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Spotlight: Yadira Arellano & Teaching Dual Enrollment

“Educator Spotlight” highlights practitioners and researchers in order to learn student success strategies from them. These strategies can be evidence-based, research-based, and/or promising practices.

Yadira Arellano, Dual Enrollment Faculty, Rio Hondo College, El Camino College, and East Los Angeles College


Tells us a bit about yourself.

I've been a child development instructor for four years, and taught dual enrollment for three community colleges, serving four high schools. In addition, most recently I've helped to develop an online dual enrollment course through the Cal State Los Angeles Charter College of Education (CCOE) to help community college instructors be better prepared to teach college courses in high school settings. The course is also applicable for graduate students interested in pursuing community college teaching. The CCOE online dual enrollment course is slated to open for registration late fall 2018.

What is dual enrollment?

In its simplest form, it allows high school students to enroll in for-credit college courses. How this transpires can be complex depending on the agreement the community college has with local school districts. It can mean eligible high school teachers teach college courses that are offered by the local community college(s). In my case, it’s community college instructors who teach college courses at the high schools.

As a community college instructor, what are things that you know now about dual enrollment that you wished you would’ve known when you started?

As an adjunct instructor entering the high schools for the first time, I wished I knew what restroom to use! As faculty or staff we don’t use the student restrooms, however, if you don’t know where the faculty restroom is and you have a class that starts in a couple of minutes, these little things suddenly become an issue. Knowing where the restrooms is one thing, then finding out that you don't have the keys is another problem. It's the smallest things that can matter the most sometimes.

Another example is access to the classroom. Chances are that by the time the dual enrollment class starts the high school administration has already left. There's significant pre-work that needs to be done before taking on dual enrollment teaching, including meeting with the school administration and building relationships with them.

These are a couple examples of some of the logistical issues that suddenly become a significant challenge. I wished I would have had some type of guidance, booklet, or short course that helped me be better prepared. I unpack logistical details in the upcoming online dual enrollment course for community college instructors.

What are some strategies that have been effective in helping high school students succeed?

I'll mention one thing that is key. I learned to adapt to a new mindset when working with high school students. Adapting doesn't mean lowering the rigor of the content, but rather, having a different mindset about the approach to teaching adolescents. When high school students feel they are valued and seen as college students they tend to have better academic achievement and take the dual enrollment course more seriously.

In terms of specific strategies, I teamed up with thirty-year veteran high school teacher and CCOE lecturer, Mr. Michael Haussler,  to develop the online dual enrollment course. He created the pedagogy section of the course. All of what he explains in the dual enrollment course I found having to learn the hard way on my own to help high school students succeed in my dual enrollment classes.  I wish I would've known about these strategies prior to teaching dual enrollment.

Tell us about the online dual enrollment course you’ve been working to develop for current and future community college instructors. 

While dual enrollment data and research shows that it is a promising practice for students, it doesn’t mean it lacks its challenges. K12 districts and high schools have been voicing some concerns about dual enrollment. Therefore, I was approached by Charter College of Education Dean, Dr. Cheryl Ney, to be part of a workgroup to develop an online offering that would help current and future community college instructors be better prepared to teach high schoolers. I learned first-hand that high school students are a different population from college-age students. The rigor of the content remains the same, it’s just that the delivery and other details need adjustments. Therefore, the course is divided into three main sections, each with information and resources. The sections include an introduction to dual enrollment, the logistics of dual enrollment, and pedagogical strategies for high school students, which by the way, are also applicable for college students.

The online course is not a teaching credential. It’s practical information that I wish I would’ve known prior to teaching dual enrollment. It’s my hope that people who take the course will have increased confidence to teach in high schools and make a positive impact on student success. In my view, I see mostly adjunct faculty taking advantage of the course because we're constantly looking for ways to demonstrate our value and be more marketable. It's also a wonderful opportunity for graduate students who wish to pursue a career in the community college system. Fortunately, Dr. Ney is making the course highly affordable by offering it through CSULA's extension, which is called the College of Professional and Global Education

Overall, dual enrollment has strengthened my teaching. It challenged me but I feel that I'm a better educator for it.


NOTE: The next Dual Enrollment session started October 7, 2019. Stay tuned for the next registration!

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