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2021-22 Grant Recipients

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.

We purchased 30 vouchers for the VCLA registration and test fees. We also successfully purchased access to the Longsdale test preparation software. 

We have completed our spring workshop series. We began with a total of 30 participants. We hosted 3 whole group coaching sessions and several small group sessions for targeted skills. We also tracked student engagement on the test preparation software. Finally, we showed students how to create accounts and register for the VCLA exam between May 15th and August 1st.

We have provided the voucher codes to students who have spent a minimum of 8 hours engaged in test preparation with us. Unfortunately, we had some students who have not been able to participate as fully as we had hoped. We are hoping to see their practice pick up in the next few weeks. If not, we may have to open up the opportunity to additional students this fall.

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 limitations 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 experiences in 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 Rockefeller 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 the intended impact.

Two workshops have been offered for faculty plus online surveys and a focus group discussion. The planned timeline and intended outcomes for the grant project were achieved in the spring.

Two more workshops along with a focus group and online surveys are in the plan for the fall. A final report will be available by the end of the grant project in December.

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

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.

Project to be started fall 2022.

Applying DEI Guidelines In Course Redesign

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.

This project has two phases with multiple parts in each phase.

Phase 1 – Redesign courses using Transfer VA requirements.

  • Selected courses & instructors
  • Held kick-off Meeting (4/4/2022)
  • Started redesign
    • Using PLOMS (Presentation, Language, Options, Measurement, and Support) method
    • Addressing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility (instructional designer:  Maureen Madden)
  • Deadline – July 22, 2022, for Fall 2022 (August 22, 2022)

Phase 2 – Review & refine redesigned courses; complete DEI Grant requirements.

  • Prepare expense report (stipends & accessibility costs (captioning &/or transcripts)
  • Prepare follow-up report on the project (successes, failures, lessons learned)
  • Deadline – December 30, 2022

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

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

For the DEI grant, “DEI on the Inside,” we ordered the texts and workbooks for our pilot contemplative offering this summer and plan to have a successful and informative workshop series to offer college-wide in the Fall.

Did You Know? NOVA Celebrates Neurodiversity

Melissa Chabot, Susie Ko, Andrew Falion, and Melanie Medina

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.

Based off of feedback from the focus group we held, The Neurodiversity Project has evolved into an informative series targeted to two main groups on campus: Students and Faculty/Staff. Our goal is to provide information about neurodiversity and provide each audience group with action steps. Our hope is that members of the NOVA Community feel more informed and empowered to support our neurodiverse students, staff, and faculty.

Events geared toward faculty:
Friday, September 9, 1-3 pm
"Understanding and supporting neurodiverse learners" followed by a brief dyslexia simulation
HYFLEX option/in-person AN CM 114
Refreshments served

Friday, September 23, 1-3 pm
"Universal design for learning as a tool of equity in the classroom" presented by Landmark College, followed by a panel of community college instructors sharing how they use UDL in the classroom.
On Zoom

Events geared toward students (all staff and faculty are encouraged to attend):
Tuesday, October 4, 1-2:30 pm
"What I wish my professor knew" panel of neurodiverse students.
In-person, AN CA 302
Refreshments served

Tuesday, October 18, 1-2:30 p.m.
"Finish the semester strong" group coaching in executive functioning skills.
In-person, AN CA 302
Refreshments served

In addition to these sessions, we have collaborated with the Annandale Library's collection librarian, Melanie Medina, to develop the neurodiversity resources easily accessible to the NOVA community. We are currently in-process of developing a webpage, which will be developed to offer more information about the grant, resources, and event recordings. https://blogs.nvcc.edu/neurodiversity/

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

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.

The interest in Open for Inclusive Excellence exceeded expectations! 79 faculty at NOVA applied for the 5-week summer professional learning experience designed specifically for them. The generous grant funding from the NOVA Foundation will support 23 faculty with a $300 stipend for successfully completing the 5-week online asynchronous summer course. Other funding has been secured to support the remaining NOVA faculty who applied for this summer experience.

Kim Grewe (project lead) and Caryn Sever (consultant and co-facilitator) are building lots of peer collaboration, engagement, and interactivity into the course, while also recruiting a couple of NOVA colleagues to help with the co-facilitation of the course. The course is in development and Kim and Caryn are very excited to model some of the open pedagogical approaches that empower learners to be co-creators of knowledge and have agency over their learning.

Faculty who applied for Open for Inclusive Excellence were notified of their acceptance by email early in May. Colleagues accepted into the program can expect to hear from the facilitators via email as the start date draws nearer, in late June/early July. 

In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of the homepage. Special thanks and shout out to Sherrene DeLong, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, who designed the Open for Inclusive Excellence logo you see on the course banner. 

Empowering Students Through the Diversity of Music

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.

The fall schedule of events is still being determined, but the potential lineup is:

  • 9/15: Introduction – “What is the Blues?”
    Book for discussion: Chasing the Blues, A Traveler’s Guide to America’s Music.
    Chipotle Free Lunch Cards will be given to those in attendance after the discussion.
  • 9/22: Lunch and Learn Series - The Blues and W.C. Handy.
    Introduce W.C. Handy.
    Discuss “Devil Music.”
    Review influential Blues artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Mississippi Sheiks, Charley Patton, Son House, and Willie Dixon.
  • 9/29: Lunch and Learn Series - Blues Frameworks.
    Review different kinds of blues from each region of the U.S.
    Potential musical performance by Dr. Herbert Smith.
  • 10/6: Lunch and Learn Series - Blues and its Poetic Journey.
    Explain why the Blues is an important American art form.
  • 10/13: “Crossroad” Field Trip and Luncheon - “National Museum of African American History and Culture.”
    Identify five major music genres whose origins can be traced back to the blues.
  • 10/20: Lunch and Learn Series - Blues Scaffolds.
    Review different kinds of blues from each region.
    List the five major music genres whose origins can be traced back to the blues.
    Potential musical performance by Mr. Frederick Franklin.
  • 10/27: Three Chords and the Blues A Dinner Event.
    Chasing the Blues, A Traveler’s Guide to America’s Music. Authors Josephine Matyas and Craig Jones and will be giving a lecture and musical performance.
    Dinner will be served afterward.
  • 11/3: Lunch and Learn Series - Blues and Folk Songs.
    Review different songs of protest and freedom and explore their connection to the blues.
    Potential musical performance by Dr. Kevin Chabot.
  • 11/17: Program Conclusion - Giving Thanks for the Blues.
    Holiday luncheon and celebration.
    Potential musical guests and historical lecturers.

NOVA Foodways: Global Culture, Third Spaces, and Community

Susan Monroe and Laura Garcia-Moreyra

NOVA Foodways: Global Culture, Third Spaces, and Community will be a pop-up exhibit exploring the 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 to higher education. They also negotiate new social landscapes that ask 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.

Our project will be unveiled in October 2022, but preparation continues this summer. We are currently preparing a list of items for approval for our first major purchase.

Based on the unavailability of the art galleries on campus, we shifted our presentation style and chose a meeting room in Bisdorf for our display. And Laura Garcia-Moreyra generously donated space in the Automotive Dept. for temporary storage.

  • We designed a brochure and are waiting for printed copies to arrive.
  • We are negotiating with the Fine Arts Department to have student contributions (paintings) included in the exhibit.
  • Librarian Jonnetta Moiso is preparing a library display.
  • We completed a Zoom interview with Cultivate Charlotte, a food justice advocacy organization, that will be one of several conversations posted on our Web page (currently under design).
  • We’ve contacted several stakeholders, supermarket and business owners, and an educator seeking feedback, information, interviews, and artifacts.

We are planning on-campus events including food trucks and an international café to demonstrate tea and coffee rituals.

We completed a Zoom interview with Cultivate Charlotte, a food justice advocacy organization, that will be one of several conversations posted on our Web page (currently under design). Please click here to view this session.

The Journey of the Eldest Immigrant Daughter

Antonina Rodgers and Liliya Karimova

One of the challenges that could present a barrier to success and self-actualization for some of our students is 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.

Our “Immigrant Daughter Retreat” grant team has completed one workshop out of the proposed three to be covered by the grant. We had a lot of initial interest from a very wide range of students, but only a few women qualified for the retreat based on the survey responses. The workshop took place on Saturday, April 16 from 10 am to 4 pm, and we had 11 participants in attendance, just as we had planned and hoped. The event was catered by “Bittersweet Bakery”. The session included warm-up and introductory activities as well as a discussion of the retreat goals, and getting-to-know-you activities to help put participants at ease before we could discuss emotional and difficult issues. It also included writing reflection activities and group discussions of shared issues. Guest speaker Sumayyah Taufique provided an hour-long counseling session highlighting many issues and strategies relevant to the retreat participants. We also included a discussion of important college and community resources. Participants were asked to provide feedback upon completion of the session and here are some quotes from the responses:

  • I found the community I was looking for. It impacted me to realize how familiar my story and struggles are, how difficult it is, and most importantly, how I am not alone in that.
  • The most I remember is the unity we've all experienced and the comfort each one of us had in a short period of time. It surprised me how much of a safe space and confidence I felt after speaking about our experiences.
  • The writing reflections was a good way of getting all my feelings out with no judgment
  • I feel the retreat has met and even surpassed its goals. I left the retreat feeling bittersweet. I was sad for all the stories and experiences shared, but also grateful and content that we are not alone. The resources provided were also very helpful. I would definitely recommend this retreat to other young immigrant women.
  • I am so grateful for everything you guys have done to organize this. It truly was a very special experience that I will always hold close to my heart :) Thank you for everything!
  • This was an incredible event, and nova should recognize the impact it may provide for future students and attendees

We felt that the goals of the retreat were accomplished, and we look forward to scheduling the next two events.  We plan to make slight changes in the program and explore a possibility of a different caterer. The next two events will be held in the fall.  I am attaching a picture from the retreat. 

Participants of the first Immigrant Daughter Retreat

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