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Innovation in education sets the pace PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 12:11

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories recapping an event hosted by the Joint Economic Development Council last Thursday to help community members learn about local innovations that can help develop the area’s economy. Today’s story talks about the formation of competency-based learning programs locally at Seward County Community College. 


In the world of formal education, some people learn more quicly than others, but in the past, those fast learners simply had to learn at the same pace as slow learners.

In higher education, this many times led to dropout rates by better performing students due to constant study of material they had already mastered.

In the 21st century, developments in education have been made to help students learn at their own pace, rather than that of the group. 

One such model will soon become part of the curriculum locally at Seward County Community College. SCCC President Dr. Ken Trzaska talked about competency-based learning (CBL) at last week’s forum hosted by the Joint Economic Development Council to present innovations to help Liberal’s economy continue to grow.

Trzaska said within the next decade, CBL will become standard at most institutions.

“Essentially, what that means is it’s open entry, open exit,” he said. “It might take me 16 weeks to finish English 101, but it may take Earl two weeks. What we’re doing is creating an opportunity for our students to work at their own pace and be able to test out based on their competency in that topic at their own pace. Therefore, accelerating success, therefore, increasing persistence and ultimately increasing our graduation rate.”

SCCC’s industrial tech campus already has three CBL programs, and Trzaska said the model will be expanded to even more classes in the near future.

“Schools and presidents and other individuals I’ve talked to who worked around the competency-based model oftentimes will see 90 to 100 percent retention rates in those programs because students are able to work at their own pace,” he said. “They’re able to test out.”

Trzaska said CBL does exactly what it is intended to do – allow students to learn at their own pace.

“We have to create the type of organization, the type of college that has flexibility in its accessibility,” he said. “We’re an open access institution, so we serve everybody no matter what. We could have students that are ready for college. We have plenty of students who may be ready for the idea of college, but have no idea what it requires. By creating this flexibility, by creating these options, it gives our students just that – the option to succeed, the option to work through their difficulties with a support system that I think is pretty impressive.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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