(WACO, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program in Waco are getting their first taste of performance-based education (PBE) this semester.
“We are coaching them through their labs,” said Timothy Snyder, lead instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program in Waco. “We still have to keep them safe. We will jump in and help them if we need to.”
Hudson Gately, of Boerne, is in his first semester in the HVAC Technology program. He attends in-person labs in the mornings, four days a week. On a recent morning, he worked on diagrams and wiring a light bulb to a power source.
“I like the schedule,” he said. “PBE is flexible. I can go as fast or slow as I want.”
Gately chose to study HVAC Technology because of the job security in Texas.
“The salary is pretty good, and I like working with my hands,” he said.
Fabian Garcia, of Moody, is a returning HVAC Technology student. He and other students already in the program chose whether to convert to the PBE mode of study or finish the program during a traditional semester. He is now attending in-person labs for two hours a day, four mornings a week, and doing online work at home.
“I was a little lost, but I know how it works now,” he said. “I am getting used to things.”
Garcia is focusing on two of his classes now and will move on to two more halfway through the semester. He said he enjoys having access to instructors via email during off hours and likes the attention he receives during his time blocks.
Students work with the program’s enrollment coach to develop a schedule in two-hour time blocks. Snyder said this allows students to work while taking classes. Students are encouraged to focus on two classes at a time for 7 1/2 weeks, which is half of a semester. Lectures, videos and other learning content is on Canvas, a learning management system. Instructors also do mini-lectures throughout the day using a smart television and whiteboards. Tests can be written, demonstration-based or online. Some students with professional experience can test out of some lessons.
Students have five attempts to pass per assessment. Each time students do not succeed, they are required to meet with instructors and the program’s enrollment coach.
“You keep working until you get it,” Snyder said.
Faculty members are available for longer hours, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. Snyder said three instructors are always in labs to assist students.
“Performance-based education is increasing the opportunities the students have with teachable moments in the lab, taking them from a traditional lecture format moving to online, which frees up the faculty members to spend that time in the labs working with the students,” said Gena Jean, TSTC’s performance-based education program manager.
Besides HVAC Technology, other programs that started using the performance-based learning format this fall include the online programs Business Management Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Cybersecurity, Digital Media Design, Web Design and Development and first-year seminar, developmental education and general education classes.
More TSTC technical programs are scheduled to start using performance-based learning in 2022 and 2023.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.