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DEI InNOVAtion Grant Program

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion extends its congratulations to the recipients of the 2021-22 DEI InNOVAtion Grant! The recipients of this year’s grants were announced on Tuesday, January 11th, at the 2022 PUP Conference, and are listed below.

Turning The Test Around

Submitted by Ashley Wilkins

The Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) is an exam consisting of two sections: reading and writing. The exam costs $40 for each section plus a $50 registration fee for a total of $130. Traditionally underserved students face barriers when taking standardized tests including licensure tests for a host of reasons including the lack of required resources, and this creates an imposing equity issue (Gernsbacher, Soicher, & Becker-Blease, 2020). NVCC students often delay testing due to these financial and contextual barriers, which may result in postponed graduation and deferral of livable wages. In addition, traditionally underserved students often experience increased test-taking anxiety, thereby reducing their overall performance on licensure exams. Failing to pass the VCLA in a timely manner becomes an obstacle that many students cannot afford to overcome.

  • Cover the $130 VCLA exam fee for 30 students;
  • Assist student with exam registration;
  • Provide access to quality online preparation materials;
  • Instruct students in test-taking strategies, reading comprehension strategies, rules of grammar and composition skills;
  • Partner Teacher Education faculty with English faculty to provide robust training for students;
  • Support CHD and EDU students.

Supporting All NOVA Students: Creating Inclusive Learning Environments and Authentic Engagement to Improve Learning Experiences and Future Employability Skills

Submitted by Hong Wang and Stacy Bustillos

With a focus on Education and Training, one of NOVA’s five domains of inclusive excellence, this project intends to provide a series of training sessions for faculty across campuses and disciplines to better support learning engagement and course completion of the diverse student population at NOVA. Due to limitation or loss of in-person interaction between instructors and students in hybrid and online courses, it’s more challenging to make every student feel included, connected, and engaged. This project’s overarching goal is to enhance all students’ learning experience in the online environments. The project’s objective is to effectively prepare a minimum of 60 faculty by the end of the 12-month grant period with knowledge and skills to enhance students’ learning experiences in hybrid and online courses by:

  • Creating inclusive learning environments to support all students;
  • Connecting learning with real-world contexts to easily relate to students’ different backgrounds and life experiences;
  • Developing a culturally responsive teaching approach to facilitate learning for all students, and;
  • Associating course content from different career clusters with global competence and employability skills to engage all students in learning.

The Center for Global Education at Asia Society, established by Rockfeller III in the United States in 1954, will offer four one-hour live training sessions via Zoom to all faculty at NOVA. The sessions will be recorded for those who won’t be able to attend. Faculty surveys with a focus group and a student survey with a focus group will be conducted to measure intended impact.

Mentoring Black and Hispanic/Latino/Latinx Success in Information and Engineering Technology

Submitted by Christianne Nieuwsma and Paula Ford

Enrollment and retention of Black and Latinx students decreased at NOVA during the pandemic. This reflects a national trend: “Latino students were disproportionately affected in the pandemic, since we are the most economically vulnerable,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and chief executive officer of Excelencia in Education, an organization that looks to accelerate Latinx student success in higher education. “There was less enrollment and less persistence but looking at the bigger picture, in one year, we saw five years of growth lost in terms of enrollment and representation and that is big.”

Mentoring is widely recognized as being beneficial to students on multiple fronts, including persistence and success. The IET division would like to address Black and Latinx student success and retention by providing structured mentoring experiences for Black and Latinx students in the division’s programs. As a college-wide division, it will be able to support students across the college. The division does not yet have any formal mentoring programs. Success in an initial mentoring program will provide impetus and knowledge to enable expansion for other diverse groups of students. All programming and planning will be made with sustainability and scalability as key goals. Ideally, this mentoring program would be scheduled to match an Academic year. For this initial cohort, with funding ending in December 2022, we would pilot a calendar year cohort. Long-term, we would plan to switch to an academic-year model. This effort supports the “Access and Success” domain of the NVCC Inclusive Excellence DEI Strategic Plan.

Applying DEI Guidelines In Course Redesign

Submitted by Maureen Madden, Shaoyu Chi and Rong Zhu

During the spring of 2021, Shaoyu Chi, Maureen Madden and Rong Zhu designed a video presentation for Educause to present a process for designing learning activities and assessments. During the design phase of the presentation, many elements were discussed, and Presentation, Language, Options, Measurement, and Support were selected with an acronym of PLOMS. The design elements of PLOMS incorporate the design methods of TAD, CRP, PBL and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) framework. The PLOMS presentation was well received by those who attended the conference and viewed our recorded presentation. Two high enrollment courses - ART 101, History and Appreciation of Art I and SOC 200, Principles of Sociology - were selected based on acceptance for transfer to a four-year school as an elective and requirement for degree completion. Both courses are included on the Transfer VA course list and will require some element of redesign in the near future. The design elements of PLOMS while incorporating TAD, CRP and/or PBL will satisfy and exceed those requirements. Assignments and assessments will be redesigned to assure that instructions are clear while modeling expectations, the language used is inclusive and supports the diverse student community, that multiple options are provided for completion of activities, that rubrics are provided outlining the elements needed for successful completion, and a reminder that support is always available either from the instructor, online tutors, classmates, or other student support structures provided by the College.

DEI on the Inside: Using Personal Discernment Work to foster Culturally Responsive Community

Submitted by Dr. Paul Fitzgerald and Dr. Cheri Lemieux Spiegel

Our project, “DEI on the Inside,” centers around the design and implementation of experiences that provide a comprehensive roadmap to guide, assist, and support colleagues who wish to infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion into their way of being. These experiences, including workshops, discussion groups, and guided brainstorming activities, will provide our community the support to move beyond the temptation to question the relevance DEI considerations have to their role at the college. This initiative is designed to aid NOVA staff and faculty in their work to actively re-envision, and re-imagine, and re-frame themselves, our students, and our college through an equity lens. These offerings are built upon the practices of mindful awareness and non-violent communication. Individually, each of the experiences offered can help bring awareness to issues of cultural conditioning and academic standards that challenge our shared desire for creating a college that serves all in our community. When taken together, this series will provide a framework that can lead anyone, regardless of their role at the college, to a greater understanding and appreciation of the diverse experiences of all of those that we work with and serve. We have tentatively titled these experiences as follows:

  • Cultural Conditioning: Using Mindfulness to Investigate our Norms and Standards;
  • Questioning Culture: Embracing Ways of Being that Include Awareness of All;
  • Needs Negotiation: Exploring How Competing Needs Emerge in College Contexts;
  • Honest Assessment: Discovering Patterns of Thinking and Uncovering Harmful Habits;
  • Community Resources: Finding Support in the Peers that Surround Us.

Did You Know? NOVA Celebrates Neurodiversity

Submitted by Melissa Chabot and Susie Ko

The principle of diversity provides the foundation to accept disability as part of human variation. Social structures and policies restricting or ignoring the rights of people with disabilities often lead to discrimination and exclusion. The idea is that if neurodiversity is seen as a normal variation of the human experience, and that message gains acceptance, then neurodiverse individuals will be treated more humanely and with more understanding that they might have different needs or different ways of learning and experiencing the world. This campaign isn’t just about accepting our neurodiverse students; it’s about recognizing and celebrating the fact that neurodiverse individuals study, work, and teach at NOVA. Imagine a NOVA campus atmosphere where students who learn differently can be celebrated for their strengths. Imagine a NOVA student with dyslexia walking through campus, seeing and reading posters that highlight the Dyslexic Advantage, rather than their challenges with reading. Imagine an autistic student, walking through campus, seeing and reading posters that affirm their identity and right to an education. Imagine a NOVA student with ADHD, walking through campus, seeing and reading posters that offer acceptance and strategies for success. Imagine an instructor, walking through campus, seeing awareness of their own neurodiversity celebrated through this poster series and associated events. Imagine our community of students, staff, and faculty, walking through campus, recognizing the important role each of us plays in our community. We envision a NOVA campus that not only welcomes, but also celebrates neurodiversity in our college community.

Open for Inclusive Excellenece: Using Open Education to Create More Equitable Learning Materials, Spaces, and Experiences for NOVA Students

Submitted by Dr. Kim Grewe

Open for Inclusive Excellence will be a facilitated online course/learning experience for any NOVA faculty interested in implementing open education and equitable teaching and learning practices in their courses. The 5-week course, offered in the Summer of 2022, will explore the intersection of Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Pedagogy (OP) and Inclusive Excellence at NOVA. The course will be designed and developed by Kim Grewe, modeled after the openly licensed course for California Community College faculty that she co-designed, co-developed and currently co-facilitates called Open for Antiracism. The course will be laid out in 5 modules (with a pre-module):

  • Module 0: Introduction and Orientation
  • Module 1: Community Building (Community Agreements and Identity Wheel Activity)
  • Module 2: What Is Inclusive Excellence?
  • Module 3: What are Open Educational Resources (OER) and How Do They Support Inclusive Excellence?
  • Module 4: What is Open Pedagogy and How Does it Support Inclusive Excellence?
  • Module 5: Putting It All Together -- Share Your Work, Reflect on Your Experience, and Take Action Now!

Open for Inclusive Excellence will be openly licensed and eventually shared out into the Canvas Commons for other NOVA faculty and other VCCS colleges to adapt and use for their needs. A self-paced version will be developed to accompany the facilitated version. This project will impact NOVA faculty and students and have a wider impact across the VCCS once shared in the Commons.

Empowering Students Through the Diversity of Music

Submitted by Connie Robinson

Empowering Students Through the Diversity of Music would be a three-month symposium series that includes lectures, field trips, group discussions, performances and social gatherings focusing on the origins and development of the quintessentially American form of music known as the blues. This project seeks to highlight NOVA’s continued commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, by helping students learn that this art form arose from the nation’s dark days of slavery but grew to involve all races and ethnicities, becoming one of society’s first and most successful examples of diversity. The program will illustrate how the rich mixture of humanity that created the blues – which subsequently has influenced so much of popular music today, can be an example of how people of different races, cultures and backgrounds can come together to bring more cohesion and understanding to other areas of our increasingly divided world.

NOVA Foodways: Global Culture, Third Spaces, and Community

Submitted by Susan Monroe and Laura Garcia-Moreyra

NOVA Foodways: Global Culture, Third Spaces, and Community will be a pop-up exhibit exploring global culture of NOVA students, faculty, and staff through their foodways. As a discipline, Foodways is a multidisciplinary approach to examining culture as it explores the way people produce, prepare, and consume food by examining history, geography, economics, science, anthropology, fine arts, etc. The exhibit will provide opportunities to learn about global foodways prominent in the lives of our college community and Greater Alexandria through a museum-style presentation of artifacts, art, talks and lectures, and cooking demonstrations. College campuses are “third spaces,” a concept coined by sociologist Ruth Useem. A third space is a place where two distinct cultures come together and blend into a third. The term is often used in discussions of race and ethnic identity that blend, especially at geographic borders; however, on a college campus, students constantly negotiate third spaces that emerge between their culture of learning and the new academic expectations embedded in their entrance higher education. They also negotiate new social landscapes that asks them to maintain their identity while remaining open to new ways of communicating. The exhibit will be participatory, include compelling and instructive visuals, narrative and documentary film, and through talks and lectures introduce issues such as food justice and gender imbalance in professional kitchens. Such an exhibit could not take place without strong acknowledgment of the hunger plaguing our communities and the food justice movement that addresses issues such as food deserts.

The Journey of the Eldest Immigrant Daughter

Submitted by Antonina Rodgers

One of the challenges that could present a barrier to success and self-actualization for some of our students are very specific family circumstances. There is a unique family standing that comes with being the eldest immigrant daughter. In some circumstances these are high school or middle school girls who arrive in the US with their parents, in others, they are the young women whose parents and siblings follow them to the U.S. in pursuit of more stable economic circumstances and as part of family reunification programs. In both scenarios, the weight of family responsibilities and problem resolution in a foreign language and a different culture falls on the shoulders of these women because they acquire language much faster than their parents, and therefore play the role of their family interpreters, drivers and social workers. Ironically, while they are asked to take on a parental role in most everyday situations, they are still likely to be treated as children at home, creating cognitive developmental dissonance for the younger group and becoming a source of stress and tension in the older group. Most cultures also assign the role of an expected caretaker to the eldest daughter, creating additional pressure, which can result in various mental health challenges. The purpose of the project is to offer support to this group of women who carry such a heavy emotional burden.

Congratulations again to all the InNOVAtion Grant Award recipients! Keep an eye on the Office of DEI site for developments and updates on these projects throughout the year. Please click here for information about the 2021-22 grant’s rules and requirements.