Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Project
Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) is a new initiative that supports using innovative technology to improve college readiness and completion, particularly for low-income young adults. The initiative is funding projects competitively in a series of waves. In Wave 1, NGLC awarded a total of $11 million to 29 organizations developing promising education solutions.
Selected from a field of more than 600 Wave 1 pre-proposals and 50 finalists, the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC), Portland State University, South Texas College and St. Paul Collegeused Learner Web to implement alternatives to developmental courses by providing students with innovative blended extracurricular learning supports. The grant also addressed the college readiness of high school students in the District of Columbia and at public high schools in South Texas by infusing college learning competencies into the high schools to support reading, math and writing skills consistent with college expectations.
This was the first wave of projects in the NGLC initiative which focuses on improving postsecondary completion and outcomes by keeping students out of developmental (remedial) courses. Research shows that across the country many incoming college students are tested and placed into developmental courses (chiefly math & writing) and often never emerge from these non-credit offerings that take valuable time, burn up Pell grants, and too often fail to move students successfully into credit-bearing courses needed to complete their programs.
Our project attempts to help incoming students to bypass developmental writing classes by offering a combination of directed self-placement (DSP) and online extracurricular writing support that can help students succeed in content courses while avoiding developmental writing classes.
At the three main implementation sites--the University of the District of Columbia Community College in Washington, D.C., South Texas College in McAllen, Texas, and St. Paul College in St. Paul, Minnesota--the administrators, project coordinators, faculty, instructors, tutors, academic advising and support staff, and technology and computer lab staff at each college worked over the summer to organize, train and develop the capacity to support their students during the fall semester launch and implementation of this intervention we call the Directed Self-Placement (DSP) Plus program. In late summer 2011, participating DSP students completed a directed self-placement inventory of their writing experiences and feelings toward college-level writing within the Learner Web. This inventory was carefully customized in order to reflect the expectations of college-level writing at each individual community college. Each inventory ended with a writing course recommendation that students could take into consideration before moving on to their academic advising sessions. At these sessions, both the writing recommendations and the details of the DSP Plus program were discussed carefully between student and academic advisor in order to support the student to make the best decision possible for his or her educational goals.
Students who chose to take credit-bearing writing courses at their community college while participating in the DSP Plus program started the fall 2011 semester with step-by-step Learning Plans that were created to provide a scaffold of targeted writing supports students need for the credit-bearing writing course. These Learning Plans are meant to help students engage in a process that not only helps them develop the skills needed to succeed in a college-level writing course, but to also think about how these skills apply in everyday life situations and job experiences. These supports are further strengthened by the wealth of resources already present in the range of participating faculty mentors, tutors, and academic support specialists at the various community college sites. Each site is tailoring the DSP Plus program to their students’ individual needs and their community college’s overall goals for student achievement. As the DSP Plus program continues, further customization to meet the individual needs of each college’s students will be incorporated and the DSP Plus team across all colleges will continue to collaborate to assist these students to reach their educational goals.
An evaluation of this Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 implementation of the DSP Plus program will be conducted by the American Institutes for Research . The results of this evaluation will help project partners to better understand how to implement the DSP Plus program on a larger scale to meet the variety of learning needs of all students at the participating college sites.
NGLC is led by EDUCAUSE in partnership with The League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped design the Next Generation Learning Challenges, and fund the initiative. In addition to funding, NGLC is gathering evidence about effective practices, and working to develop a community dedicated to these persistent challenges.