Technological Education for the Rural Community (TERC)
Hopkinsville Community College serves a rural, five-county region in southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee that is home to over 70 manufacturing companies that consistently have difficulty hiring qualified employees to fill technology related positions. The Technological Education for the Rural Community (TERC) project is developing innovative educational pathways for technological education at the community college level to influence employability in technical fields within the rural community. TERC utilizes portable, personalized instructional methods to address identified barriers including inflexible work schedules, extended time between high school and college, and poor academic preparation. In particular, access issues and low mathematics comprehension are being addressed by utilizing hybrid delivery systems and contextualized mathematics and engineering coursework.
The hybrid program incorporates problem based learning (PBL) centered on industry designed curriculum standards making coursework relevant to the highly technical workplace. The project uses a fusion of delivery models for students who work and cannot attend traditional college classes. Didactic content is being delivered via the Internet and preloaded content on portable media. Lab work is facilitated through one-on-one instruction in an open lab environment with hands-on applications and models developed through the project. TERC uses targeted marketing for underrepresented groups and the rural student at regional business and career fairs highlighting student successes. Project evaluation and assessment activities are collecting data on the incorporation of contextualized mathematics as a means of improving the pathway for rural and underrepresented students into entry level manufacturing jobs. The use of a hybrid delivery model is being measured by both comparing the students enrolled in a traditional course with those enrolled in the hybrid sections, and by comparing retention and student perceptions.