Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

NADE Members Respond: Improving Accelerated Developmental Mathematics Courses

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

NADE Members Respond: Improving Accelerated Developmental Mathematics Courses

Article excerpt

The acceleration of developmental mathematics instruction is a current trend in the field of developmental education. This report on a survey of practitioners reveals the challenges in teaching accelerated models of developmental mathematics courses and garners recommendations for improving the practice. Responses were elicited from faculty teaching developmental mathematics in two- and four-year colleges. Survey results offer input from those already involved in the practice and are intended to benefit practitioners and administrators engaging in reform applying to accelerated course delivery models.

Purpose of the Study

More than a decade ago, Boylan (2004) made a case for accelerating the developmental education process. He described a model of improved student placement and integrated support interventions that would move students to college-level courses more quickly. More recently, there has been a substantial push to accelerate the instruction and delivery of developmental mathematics courses. Jaggars, Edgecombe, and Stacey (2014) described some benefits of accelerated course models. The shorter structure reduces the potential student withdrawal points from a sequence of developmental education courses and speeds up the pace at which college skills are developed. However, these interventions require careful thought, design, and implementation. The faculty that are teaching these types of courses would likely offer important insight in these areas.

The purpose of this research was to gather feedback from instructors in order to learn from their experiences with accelerated mathematics instructional reform. Caferella (2016) described a negligence with regard to considering faculty input when reforming and accelerating the delivery of mathematics instruction. This work should, in a small way, address that particular gap. The participants were surveyed as part of their involvement in professional development activities with the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE). The results may offer benefits to college faculty, researchers, and reform advocates as they work to improve the delivery and performance of developmental mathematics courses.

Review of the Literature

Venezia and Hughes (2013) have described the reasoning anda few methods for accelerating developmental education courses. The goal is to reduce the amount of time students spend in skills preparation courses and move them more quickly to courses that count toward earning credentials. Sequences of multiple developmental education courses are described as problematic due to high withdrawal rates. Research shows that failure to enroll, failure to pass, and high withdrawal rates all contribute to a majority of students never completing a multilevel sequence of developmental education courses (Bailey, Jeong, & Cho, 2009).

Accelerated Course Structures

Accelerated mathematics course structures differ across institutions. Some common structures are modularized, contextualized, compressed, and corequisite models. Modularized courses have content that is broken into discrete learning units that focus on particular skills (Venezia & Hughes, 2013). These models are reliant on accurate and precise diagnostic skills assessment in order to ide_72.tify the specific competencies of individual students. Challenges of this model include a curriculum that may appear "disjointed" (Venezia & Hughes, 2013, p. 41) and a self-pacing component that may be problematic for students lacking effective time-management skills.

Contextualized courses are learning experiences designed with career-related content (Arnold, 2010). In developmental mathematics, this type of content is combined with the instruction of basic academic skills. The goal is to make learning relevant to life and to model the application of skills in workplace scenarios.

Compressed courses shorten the length of time for skills development by reducing redundant content in a curriculum. …

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