CCS02120 372x451 - TSTC’s performance-based education offers flexible learning option

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College offers performance-based education, or PBE, as another option for students to complete their higher education.

With a format that allows students to pursue their associate degree or certificate of completion on a self-guided plan, PBE is a unique opportunity for students who need a little more flexibility in their learning schedule.

“With PBE you have students who have just graduated high school, and then you’ve got students who are 50 years old and are now coming back to school because they have the time to do so,” Justin Cleaver, PBE mentor for TSTC’s North Texas campus, said. “It’s much more flexible than a traditional class.”

When completed in the hybrid format, this learning model allows students to complete lectures completely online and then come onto campus to complete hands-on labs and tests with instructors when they have the time. 

Depending on the program, PBE may also be available fully online.

For each module, a student must get an 80% or higher grade to show mastery of the subject. If they do not reach 80%, then they may redo the module as many times as needed at the instructor’s discretion.

“It’s a whole other game than your traditional lecture-based, credit-based schooling,” Cleaver said.

He said in order to allow students the chance to fully master the subject matter, PBE is self-guided, allowing students to learn and comprehend at their own pace.

“It is solely dependent on the student’s level of competency, or mastery, of whatever the skill set is,” Cleaver said. “So if they’re having issues with understanding the material, then they have the capability of being able to slow down so that they can comprehend things better. If they’re accelerating, then they can move quicker through the program without feeling like they’re being held back.”

He warned, however, that self-guided is not the same as self-paced.

“Self-paced tends to put everything off until the very end, and with self-guided they have that discipline in increments of being able to continue through that at a decent pace,” he said. “It requires a lot of self-discipline to go through this. It’s mainly based on the student rather than the instructor carrying the class.”

Students who do not fully complete the class by the end of the semester have the ability to reenroll the following semester and pick up where they left off. Students who finish their class early in the semester are able to enroll and begin their next class.

Douglas McCuen, lead instructor for TSTC’s North Texas HVAC program, said PBE also gives students the chance to have more one-on-one time with instructors during labs.

“You get to be a little more personable to individual students in PBE,” he said. “They’re demonstrating the lab to you. You’re picking their brain while they’re doing it: ‘Why are you doing it this way?’ So you’re a lot more one-on-one with a PBE student than you are with a traditional student.” 

The programs available with the PBE option at TSTC’s North Texas campus include Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Cybersecurity and HVAC Technology.

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