Unique Programs at IWU: uLEAP (An Accelerated Learning Program)

At IWU – National & Global, students can take advantage of several areas of study and multiple learning options that are designed to fit the busy schedule of today’s learners.

By: Rachel Ashley & Jake Hreha

At IWU – National & Global, students can take advantage of several areas of study and multiple learning options that are designed to fit the busy schedule of today’s learners. Have you ever heard of competency-based education? It’s a unique learning format that allows students to accelerate their program, work at their own pace, and build a portfolio of relevant skills – we call it uLEAP.

What is the purpose of an accelerated learning program and how can it contribute to student success? An accelerated learning program (ALP) allows for students to pursue a degree that fits their lifestyle, availability, and preference. Students enrolled in ALP courses have access to campus resources, a strong developmental education, and more. The ALP program has the same instructor expertise and assistance as standard classes.

A major benefit of this learning format is ALP students' likelihood to get a degree. Many students enrolled in ALP classes don't have the availability of traditional students. The success rates of students shows how high school students ready to graduate and people attending college later in life can both choose the exceptional uLEAP program for their education.

We reached out to one of uLEAP’s first graduates, Eileen LeMaster (’21), to talk to her about her experience in her program, the Bachelor of Science in Management.

Q: What brought you to IWU?

A: I learned about the competency-based education program that Indiana Wesleyan University was beginning and saw it as an excellent opportunity to earn my bachelor’s degree. It was such a blessing to be accepted into the pilot program for the CBE.

Q: You earned your Bachelor of Science in Management, but you did it in the competency-based format called uLEAP. Why did you choose this format versus a standard 6-week class, one-class-at-a-time format?

A: I chose to earn my degree through the uLEAP format because the structure of the program appealed to me as a working adult. This format offers flexibility that the more traditional online formats do not. This competency-based format is worked at one’s own pace. It also provides an opportunity to utilize one’s work experience to complete the mastery projects. While the preparation work is available to be completed prior to the mastery project for every class, if a student already has experience with the subject matter, they may bypass the preparatory work and proceed to the mastery project. This shortens the time required to complete the courses and the program as a whole. This ability to move quickly through the courses appealed to me because it is a time-saving format which makes the program more affordable.

Q: What kind of support did you receive throughout the program?

A: Throughout the program I was given ample support. I was assigned a CBE coach, Jenna, who met with me weekly via phone for the first six weeks of the program, and then she stayed in contact with weekly emails. I was also given excellent support and guidance by my instructors. Most instructors made contact with me via email and several wanted to speak on the telephone or via Zoom prior to me beginning the preparation work for the class. Access to my instructors was quite liberal even though most of them are adjunct faculty working full-time jobs. All of my instructors responded to my questions in a timely manner.

Q: Did you finish your program faster than if you had chosen a traditional online program?

A: The uLEAP format allowed me to finish my degree in half the time of a traditional online program. I completed the core classes, my religion course and other general education requirements in 14.5 months.

Q: What’s the most important thing for students to know about the uLEAP program?

A: The most important thing for students to know about the uLEAP program is that, while they are working through the classes at their own pace, they are not alone. Many resources are available through Indiana Wesleyan University that students may utilize for support including tutoring, their instructors, their coach, and support through the chaplain’s office. Their best academic support, however, is their instructor. Keeping a channel of communication open with their instructor is their best tool for success.

Q: Do you have any advice for new students entering the uLEAP program?

A: The best advice that I can give to new uLEAP students is to organize their time and set goals for themselves to achieve throughout the program. Giving oneself a goal or timeline for each course helps to keep one focused and on track. I again would also stress that it is vital to make contact with the instructor early in the course. They offer insight and direction and are the best source of information and support relating to the course. They genuinely care about their students’ success!

Rachel Ashley

Assistant Director of Communication - IWU-National and Global

Rachel Ashley is an IWU graduate (’11) who is passionate about helping people see how education can change their lives. Rachel has more than eight years of experience working in higher education. She holds an undergraduate degree in English and writing and a master’s degree in communication.

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

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