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SFSC Offers First AVID Higher Education Program in Florida

Submitted by on July 7, 2014 – 5:02 pmNo Comment

This fall, South Florida State College (SFSC) becomes Florida’s first four-year college or university to join the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) for Higher Education Student Success Initiative.

The AVID grant, which SFSC received two years ago in conjunction with three local school districts, launched a five-year project with the ultimate objective of assisting educators in analyzing existing student support mechanisms within the classroom as well as an examination of current counseling and tutoring practices that are essential in supporting student success. Strategic planning and empirical data will be used to identify barriers and needs that keep younger students from being college ready, and consequently, not succeeding later in college.

SFSC will offer new academic and mentoring services and faculty training to help ensure the success and persistence of first-generation students and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Although AVID will serve many students on SFSC’s campuses, it focuses on the least served students in the academic middle who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their potential. 

Each semester, SFSC will host a content collaborative training with its partnering schools that brings together middle school, high school, and college faculty members with common disciplines. During the year, AVID will provide several higher education training opportunities to SFSC faculty and student service professionals.

The first faculty development and professional training day will take place during SFSC’s Convocation, August 20 – 21. Two AVID representatives will be on campus to provide training sessions on AVID’s “General Education High Engagement Strand” and “Career and Technical Education Strand.”

Prior to Convocation, SFSC’s AVID Implementation Team will create strategic plans to introduce and engrave AVID’s philosophy collegewide. SFSC’s implementation team includes Elizabeth Andrews, Jessica Bailes, Dr. Kimberly Batty-Herbert, Erik Christensen, Dr. Kimberley Dos Santos, Courtney Green, Michele Hall, Cindy Kinser, Dr. Monica Powers, and Becky Sroda.

“Avid allows us to take a student and make them a full-blown participant,” said Dr. Kimberly Batty-Herbert, dean of arts and sciences and AVID campus liaison. “The bottom line is to improve learning through making students more personally involved with the content of their courses. Through AVID strategies we will take the heavy lifting away from the faculty members and put it in the hands of the student.”

“The types of activities in an AVID classroom will include high energy collaborative learning, rather than faculty simply conveying information in hope that the student will absorb it,” Dr. Batty-Herbert said. “An AVID classroom looks different from the traditional one. For example, students are frequently in small groups exploring the course content together. The program strategies focus on five essential elements that create the acronym WICOR: writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading. The reading and writing components are not about mechanics but rather critical thinking – being challenged to be more personally involved with the course content.”

“This program allows students to be hands-on learners,” she said. “We need to eliminate the old ‘sage on the stage’ philosophy of instruction and move toward a more highly interactive model of teaching and learning. As a result, our students will become more responsible and engaged learners which make them more successful in achieving all of their educational goals.”

Since receiving the grant, SFSC has collaborated with all secondary schools in its tri-county service district of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties to provide an AVID college-readiness program that prepares students in the academic middle for higher education, based on their ability to succeed in college given the necessary academic, personal, and financial support.

“Everyone at SFSC has the potential to be impacted with this program,” Dr. Batty-Herbert said. “I like AVID’s holistic approach to learning. It not only addresses what happens inside the classroom but influences the services that support learning. It is transformative as it changes the way students think and respond to learning. The program is data driven, so proven results guide future decisions.”

In the future, an AVID Teacher Preparation Institute (TPI) will become part of the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program curriculum. Dr. Dos Santos will lead the initiative which will train SFSC’s newest educational practitioners in the AVID model and methods.

“Increasing student engagement and empowering them early can ensure that our local students are successful in school from the start and their transition into college success is seamless through graduation,” Dr. Batty-Herbert said. “Providing the next generation of teachers with the academic and psychosocial skills needed to support their students ensures they will cross that stage on graduation day with a degree in hand and a brighter future ahead of them.”

“The ultimate goal of this program would be to implement the AVID strategies in every classroom, but we need to take it one step at a time,” Dr. Batty-Herbert said. “We are appreciative of the institutional support so far because adopting a program such as this requires a true team work approach to be successful.”

For more information on SFSC’s AVID for Higher Education program, contact Dr. Batty-Herbert at Ext. 7329 or email Battyhek@southflorida.edu. For more information on AVID, visit www.avid.org.

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