Northeast State is offering a wide selection of paired courses this fall, allowing students to pick up six hours of credit by attending class only one night a week.
The classes run weekdays from 6 – 7:20 p.m. and 7:30 – 8:50 p.m. Also, some daytime courses will be offered on Saturdays. Courses (except Saturdays) will be available at the Blountville, Elizabethton, Johnson City, and Kingsport campuses as well as the Mountain City and Unicoi County teaching sites.
The courses are in a hybrid format, meaning content is delivered 50 percent online, with the remainder of the instruction delivered course meetings offered face-to-face.
“This format is designed for students who need flexibility in scheduling,” said Dr. Pashia Hogan, assistant vice president of Multi-Campus Programs. “They may be working full-time or have other responsibilities that make it too overwhelming to be out of the house two or three nights a week.”
All the courses are general education core classes, which are needed by most students regardless of their major. Students must have taken any prerequisite courses required for the classes before enrolling.
Hogan said the paired courses may be especially attractive to students enrolling under the State’s TN Reconnect scholarship program, which starts in Fall 2018. TN Reconnect is a last dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition free.
For more information about paired courses, contact:
(This is the second in a series of columns from Northeast State’s Dr. J. Michael Ramey, Evening Coordinator at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education).
The first post in this series examined factors that affect self-efficacy. In the second, we will explore adult learner traits and match them with elements of the learning environment. While primarily addressed to college teachers, it will also provide helpful background information for anyone who works with adult learners.
I had not cracked open a math textbook in almost 10 years when I enrolled at Northeast State. Feeling anxious, I called up my instructor before the semester started and expressed my concerns. He was very reassuring, and once the course began, I soon realized that the instructor had created a setting where adult learners felt as equally at home as students who had graduated from high school just a few months before.
In order to pay forward this positive experience, I would like to uncover those key elements that compose an adult learner-friendly environment. As a preliminary step, however, we need to create a backdrop consisting of traits that are common to adult learners. While this list of traits does not perfectly represent each individual student, it will serve as a general template for distinguishing adult learners from the traditional undergraduate population. There are four traits, in particular, that merit our attention, and I have selected a keyword to represent each trait: respect, relevance, resistance, and responsibilities.
First, adult learners need for you to respect their real-world experience and wisdom gained in the ‘school of hard knocks.’ They have been working, raising kids, and dealing with the daily hassles of life over the course of many years and have thereby accumulated knowledge of how things work in practice, not just in the pages of an assigned text. In a similar vein, they also may need you to appreciate why they have negative feelings about previous learning experiences.
Second, adult learners need to know the relevance of course content in terms of their lives and goals. If traditional students are likely to think, “When am I going to use this in real life?” then adult learners are even more so inclined. Specifically, adult learners will be thinking about how the material applies to their career path.
Third, adult learners may resist new ways of looking at or doing things. Commonly, this resistance arises in connection with new technologies. For example, the student may have done all previous schoolwork with pencil, paper, and maybe a simple calculator. In addition, these students may openly resist instruction that does not line up with ‘what they had always been taught’ or information that seems to clash with their worldviews.
Fourth, adult learners have to manage multiple levels of life responsibilities. With work, family, and other obligations demanding their time, adult learners must fit learning into the spare moments they can scrape together. Moreover, given such thin margins of time, a minor emergency in another area of life can seriously disrupt their ability to meet course deadlines.
In light of these common traits, then, we can begin to construct an environment that will feel welcoming to adult learners. First, we need to make sure that our adult learners feel respected. Invite them to share their perspectives and experiences at opportune moments. Also, acknowledge any negative learning experiences they may share from days gone by and assure them that the old has passed away and a new day has dawned.
To the fullest extent possible, you will also want to draw connections between course content and real-world applications. This may prove to be the most challenging aspect of the learning environment to construct, but opportunities for life application can often appear in the unlikeliest of places if we take the time to reflect. Every subject of study can supply the ingredients to produce better thinkers, decision-makers, and citizens, even if it does not directly connect with a specific job.
Next, provide opportunities for your adult learners to get comfortable with new ways of thinking and completing assignments. This may take the form of brief sessions in which students familiarize themselves with digital learning tools, but this may also involve training for your students on how to grapple with new ideas in productive ways. Let them know up front you are not trying to overthrow their beliefs, but to help them appreciate and respect alternate viewpoints, just as you appreciate and respect their perspectives.
Finally, as much as possible, be flexible with deadlines and spread points over several assignments. For those who are juggling multiple responsibilities, crises are inevitable. I would, therefore, encourage you to err on the side of grace instead of clinging to the letter of the law.
While adult learners enter the classroom with a different set of challenges, they also add a richness that comes from a variety of life experiences and viewpoints. By observing the preceding recommendations you can create an environment of success for them and traditional undergraduates, alike.
Tennessee’s SkillsUSA postsecondary officer team has earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award for amassing more than 1,000 hours of service in a 12-month period.
First awarded by President George W. Bush in 2003, the award program is a way to thank and honor volunteers, and encourage sustained commitment to civic participation.
The state officer team includes President Austin Cox, Northeast State Community College; Vice President Hank Holleman, Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville; Secretary Jeremy Martin, TCAT Nashville; Treasurer Derrick Garner, TCAT Paris; Reporter Shellie Thomas, TCAT Pulaski; Parliamentarian Herbert Joyce Jr., TCAT Memphis; and Historian Molly Sweetland, TCAT Chattanooga. Advisors from each of the officers’ schools are part of the team and contributed volunteer hours as well.
Northeast State’s SkillsUSA advisor Nichole Manz-Young said Austin Cox contributed 275 hours of service, volunteering for the Appalachian Service Project that rebuilt homes destroyed by the recent Gatlinburg forest fire. Also, Manz-Young contributed 28 hours of service to various organizations.
The leadership team received a personalized certificate, an official pin, and a congratulatory letter from President Donald J. Trump.
“This award is a great testament to these students’ hard work and commitment to SkillsUSA,” said James D. King, Northeast State president. “They are excellent examples of the quality of students we have enrolled in Tennessee’s community colleges and TCATs.”
SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving middle school, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. Its goal is to provide a framework where students, teachers and industry can work together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has an annual membership of more than 360,000 students and advisors.
The DENSO Foundation has awarded Northeast State a $10,000 grant to provide training and hands-on opportunities for students majoring in Automotive Service Technology.
The award is part of the foundation’s nearly $1 million in funding to 25 U.S. colleges and universities to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.
“We are very appreciative of DENSO’s support of STEM education and workforce development,” said James D. King, Northeast State president. “Nothing is more vital to the economy than skillful workers. We are thankful for DENSO’s vision and commitment in this area.”
This is the second year in a row that Northeast State has received a DENSO grant. Last year, the college received a $25,000 award.DENSO targets programs focused on design, materials management, mechanical and electrical engineering principles, thermodynamics, robotics and more–all intended to help cultivate and encourage a new generation of engineers and skilled workers.
“As a global technology and automotive leader, it’s vital for DENSO to advance young people’s education in engineering, technology, and other related programs,” said Doug Patton, president of the DENSO North America Foundation and executive vice president of Engineering at DENSO International America, Inc. “To remain competitive in this ever-evolving, high-tech landscape, it calls for a workforce that is skilled, well-trained and able to adapt quickly. We feel a great responsibility to prepare students for what’s next–for the health of our industry and their future careers.”
The DENSO Foundation has supported STEM education through grants at colleges and universities since 2001, enabling students to access tools, technology, and experiences that better prepare them for technical careers after graduation.
DENSO education grant proposals are invitation only and evaluated based on technical merit, student experience and alignment with industry needs.
Other Tennessee community colleges receiving funds included Cleveland State and Pellissippi State.