While most two-year institutions struggle with the high costs and low passing rates of remedial courses, administrators in one Chicago community college believe they've found a way to double pass rates.
Access at the Crossroads Blog
These blog entires identify best practices in classrooms and policies to increase success for historically-underrepresented college students. Some entries feature excerpts from my book, Access at the Crossroads. Join the conversation and post a comment. Click here to subscribe to this blog.
Certain groups of students bring less social capital with them to college— students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, first-generation college stu¬dents, and historically underrepresented students of color. Learning assistance services, especially developmental courses, are essential for overcoming disad¬vantaged backgrounds. Learning assistance is essential for providing access to a broad range of institutions.
The student groups that had not traditionally attended college before have a variety of overlapping identities, some of which pose barriers that impede success in college. Walpole (2007) analyzed this population and names one group “economically and educationally challenged.” “All [economically and educationally challenged] students, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, face challenges in accessing, persisting, and graduating from college. The intersec¬tions of these identity statuses and educational processes and outcomes are non-linear and deserve additional attention” (p. x). Walpole states that chal¬lenges for these students are not the result of a failure to try or that they are somehow inferior to the students from dominate cultures. “Rather these stu¬dents must cope with a structure and a system that deﬁnes merit in ways that do not privilege them” (p. 15).
Learning assistance can help these new students overcome the barriers that might limit their chances for succeeding in postsecondary education. Deciding whether to curtail or eliminate credit-based learning assistance such as developmental courses does not just affect campus economics or perceptions of institutional prestige. It is not a race- and class-neutral deci¬sion. This report illustrates how a wide range of students at most institu¬tions, regardless of their classification, use noncredit learning assistance activities such as tutoring, study groups, learning assistance centers, and the like. Lack of access to credit-based learning assistance, however, raises issues of class, race, and culture. It is a serious decision to tell essentially an entire group of students who share common demographic identities such as first-generation college students, students of color, and low socioeco¬nomic students to begin their college career at a two-year college, while privileged students can begin wherever they want. No one quite says it that way. The impact is the same, however, if the needed resources are not avail¬able and the campus culture is not welcoming to the new students. The risk is de facto resegregation of postsecondary education in the United States and all the disastrous results for individuals and society that would occur (Bowen, Chingos, and McPherson, 2009).
Excerpted from Access at the Crossroads (Arendale, 2010).
In the current edition of Education Week, Bo Yan and Mike Slagle write following:
"Ever since educational research became an academic discipline more than a century ago, researchers and educators have been vocal in their dissatisfaction over its impact on practice. For decades, education research has been criticized as confusing, irrelevant, and of little practical use, fueling a pessimistic view that research probably will not lead to better schools.
In response, the federal government and the research community have zeroed in on so-called “what works” research, and, in recent years, studies have mushroomed to answer a broad range of policy questions, such as: Do school vouchers work? Does technology improve student learning? Are private schools better than public schools? At the same time, existing studies on intervention strategies and programs are scrutinized to provide educators, policymakers, and the public with trusted and easy-to-understand scientific evidence of effective programming. The federal What Works Clearinghouse is a premier example of such endeavors.
This is all well and good, but we would argue that it is far from enough. We believe it is time for a research shift, and instead of making determinations about whether programs work or not, attention should turn to identifying the right students for whom a program is effective and the necessary contextual conditions that make a program work. What’s more, local schools should conduct rigorous studies to determine whether programs and initiatives will work for their students..."
Agreed. Rather than the singular focus on "does it work", we need the answers of "how it works". Articles next to never explain in a systematic way what is really unique about the practice, what are the essential elements, what are the critical implementation steps that are never discussed elsewhere, and what were the major mistakes you made on the way to perfecting the practice. That is practical information to improve student outcomes. Being a judge is much easier than being a good teacher.
Miksch, K. L., Higbee, J. L., Jehanglr, R. R., Lundell, D. B., Bruch, P. L., Siaka, K., & Dotson, M. V. (2003). Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP IT). Minneapolis, MN: Multicultural Concerns Committee and the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Retrieved
The Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP IT) was developed at the University of Minnesota's General College with the goal of integrating multicultural education within postsecondary education. MAP IT is an adaptation of Diversity Within Unity: Essential Principles for Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Society (Banks et al., 2001). This publication contains the MAP IT set of 10 Guiding Principles and four survey instruments designed to aid in measuring the extent to which institutions of higher education centralize multicultural education and incorporate the guiding principles. Instruments are provided for survey of the following four groups within the institution: administrator, faculty & instructional staff, student development and support services staff, and student.
I have used the assessment with a graduate course which required students to analyze a learning environment regarding these criteria. The reports received back from the students were powerful for not only identifying unseen barriers to learning, but also serving as a positive prompt for taking action. I highly recommend the instrument. As described above, the questions are customized for the respondants: administrators, faculty & instructional staff, student services, and students themselves.