Culture Change & Continuous Improvement

Learn how to improve student success & equity at community colleges and open access universities.

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Your guided journey starts here. Resources and downloadable reflection prompts are organized to answer the following questions.

  • What's up with organizational culture?

  • How do we begin to tackle campus-wide organizational culture?

  • How¬†do we create a culture of continuous instructional improvement?

  • What are examples of effective programs & services and how do we implement them?

Content by Dr. Al Solano
What's Up with Organizational Culture?
How Do We Begin to Tackle Campus-Wide Organizational Culture?
How Can We Create a Culture of Continuous Instructional Improvement?
What Are Examples of Effective Programs & Services and How Do We Implement Them?

What's up with organizational culture?

Resources #1-#9: Begin your journey with these foundational resources to understand why change is difficult. By having a deep understanding, you'll be better prepared to address the challenges.

Download reflection prompts.

12 min listen + blog post

#1: "The In-Between": What's Needed to Improve Student Outcomes

Outcome: Learn why it's critical to change attitudes and behaviors through the work.

24 min listen + blog post

#2: Structural & Cultural Change Typology: Guided Pathways + Equity

Outcome: Learn about the role of institutional conservatives & progressives.

3-5 min blog post read

#3: Blocking Student Success & Equity Work: The Ugly Side of Governance

Outcome: Learn how participatory governance is abused (often by the few).

5-7 min blog post read

#4: The Difference Between Data-Driven vs Data-Informed Campuses

Outcome: Learn why data-driven is old school & why data-informed is better for equity.

3-5 min blog post read

#5: Doers vs Inputters: Minimizing Burn Out with Do's & Don'ts

Outcome: Learn why it's key to take stock of doers and inputters in all committees , task forces, etc.

7-10 min blog post read

#6: Consequences of an Unproductive Committee Structure

Outcome: Learn why it's critical to reimagine the institution's committee structure.

7-10 min blog post read

#7: Elephant in the Room: Instruction in Higher Education

Outcome: Learn the impact of a lack of teaching preparation in graduate school.

7-10 min blog post read

#8: Lead with Kindness: Academic Freedom vs Academic Responsibility

Outcome: Learn the difference between academic freedom & responsibility and what it has to do with equity.

3-5 min blog post read

#9: Lack of Kindness Prevalent at Many Institutions

Outcome: Learn why it's important to treat people with kindness during transformational change.

How do we begin to tackle campus-wide organizational culture?

Resources #10-#21: In this part of your journey, you'll learn practical approaches to improve organizational culture.

Download reflection prompts.

15-25 min guide book read

#10: Improve the committee structure to be more student-centered (pp. 18-29)

Outcome: Learn to leverage logic models and a student journey framework to improve committees.

60-90 min tools & resources 

#11: Make better sense of institutional priorities with integrated planning

Outcome: Learn how to ensure better clarity with a variety of integrated planning tools & resources.

15-20 min resources read

#12: Organize the Guided Pathways Work: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Outcome: Learn practical and actionable methods to implement Guided Pathways.

60 min listen + resources

#13: Evolution of Guided Pathways with Dr. Davis Jenkins

Outcome: Learn critical research findings since Redesigning America's Community Colleges (2015)

38 min listen

#14: Clarity Regarding Student Success Teams: Models to Consider

Outcome: Learn why student success teams are difficult to implement and what models to consider.

62 min listen + resources 

#15: DEI & Transformational Change with Dr. Michael Baston

Outcome: Learn about the "Four L's" and the importance of building relationships at the campus.

64 min listen + resources 

#16: Addressing Anti-Blackness with Dr. Frank Harris III

Outcome: Learn strategies to address anti-Blackness in the culture-change work.

50 min listen + resources 

#17: Measuring and Implementing "Servingness" with Dr. Gina Garcia

Outcome: Learn how to infuse critical consciousness development to improve "servingness."

68 min listen + resources

#18: Kindness Towards Students with Dr. Darla Cooper

Outcome: Learn how to use the Six Success Factors in the culture-change work.

63 min listen + resources

#19: Holistic Student Supports with Dr. Melinda Karp

Outcome: Learn about research on student success team implementation.

61 min listen + resources

#20: Inquiry & Action Teams with Margaret Prothero

Outcome: Learn how inquiry and action teams help educators continually improve their craft. (Part of an inquiry & action series)

56 min listen + resources

#21: Inquiry & Action Teams with Rebecca Kaminsky

Outcome: Learn how inquiry and action teams help educators continually improve their craft. (Part of an inquiry & action series)

How can we create a culture of continuous instructional improvement?

Resources #22-#34: In this next part of your journey, you'll learn approaches to make instruction more equitable.

Download reflection prompts.

60 min listen + resources 

#22: Improving Instruction with an Equity Lens with Diego Navarro

Outcome: Learn how to improve academic success for disproportionately impacted students.

47 min listen (start at 4:40)

#23: Discipline-Alike Inquiry & Action Instructional Improvement Team

Outcome: Learn how to continually improve instruction with equity intentionality.

57 min listen 

#24: Cross-Discipline Pedagogy Inquiry & Action Teams

Outcome: Learn how pedagogy inquiry & action teams developed equity-focused communities of practice.

55 min listen + resources 

#25: Transforming Instruction in Math with Equitable Outcomes

Outcome: Learn how faculty improved their craft to significantly improve student outcomes.

5-7 min blog post read

#26: The Ongoing Grading Crisis that Hurts DI Students the Most

Outcome: Learn about the ongoing grading crisis and strategies to address it.

7-10 min blog post read

#27: 5E Learning Cycle: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate

Outcome: Learn how leverage an instructional model based on the constructivist approach to learning.

50 min listen + resources

#28: Online Learning Equitable Practices with Maritez Apigo

Outcome: Learn how to create an equitable online learning environment.

44 min listen + resources

#29: Equitable Teaching Practices with Dr. Dayamudra Dennehy

Outcome: Learn how kindness translates into equitable teaching practices.

49 min listen + resources

#30: Accessibility with Dr. Denise Maduli-Williams

Outcome: Learn how to improve accessibility for students and the campus community. 

65 min listen + resources

#31: Equitable Pedagogy with Dr. Michel Estefan

Outcome: Learn practical equitable pedagogy practices to improve student success in higher education.

58 min listen + resources

#32: Undoing the Grade with Dr. Jesse Stommel

Outcome: Learn about why faculty grade, and how to stop.

33 min listen + resources

#33: Supporting Neurodivergent College Students with Dr. Liz Norell

Outcome: Learn how to support neurodivergent college students. 

40 min listen + resources

#34: Student Success & Equity with Dr. Christine Harrington

Outcome: Learn about culturally affirming and meaningful assignments.

What are examples of effective programs & services and how do we implement them?

Resources #35-#42: In this last part of your journey, you'll learn about programs & services to strengthen what already exists and/or create new ones.

Download reflection prompts.

10 min blog post read 

#35: 5 Questions to Answer Before Launching Programs & Services

Outcome: Learn how to avoid potential planning and implementation pitfalls.

5-7 min blog post read

#36: Goals, Strategies, Objectives, and Tactics: Implementation Perspective

Outcome: Learn to have common language when planning programs & services.

7-10 min blog post read

#37: Effective Services to Help Veterans Succeed

Outcome: Learn strategies that improved veteran student success.

55 min listen + resources 

#38: Comprehensive First Year Experience Program with Dr. Cynthia Mosqueda

Outcome: Learn about a successful FYE program twenty years in the making.

54 min listen + resources

#39: Teacher Preparation Program with Dr. Steve Bautista

Outcome: Learn how to prepare and support future teachers.

62 min listen + resources

#40: Faculty Onboarding Program with Lisa Ratchford

Outcome: Learn how to onboard new faculty with a focus on equity.

54 min listen + resources 

#41: Service Learning & Honors Program with Pascale Charlot

Outcome: Learn about igniting service learning & serving DI honor students.

52 min listen + resources

#42: Building Equitable STEM Transfer Pathways with Dr. Xueli Wang

Outcome: Learn about removing barriers and research-based strategies in STEM.

What educators say

Dr. Beatriz Gonzalez

President, Wolfson Campus, Miami Dade College, FL

Dr. Al helps get you to the crux of what’s blocking progress. While forthright, he is also generous, amiable, and ethical.

Dr. Michael Baston

President, Cuyahoga Community College, OH

Dr. Al journeys with us in the inquiry process that engages our thinking, encourages reflection, and inspires our teams to reach peak performance so that the students we serve will get the educational experience they need to help them live the lives they deserve.

Dr. Davis Jenkins

Co-Author, Redesigning America's Community Colleges; Senior Research Scholar Community College Research Center, Columbia University, NY

Dr. Al is extraordinarily skilled in helping colleges implement complex, whole-college student success reforms. 

Dr. Julie Asperin Barnes

Chancellor, South OCC District, CA

Dr. Al's authentic, courageous, and forward-thinking approach is refreshing and is exactly what is needed to meet the moment.

Dr. Mayra Padilla

Dean, Institutional Effectiveness & Equity, Contra Costa College, CA

Dr. Al has a talent for pinpointing the challenges we face implementing campus-wide initiatives and then providing frameworks to help move stakeholders from conversation to action in an inclusive and thoughtful manner. 

Dr. Rob Johnstone

Founder & President, National Center for Inquiry & Improvement

Dr. Al is Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Alexander Hamilton'--he's nonstop! Always thinking, writing, creating, implementing, and pushing the field to continually improve.

Diego Navarro

Professor Emeritus, Cabrillo College, CA; Founder, Academy for College Excellence

Dr. Al addresses the endemic issue of why colleges struggle with completion by students of color. His approach is helpful in framing the issues and useful in providing methods for addressing them.

Libby Curiel

Speech Professor, Rio Hondo College, CA; Former Regional Guided Pathways Coordinator

Dr. Al's honest candor is refreshing and so needed during this time. He knows how to balance truth with kindness in the only way an amazing coach can.

Dr. Claudia Lourido-Habib

President, Porterville College, CA

Dr. Al's frank style encourages deep reflection and examination of traditional approaches that have been slow in achieving the outcomes we urgently need for our students. Many of his recommendations and insights have been invaluable in helping us respond effectively.

Dr. Mordecai Brownlee

President, Community College of Aurora, CO

By embracing Dr. Al's strategies, resources, and information, student lives will be transformed and so will the lives of those empowering those students.

Dr. Kevin Walthers

President, Allan Hancock College, CA

Dr. Al’s unique style transforms institutions, enabling college leaders to manage change in a manner that supports faculty efforts to foster success, equity and inclusion. 

Dr. Lisa Brewster

Communication Faculty & Guided Pathways Coordinator, Miramar College, CA

I have been so impressed with Dr. Al's ability to help people see beyond the 'weeds in the field' and narrow down the steps needed to make critical changes. Our campus has grown in so many ways thanks to him!


A college is like a living organism. Treat it with toxicity, it produces negative outcomes. Treat it with kindness, it produces positive outcomes.

Dr. Al Solano

Founder & Coach, Continuous Learning Institute

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