Polk State College's Engineering Technology OEEE Associate's Degree

Polk State College's Engineering Technology OEEE Associate's Degree

Naomi Boyer (Polk State College, USA), Eric A. Roe (University of Texas at Austin, USA), Kenneth Ross (Polk State College, USA), Patricia Jones (Spartanburg Community College, USA), Kathleen Bucklew (Polk State College, USA) and Marcia Conliffe (Polk State College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0932-5.ch016


This case study describes an Open Entry Early Exit (OEEE) program focused on untangling the web of systems, assumptions, roles, relationships, and interagency processes to address the national emphasis on affordable, compressed and flexible degree attainment, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent gap areas. To this end, Polk State College has empowered non-traditional students with an affordable, accessible option that was initiated as a result of a National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) project award. The project was designed to transition a traditional Engineering Technology Associate in Science degree program to a hybrid competency-based, modular, non-term, self-paced, learner-centered, faculty-mentored format. As a work in progress, the OEEE program team has undertaken and resolved numerous challenges, many of which are still emergent, and identified significant breakthroughs to provide a catalyst to the reconceptualization of higher education.
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Setting The Stage

Higher education is generating new energy as a result of a number of disruptive innovative agents that while not “new” have acted as a catalyst to transform program and content delivery, enrollment and registration practices, financial aid, instructor roles and the technology systems required to support these models. While Christensen’s discussion of disruption in educational environments identifies online delivery as a means of attending to individual learner needs in K-12 and higher education (Christensen, Johnson, & Horn, 2010; Christensen & Eyring, 2011), it is posited here that online is merely one variable of many that may leverage the impact of competency based education models to enable educational institutions to transform existing systems. Technology tools, such as online mechanisms, provide a medium for instructional delivery; however, this does not necessarily begin to unravel the threads that have bound higher education to collective versus individual learning needs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Faculty-Mentored: Program format that encourages instructors to develop structures that promote shared commitments to learning with the student. Faculty mentors still have the program expertise but work collaboratively with the student to foster learning rather than deliver knowledge.

Learner-Centered: As proposed by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, the five characteristics of teaching that make it learner-centered are: 1) Directly engaging students in the hard, messy work of learning. 2) Providing explicit skill instruction. 3) Encouraging students to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it. 4) Motivating students by giving them some control over learning processes. 5) Encouraging instructor-student and student-student collaboration.

Modular: Courses comprised of smaller, discrete units of material organized around aligned content. Modularization allows for better evaluation and more focused content revision and continuous improvement.

Degree Audit: A list of academic requirements to complete a program or a course of study.

Engineering Technology: The profession in which knowledge of technology, applied science, and mathematics is devoted to the application of engineering solutions for the benefit of humanity. According to the Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET), “Engineering technology education focuses primarily on the applied aspects of science and engineering aimed at preparing graduates for practice in that portion of the technological spectrum closest to product improvement, manufacturing, construction, and engineering operational functions.”

Hybrid: The term hybrid in CBE can have three different meanings. 1) Course Delivery- a combination of time spent in online and face-to-face instruction, usually resulting in a reduction in face-to-face contact hours. 2) Program Design- the combination of traditional credit-hour courses with separate modularized competency based courses or experiences. 3) CBE Model- the distribution and assignment of traditional credit-hours to a set of modules or competencies coupled with direct assessment for demonstration of learning for completion.

Advanced Manufacturing: The utilization of technology-based, integrated, highly controlled, and productive systems to change raw or processed materials into products people can use.

NSF-ATE Grant Award: The National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation's economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions and industry to promote improvement in the education of STEM technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels. The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways to two-year colleges from secondary schools and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions; and other activities though competitive grant awards.

Learning Management System (LMS): The Learning Management System provides technology for the delivery of academic coursework, which can be integrated into the student information system to facilitate student and faculty automatic access to courses that can be utilized to share course content, activate technology based learning tools, facilitate interaction and feedback, and provide a means for delivery of assessment and assignment submission.

Open Entry/Early Exit (OEEE): A mode of class delivery that allows a student to enroll in a class throughout the duration or near duration of the class and complete the class within a specified length of time from the student start date. Students are prescribed a timeframe within which they must complete the class but are not prescribed a number of required hours as criteria for successful completion of the class.

Open Entry/Open Exit (OEOE): A mode of class delivery that allows a student to enroll in a class throughout the duration or near duration of the class and complete the class at any time throughout the duration the class. Students are not prescribed a timeframe or number of required hours as criteria for successful completion of the class.

Non-Term: Terms are units of time with a specified beginning and ending date in which classes are taught. Traditional terms include fall, spring and summer. Non-term means that the dates of the classes do not relate to a specified term on an academic calendar.

Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP): The underlying technology, comprised of a variety of modules that supports the overall business function of an organization. Modules may include: student information systems, (i.e. course fee delineation, course payment, registration) business and financial processes, financial aid, and human resources. The ERP system often integrates with other tools to facilitate other academic technology such as degree audits and learning management systems.

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