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Monthly Archives: May 2016

About Teaching Trade Skills

Advanced education issues have been one of the interesting issues of the current presidential race, with competitors addressing decreasing understudy credit obligation and enhancing school get to. Nonetheless, what has seldom come up is regardless of whether school is even the best alternative for every last understudy.

The general message in pop culture and political civil arguments is that going to and moving on from a conventional four-year school is the best way to locate a productive occupation after secondary school. Be that as it may, there are various options for understudies who would prefer fundamentally not to take out credits or the scholarly center of a customary college encounter, and these options can in any case prompt satisfying vocations. Called profession specialized, proficient, and exchange or professional preparing, these projects are commonly offered at secondary schools, two-year universities, and through different outlets.

These projects are hands-on, and devoted to showing profession particular aptitudes, and all the more imperatively, they can be a satisfying alternative for some understudies and prompt magnificent occupations. Be that as it may, swearing off school challenges the customary thoughts of a “legitimate” advanced education. In December a year ago, presidential applicant Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that “a way to set off for college is a helluva parcel less expensive than putting individuals on a way to imprison,” setting correctional facility as the other option to school. Host of CNN’s “Some person’s Gotta Do It” — a demonstrate that commends extraordinary employments — Mike Rowe was condemning of the tweet through Facebook. He contended that visually impaired school for-all mentalities can be “hazardous” and lead numerous understudies toward pointless more prominent obligation. Rather, exchange and option training might be more reasonable for some understudies in the United States.

While many students may prefer the liberal arts focus of traditional college education, other students may benefit from understanding the advantages and opportunities of an alternative, vocational education and trade skills.

# Alternative Education Benefits

Because of the common rhetoric that college is the best — or only — option for adults, many may feel a stigma for not enrolling in a traditional degree program. But students should be aware that career technical or vocational training is far from simply “not going to college.” It is an alternative form of education with a number of advantages over traditional college.

Vocational education is not a new phenomenon. For years, students who were eager to enter the workforce have opted for this form of education in high school and trade schools. Popular vocational careers include welding, information technology, mechanics, and medical tech.

One of the biggest benefits to vocational learning is its lower cost. A report from Express Employment Professionals (EEP) compared the average annual cost of trade school education versus a traditional bachelor’s degree. Tuition and fees for the two-year vocational degree at a state school was about $6,400, while the bachelor’s degree at a public, in-state school was roughly $35,000. The report also noted that because vocational students are in the workforce two years earlier than four-year students, any debt acquired would be paid off more quickly.

Vocational education does not typically lead to bachelor’s degrees, but students do have the opportunity to earn a number of credentials, including certifications, licenses, and some academic degrees, depending upon their field. These credentials serve to prove one’s proficiency in a field, and/or to allow a student to practice his or her trade in a municipality.

Aside from being more affordable than traditional college, helping students get into the workforce more quickly, and teaching people tactical skills they wouldn’t learn on a liberal arts college campus, vocational education can also lead students to high-paying and in-demand jobs. Many careers require vocational training, EEP explained. These jobs include manufacturing engineers, administrative workers, and technology experts. In fact, some of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. don’t require a bachelor’s degree, but do need skilled workers in that field.

Students who undertake technical or vocational education rather than earning a bachelor’s degree still have plenty of earning potential, according to EEP. The report pointed to the state of Virginia, where on average, a person who holds a two-year technical degree makes about $2,500 more than those who earned bachelor’s degrees. Earnings differ nationally and changes by age, but many vocational fields, such as welding, have generally high average and maximum salaries.

Like with a traditional college education, vocational learning has certain areas of study that carry more earning potential, particularly related to industry and geographic need.

# Investing in Vocational Education

Although many politicians are focusing education reform efforts on traditional colleges, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker recently announced new initiatives and funding for greater vocational education. The January announcement featured a planned $83.5 million investment in new grants for vocational education programs, school‐to‐career activities, and expanded STEM college‐career‐pathway programs for students as early as middle school.

The new initiative, which is to be included in the governor’s 2017 fiscal year budget recommendation to the state legislature, is designed to improve the local workforce and economy, according to a statement from the Baker administration.

“With too many good-paying jobs going unfilled, we are pleased to announce this critical investment in our career and technical schools,” said Gov. Baker in a press release. “Our proposal will make it possible for more students to explore a pathway to success through stronger partnerships with our schools and local businesses in the Commonwealth.”

As states such as Massachusetts start investing in better and more expanded vocational education programs, more students are likely to be exposed to this alternative form of education. Though it is not discussed as often as traditional colleges in the national dialogue, vocational, trade, and professional education carry a number of benefits and may be the right answer for many students.

About Flipped Classrooms

In the course of recent years, the conventional address showing model has been totally turned on its head for a stylish — and possibly transformational — new educating procedure. Enter: the flipped classroom. This instructive system is a reversal of the basic “address in the classroom, dole out homework and gathering work for outside of class” setup. Rather, in a flipped classroom, understudies take part in aloof learning (i.e. addresses or relegated perusing) at home, and class time is dedicated to community oriented undertakings, noting questions, and drawing in with the material on a more profound level.

While the flipped classroom concept is relatively new, many educational experts believe it’s the best way to teach students. The flipped classroom model has been adopted at some of the top universities around the world and has been the subject of numerous studies and pilot programs, with promising results. In a flipped classroom pilot program at Villanova University, for example, the new teaching model resulted in learning gains for many students. Most interestingly, however, is that the most significant learning gains were made by weaker students; the bottom third of students’ grades were more than 10% higher than the bottom third of students’ grades in traditional classrooms. That’s the difference between a “D” and a C+” — not a gain to scoff at.

# What is a Flipped Classroom?

With results like the above coming out of pilot programs across the country, the Flipped Classroom movement is gaining steam. Numerous membership organizations have sprung up to support educators looking for more flipped classroom resources, and many of these organizations now hold annual conferences. The Flipped Learning Network, for example, will be holding its ninth annual conference in the summer of 2016.

So what makes the flipped classroom such a groundbreaking idea worthy of yearly conferences, workshops, and a growing legion of fans? Let’s look to education researcher Benjamin Bloom’s famous “Bloom’s taxonomy” for an answer.

Bloom’s taxonomy classifies types of learning into three hierarchical models. In his hierarchical model for cognitive learning, he classifies more passive learning like gaining knowledge and comprehension as low-level cognitive work, while more engaged learning, like evaluation, application, and synthesis, requires high-level cognitive work. The flipped classroom model takes a more intuitive approach to Bloom’s taxonomy by providing students with a supportive classroom environment for them to tackle harder, higher level cognitive work, while letting them do the “easier” lower level cognitive work, like listening to a lecture, at home.

# The Advantage of Flipping Your Classroom

The main advantage of the Flipped Classroom model, then, is that when students are extending the most energy — trying to solve problems, answer questions, or work collaboratively as a group — the teacher is there in the classroom to assist with this more involved, more difficult kind of learning. As mathematics teacher Michelle Rinehart told The New York Times, the flipped classroom model is “about the powerful class time we regain for higher-order thinking activities. Students appreciate the increased assistance and collaboration they receive with this model.” Instead of sending students home with questions to grapple with on their own, students come to class with questions to ask that they developed themselves after watching the pre-recorded lecture. This also helps educators understand where student comprehension is actually faltering, instead of making comprehension assumptions.

Flipping your classroom provides other related advantages as well. For one, when students are watching pre-recorded lectures at home, they can learn at their own pace by pausing and rewinding the video lectures whenever they need to. This is especially helpful to vulnerable students who may feel left behind during a classroom lecture, like students whose first language is not English or students with learning disabilities. Plus, using class time to work on group projects enhances peer-to-peer learning. Many students dread group projects because a small number of group participants end up pulling all the weight, but when classroom time is devoted to group projects, that should ease the unfair burden on these students and enhance peer learning for all.

# The Disadvantages of the Flipped Classroom Model

Educators thinking about adopting the flipped classroom model themselves should be aware that the model does have some drawbacks. For one, it’s a big ask of teachers to devote more time to pre-recording lectures, and making them high quality and entertaining enough to hold students’ attention at home. However, this could be worked around because working on homework-style worksheets during class may cut down on a teacher’s outside-of-class grading burden, possibly giving the teacher more time to devote to recording lectures.

On the students’ end, students must have the proper equipment — including a computer or mobile device and reliable internet connection — to watch lectures at home. This equipment is costly, so students from lower income areas especially may struggle with the flipped classroom model. Furthermore, students may feel that if they’ve absorbed the lessons at home, then they can go ahead and skip class since they’ve already “learned” the information. On the college level,EDUCAUSE reports that some students may feel that they’re not receiving their “money’s worth” from their college, since they may be “wondering what their tuition brings them that they could not have gotten by surfing the web.” Instructors can combat these student attitudes by explaining how working on higher level cognitive work in the classroom actually benefits students and by creating in-classroom activities that are engaging and inspiring.

But despite the aforementioned drawbacks, the flipped classroom model continues to gain in popularity. Many teachers have seen firsthand the power this pedagogical model has to transform their classrooms into spaces full of creativity, collaboration, and thoughtful inquiry. For educators that feel in a rut with the traditional lecture model, a flipped class just may be worth a try.

College Homelessness

For some youthful Americans, school is a period of adapting new subjects, encountering dormitory living, going to weekend parties, and getting a charge out of a lot of feasting corridor nourishment. Be that as it may, for an underrepresented segment of the school group, essentially finding a place to rest and a feast to eat is a battle that diverts from scholastics and makes grounds entertainment close inconceivable.

Vagrancy and outrageous budgetary weakness in school is an issue that influences an astounding number of American understudies around the U.S. what’s more, may just develop as educational cost and charges at schools around the nation increment.

In one study, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Healthy Minds Study found up to 13% of the 4,300 undergrads they studied at 10 junior colleges around the U.S. had encountered vagrancy in the previous year, the gathering reported in The New York Times. Truth be told, 20% of the understudies reviewed additionally said that they had gone hungry sooner or later in the month preceding the study.

College students experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, and severe financial need often have more trouble excelling in the classroom, experiencing college life with their peers, and ultimately staying in college long enough to graduate.

# The Growing Problem of a Homeless Student Body

According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, about 56,000 students self-reported as homeless on the annual student aid form. However, the number of homeless students may be much higher. Many students may not be filling out the FAFSA at all or students may not be reporting homelessness out of secrecy. Additionally, most schools do not keep data on student homelessness.

Although some students are reporting themselves as homeless on federal aid forms, it takes a significant amount of evidence to prove this status, The Washington Post reported. Students are required to submit paperwork showing they are homeless, signed off by a high school counselor or “federally funded shelter.” These types of proof, which would enable financial aid for homeless students, can be more difficult to get in the middle of college, and for many, homelessness may be a fluid circumstance.

The New York Times notes that many students also have to prove that their parents make a low enough income, or that they have an independent status. Some even require students to keep a high enough GPA to retain certain aid, which can be difficult when students are understandably distracted by more substantial issues, such as food security.

The diverse and unique situations may lead to difficulties for classifying homelessness on campus and affect the students’ lives significantly. For example, a formerly homeless college studentwriting for VICE explained her situation, noting that there are a number of ways students may experience homelessness. Some students may spend nights at the library, others quietly crash on friends’ sofas, and some — like her — live in strict transitional houses where guests and alcohol are banned.

Although it’s difficult to track the exact number of homeless college students, the number is likely increasing. Rolling Stone noted that public university debt has increased by about 400% since 1980 and students in 2014 carried an average of $10,000 more in student debt since 2004, with $28,950. As expenses increase, experts expect the amount of homelessness on campus to as well because these increases in price and debt are also increases of burden on many students around the U.S. These can affect homeless and financially insecure students the most, making continuing college impossible or pushing already financially strapped students to homelessness and/or food insecurity.

An increasing number of homeless high schoolers will likely also lead to growth in the homeless college population, The Washington Post explained. The Department of Education put the number of homeless children at 1.3 million for the 2013-2014 academic year, a significant rise in the past seven years.

Barbara Duffield, policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, said that this would translate to more homeless college students, as “the overall population of students who are homeless trying to transition from high school to college is significant and growing.”

Homelessness is a dangerous barrier to education for these students and will likely only reduce opportunities toward upward mobility. With a majority of U.S. jobs expected to require higher education by 2020, homeless students struggling to graduate will only reduce the number jobs and level of pay that these students can achieve later in life.

# Efforts to Reduce Homelessness

Although the issue of homelessness in higher education is growing, many are working to help the affected students and address the larger problem. In late 2015, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, reintroduced legislationto change the financial aid requirements for proof, making it easier for homeless students to get federal student aid.

“For many students, higher education can be a ticket to the middle class, so it is vitally important that students from all walks of life have the chance to go to college, further their education, and succeed,” Murray told the Post. This legislation, would also help students with housing during school breaks and provide support on campus.

While this legislation has yet to become law, there are a number of other efforts helping homeless students now. Programs such as the The College and University Food Bank Alliance help students facing hunger and poverty on campus, while technology like the Columbia University app Swipesallows simple meal sharing on campus among students. These also provide an opportunity for students who have more to help out their peers in need.

NAEHCY also provides students with a number of resources that range from tips for accurately completing the FAFSA to podcasts on college access for students experiencing homelessness.

Another major factor that helps students with housing or food insecurities to complete school or get into college has been athletics. As Sports Illustrated explained, America’s Promise Alliance and Tufts University found that homeless students in primary or secondary school are 87% more likely than their peers to stop attending school. However, athletics can provide a reason for students to stay in school and may lead to a path for graduation or college scholarship for homeless students.

But whether through independent organizations, federal legislation, or student-made apps, efforts to solve homelessness on campus and help students in need can allow these students earn a better education, a college degree, a career, and ultimately, a better future and life.