Truman Wins $400,000 Grant to Support Competency-Based Learning Initiative, Launch Data Science Program

Truman State University has been awarded $400,000 to implement an innovative competency-based education program. The Data Mastery Initiative aims to apply competency-based learning concepts and methods to both a high school concurrent enrollment course in computer science and a proposed new graduate certificate in data science.
“The Data Mastery Initiative is exciting because it uses technology and an innovative approach to learning that expands the reach of a Truman education,” said University President Troy Paino. “It also proves that preparation for high quality 21st century jobs and a liberal arts and sciences education are complimentary and not mutually exclusive.”
The grant, awarded by USA Funds and administered by the State of Missouri, was announced recently by the Governor’s Office as part of a larger state funding initiative aimed at encouraging the development of innovative approaches to content delivery. The proposal was written through collaborative efforts by the faculty of the Department of Computer Science, the Institute for Academic Outreach and administrators in Academic Affairs. Four grants were awarded to universities pursuing competency-based education initiatives, while three grants were awarded to universities creating innovation campuses.
“Competency-based learning represents an increasingly attractive approach to education for those populations who cannot be easily reached by the traditional four-year, residential, seat time-based educational model that Truman is best known for,” explains Kevin Minch, associate vice president for academic affairs and director of Truman’s Institute for Academic Outreach. “Many adults come to a second or third career while they are in the workplace, or after they have already acquired valuable and assessable skills. Competency-based models acknowledge this and seek to accelerate time to degree completion while reducing operational costs.”
The initiative also aims to open the door to learning in computer science through projects aimed at middle school and high school students. The anticipated concurrent enrollment course in introductory computer science will afford high school students the option to earn college credit while completing elective coursework at their school as well as creating a pipeline for fostering students interest in computer science. This course will be further supported by non-credit programming coursework at the middle school level through Truman’s Joseph Baldwin Academy for Eminent Young Scholars.
The timetable for the grant calls for implementation of both programs during 2016.