Critical Collaboration

Most people would agree that collaboration is desirable. However, the recent collaboration between Northwest Vista College’s Math and Science departments has shown us that teamwork is not only ideal but it is critical to overall student success. Additionally, early collaboration enabled NVC to be better poised to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaboration began with a kickoff event held in the summer of 2018.

After the kick-off event, a consortium was held where Math faculty members invited Science faculty to share the type of difficulties they were experiencing in their courses with regards to math skill levels. Student Success was a part of the consortium and assisted with answering questions about how different options could impact students.

Simply getting Math, Science and Student Success together in the same room to discuss these issues was a major accomplishment and long overdue.

Math faculty member, Hector Trevino, shared, “Collaboration between departments is extremely beneficial to our students. Plus, we have an outstanding Science department and we enjoy working with them.”

As a result of this new joint effort, an online math practice test was developed to assist nursing majors with the TEAS nursing school entrance exam. This is valuable because many nursing programs limit the number of times nursing students can take the exam and often impose rules on time allowed between test retakes.

Ashland Maldonado, who recently transferred from NVC to the Baptist nursing program said, “I think having the option to remotely attend a prep course like that would be beneficial for any student, but especially for students that wouldn’t be able to attend if it was not offered online. It’s actually an investment that would benefit our San Antonio community as a whole. With the nursing shortage, we need to get competent and passionate individuals through programs and into the workforce to relieve the pressure that is on the healthcare system, and that all starts with the ability to successfully complete prerequisites and actually pass the entrance exams.”

Ashland said she credits math faculty member Dennis Gittinger with helping her score highest in the math section of the TEAS test which previously was her weakest subject. To assist with the COVID-19 crisis, Texas is currently relaxing several nursing regulations to expand the nursing workforce which may affect Maldonado in her nursing program.

College campuses that work in silos can pose challenges to a student’s success. However, cross-departmental collaboration allows the different areas to better understand the systemic impact of decisions which can benefit students.

Some of the other benefits which are a result of this collaboration are:

Online Math Modules: 

Math faculty members developed online modules to provide math support to students in their science coursework in case they need a refresher. Now math support is more easily accessible which is particularly helpful during the current stay-at-home orders.

Better Curriculum Alignment:

A takeaway from the consortium is that students often have difficulty applying what they learned in their math courses to their science coursework. Consequently, Math faculty are working towards presenting some math problems in a science context so that the material looks more familiar when they encounter it in their science courses. The goal is to help STEM students better navigate through the STEM sequence.

Science LAMP (Learning Assistant Math Paths Program): 

Peer Learning Assistants have now been paired with some Science faculty to provide in-class math support to students in science courses and have continued helping students remotely during current stay-at-home orders.

The collaboration also helped Math faculty avoid making a decision that could have potentially set students back. With HB 2223 requiring 75% of eligible developmental math students to be enrolled in a co-requisite course effective the fall of 2020, Math faculty looked into several options to meet this requirement. Upon talking to Science faculty, NVC’s Math team discovered that one of the options could have negatively impacted nursing majors so the option was removed from consideration.


The initiatives mentioned in this article were funded by the Title V Project Math Paths grant. To learn more about the program, please visit:

Contributed by April Carmona, Project Director of Title V Project Math Paths





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