Awarded to: Sally Heilstedt, Dean of Instruction – Engagement and Learning, Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech)
The 2020 Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) Beacon Award for Excellence in Student Achievement and Success was awarded to Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) for its 4 Connections framework.
Equitable student success can be achieved through positive connections among faculty members and students. LWTech adapted the 4 Connections framework from best practices identified at Odessa College: 1) learn and use students’ names; 2) check in regularly; 3) schedule required one-on-one meetings; and 4) practice paradox.
Sally Heilstedt, Dean of Instruction – Engagement and Learning at LWTech, serves educators and students alongside teams in the Library, eLearning, Professional Development, Supplemental Instruction, and the Early Childhood Education program of study. In fall 2016, Sally invited faculty to practice the 4 Connections. Volunteers would receive their before and after course completion data after the term. Based on the positive interest, she formed a faculty learning community. Faculty shared what worked well for them and what issues they were still working through as they more intentionally practiced the 4 Connections.
Overall, the 24-member faculty cohort saw an increase in course pass rates from 89% to 92.5%, comparing two years prior to two years after implementing the 4 Connections. This increase represents approximately 250 more students who successfully passed their classes. The following data makes the intentional practice of the 4 Connections even more compelling, for intentionality appears to correlate with equitable course success.
Alaska Native, American Indian, Pacific Islander
Data in this table includes all students enrolled in courses taught by 24 faculty participants in the 4 Connections pilot. Fall, winter, and spring quarters are included.
The positive outcomes of the 4 Connections for students led LWTech employees to adapt the framework for advising, customer service, and community building among college employees. The college recognizes that there is still work to be done to further close remaining gaps and has since begun to more broadly implement culturally responsive teaching strategies alongside the 4 Connections.
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