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Kent State Regional Campus Programs Pave High School Students' Road to College

Posted Jan. 24, 2011

Kent State University at Ashtabula and Kent State University at Tuscarawas have established dual-credit initiatives that help high school students further their high school education and at the same time provide them with college credit. The programs are well-received by the communities and are creating stronger relationships between the university and the local high schools.

Engineering Technology Dual Enrollment Program at Kent State University at Tuscarawas

The Kent State Tuscarawas Engineering Technology Dual Enrollment program began in the 2009-2010 academic year and ably serves the surrounding high schools. During Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters, there were five classes offered to the Claymont and Indian Valley high schools.

As of Fall 2010 Semester through the current Spring 2011 Semester, six classes are being offered at the following eight schools: New Philadelphia, Strasburg, Claymont, Newcomerstown, Indian Valley, Tusky Valley, Sandy Valley and Carrollton. Ninety students were enrolled in dual-credit classes offered fall 2010.

Dr. Kamal Bichara, the director of Engineering Technologies program, is confident that this is just the start of programs that expand the relationship between high schools and the university.

regional feature Dual Credit inside
The technology class yields many
projects.

"While still in the early stages, in view of the positive feedback by the high school teachers and administrators, who are overseeing the course delivery of the current offerings and their effectiveness in delivering both the lecture and the hands-on lab part of the course," Bichara says.

"It is our plan to increase the offerings to three courses each semester for the next academic year and to offer them to 10 different high schools."

Bichara explains that the Dual Enrollment program offered by Kent State Tuscarawas uses both in-person and Web content to educate high school students.

"We believe that our approach in using creative instructional techniques in the dual-credit courses through Web-hosted instructional material, over and above the in-person instruction at the schools by the assigned faculty and which is made available to the students both during class and at home, is adding value to classroom instruction," Bichara says. "This way, students are able to access the Web material at home to further enhance the learning process."

The courses, which are taught by the Tuscarawas Campus Engineering Technology faculty, are all in the Engineering Technology disciplines of electrical/electronics, digital, mechanical, computer aided design, technical computing and multimedia and game design.

One of the primary purposes of the dual-enrollment program is to get students exposed at an early stage to STEM-related disciplines particularly those related to engineering and technology. STEM disciplines are science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Bichara says the feedback they've received from the campus engineering technology faculty, who teach the courses at the high schools, and from the high school administration and guidance counselors has been uniformly positive.

Dual-Enrollment Program at Kent State Ashtabula

Kent State Ashtabula, the Ashtabula County Educational Service Center and local high schools also are collaborating on bringing higher education directly to high school students, strengthening their paths toward college degrees.

"The dual-enrollment program is an attempt to close the gap between the regional high schools and Kent State Ashtabula," says Dr. Payman Nasr, assistant professor of biological sciences. "This privilege comes at no financial costs to the students or their parents."

The program, which began in the spring of 2008 and initially offered only science and mathematics, has grown significantly and has expanded to all disciplines. The program showed success almost immediately. The Spring 2009 Semester saw record enrollment, with 188 high school students joining the university student body while earning college credit by taking classes in their home schools.

John Rubesich, superintendent of the county's educational service center, credits Kent State Ashtabula Dean Dr. Susan Stocker for heading the efforts.

"Dean Stocker had the foresight to bring everyone together to meet a common goal. This is a great entry point for learning more about college," says Rubesich. "Students might not know if they want to go to college. This gives them self-confidence."

The main attraction of the dual-credit initiative is that it works to accomplish two different goals for students. The students will receive the required units to receive their high school diploma, while at the same time they will receive 3 college credit hours that will go toward a core course in the field they are working on.

"Dual credit is a great way to bring college curricula into the high school so the students can work hands on with course content they will see in the future," says Liz Driscoll, academic advisor for Kent State Ashtabula.

The students enrolled in the dual-credit initiative need to maintain a B average or better in their chosen field. The first half of the school year, students work with the high school curriculum; second half is with college curriculum, since a typical school year consists of four nine-week sessions.

Dual credit, formally known as Dual Credit in Mathematics, Science HB 119, is a goal of the State of Ohio's Department of Education and Board of Regents to deliver curricula to high school students aligned to the standards for admission to the university.

This is different from the Post Secondary Enrollment Options program, also provided by the state, and offered throughout the nation for 20 years. The post-secondary program requires students to attend classes on the university campus instead of working in the high school. Dual credit is taught by high school teachers acting as assistants to the college faculty.

Most of the teachers and faculty from the surrounding Ashtabula high schools believe that it is a "win-win" for both the schools and the students. The program has opened the teachers' eyes regarding what college professors are looking for in students.

"The students enrolled are bright kids, and teachers are accustomed to challenging these students, so we are working together to deliver solid courses to earn them both high school and Kent State credits," says Dr. Bradley Keefer, professor of history and participating university faculty member.

For information on Kent State Ashtabula and its degree offerings, call 440-964-3322 or learn more at www.ashtabula.kent.edu. For information on Kent State Tuscarawas and its degree offerings, call 330- 339-3391 or learn more at www.tusc.kent.edu.

By Judd Bernardo