Posted on February 8, 2023


Structuring a course for success for developmental students.

There are an awful lot of articles out there analyzing the statistics and demonstrating that students who are “underprepared” as identified by assorted methods … don’t do so well. There’s a lot of analysis of what happens when the gates are lowered, with various levels of “extra support” provided. There are some successes for students who are slightly underprepared, such as this analysis in Tennessee which shows that *for students on the margins* 2 of 3 “course redesigns” improved success. Notably, doing modules on computers basically didn’t improve things for anybody. (The ongoing annotated list of articles is here.

There’s scarce discussion of what actually happens in the classes the students are in (Cox R. “You’ve Got to Learn the Rules”: A Classroom-Level Look at Low Pass Rates in Developmental Math. Community College Review [serial online]. July 2015;43(3):264-286. is an exception.)

Where I provide student support, the instructors are *driven* to improve students’ understanding of math and success in math courses. Being in ‘way over their heads is less of an issue here. We know that yes, there are students who don’t know their times tables — and don’t think multiplicatively…. but we add yet to that statement. Some of the folks I have taught how to count up and down correctly have gone on to pass Statistics, legitimately.

I’m wondering if it’s worth doing some serious documentation of our assorted efforts, specifically for the “late start” class — and Spring Semester classes have lower pass rates, and Late Start class rates… even worse. So we’ve got both goin’ on. What are we going to do?

  • Lots of teaching for understanding, without assuming they bring background knowledge.
  • Take ’em around and *show* them the support available (for this and other things).
  • Provide an organized binder so they can keep track of class notes, use of ALEKS (for the practice part), their quizzes.

So, I’m clearing tabs at work — it’s oh, probably 2 weeks later. They’ve got the binder and … hoping this works, so far so good!

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