College of Education approved for unique Competency Based Education program

Great changes for West College in 2020

College of Education approved for unique Competency Based Education program

Even as the Gordon T. & Ellen West College of Education prepares to move into its new home in the renovated J.S. Bridwell Hall, several major changes to degree programs have been completed, including a unique pathway to teacher certification at Midwestern State University.

Most recently, the college was approved by the Texas Education Agency to add the Early Childhood through 3rd-grade certificate, one of only four programs in the state. However, the program at MSU Texas is unique because it is delivered through a competency-based education (CBE) format, the only one of its kind in Texas.

“It is one of the most significant academic years in the history of the West College of Education,” said Dr. Matthew Capps, Dean of West College. He said the EC3 CBE certificate creates a new method for a person to become a teacher, that didn't exist before at MSU Texas. "And it doesn't exist anywhere else in this state," Capps said.

Competency-based education is an online format where students provide evidence of competency in knowledge and skills to earn course credit. Rather than moving through a traditional 15-week program where students engage with a faculty member, students in CBE programs move through with an instructional coach. If students can show competency in particular knowledge or skill at an 80% proficiency level, they earn credit without any other requirement. If an 80% proficiency level isn’t achieved, the instructional coach provides guidance through module learning until adequate progress is achieved. Also, the program at MSU qualifies for the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate program, which reduces the cost of the degree (approximately $15,000 for the last 60 hours) to about half of the normal tuition and fees. The program operates through open educational resources, which requires no textbooks.

“It allows a person to finish a teaching degree without quitting a job and at a significant cost reduction,” Capps said. “We also made a change to our other degrees that have been in law since 1985 and provided two new degree options that never existed before, both of which have tremendous potential for job opportunities. All of this while we were refurbishing a new building and completing the final stages of adding the first doctorate to MSU.”
The TAB program only applies to the last 60 hours of the degree, the courses within the College of Education. Students who complete this program will take courses with term formats, speeding up the completion time. Some students will complete their entire degree within three years.

The West College has also changed the name of several degrees and added some other options. Students may now earn a Bachelor of Science in Education with concentrations in many fields, including EC-6, 4-8 or 7-12 Biology, Math, English Language Arts, or Social Studies. This is a major change in the way degrees are conferred for future teachers. Capps said for the last 30-plus years, students were not allowed to earn degrees in education, per state law. The existing programs in Math, Science, English, and History remain available along with the option to earn a true degree in education.

Bridwell Hall science 2020
The new science classroom for aspiring teachers at Bridwell Hall. (Andy Newberry)

Two existing degrees have been combined into a single option. The former Bachelor of Arts in Sport and Leisure Studies and the Bachelor of Science in Sports and Leisure studies have been combined into a single Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in Sport and Leisure Studies. This degree has two options, a practitioner’s track and a management track, which can be completed online.

An undergraduate degree in substance abuse counseling also has been added. Providing instruction and degree completion for an undergraduate counseling degree is a new area for MSU Texas, making the university only the third college in the state to offer such a degree and the only one with a majority of the degree offered in an online format. Many of the developmental courses may not be available immediately as an online option but the counseling classes themselves will be.

Lastly, the college added a new undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies and Early Care. The ECSEC program prepares individuals for careers in the field of early childhood and early care, including teaching, youth-related social services, early care and youth programs, health care, child development, and other community settings.