Will using online firefighter training resources in addition to traditional classroom learning improve your students pass rates on fire certification exams? If you were to ask Fire Lieutenant Lisa Becher, Fire Instructor at Madison College in Wisconsin, the answer would likely be yes. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the self-described "in the classroom teacher" shifted her approach to include online learning resources and saw her students thrive with a variety of tools to learn the course material. Her recent Fire Fighter I and II class achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on both the Fire Fighter I and II exams, a first for the high school program. According to Becher, "I’ve found that I really like the online program, and I will incorporate it into my classes even after COVID is over."
Madison College is one of the largest technical colleges in the state of Wisconsin. Lt. Lisa Becher has been a fire instructor at Madison College for the last 21 years while also serving as a full-time Fire Lieutenant for the Madison Fire Department. As of the last 4 years, Becher has been the Program Director for the high school EMS & Fire program at Madison College. The program trains students who are juniors and seniors in high school to become Fire Fighters and EMTs. The program has grown immensely over the last four years, and Becher teaches the EMR and Fire Fighter I and II courses in the program.
PSG had the chance to speak with Becher about her experience using PSG books and the Navigate learning management system in her classes:
What led you to choose Public Safety Group as a provider?
Two years ago, I was part of a big review of the Fire curriculum for the state of Wisconsin through the technical college system. In this review, we discussed a variety of changes to our Fire curriculum, one of which was using new books. Madison College used to always use IFSTA material for Fire Fighter I & II, but after a thorough review of the PSG book, we decided to make the switch to you for our Fire Fighter I and II classes.
What sets Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills and Hazardous Materials Response, Fourth Edition apart from the IFSTA equivalent book?
The biggest difference to me is the way your book lays out the material we need to cover in class. The IFSTA book mixes the Fire Fighter I, II, and Hazmat material all together. There is no clear, defined order to the way the material is delivered. I’d often have students (who are thinking about their certification exams) ask whether material we’re reviewing is relevant to Fire Fighter I or II, and they found it harder to organize their notes for studying because of the way the material is mixed together. In comparison, your Fire Fighter & Hazmat book has a clear layout and order to the chapters: Fire Fighter I > Fire Fighter II > Hazardous Materials Response. It makes it easier to teach and helps students better organize their notes so they can ensure they’re prepared for their certification exams.
What do you find most useful about Navigate [Learning Management System], and what do your students find most useful?
I have always been a big “in the classroom” teacher, using classic methods like PowerPoint, whiteboard teaching, and more. Online has never really been my thing, and to be honest, I didn’t use Navigate before COVID. However, COVID forced us to become “online teachers,” which led to me giving Navigate a try for my classes. After trying it, I’ve found that I really like the online program, and I will incorporate it into my classes even after COVID is over.
The thing that both my students and I appreciate about Navigate is the number of options it gives students for how they learn the material. The textbook has a lot of good information, but it’s not the best style of learning for everyone. Some students like the audiobook, some like the PowerPoints within Navigate, some like the flash cards, and some like the Interactive Lectures, which are basically a more condensed way of ingesting the textbook material. I like the Interactive Lectures because of the way they break down the material and check students’ knowledge throughout the slides. I actually made them mandatory for students to complete, as well as the accompanying quiz that comes at the end of each Interactive Lecture.
What kind of success have you seen with certification using our material?
While I don’t have any statistics for the greater College program, I can share a story about one of my recent high school program classes. The class had 10 students and was meeting at the College for 3 days per week for hands-on training while completing a lot of work through Navigate to prepare for the written portion of their certification exams. The students took their practical and written exam for Fire Fighter I, and all of them passed on their first attempt. They also achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on the Fire Fighter II exam. Our program has never had a 100% first-time pass rate for these exams before, so this is an unprecedented success.
Are there any closing words you’d like to share with anyone considering using Public Safety Group products?
I highly recommend PSG to all Fire Service instructors. The customer service is amazing; I cannot say enough good things about my rep, Joy. She is super responsive to emails and a pleasure to talk to on the phone. She provided not just my classes, but the entirety of Madison College’s EMS and Fire Service courses with the tools we needed to transition online during COVID. She’s been a phenomenal resource for all of Madison College.
I also really like the additional instructor materials for the book, which help make planning and delivering my classes easier. They’re great compliments to the main textbook.
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