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Students put their English skills to work for SEK-CAP

December 08, 2010 12:00AM

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Students Kelli VonCannon and Bethany Duty work on a new SEK-CAP bus route map.

For two-and-one-half weeks this fall, a group of PSU students worked intently to create a simple, easy-to-use route map for the SEK-CAP PACT bus system. This class project not only provided valuable experience for the students, according to instructor Ann Meats, it provided one more example of the many ways that graduates with good English skills are highly sought out in the workforce.

This fall, Meats said, Becky Gray, the director of research, planning, and grants development for the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program (SEK-CAP) approached her about taking on a redesign of the agency's PACT bus route map as a project for her English 501 (Document Design) class. Meats and the class agreed, which led to an exercise that put everything the students had learned to a real-world test.

"They had a cumbersome route map that also included a complex schedule and rules for riders," Meats said. "The challenge was to make it a more user friendly document and to show more clearly the routes. The students had to find a way to get a lot more information on the page and at the same time make it more accessible."

The students simplified language, eliminated duplication and even added a Spanish language translation. The icing on the cake is a design that allows the map to be folded into a small rectangle that can easily fit into a pocket, wallet or purse.

"They did a terrific job!" said Gray. "There's a lot of information in there (the new route map). It is clear, understandable and usable."

That's especially important, she said, because a number of their bus riders are elderly or disabled.

Meats and the students can now joke about the stress that the project put on the class, but she said it is just the kind of real-world experience that can pay dividends in the future.

Meats said the English Department tries to give students a general skill set that meshes well with other disciplines across campus. The end result, she said, is that students can use those English skills to get good jobs when they graduate.

Students involved in the project include Kelli VonCannon, a senior from Cedarvale, Kan.; Bethany Duty, a senior from Ottawa, Kan.; Andrea Gordon, a senior from Wichita, Kan.; and Jamie Fenoglio, a graduate student from Pittsburg.

©2010 Pittsburg State University