Effective Practices for Limited English Proficient Students

San Francisco City College Bridge to Biotech and Related Health and Biology Fields

Title of Program: "Bridge to Biotech and Related Health and Biology Fields".

College: San Francisco City College

Contact: Edith Leonhardt, Ph.D., 415.239.3627 or

Target Population: African American and Hispanic community members. Many are individuals who may not have graduated high school or who may have achieved a GED, and previously did not believe that they could learn and apply college level math, science, and language arts. Some are recruited from ESL programs and other outreach activities sponsored by the college.

Goals: to recruit and train low income, non-biotech, layed off, community members who previously did not have aspirations or believe they could handle course work required to enter or find jobs in biotech/health care/biology related fields.

Description: through active outreach within the low income areas of San Francisco, and specifically the African American and Hispanic communities, individuals are recruited into a sequence of coursework that is heavily activity driven in the application of academics to hands-on learning activities. The program feels that this Learning Community Style of paring basic math, science, and language skills to lab activities allows the students to gain academic skills, by seeing it's application to the hands-on activities that they are performing in the lab. This program has been funded through several grants, and as a partnership between the college and SFWorks, a nonprofit organization that greatly assists in outreach and other activities. The college has moved significantly toward institutionalization through conversion of coursework to credit classes, but still requires grant funding to move the program to full institutionalization. The college has developed curricula that is completing an Alpha Test program at Austin Community College, and is currently being replicated at Santa Ana Community College.

Staffing: the program requires significant outreach activities to convince potential low income/ low educational status students that they could succeed in such a program and career, and thus, in addition to instructional activities, a significant amount of staff time is devoted to outreach activities. One full time faculty and two part time faculty are involved in the areas of Math, English language, and Bioscience. What initially were non-credit classes have emerged into FTES producing credit classes.

Facilities, equipment, materials: the program is housed at several locations of the college, close to the geographic location of the target population. The program has provided microscopes and other biology related equipment, and has found that pairing students extends the useful life to the equipment, and allows for teamwork building with the students.

Costs, funding source: the program initially spent approximately $20,000 on microscopes and other science related equipment, but feels that most college campuses have necessary equipment within their science departments. The program is funded through a Chancellor's Office Economic and Workforce Development grant, a NSF grant, and local donations from business and industry. The program has, and currently is dependent upon such grant funding, but has significantly moved toward institutionalization by conversion of what started out as non-credit classes into FTES producing credit classes.

Outreach and marketing: Due to the low-income status, low self aspirations toward higher education/previous educational experiences, a significant amount of outreach and marketing is required to recruit potential students. All individuals involved in the program, are very active in speaking regarding the program at all possible community events, churches, adult and secondary schools. A majority of outreach within the community is done by a CCSF Staff person who is active in outreach to One-Stop and at community events. Program partners such as SFWorks also assist in outreach activities at regional One-Stop, community gatherings, and all possible avenues of reaching potential students. A reduced amount of effort is made to recruit on-campus within existing science/health/bio classes, as these individuals are already involved in college level coursework.

Evidence of effectiveness: The first iteration of this program had a completion rate of 10%. The last several iterations of the program has achieved the completion rate of 75%, which is excellent given the low expectations that most of these students bring to class from prior life experiences and low self esteem. At this point, over 160 students have successfully completed the program and have moved on better jobs and/or higher educational goals.

Suggestions for replication: This multi-grant funded program has developed methodologies and curriculum that are now tested and available for replication. Until the project developed a sequence to move classes to credit courses, grant money was a necessity to establish the program. At this point, with processes and training sequences developed through experience, it would be very possible for colleges across the state to replicate this model, as most colleges have all the personnel, facilities, and equipment in place in various programs and at various locations around the campus. The project is very emphatic that a cornerstone for success in this program is a learning community style of teaching/learning. The acquisition of math, science, and language arts skills must be interwoven into activity based lab sequences. With this style of hands-on, activity based learning, utilizing microscope based math, science, and language arts to put down on paper what the student has learned through utilization of the microscope, the student sees the real world application of academics, and is not required to learn the academics in a vacuum, as is the case many times where activity based learning is not an option.















Return to Limited English Proficient