My pathway to corequisite courses

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I absolutely love trying new things! From travel experiences to foods (as long as they are not stinky), I’m willing to attempt new things. My adventurous nature really shows in my teaching experience. For me, gone are the boring days of straight lecture. I’ve taught online, in a lecture/lab format, in a flipped format, modular (that’s similar to emporium), and fast-track. Basically, if it’s a new way to teach, I’m willing to give it a try. By the way, did I mention I teach math?

As a math instructor, I taught the traditional three tier developmental sequence for years, knowing that it was a broken model but not knowing how to fix it. Our department tried two non traditional formats for our developmental courses: lecture/lab and modular. We observed a slight increase in pass rates with the lecture lab model but nothing significant.

The modular approach, or mastery-paced approach, led to a significantly higher pass rate. However, because the students had more than one semester to finish a course, this model increased the number of students taking longer to complete the sequence of courses.

Then in 2012, my college became a co-development partner with the Dana Center to pilot a new model, Mathematics Pathways. This was earth-shattering for me and I was, and still am, so excited about this new way of teaching. No longer would students have to struggle through three levels of developmental math before taking their first gateway math course. They could take their gateway course with the developmental support needed to be successful.

While we did not call this “corequisite” at the time, by definition, it is a corequisite model. You may ask what is the reasoning or the logic behind this model. Well, at some point during their high school experiences, students saw the material that we deem “developmental” and they just don’t remember it. The idea is to go ahead and put them in the college level course and refresh their memory on the prerequisites as they go.

So, back to our first attempt at designing and teaching a corequisite course… The first two years were tough as we redesigned, and then redesigned the redesign, looking for what worked best for our students. If you’ve ever been through a major educational redesign, you know that it takes time and tweaking to get to a workable model.

The best model for us was a cohort model with one instructor and just in time support. With this model, we were able to spend more time on task with the collegiate level topics and also managed to squeeze in those soft skills that students need: time management, stress management, note-taking, etc.

We offered this model for intermediate algebra level students who needed liberal arts math or statistics for their major. Personally, I taught the statistics corequisite course. It was a three hour course with one hour of support scheduled so that the in-class time was seamless. Because it was a cohort with all students testing at the same level, I was able to gauge when that just-in-time support was necessary and integrate it into my lecture as needed.

How did I actually teach the course? I used a combination of lecture and active learning, what an old mentor called “10 on,10 off.” I would lecture over a topic for approximately 10 – 15 minutes and then break up the monotony with worksheets that covered both the prerequisite and collegiate material. Students were required to work individually and in groups (the tried and true Think, Pair, Share). This allowed the students to get peer instruction and often cleared up simple misunderstandings. I would always wrap up the “10 off” time by showing the worked out example(s) on the screen and discussing any lingering questions.

In 2016, I transitioned from a full-time instructor to a part-time instructor and full-time faculty advisor for Pearson. My role is to ensure instructors are using the MyLab product to the best of its ability in order to increase student success.

Almost everyday, I have the privilege of talking with an instructor where I introduce them to a new aspect of MyLab. With the increase in corequisite course offerings across the nation, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with instructors whose attitudes concerning corequisite courses range from excited to terrified. My advice: Stay positive and give it a try. And don’t be surprised by the students’ success!

Designing a corequisite course? Not sure where to start? This Roadmap to Corequisite Redesign will give you an in-depth look at the logistics of corequisite course design and using MyLab to support those courses. You can also view my webinar, Using MyLab Math and Statistics in Corequisite Courses.

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