A Conversation with Haleh Azimi and Elsbeth Mantler, Part 3

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The following interview with Haleh Azimi and Elsbeth Mantler, Co-directors of the Community College of Baltimore County’s Accelerated Learning Program, focuses on professional development for faculty teaching corequisite composition and was conducted via email in December of 2021. This is the third of four parts.

David Starkey: Have you had strong institutional support for the professional development you are doing at CCBC? How has that manifested itself?

Haleh Azimi: Yes, CCBC has offered institutional support for ALP professional development. The office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) at CCBC studies ALP pass and retention rates, and this data collection helps inform our decision-making about professional development needs. Our PD options vary depending on faculty needs. For example, we have an onboarding 2-day workshop for those brand new to teaching ALP. Our dean provides stipends for adjunct faculty who require this training. We also have embedded mentors for those new to teaching ALP, and this is something that we are very proud of.

DS: You also have a Certified ALP Instructor Workshop Series. What happens there?

HA: We provide ongoing professional development opportunities each academic year. There are specific requirements pertaining to this internal certificate program. Once an adjunct faculty member meets this requirement, they are given a stipend. Full-time faculty who meet the requirements of the Certified ALP Instructor Workshop Series can use this as equivalency credits for our internal promotion process. Finally, CCBC has always supported efforts to host our national conference, The Conference on Acceleration in Developmental Education (CADE). The institution provides the college’s resources to ensure a successful national conference.

Elsbeth Mantler: Another thing that demonstrates CCBC’s commitment to ALP is the fact that our roles even exist as co-directors. If we did not have the embedded co-directorship then the program would not be as robust as it is.

DS: You certainly have a commendable arrangement going on at CCBC. What recommendations would you give to faculty whose administrations aren’t currently willing, or able, to pay for faculty development?

EM: I would really urge faculty to apply for grants. There are often institutional grants that are internal. When doing so, faculty should tie in the institution’s strategic plan and how funding for co-requisite professional development directly enhances the goals of the strategic plan. Likewise, I think that people developing PD opportunities should also apply for external funding. Often, when we are hired for external consultations, institutions inform us that they have secured funding through external organizations in order to fund our visits.

DS: Good ideas! Any other suggestions?

EM: You can make internal incentives that are free that help encourage people to participate in professional development opportunities – in other words, be creative in how you approach professional development. Are there ways to incentivize faculty involvement in PD that are not tied to stipends? For example, could you offer prioritized staffing preferences? If there are steps or levels for promotion, could this contribute to their promotion? Or, can facilitators provide tangible attendance documentation, such as a certificate for faculty to document on their CVs? Institutional support is absolutely critical in ensuring ALP’s success, but there are alternatives when there are creative faculty problem-solving ways to address professional development.