One of the most innovative educational strategies that the NSC will use to improve the completion and success rates of students is the creation of a two-part STEM Bridge program.
The first STEM Bridge strategy is to embed competency development into the technical curriculum instead of using a traditional pre-program approach to developmental education. This has been done through the development of an innovative STEM Readiness course which integrates basic skills, workforce skills, computer skills, and job readiness training contextualized within the STEM pathways.
STEM Readiness Scenarios and Learning Outcomes (PDF)
The STEM Readiness course is programmatically consistent across the five fields and transferable to other colleges and and it focuses on the development of critical key skills identified by all of the technical teams.
- The STEM Readiness course has been built in an online format with assistance from Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI) and Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and focuses on refreshing critical key skills in the following areas:
- Math: Arithmetic, Measuring Systems, Quantifying Data, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Triangles and Cartesian Plane.
- Workplace Communication and Critical Thinking: Written Communication, Oral Communication, Teamwork/Conflict Resolution and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Professional Skills: Customer Service, Confidentiality, Organizational Skills and Time Management, Teamwork, The Job Search Process and Professional Image.
- The second STEM Bridge Strategy is to develop a FAST TRACK component that will provide an accelerated pathway into the newly designed programs of study. NSC needs assessment of TAA-eligible and other working adults leads to the conclusion that many students will require more intensive, up-front development of the basic skills required for access to the technically demanding educational pathways into STEM occupations. The FAST TRACK program will help students bring their math, reading/writing, computer and critical thinking skills to the level necessary to take full advantage of the technical curriculum in one of the five programs. The STEM Bridge team has developed a modularized set of curriculum “bundles” that can be adapted and inserted by colleges wherever needed to provide support for lower level learners who need to build foundational skills before entering the credit certificates. An innovative “STEM Foundations” course is under development with OLI and will contain 22 interactive online modules in Math and workplace communication to support the FAST TRACKS program.
STEM Foundations Workplace Communication (PDF)
Other innovations designed to achieve high rates of completion, credential attainment, and employment include:
- Compressed schedule to enable students to finish and become reemployed sooner than with traditional college programs.
- Cohort enrollment — the same small group of students learn together throughout their one-year program.
During the NSC grant period (through September 30, 2014), NSC programs will be offered at the ten NSC colleges. By the end of the grant period, all NSC course materials will be available as an Open Educational Resource (OER) with a Creative Commons attribution license. Every college in the United States will be able to access course materials and offer the programs created by the NSC.