Changes at Colorado community college offer new pathways

The Adult Learning Assistance Program (ALAP) at Colorado Northwestern Community College previously housed developmental education and adult basic education, or ABE.  As students returned to the classroom this Fall, they were greeted with a new center and new pathways.  The former ALAP Center was renamed the Gateway Center and the dev ed and ABE programs were separated.  The ABE program is focusing efforts on helping students earn GEDs, recently launched an ESL program, and aims to facilitate students’ readiness for the workforce.  Meanwhile, the dev ed program strives to offer a quicker path for students to become college ready; previously, dev ed coursework could take up to two years.

Source: Craig Daily Press


Column considers core issues impacting community colleges

In a column titled “Community College Professors Often Fail at Teaching,” columnist and blogger, Jay Mathews, referenced findings from The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand One Another by Dr. Rebecca Cox.  Cox’s book was the result of a five-year qualitative research study to understand core issues present in community college classrooms between faculty and students.  Findings included that faculty do not place as much importance on pedagogy and often do not communicate expectations to students.  In present day, Cox maintains that core classroom dynamics must include a reconceptualizing of pedagogy in order for the attention placed on learning outcomes and dev ed to be meaningful.  Cox is currently assistant professor at Simon Fraser University.

Source: The Washington Post


Preliminary results disappointing in New Jersey

Nearly 85% of students entering New Jersey’s Essex County College required dev ed, placing into the lowest level of math.  In efforts to reverse this figure, the institution incorporated the emporium model, or adaptive learning—an approach incorporating technology to deliver course material.  At Essex, $1.2m from the Gates Foundation was used to develop two math labs where ALEKS, McGraw-Hill‘s adaptive math learning system, would be used.  The new approach also incorporated learning communities wherein students met twice a week to discuss useful learning strategies.  Despite the money and effort expended on this adaptive learning, preliminary results have not been promising.  So far, about 1,000 students have taken adaptive math courses with only 35% of students passing compared to 50% in traditional developmental math.  Despite the disappointing results, the college intends to stay the course to study what changes can and should be made.

Source:  Inside Higher Ed


North Carolina bill would require high school-college cooperation

It is estimated that 52% of students enrolled in North Carolina community colleges in 2013 required one or more developmental courses.  Of these students, 41% required dev ed in math and 36% in English.  Policymakers in the state are convinced that, with figures like this, public schools in the state are not adequately preparing students to be college-ready.  A new bill, proposed by Senator Chad Barefoot, would require a partnership between the state boards of community colleges and education to offer remediation before students graduate from high school.  While many believe that the bill is a step in the right direction, others remind that remediation issues are much deeper and that such problems typically begin before students enter high school.

Source:  Rhino Times


Community colleges in Tennessee nix traditional dev ed

Across community colleges in Tennessee, more than 70% of incoming students require developmental education; however, only 46.5% complete remediation and fewer (12.6%) graduate within three years’ time. To address low graduation rates, the state has eliminated traditional remediation and implemented a co-requisite model.  Students considered underprepared will start with introductory courses in math and English, and a learning support course to help students strengthen their academic skills.

Past pilots of the co-requisite approach in Tennessee have yielded positive results.  Underprepared students passed courses in statistics, quantitative reasoning, and English more frequently than in the traditional model at Austin Peay State University and nine other community colleges. Despite these results, concerns over using this approach linger.  Director of the National Center for Developmental Education, Dr. Hunter Boylan, voiced concerns that it is unclear whether the learning support class will help the most underprepared or first-generation college students, and further cautioned the use of a seemingly one-size-fits-all model, stating that sustaining such a system will be no easy task.

Sources:  Complete College America, PBS NewsHour


Learner Support System used to track dev ed students

After finding that commercial software to track students’ use of learning support services was inflexible and expensive, developmental faculty at South Mountain Community College worked with IT employees to design their own system.  The result was LSS, the Learner Support System now used at the college, located in Maricopa County, AZ.  The web-based application was first implemented in the summer of 2013 and, after the first year, provided the college with the data necessary to compare students’ usage rates (from LSS) to passing and retention rates.  The comparison indicated a difference between students who used three or more hours of support services (e.g., tutoring, supplemental instruction, and workshops) and those who did not–a finding that led to a new requirement of dev ed students to complete at least three hours of tutoring, study group, or other learning support.  In the years since implementing LSS, the college has seen double-digit gains in student success and retention.  LSS is now used in the college’s TRIO program and cohorts in other specialized areas, as well as four sister colleges in the district.

Source:  Campus Technology


Lewis and Clark faculty to present dev ed projects

At Lewis and Clark Community College, nearly 50% of entering students require developmental instruction in reading and writing.  In the past year, faculty at the college developed special projects to address the needs of these underprepared students; their work will be presented at the upcoming conference of the Midwest Regional Association for Developmental Education.  The projects include the use of an online storytelling platform in developmental (English) composition and improved methods for grammar teaching.

Source: The Alton Telegraph


Iowa college receives TRIO grant

Northwest Iowa Community College recently received a $1.2 million grant for TRIO Student Support Services, allowing the college to extend its services through 2020.  TRIO refers to federal programs providing support services and outreach to disadvantaged students.  This includes students from low-income households, with disabilities, and first-generation college students.  Such student groups often include developmental students.  Since 2001, the college’s TRIO program has helped more than 2,200 students.

Source:  KIWA Radio.com


West Virginia reforms found to be successful

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia recently authored a guest column in the Logan Banner.  In the piece, Governor Tomblin details dev ed reforms undertaken by the West Virginia Community and Technical College System to meet the growing projected need for a credentialed workforce.  A million-dollar grant from Complete College America enabled reforms via co-requisite courses in two-year colleges across the state. Prior to implementation of the co-requisite model, only 14% of students passed college-level math within two years of taking developmental math.  Under the new model, however, 62% of students now complete college-level math within one semester.

Source: Logan Banner