Skip to main content

Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC): Third-party evaluation services for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant final report. (Selzer et al. 2016)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Selzer, A. K., Sanchez, R., Michaelides, M., Shetty, S., & Bertane, C. (2016). Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC): Third-party evaluation services for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant final report. Columbia, MD: IMPAQ International.

Highlights

  • The study's objective was to examine the implementation of the Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC) program, which was implemented across five Arizona community colleges to facilitate high-skill, high-wage employment, and advancement in energy and mining.
  • The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using information collected through site visits, attendance at the consortium’s quarterly meetings, program documentation, and participant surveys.
  • The study found complete and uniform implementation of the program’s six core strategies varied widely across the five study sites.
  • The study is comprehensive but does not discuss the methodology used to select participants.
  • The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in May 2020.

Intervention Examined

The Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC) Program

Features of the Intervention

  • Type of organization: Community Colleges
  • Location/setting: Multisite in Arizona
  • Population served and scale: TAA-eligible adults; 1,214 participants
  • Industry focus: Utilities
  • Intervention activities: Career pathways; Technology
  • Organizational partnerships: Workforce boards; Mining and energy industry partners
  • Cost: Not included
  • Fidelity: Not included

The ASC-GIEC program, funded through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, was implemented between 2012-2015 by a consortium of five rural and urban community colleges in Arizona’s Sun Corridor. The program targeted TAA-eligible workers and other students to increase college students’ skills and employment within the energy and mining industries. Specific programs varied across the five schools and included Power Plant Technology, IT Security, Electrical Utility Technology, Engineering Technology, Industrial Maintenance Operation, Mechatronics, Welding, Electrical Instrumentation, and Pre-Engineering. External collaborators included industry partners, workforce boards, and grant-funded technical assistance staff (IMPAQ, LLC. And Kuder, LLC.). The improved ASC-GIEC initiative: 1) created new credit-bearing, credential-focused core courses; 2) established career pathways in energy and mining; 3) developed common core curricula and education requirements across the five consortium colleges; 4) created an agreement between the consortium and Arizona State University to increase participation in high-demand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields; and 5) implemented technology and online courses.

Based on the program’s logic model, inputs required for this study included experienced staff and faculty, collaborations with local workforce boards and industry partners, eligible program participants, training equipment, corporate partners, funding, and employers. The program’s expected outcomes were developed in each of the six core strategies, including increased career readiness, strengthened career pathways, latticed credentials, technology-enabled learning environments, aligned curriculum across colleges, and program performance tracking. The authors expected short-term outcomes included recruiting TAA-eligible workers, increasing the attainment of industry relevant credentials, placing students in relevant jobs, increasing the number of participants who enroll in four-year universities, and increasing employment upon program completion. Anticipated long-term impacts included observing significant differences in the number of degrees/certificates, employment rates, and wages between ASC-GIEC participants and non-participants.

Features of the Study

The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using information collected through a web-based survey of ASC-GIEC participants, three rounds of site visits, a review of program documents, and IMPAQ team member attendance at five of the consortium’s quarterly meetings. All five community colleges in the consortium participated in the study. The authors used qualitative software to manage and code notes from interviews and focus groups. They also implemented audio recordings during partner and participant interviews and facilitated focus group discussions to include student perspectives. Each set of site visit notes was coded independently by technical assistance staff. Interviews were conducted following a standardized script.

Study Sites

  • Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) in Avondale, Arizona
  • Chandler Gilbert Community College (CGCC) in Chandler, Arizona
  • Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Arizona
  • Northland Pioneer College (NPC) in Holbrook, Arizona
  • Yavapai College (YC) in Yavapai County, Arizona

Findings

Intervention activities/services

  • The study found that the program’s six core strategies varied widely across the five study sites. Various factors influenced the uniformity of implementation strategies, including staff engagement, approval processes at the college and at the federal level, and participant behavior. As a result, the success with which the programs goals were accomplished varied. Strengths included establishing industry partnerships, strengthening career pathways, and providing tools and equipment for hands-on learning. Participant attainment of transferrable credit and credentials, the use of career preparation services, and recruitment of TAA-eligible workers were less successful.
  • The study found that college staff reported rarely using Prior Learning Assessments for various reasons.
  • The study found the adoption of technology in learning environments varied across colleges. Overall, online training modules were the most used tools while computer simulations, e-books, and podcasts were used less frequently. However, most students took at least some of their courses in a traditional classroom setting and fewer took courses in hybrid or online settings.
  • The study found students expressed satisfaction with career coaches and career guidance, although many did not take advantage of the full services the career coaches were able to offer.

Implementation challenges and solutions

  • The study found it challenging to obtain updated hiring projections throughout the implementation period and create new courses to align learning competencies offered across sites. The authors state the solution to the latter challenge was to embed tier 1-5 competencies in existing courses.
  • The study found enforcing the ASC-GEIC competency model with complete uniformity was not possible as each of the five college sites had different approval procedures. To mitigate this factor, staff conducted a gap analysis; levels of satisfaction with this analysis varied across sites.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Limitations of this study included the lack of detail on the methodology used to select participants for focus groups and interviews, and limited racial/ethnic diversity as most program and focus group participants were white.

Reviewed by CLEAR

August 2021

Topic Area