LUCES at Mid Michigan College
Learning and Understanding Content to Empower Success – LUCES – was started as a pilot program in 2015 to respond to three factors:
- Rise in international students;
- Rise in underprepared students;
- Influx of late registrants wanting to enroll in college courses at the last minute.
Faculty and staff had reported that they were spending a disproportionate amount of time working with these students. Additionally, turning late registering students away seemed counter to Mid’s mission of open enrollment. As such, a team of faculty and staff formed a committee that was co-chaired by the Vice President of Academic Services (Dr. Michael Jankoviak) and the Associate Dean of Student Services (Dr. Scott Mertes) to develop and implement strategies to help address these issues and provide the necessary services for student success. The result was a multi-pronged program, involving a collaboration between Academic and Student Services, as well as the assistance of multiple disciplines.
The first step was to create parallel semesters that started a week after Mid’s traditional semesters. This was to provide an option for late registrants who would normally be entering courses late thus missing out on critical information and requiring the faculty member to essentially “re-teach” the material. Originally the project was called the “Late Start Academy,” but due to the potential negative stigma surrounding that term, it was changed to the LUCES Academy (LUCES means “light” in Spanish). In addition, these sections were closed to the general student population and reserved for only LUCES-eligible students.
Because of the surging international population at the time, all first-year international students were enrolled in LUCES sections. Not wanting to disrupt the normal assimilation process, LUCES sections were also open to students deemed “at-risk.” Some parameters were established to assist Mid’s Advising staff to help identify eligible students. Students that tested into remedial English or Math courses, along with those receiving Pell Grant assistance were also eligible for the program, as were the aforementioned late registrants.
In addition to adjustments in the semester schedules and advising processes, significant academic interventions were also implemented. The largest of these was the incorporation of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model into LUCES classes. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States. Our lead LUCUS faculty members completed online training and recruited faculty across multiple disciplines that had an interest in incorporating SIOP principals in their courses. As a group, LUCES instructors worked through their individual syllabi to break content up into easier to understand components while still meeting the overall course learning objectives. Additionally, monthly professional development activities were held to provide additional learning opportunities and share best practices. As an example of a practical application of sheltered content, below are three separate commercials for an automobile.
2012 Ford Focus Europe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzCv05psRIY
2012 Ford Focus Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww6-zRC73tM
2012 Ford Focus, Canada https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_JGrn6AMig
These were shown in Mid’s ENG.110 LUCES section, which is a developmental English course. In non-LUCES sections, students are assigned readings to prepare for a discussion on rhetorical choice. To help make rhetorical choices more understandable, LUCES students were shown these commercials and participated in a class discussion on marketing choices made by Ford Motor Company. Then, after the concept was explained in class, students were given an assignment on rhetorical choice of written material.
From the initial pilot of 5 classes in 2015, the program has grown to 21 sections, including courses from Business, Computer Information Systems, Communications, English, ESL, History, Math, MID.101, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. From 2016-2020, In 61% of those sections where there were LUCES and non-LUCES offerings, LUCES students earned higher GPAs than their non-LUCES counterparts. Courses where LUCES students scored significantly lower than non-LUCES students tended to center on math. So while there is room to improve, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. So much so that Mid recently applied for and received a Title III grant among other things, expands the use of the SIOP model to additional faculty and courses as part of a project to better serve our more rural students and communities.