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Andragogical Modeling and the Success of the "EMPACTS" project-based learning model in the STEM disciplines: A decade of growth and learner success in the 2Y College Learning Environment.

Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:55 PM
Capitola D Phillips, Regina Thomason, Marvin Galloway, Nathan Sorey, Lee Stidham and Mason Torgerson, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Science and Mathematics Division, Bentonville, AR, United States
EMPACTS (Educationally Managed Projects Advancing Curriculum, Technology/Teamwork and Service) is a project-based, adult learning modelthat is designed to enhance learning of course content through
  • real-world application and problem solving
  • self directed and collaborative learning 
  • use of technology
  • service to the community

EMPACTS students are self-directed in their learning, often working in teams to develop, implement, report and present final project results. EMPACTS faculty use community based projects to increase deeper learning of course content through “real-world” service experiences. Learners develop personal and interpersonal work and communication skills as they plan, execute and complete project goals together. Technology is used as a tool to solve problems and to publish the products of their learning experiences. Courses across a broad STEM curriculum integrate the EMPACTS project experience into the overall learning outcomes as part of the learning college mission of preparing 2Y graduates for future academic and/or workforce success.

Since the program began in 2005, there have been over 200 completed projects/year. Student driven successes have led to the establishment of an EMPACTS Technology Corp, which is funded through scholarship and allows EMPACTS learners the opportunity to serve and learn from one another as "peer instructors." Engineering and 3D graphic design teams have written technology proposals and received funding for 3D printing replication projects, which have benefited the college as a whole through grant opportunities tied to these small scale successes. EMPACTS students engage in a variety of outreachprojects with area schools as they share the successes and joys of self directed, inquiry, project based learning.

The EMPACTS Program has successfully trained faculty and students in the implementation of the model and conduct semester to semester and once a year workshops for college and K-12 faculty, who are interested in enhancing the learning experience and retention of course content through meaningful, engaging, character building projects. Learner Project successes are celebrated and archived within the framework of the EMPACTS Student Project website. http://faculty.nwacc.edu/EAST_original/Spring2014/Spring2014index.htm