If there is one lesson the team overseeing Project CAMINOS learned during the pandemic, it’s the importance of flexibility in the face of constant change
When the campus transitioned to remote instruction in March 2020, one of Project CAMINOS’ central components—the Early Start Bronco Scholars summer transition program where incoming freshman stay in the residence halls and take a math and ethnic and women’s studies course—had to be done virtually.
Anne Cawley, an assistant professor in the math and statistics department, said it was a difficult transition for the incoming freshman participating this past summer, as they had been high school juniors when the pandemic hit, and school and activities went virtual.
“The team needed to consider ways to support students with online instruction, strict deadlines, and how to engage students as if they were face-to-face. For example, we re-designed aspects of the program such as including embedded tutors as well as providing daily afternoon activities after the math class concluded, which provided focused non-academic support,” Cawley said. “We also removed other program requirements to alleviate Zoom fatigue for everyone involved. These changes were implemented in order to help students thrive, while also providing a different structure for the team to best achieve the program’s goals.”
That Project CAMINOS (Cultivating Access and Mentoring through Institutional Networks and Opportunities for Success) won the university’s One Team Award after navigating so many changes to the program was a pleasant surprise to Cawley, who submitted the nomination.
“Our plans for our program changed over 20 times,” she said. “The faculty, students, embedded tutors, and staff of the summer Early Start Program were Zoom-fatigued and exhausted from an intensive six-week math program. To hear that we were selected during the last day of this summer program gave affirmation that all of that hard work was being seen.”
The call for nominations for the newly created One Team Award was announced in early July, with applications due July 23. It was a quick turnaround for the inaugural award, with its mission to recognize cross-departmental teams for their impact on the campus community and how closely their projects and initiatives align with one or more of the university’s core values.
President Soraya M. Coley announced the winner during Convocation on Aug. 18.
Jesús F. Ávalos, chair of the One Team Award Committee and the learning and development consultant with Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement, said the committee was drawn to Project CAMINOS’ mission and strategy.
“Project CAMINOS’ focus on student success, particularly serving some of our most at-risk students, and their strategy of providing “wrap-around” support, engaging both students and faculty was very impactful,” he said. “Also, their clear alignment with CPP’s values and strategic initiatives was another factor that stood out to the committee.”
Media Vision director Trevor Henderson, co-chair of the One Team Award Committee, admired the way the team saw a problem and tackled it in an expansive and collaborative way.
“This was all done with a sharp eye on ensuring that they targeted some of our more vulnerable students and helped them with persistence and academic success,” he said. “Providing students in need with success pathways seemed perfectly in line with CPP’s Strategic Plan and our moniker that this award derives from — ‘One Team, One Goal, Student Success.’”
Terri Gomez, associate provost for student success, equity and innovation, said a wide variety of departments on campus, including the divisions of Information Technology and Institutional Planning, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, University Advancement, Enrollment Services, the colleges of Science, Education and Education and Integrative Studies, and the Learning Resource Center, have contributed to Project CAMINOS’ success.
The program, which starts its third year in October and is funded with a five-year $3 million grant, was created after data showed that students who required extra support, particularly in math, were not getting what they needed to be successful, Gomez said.
The summer program, which served 150 students this year, is critical, but Project CAMINOS also includes an outreach component where Cal Poly Pomona works with local high schools and community colleges to help students with the transition, she added. The program also includes academic coaching, peer mentoring and other support services for students throughout their first year; offers professional development to faculty; and taps into an early alert report system to provide intervention to students who are struggling.
“We know it works,” Gomez said. “The data is pretty clear that students who come through the program have a pass rate in the math class they take of 91 percent. Without support, the pass rate is 60 percent.”
Cawley, who is the co-lead on the professional development component, said Project CAMINOS works because of the team’s drive to ensure students succeed and the attitude of all involved.
“Each person who had their hand in the project has Cal Poly Pomona students at the forefront of everything they do,” she said. “This makes the common goal simple and clear. In addition to that, we are a team of humble educators, administrators and staff who are open to critique, can be flexible, and open to growth. This flexibility and desire to constantly learn and grow makes the meetings fruitful, as well as the collaborations across all areas of the program.”