Plan for communication and engagement over time.
Step 1
Create and revisit a plan for communication and engagement.

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


helps in developing effective communication and engagement strategies.

helps in creating a strategic plan for communicating and engaging with all stakeholder groups.

highlights sample strategies for different stakeholders.

Step 2
Gather input to improve communication and engagement quality.

By periodically polling faculty and staff through brief surveys, the leadership team can gain important information about communication and engagement practices. For example, the leadership team can learn the degree to which current practices are effective and the effect of the transition to mathematics pathways on stakeholders.

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. By understanding the seven stages of concern (see Essential Action 6, Step 5), the leadership team can assess and respond to stakeholders’ concerns accordingly.

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 crucial for long-term sustainability of mathematics pathways. Many institutions can provide support 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 ongoing 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, former 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,” 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 as well as within each group. Personnel transitions are the norm, and the more an institution prepares for such transitions, the more prepared team members will be to handle inevitable staff changes. Depth of leadership 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 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.


helps build faculty capacity strategically in terms of breadth (increasing numbers of faculty involved) and depth (building leadership and expertise).