Advice for Future Implementations

Part of the InTeGrate Savannah State University Program Model

Consideration of context:

Deliberate, early teamwork was key for us because each of the Colleges involved in this effort has different accreditations, policies, and practices. Timing was critical in acquiring the University approvals and having mid-level administrators (Pride, Rukmana, Clay, and Anshu Arora) helped with efficiently navigating that process. During the course of the award, we had an upper-level administrative change (Summer 2016) and that could have heavily impacted our progress through the process. However, support throughout the other levels of the chain of command (faculty colleagues, Chair, and Dean) fortified our efforts.

In CHARTing II, early efforts from phase I clearly took an accelerated, positive trajectory. There was extensive focus on building collaborations, which required travel, and thus on the longer-term impact of CHARTing. Having a clear plan with scheduled, repeated checkpoints were key. Having periodic check-ins from the PI with pointed questions, made success possible despite the incredibly short timeline (ca. 6 months).

Lastly, but possibly most important was the inclusion of a graduate student to be the data manager (DM). DM Thublin played a key function in helping the team make deadlines and in making sure that the data were in a format that was required for the broader InTeGrate team. Without her, it would have been impossible for PI Ebanks to manage the implementation of the InTeGrate materials for the new classroom instances and most certainly would have limited the ability to develop and formalize the new collaborations that are a key component to the legacy of the work started here.

Things that worked well that we would do again

Our diversity has been our strength. We have been able to more easily identify the different challenges of our diverse student populations, industry partners, and community stakeholders much more quickly because our team is culturally, experientially, and programmatically diverse. In the transition from phase I to II, a graduate student was added for the purpose of helping manage the data collection. This was cost-effective and PI Ebanks will certainly continue this practice moving forward as it is beneficial to both the student (earning income in the field) and to the project. Next time, it would be even better to see the student participants be able to participate in relevant events such as Earth Educators' Rendezvous.

Strategies for overcoming challenges

Cross-college (multidisciplinary) work has a set of challenges that required us to blaze a path using the creativity of the team. In other words, having team members that know the ins and outs of their College and programs allowed us to be able to create something new and cross-cutting. Taking the conventional policies did not work for us. We initially attempted to make new course prefixes and also entertained the idea of cross-listing the courses but having the insight of those who have developed new courses, served on the approval committees, and are experienced academic advisors, we were steered away from that approach and decided to have the program be hosted by the College of Sciences and Technology so that it is unmistakably associated with the Sciences.

Lastly, in CHARTing II, using workshops and conferences as retreats for team-building and project development help improve team efficiency as these off-campus/sequestered interactions allow members to focus on the development of the project and gauging of areas of success and of improvement.

Things to think about before you start this type of project

  • Timeline: Our academic calendar seems to differ from others, making it difficult for us to be poised for deadlines.
  • If attempting to reach a diverse audience, having a diverse team is essential.
  • With a diverse team, it is quite important to still have full involvement of each partner.
  • Seek opportunities to broaden the impact along the way. Strategically selected partners and funding opportunities are key!
  • Make use of strong students to work some of the details of day-to-day functionality. This model is cost-efficient and keeps students on-campus more, especially when the roles are properly compensated.