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Wisconsin Students Offered New Path to Bachelor's Degree

By Kate Garlock
APRIL 16, 2007--Students from technical colleges in Wisconsin will soon be able to pursue a bachelor's degree in early childhood education with ease thanks to a grant administered by UW-River Falls and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.

The University of Wisconsin System PK-16 Waisman Center: DPI State Improvement with TEACH Early Childhood Wisconsin Scholar Program has provided program development funds to Gay Ward, associate professor of early childhood education and literacy at UWRF, and Mary Williams-Greene, instructor of early childhood education at WITC in New Richmond, in order to establish the pathway they're creating for students with a two-year degree to receive a four-year degree.

The fully funded program received $30,000, which will go toward further developing articulation between the schools so that student attending technical colleges will be able to finish their degree at UWRF if they so desire.

"This grant comes out of the history of Wisconsin schools getting early childhood educators to work together," said Ward.

The idea was that the WITC students in its early childhood education associate's degree program should be able to apply their degree toward a bachelor's degree. In some situations, bachelor's degrees are becoming mandatory for teachers interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education.

While more and more jobs require a four-year degreed licensed early childhood teacher, said Williams-Greene. There are still plenty of jobs if students decide to stop at an associate's degree.

UWRF and WITC have a history of working together. The two schools share textbooks, and Williams-Greene is on the curriculum advisory council for the childcare center at UWRF. Ward and UWRF Preschool Director Angela Kaiser are on the WITC advisory board, and Williams-Greene is also an adjunct lecturer and guest facilitator at UWRF.

Both schools have students working at the UWRF childcare center, and educators from both schools frequently share their philosophies and information on how best to articulate the programs offered.

This grant will finalize articulation agreements and help professors and instructors develop courses that will transfer seamlessly.

"We will know exactly what they need to take need they can finish in a certain amount of time," Ward said.

The two educators are also developing a comprehensive major to reach out to more remote students so they are able to obtain education and licensure utilizing distance learning. These courses will include online components, video streaming and some face-to-face classroom interaction.

The challenge is to preserve the hands-on nature that's so important to early education, say Ward and Williams-Greene. The integrated curriculum model has an emphasis on the natural world in language, math and other subjects, Ward said.

For some students, a technical college is a great place to start, with smaller classes. This entry or re-entry to higher education in a more intimate setting also appeals to nontraditional students and working adults, giving them options in pursuing degrees and building confidence in going on to a four-year institution.

"We always come back to what is best for the students," Williams-Greene said. "I think that's really helped guide the whole process."



Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:12 Central Daylight Time


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