Ayers Institute Case Study

Tennessee College Access and Success Network

Innovative professional learning for college access professionals

Partner Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN)
Location Nashville (Tennessee)
Timeframe Started 2013; ongoing
  • To provide high quality professional learning for college access professionals that results in an increase of college-going students in the state of Tennessee.
  • To build a cohort of college access leaders across the state, equipped with the tools to be agents of change in their schools and communities.
Program Elements
  • Instructional design
  • Online learning platform
  • Platform and user support
  • Course facilitation and management

The Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN) aims to increase the number of Tennesseans completing postsecondary opportunities and establish a college-going culture in communities across the state. The Network encourages efforts in college access by connecting education and community leaders, expanding and creating college access and success programs, and promoting professional education and information sharing.
TCASN knew that college access mentoring requires specific skills and knowledge that are rarely, if ever, formally taught. In their quest to find a way to provide high quality professional learning in the area of college access and success, TCASN met with Lipscomb College of Education Dean and Ayers Institute Founding Director Candice McQueen. The result of that meeting was a partnership with the Ayers Institute and the College Access Project (CAP) began.
Based upon information gained through a needs assessment, TCASN identified topics to include within online modules in order to deepen college access practitioners’ knowledge and skills. As the content expert, TCASN then proposed learning objectives, resources and activities to include within the modules. The Ayers Institute brought instructional design expertise to the partnership that ensured the development of high quality online strands delivered in a user-friendly environment. As Bob Obrohta, Executive Director of TCASN explains, “The Ayers Institute has helped us to bridge college access best practices with the best practices of digital technology and professional development pedagogy, allowing us to reach professionals no matter where they are.”  Participants of a pilot of CAP provided feedback which resulted in further refinements before the public launch in 2014. More information about the College Access Project is available on our website. (http://www.lipscomb.edu/ayers/initiatives/cap)
In 2015, TCASN and the Ayers Institute partnered again to create high quality webinars on the topic of college access and success. To date, six webinars have been conducted in collaboration with TCASN.
A new offering, Preparing Adults for the Transition to Higher Education or PATH, began in 2016. The introductory strand of the PATH course, Introduction to Working with Adult Learners, was created with the intent to provide support and resources to professionals around Tennessee who may work with adults who are enrolling in institutions of higher education for the first time or those who are re-enrolling in order to complete their degree. Like CAP, the initial PATH strand went through development and a pilot before launching this fall.

“Our partnership with the Ayers Institute has resulted in professional development offerings that challenge participants to think deeply about their work, build networks of colleagues across the state, and learn from national and state leaders in college access and success.” Bob Obrohta, Executive Director

Partnership results: (as of Winter 2017)

  • 113 participants enrolled in CAP
  • 270 strands completed in CAP
  • 25 College Access Coaches 
  • 80 participants enrolled in PATH

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