Innovation Grants help students prepare for the future

May 3, 2018

Public Relations

Each year, Palo Alto College partners with the Alamo Colleges Foundation to fund the Innovation Grant program, which funds faculty and staff's creative ideas to expand learning opportunities for the Palo Alto College community.

The program, which was piloted in 2016, provides up to $10,000 to each campus in the Alamo Colleges District. Three projects were funded during the 2017-18 academic year.

The Power of Passion and Perseverance in the Classroom (PPPC)
This program introduced students enrolled in an Honors EDUC 1300 course to concepts from the book "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance in the Classroom." The class focused on broadening students' perspectives and understanding that their propensity for success goes beyond their natural-born intellect. In fact, one's determination to be successful plays a large role in achievement.

"Grit is something that is learned through deliberate practice," said Dr. Yolanda Reyna, associate professor and lead instructor of student development. "Beethoven, Mozart, anybody who we consider genius, it's not that they're really born with it. People certainly do have certain skills, but it's that deliberate practice that they do, and they give examples of how you can do deliberate practice."

Watch Out World (WOW)! Building Campus Awareness of PAC's Institutional Learning Outcomes
This project built campus-wide awareness of Palo Alto College's six institutional learning outcomes and their relevance to everyday life: Communication, Critical Thinking, Empirical & Quantitative Skills, Personal Responsibility, Social Responsibility, and Teamwork. The Innovation Grant funding provided: Institutional Learning Outcomes displays in every classroom; a mini-unit in all EDUC 1300 sections; professional development for faculty; and a series of events, called "Food for Thought," for students to discuss the real-world application of the skills.

"In their courses, students are evaluated on how well they understand concepts, theories, and methods from specific disciplines. Palo Alto College also looks at how well they understand and apply our six institutional learning outcomes," said Julie McDevitt, coordinator of measurement and evaluation of Academic Success. "These skills are imperative in any academic or work environment. If our students understand and apply these skills in their lives, it will set them ahead when it comes time to apply to universities and jobs."

ECHS Ambassador Program
This program provided 25 Early College High School (ECHS) students with leadership development, including the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens curriculum, a ropes course, and other team-building exercises. The ECHS Ambassador Program was implemented over a three-week period in spring 2018, with the goal of building student leaders and giving them tools to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

"We may be leaders now, but there's always room for improvement," said Francisco Sanchez, a junior from STEM ECHS. "It won't just help us in college, but also when we go off and further ourselves in life in any career that we pursue."