Home | Class Schedule | Library | Campus Visit | Employment | Contact Us | Search  

Vanguard Learning College

About Us | Academics | Admissions/Registration | Resources | Student Activities | What's Happening

Vanguard Learning College



Institutional Profile

Outstanding Features of Learning College

Project Plans

Solutions to Problems and Issues

Advice to Our Colleagues




Solutions to Problems and Issues—Compiled Spring, 2002

For further information, contact Nancy Cure at cure@morainevalley.edu

Part A.
Building a Framework for a Learning-Centered Organizational Culture

1. What strategies are being used to achieve a common understanding and language of what it means to be learning centered and how the Learning College concept applies to your institution? If your college is a multicampus or multicollege institution, how do you achieve this understanding and language across the entire system?
  • Members of the Vanguard Team shared the Learning College I, (June2000) results with colleagues on campus.

  • At the Fall 2000 Faculty In-Service, the President, Vice Presidents and members of the Vanguard Team introduced the Vanguard concept to the campus community.  We made our commitment to deepen our service to students.

  • A learning-focused vision statement was developed by the Executive Leadership Team and presented to the college:  "We promise to provide a student-centered environment and to focus all college staff and resources in support of student learning, student development and student success."  This statement serves as a focus for our institutional priorities for 2001 and beyond.

  • This promise is shared in all campus publications, brochures, etc.

  • Name badges were ordered for all administrators and staff.

  •  "Moraine Valley at the Vanguard of Learning" is placed on all reports and publications relating to this effort, with the intent of bringing this initiative to the attention of all staff.

  • Lapel pins were distributed to all employees.


2. What creative processes are being used to build on existing cultural values, beliefs, assumptions, and customs to foster buy-in to the Learning College concept at your college? 
  • The college's Vanguard Team developed a presentation for Vanguard II, Atlanta.  Posters of life-sized students were created to present information about Vanguard objectives at Moraine.  The concept had buy-in by all of the campus divisions and units. This concept was created with assistance of the College's Marketing Office.

  • Leadership and Core Values—The Leadership and Core Values initiative was proposed by the Illinois Community College Board.  It encourages Illinois community colleges to explore their values, and to identify those core values and guiding principles that distinguish the college community.  Campuswide conversations were held to define and describe our core values, explore strategies for creating a culture and a climate characterized by agreed-upon core values, and develop strategies for infusing these values into the curriculum, teaching, and learning.

  • Strategic Planning—The college has developed a planning process that incorporates the Vanguard objectives into the strategic planning process.  Through the use of focus groups, the college is gathering information from internal and external sources about the status of programs and services, how well we are providing those services, and proposal suggestions.

  • College In-Service Activities—The Vanguard team identified Vanguard objectives for 2000, 2001, 2002, as a focus or theme for learning activities. In 2001, the college focused on the underprepared student. This initiative was supported by guest speaker Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr., an assessment of existing collegewide programs, and an emphasis on departments working together to identify and develop new strategies to support needs of the underprepared students. In 2002, the college focused organizational culture.  

What existing cultural elements have been identified as working against acceptance of the Learning College concept at your college?
  • We have been intentional about presenting the Learning College initiative as a "project."  We do not want this initiative to be viewed as a fad or the "flavor of the month."  

  • Our college is challenged this year with a number of major initiatives, these including:  the opening of a new building, a strategic planning process, a campus master planning process, the retirement of 26 senior faculty, the recruitment of new faculty, a new faculty evaluation system, etc.  All these existing cultural elements, while they do not detract from the Learning College concept, were incorporated into the culture of our Learning College.

3. What strategies are being used at your college to engender ownership among all stakeholders (administrators, faculty, staff, contractors, trustees, students) for student learning and success.
  • The Executive Leadership Team, the Academic Leadership Team and Student Supervisors' Council are all informed of the Learning College initiatives and share information at their meetings.

  • The Vanguard initiatives are the topics each year for Faculty Development meetings in Fall and Spring. 

  • Vanguard consultants and Vanguard College leaders are invited to keynote all-staff convocations.

  • Newsletters and news releases promote the Learning College initiatives.

  • The Learning College concepts are shared with faculty, staff and students through the student newspaper and college's newsletter.

  • Concerted effort to "cross" lines of communication - combined meetings of Academic Affairs leadership team (administrators) with Department Chair Roundtable  to discuss issues and to problem solve.

  • President's Advisory Council.

4. In what ways is your college asking and answering the two guiding questions of the Learning College:  How does this action expand and improve student learning?  How do we know?
  • The statement was presented to all staff at the Fall 2000 In-Service.  Faculty and staff were asked to respond to these two major questions following that meeting.

  • Each academic department studied these principles during the Faculty In-Service Days.

  • The Underprepared Student objective was identified for our FY01 focus.  Each department and college unit was asked how we might improve student learning and how measured?

  • Teaching and Learning Faculty Team is introduced.

5. What collaborative processes are being used to promote learning-centered principles at your college?
  • Vanguard Team members join strategic planning task groups in cross-divisional efforts.

  • Campus service areas:  Publications, Marketing, HR, Business Office collaborate in promoting efforts to focus on students.

  • Shared discussion and problem solving between Academic Affairs leadership team and Department Chair Roundtable.

6. How is your college cultivating widespread awareness of the value of changing organizational structures to promote student learning while honoring institutional history and tradition?
  • New faculty Orientation Program—Senior Faculty mentor new faculty.

  • Teaching and Learning Team project focuses on the "instructional stories" of retiring faculty.

  • Campus events are held to acknowledge contributions of faculty and staff as a way of promoting to others these successful efforts.

  • "Learning Dialogs" were introduced across campus.  Over 200 faculty and staff participated.

Part B.
Placing Learning First:  Organizational and Cultural Change

1. What steps have been taken at your college to embed Learning College principles in policies, practices, procedures, programs, and daily operations?
  • The Learning College principles were embedded in the strategic priorities of the college.  The policies in Academic Affairs and in other subdivisions were reviewed for their focus on student learning.
2. What aspects of the routine business (processes, systems, policies, habits) of your college have been identified as barriers to learning? 
  • The academic semester calendar.

  • Many major initiatives—insufficient time to communicate progress toward learning objectives, to report results or to celebrate successful efforts for students.

  • The physical environment

How is your college addressing these impediments?

  • We spend an extra day at Vanguard meetings to consider how we will further embed the Learning College initiatives on our campus and how we will gather evidence of major improvements in teaching and learning at our campus.

  • The physical environment has been upgraded to foster socialization and provide a more intellectually stimulating environment.

3. How is your college overcoming anxiety about or resistance to making organizational changes that have promise for improving student learning and success?
  • The divisional leadership teams meet weekly to consider what needs to be done to remove barriers to our ability to serve students more effectively.

  • We have taken a major step in creating new departments and reorganizing others to provide new opportunities for innovative approaches in teaching, tutoring, serving all students:

  • Renamed Developmental Education Center to Enrichment Programs and Services.

  • Initiated a "Bridge Program" to help nursing students succeed in coursework.

  • Reorganized Academic Leadership Team.

4. What methods are being used to link learning-centered programs and practices across your college to promote student learning and success?
  • Partnership with University of Chicago Hospitals Academy provides us with expertise in identifying gaps in our service excellence attitude.

  • Cross-divisional faculty and staff teams to develop grants and new initiatives.

  • Learning objectives developed by faculty and staff.

  • Workshops and seminars on topic.

5. How is your college cultivating a culture of evidence to support learning (i.e., a culture that values assessment and continuous improvements to ensure that learning-centered principles guide all college activities)?
  • Institutional Effectiveness task groups initiated.  All units are involved; timelines established.

  • We ask the question constantly:  How does this improve learning?  How do we know?