Thanks to the higher education learning model enhanced by the five elements of success(often referred to as the EARTH model), our partner universities have begun to experience the benefits of a student-centered education focused on experiential learning and reinforced by an enriched interaction with the local communities, , entrepreneurial education, and an increased emphasis on values based ethical leadership skills.
In the Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Calkiní (ITESCAM), located in Campeche, Mexico, Mildred Yazmin Uc Yah focused her research on “Adaptation of the Sustainable and Innovation Agricultural Engineering, Reconciled to the Educational EARTH-Itescam Campeche Model”, to obtain her Masters in Educational Integration.
In the study, she compared a total of 108 students from the Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture (IIAS) Academic Program of ITESCAM, using data from the student classes between 2019 to 2022. She considered historical numbers from the official dropout rates of the traditional educational program, versus the comparison of the five school semesters since the application of the EARTH model (2019-2022), based on the grades obtained in the experiential scenarios in the subjects of agroecology, soil science, agricultural production systems, among others.
“The educational model proposed by EARTH University is seen as an area of opportunity for adapting careers in agriculture and agronomy in higher education, because it allows valuing the cultural knowledge of the region and generating learning scenarios that adjust to the conditions of the school”. – Mildred Yazmin Uc Yah.
The research focused on a comparison of dropout and subject failure rates regarding between the conventional model and the “EARTH” model. The results demonstrate that the changes or adaptations to the educational model significantly improved the student’s theoretical-practical knowledge and strengthened the bond with the surrounding communities. The IIAS students and graduates also exhibit the capacity to develop viable business enterprises that incorporates ethics and values including cultural respect of the new rurality, combining ancestral knowledge with new technologies.
According to Uc Yah, there are significant differences between the results obtained by the students in the control group and the experimental group, particularly with respect to experiential learning.
In the projects presented, the enhanced ability of IIAS students to develop their own companies and an entrepreneurial mentality was observed. Students are better enabled to generate self-employment, community employment, the creation of added value throughout the value chain, and the generation of greater dynamics in the local community economies. Another observed result was the integration of teachers from other disciplines that strengthened the entrepreneurial projects.
Mildred feels that it is important to share the educational model and its benefits. For example, to transform higher education it is necessary to have a generalist idea of education, and a holistic perception of the key human elements, as well as to show that adaptation is possible in various academic programs. The adaptation to the “EARTH Model’ resulted in a reduction in the dropout and failure rate in the first semesters that the IIAS student were in the university. Prior to applying this academic model there was a terminal efficiency that ranged from 75 to 81% while after the implementation this increased to 95%., although during the pandemic it decreased to 60% for reasons unrelated to the educational system. We expect the indicator to continue to demonstrate improvement for the 2022-2023 class of students.
To close, it is important to highlight that at the end of each semester, the ITESCAM quality control conducts a student satisfaction survey on the methodology implemented, and of the professors involved. The survey showed “Notable” positive results for the application ofthe experiential learning model.
“Universities face increasing criticism for being slow to adapt curricula and pedagogy in response to advances in knowledge and communication in recent decades,” emphasizes Uc Yah.
In this way, ITESCAM, with a clear vision of a more global strategy for the future, will design and consolidate a new model for youth entrepreneurship in the surrounding communities.
The Transforming Higher Education project is delighted to see the tangible results of the changes incorporated into the educational model at ITESCAM, and to witness a behavioral change in students, their teachers, the institutions, and their communities, which directly impacts society in a positive way. We hope others will follow the example of ITESCAM!