An innovative program designed to increase student success in math by offering “just-in-time” remedial courses in tandem with college credit-bearing classes is getting off the ground at Wright State University.
Wright State is only one of three public colleges and universities to win an implementation Bridges to Success award from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to support offering this type of remediation at scale.
Douglas Leaman, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, said the program promises to enhance the success of Wright State students in a big way.
“It’s not going to impact students in just one major. It’s going to impact students in every major — a huge population across the campus,” Leaman said.
Nationally, students who are placed into traditional math and English remediation courses have much lower success rates than others. One study shows that 74 percent of students complete remediation, but only 37 percent of them go on to complete the associated college course.
Under the traditional ”front-loaded” model, students needing remediation must first complete and pass all of the remediation courses. They sometimes fail to pass the remedial courses or become discouraged and do not proceed to the college credit-bearing classes.
“Just-in-time” remediation gives students the relevant knowledge and skills they need while they are taking a closely aligned college credit-bearing course.
“The goal of the initiative is to give students access to college credit-bearing classes immediately and to provide the necessary support to ensure their success,” said Ayşe Şahin, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
A similar model in college-level writing has been used with great success at Wright State.
“When students are taking a prerequisite course that doesn’t apply toward a degree, they are going to make it their last priority,” said Tim Littell, executive director of student success and associate dean of University College. “But when they take it as a co-requisite with a course that does apply, suddenly their pass rates go up in both courses.”
An initial $25,000 planning award for math remediation, a joint effort with Sinclair College, funded the design of not only co-requisite remediation for a Quantitative Reasoning course and was piloted during spring semester.
Quantitative Reasoning is designed to develop skills meaningful in students’ personal, professional and civic lives. It emphasizes using data to make good decisions and for students to seek out patterns and order when confronted with unfamiliar contexts.
As part of the curricular design work funded by the award, new curriculum was piloted for the Quantitative Reasoning course. With the new materials, students learn through hands-on activities and collaboration with their peers. The framework helps students develop their communication skills, using mathematics that will be relevant to them throughout their careers.
Many students who took the piloted Quantitative Reasoning courses said the remediation portion helped them with the related credit-bearing course, provided more practice and support, and gave them better understanding of the material. The success rate was very high. Several said they would not have passed without it and enjoyed the material and focus of the course.
Similar pilots for Introduction to Statistics and College Algebra began being taught fall semester.
In the meantime, Wright State is using the Bridges to Success Implementation funding — one for $150,000 — to build a sustainable, full-scale program for students of all majors that will be implemented in the fall of 2018.
Some of the money will be used to pay stipends to the graduate teaching assistants and for faculty to develop support materials, design the structure of the program and for professional development. The program will also feature support mechanisms for students such as peer mentoring and early intervention.
“What is involved is a lot of hard curricular work,” said Şahin. “We have to make sure that students in co-remediation hit the right material at the right time so it aligns with what is being taught in the college credit-bearing classes. It really is going to involve re-envisioning how we teach.”
The program is expected to allow about 500 students to take a college credit-bearing math course their first year, increase the number of students who complete their required math course in the first year from 98 to about 390 and reduce degree completion by at least one year.
“This is going to have a potentially positive impact on graduation rates, which in the end is what matters the most,” said Leaman.