team must plan to provide resources — both time and financial —for faculty and staff to engage in professional learning. Best practices to foster professional growth in higher education include:

  • Investing in professional learning opportunities that encourage faculty and staff to learn and grow together. One-time workshops and individual conference attendance rarely contribute to systemic changes.
  • Providing assistance to faculty members who are adopting new pedagogical approaches. Learning new instructional practices requires time to practice, reflect, and adjust.
  • Building relationships with neighboring and like institutions, as these relationships offer faculty and staff the opportunity to learn by engaging with others. Also, making connections with mathematics and state associations dedicated to mathematics pathways can offer opportunities for professional learning.

Practitioner Point of View

Achieving Institution-Wide Communication and Buy-In

Paula Talley, formerly division director of student success at Temple College, taught an DCMP mathematics lesson to an audience that included both developmental and credit-mathematics faculty; developmental reading, writing, and study skills faculty; tutors; advisors; and administrators.

This teaching demonstration provided an opportunity for different stakeholders to see how the course used active learning and real-world content. “The amazing part to watch with this lesson,” Talley noted, “was the reactions of the non-math people and watching their math-anxious faces transform to expressions of excitement over learning math!” All stakeholders must truly understand the purpose in order for a project to be successful and achieve 100% buy-in.

 Hear about the experience of building capacity and sustaining math pathways over time at Temple College.

 

Step 4

Build depth of leadership across multiple stakeholder groups.

Systemic changes such as using mathematics pathways require depth of understanding across numerous stakeholder groups. Having depth within each group is equally important. Personnel transitions are the norm, and the more an institution prepares for such transitions, the more prepared team members will be to weather inevitable staff changes. Depth also helps spread the work and avoid burnout and fatigue. Leaders in the implementation work should actively recruit and mentor others through shadowing, delegating tasks, and providing learning opportunities.

Over time, membership of the leadership team also will change. Scheduling routine team modifications ensures that knowledge and training are spread within the different stakeholder groups represented on the team. Good planning, documentation, and communication help to ease these team transitions and can help new members become informed and prepared to work quickly.

Resources

helps an institutional team think strategically about how to build faculty capacity in terms of breadth (increasing numbers of faculty involved) and depth (building leadership and expertise).