Community colleges need to fine-tune remedial coursework to move students quickly to college-level classes, says Bernadine Chuck Fong. A former community college president, she’s now at the Carnegie Foundation, which is studying community college “gatekeeper” courses.
Colleges are trying to use data to diagnose students’ learning issues and needs, reports Community College Times. In some cases, students don’t need a whole semester-long course to move ahead.
“We are looking at a one-year pathway that would take a student who is algebra-ready through college-level statistics in a year—and to shorten the time frame and give them a speedier and more-focused direction in getting through the whole mathematics requirement,” Fong said.
Math is a huge challenge for many students. Half of developmental students pass algebra on the first try, says Paul Nolting, a learning specialist and enrollment services advisor at the State College of Florida’s Manatee-Sarasota Campus. Only 30 percent pass on the second attempt and 25 percent on a third time.
“You have to try and get your students the first time out with the standard instructional design that most math instructors use,” he says. “But if that doesn’t work, you have to be willing to try alternatives, like putting more study skills in the classroom, using a lot of worksheets and emphasizing group work.”
Jane Serbousek, who’s redesigning developmental math at Northern Virginia Community College, agrees that students need to learn study skills.