For the second installation of our Innovators Speak series, we asked Dr. Rebecca Goosen about her experience implementing the corequisite model in Texas. She is a developmental educator and administrator at the forefront of course redesign, and took some time to share her thoughts

Please describe your experience with the corequisite model.

I am the district administrator for developmental education at San Jacinto College. We had a Demonstration Grant from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and were asked to try integrating reading and writing as well as do some early testing of the corequisite models in Mathematics. We quickly went to the integrated reading and writing model entirely with two levels. In Mathematics we began with the Algebra corequisite in what we called Acceleration in Mathematics (AIM).

We also organized a Mathematics Research and Development Team early on. That group helped design the Math curriculum, explored best practices, worked on an implementation plan and piloted the sections of AIM. They created notebooks, standardized instruction and made data informed decisions. I served on that committee along with faculty and staff from Institutional Research, Advising, Center for Teaching and Learning and others that could contribute to the mission of the team.

What drove the decision for redesigning your courses?

The college received a grant from the state in 2010 that asked us to pilot a Math course that would eventually become our first corequisite in Mathematics. While it was too prescriptive and scripted, the faculty liked the idea of just-in-time instruction. If you teach a concept one semester in the Developmental Mathematics course that won’t be used until the next semester in the next level, are students really going to retain that information or are you going to have to reteach?

The college also looked at our sequence and pass rates. The faculty began the work by creating new instruction that scaffolded back from the college-level course to create those elements necessary for students to be successful in the college-level Mathematics course. They also engaged in a very interactive learning environment with reduced lecture, plenty of time for interaction with material, building of community and a frequent and quick turnaround for feedback.

If applicable, what types of corequisite implementation models have you explored or discussed? Please describe.

Since AIM, the college has produced four pathways for Math. The appropriate Mathematics course depends on a student’s field of study. The college also reduced the developmental sequence from three courses to one (foundations), which is also aligned with the first college-level Mathematics course, depending on a student’s pathway. Students may currently take a two-semester model (an appropriate DE foundation course and then the corresponding college-level Mathematics course) or the one-semester model. Those are:

  • AIM: Acceleration in Mathematics which is an algebraic path for STEM and other degrees requiring algebra.
  • ABS: Acceleration in Business and Social Science Mathematics which is an algebraic path for business students or students that need finite Mathematics.
  • ASAP: Acceleration in Statistics and Probability is a non-algebraic path for students whose pathway may include Psychology or similar courses.
  • ACM: Acceleration in Contemporary Mathematics is the other non-algebraic path for students that might want to study the arts or other courses that would not require the algebraic courses.

The one-semester models have two instructors assigned that are in the classroom at all times. Students enroll in a three-credit Developmental Mathematics (foundation) course and a three-credit academic college-level course at the same time. They attend classes either four or five days a week. The two instructors team-teach and often students are not aware which instructor is the college-level instructor and which is the developmental education-level instructor. The success rates have been consistent over the last few years and range from 65% to 80%, A-C.

What advice would you have for faculty who are considering the corequisite model? For example, what are the top 3 things to know?

First, make it local. If you take a model from another college you probably do not have the same resources, faculty or administration to carry the changes exactly like another institution’s program. Learn from others—but design what will work for you at your college.

Second, trust your faculty. They are the experts in content and delivery. Give them opportunity to design, apply and adapt whatever your model looks like. As an administrator, you need to remember, you are not walking into that classroom to teach, they are. They have to have buy-in as well as ownership. This is not a top down application.

Third, you’re never finished. We have had AIM for about six years and this summer it went back to the R & D Team to be worked on again. You need to revise as you go.

What are the unique needs for Faculty and Adjunct training as they pertain to corequisites? Did you handle these in any particular way?

You cannot say to faculty “Okay, now do corequisites” without providing some professional development. How is it taught? What materials can you use? What does it look like at our college? How do I assess the outcomes? These are some basic questions that need to be answered.

At our college we started out with teams of two that were comfortable (or became comfortable) with each other. They have been one of the keys to our success; however, much of what they learned was by trial and error. Now, as we scale these we need new faculty to become engaged. We have split those teams and allowed them to pair with new faculty. One of the best professional development opportunities has been these pairings. The college-level faculty have said they thought they were good teachers until they taught with a developmental education instructor who taught them what it should look like and the college-level faculty helped the DE instructors more deeply understand the sequence of Mathematics.

We also have created notebooks that outline the courses. Things like a set of problems to work on the board for a specific lesson, classroom activities, assessment questions, and resources are examples of what is contained in the notebooks.

Part-time faculty training can be a challenge, as we must pay them when we bring them in for professional development. We feel strongly that we need to do that, so we do offer them specific sessions on what should be delivered in these courses and they respond very positively.

How do you measure the success of these models?

We, of course, look at A-C success and retention rates. We also look at how they do in their next Mathematics course, if applicable. Many students only need one academic Math unless they are a STEM student so this may complete that requirement. In a quality measure, we have also seen many students that dreaded Math actually like Mathematics after this approach. Many may select another Mathematics course if they have that option.

Reducing time to completion, reducing the number of hours attempted, are also measures that are used to evaluate this model.

Want to hear more on this topic from others in our Innovators Speak series?

Check out this Q&A with Jeff Hughes.

Looking for more information on course redesign in the corequisite model?

Visit the Cengage Mathematics Redesign page.