Corequisite course options are popping up around the country with the goal to ultimately save time and move students through their entry level, credit-bearing math course with better understanding of the course material at hand. First, let’s define: What is a corequisite course?
In a general sense, a corequisite course refers to a course that a student is required to simultaneously take in order to enroll in another course. A corequisite represents a set of skills or a body of knowledge that a student must acquire through concurrent enrollment in another course and without which the student is highly unlikely to succeed. In regards to developmental education, Complete College America’s article “Transform Remediation: The Co-Requisite Course Model” defines a corequisite as the process of enrolling students in remedial and college-level math courses at the same time. Students receive targeted support to help boost their understanding and learning of the college-level course material. Remediation, in this model, is a corequisite rather than a prerequisite to a college-level math course.
Andrea Hendricks shares her journey through implementation of a Co-Req Model.
In Fall 2015, Georgia State University Perimeter College implemented co-requisite remediation, following a University System of Georgia mandate, to decrease the time spent in developmental coursework and thereby time to a college degree. Approximately two-thirds of students who would have originally placed at the developmental math level are now permitted to enroll in their gateway course along with a co-requisite support course. Based on their major, students choose a STEM pathway (which also includes Business) or a non-STEM pathway. The gateway course is College Algebra for STEM students and Quantitative Reasoning for non-STEM students.
Students are placed at one of three levels: Foundations courses, Co-requisite courses, or Gateway courses. Students who place at the foundations level are required to take the support course when they enroll in the gateway course for their chosen pathway.
Students required to take a support course must enroll in both the gateway course and the support course in the same semester. The co-requisite courses are aligned with the content of the gateway courses and provide just-in time remediation for any prerequisite skills. The main goal of the co-requisite support course is to help students pass their gateway course.
The college offered both College Algebra and Quantitative Reasoning for many years. Though the Quantitative Reasoning course was the recommended course for non-STEM majors, students overwhelmingly enrolled in College Algebra. This was due in large part to the fact that College Algebra was the known entity for both students and advisors. Thus, the College Algebra pass rate was less than stellar hovering between 44% and 48%. Now that students are required to choose a pathway, their gateway course is more obvious leading to an increase in the enrollment of Quantitative Reasoning.
Maneuvering the challenges of the co-requisite model has been a daunting task. The reality is that students sitting in the gateway courses are developmental students. They are most likely in their first semester of college and have limited time to get acclimated to what it means to be a successful college student. There is often not sufficient time for students to acquire the prerequisite knowledge for them to be successful in the gateway course; this is especially true of the STEM pathway. Students tend to show a lack of commitment to the support course and, therefore, do not regularly attend. For the support courses to be successful, the gateway instructors must follow a preset pacing of topics. Unfortunately, some instructors stray from this calendar resulting in the support course not providing the just-in time remediation their students need. My college administration believes that it is important for support students to be mainstreamed. Therefore, students may have different instructors for the gateway course and their support course. This has led to its own set of issues with registration and such.
The Support for College Algebra (Math 0999) is a two-credit hour course that is taught as a traditional course in both face-to-face and online settings. The course materials include a set of worksheets created in-house along with an access code to ALEKS. Each worksheet corresponds to a section covered in College Algebra and reviews the prerequisite skills required to successfully complete the College Algebra content. The worksheets guide instructors on topics to cover during class time and are also used for students to work in groups to complete problems reviewing these topics. Students use ALEKS outside of class to fill in their knowledge gaps, to take weekly quizzes, and to complete a post-test. The ALEKS pie is subdivided into 10 modules that correspond to the prerequisite skills for the sections taught in College Algebra each week. A quiz over these prerequisite skills is required each week. Finally, students take a post-test in ALEKS at the end of the semester to provide accountability for learning the material. The grading is based on the following: Participation (25%), Completion of ALEKS Modules (25%), ALEKS quizzes (25%), and ALEKS post-test (25%).
Designing a support course for our College Algebra students has provided an opportunity for my colleagues and me to rethink the traditional way of doing things. While the jury is still out on whether this is the most effective strategy, students who near the border of being college-level and are willing to invest the time to complete five hours of math credit are being successful in getting their gateway math credit in one semester. Perimeter College continues to explore the effectiveness of our strategies, to train instructors, and to inform students on how best to navigate the requirements put before them.
Submitted by Andrea Hendricks, Associate Professor at Perimeter College. She currently serves as the Associate Department Chair for the Online Mathematics Department of Perimeter College at GSU.