LaGuardia Community College Selects Faculty Nationwide to Participate in its Global Skills for College Completion Project

Long Island City, NY— In an effort to improve the nation’s college graduation rates, LaGuardia Community College and the Knowledge in the Public Interest are taking a bold new look at remedial classrooms.  Through the partners’ Global Skills for College Completion (GSCC) project, a selected group of basic skills instructors from 23 two- and four-year institutions in 19 states will participate in a one-of-a kind professional training project.

“At a time when an educated workforce is more important than ever before, college graduation rates are stagnant and up to 80 percent of incoming freshmen are placed in remedial classes,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College and Co-Principal Investigator GSCC. “And less than 60 percent of low-income students make it past that initial 15-week course.  GSCC is addressing these vexing issues.”

Funded by a $1.04 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GSCC will provide the faculty members with the opportunity to spend the next year working together virtually and learning from each other in order to help students achieve better pass rates in basic skills classes.

“The network of GSCC educators and college experts is committed to the idea that improving our nation’s graduation rates, starts with the professors who teach basic skills in mathematics and English,” said Dr. Marisa Klages, a LaGuardia associate professor and project director.  “We will help the faculty members in this cohort to examine and analyze their personal teaching patterns and guide them through the testing and adaptation of new tactics in order to create a more engaging, inspiring and effective classroom.”

The project will be launched on August 6 when the members of GSCC’s second cohort will meet each other, their coaches and the project staff at an intensive four-day retreat at the New Community College on West 40th Street in New York. 

The faculty members, a quarter of which are adjunct faculty, will then return to their campus to begin work.  “Since adjunct faculty do a significant amount of teaching at the community college, it is really important that we get them on board and work on helping them to refine their own teaching practices.”

Each of the instructors will be asked to look closely at what they are doing in the classroom and to figure out how they can do it better by using a set of themes that were developed by GSCC’s first cohort.  The first group of faculty was charged with gathering information about their most effective teaching practices. 

“Using these themes, the faculty can see a teaching pattern and decide how they want to use that pattern,” said Dr. Klages.  “This gives faculty a variety of choices that they can make for self-improvement.”

Another way that instructors will be able to examine their practices is through check-ins, which are weekly tasks given to students to see how they are progressing.

Six times during the yearlong training period, each faculty will be videotaped in the classroom while their fellow participants observe his or her teaching practices.  In addition, four faculty members from the first cohort will serve as coaches. 

“At a time when an educated workforce is more important than ever before, the time for a bold new look at college – particularly in remedial classrooms – is now,” said Dr. Mellow.  “This Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant enables GSCC to continue our important work with faculty across the country, using new tactics and technology to improve our nation’s graduation rates.”

For information about Global Skills for College Completion, please contact Dr. Marisa Klages, Project Director,<>, 718‑482‑5677.

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and proudly carries forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for its boundary‑breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger.

Knowledge in the Public Interest, founded in 2001, designs conversations that are transforming education. Through innovative uses of social media, KPI fosters powerful online collaborations focusing on educational practice and policy.  KPI brings together education leaders, researchers, practitioners, and other experts throughJams—one‑day, synchronous, moderated online exchanges;eCommunities—structured, facilitated virtual working groups that achieve specific outcomes over set timeframes; and Networks**—ongoing interactions of diverse participants addressing issues of shared concern.