Student Experiences in English Corequisite Remediation Versus a Standalone Developmental Education Course

Findings from an Experimental Study in Texas Community Colleges

by Lindsay Daugherty, Alexandra Mendoza-Graf, Diana Gehlhaus, Trey Miller, Russell Gerber

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Research Question

  1. How do the experiences of students assigned to corequisite remediation and students assigned to standalone developmental education courses compare?

Until recently, many colleges provided academic support to students by requiring students to complete one or more developmental education courses in a subject area before they could enroll in college-level coursework. As early as 2010, research indicated that very few students were making it out of these developmental education courses and into credit-bearing coursework.

Colleges have been experimenting with new approaches that accelerate students into college courses. In this study, researchers focus on one of these approaches to acceleration: corequisite remediation. Corequisite remediation requires that students who are identified as requiring additional academic support be placed immediately into a college course while receiving aligned academic support during that same semester.

Research has shown that corequisite remediation has positive impacts on academic outcomes relative to the traditional approach of requiring students to take developmental education courses. However, little is known about how student experiences differ in corequisite remediation relative to developmental education courses.

In this report, researchers use data from a randomized control trial at five community colleges in Texas to examine contrasts in student experiences between college students who were assigned either to corequisite remediation or to standalone developmental education courses. Researchers examined eight areas: (1) early opportunities to make progress, (2) intensity and compression of academic practice, (3) rigor of coursework and expectations, (4) alignment of academic remediation with college coursework, (5) opportunities for student-centered learning, (6) opportunities for peer learning, (7) support for success skills (e.g., study skills, social and emotional competencies), and (8) exposure to stigma.

Key Findings

Corequisite remediation had positive effects in some areas

  • Corequisite students enrolled in more credit-bearing coursework and received more hours of reading and writing instruction in their first semester of college.
  • Corequisite students were less likely to perceive their coursework as being too easy, boring, or repetitive of high school coursework.
  • Corequisite students were less likely to know that they were enrolled in developmental education and less likely to feel embarrassed to be enrolled in the course.
  • Corequisites were structured to enhance peer learning by mixing students by ability and arranging students in learning communities, and corequisite students spent less time on individual deskwork.
  • Qualitatively, researchers found evidence of strong alignment in corequisite models, including focus on a common set of course materials and reliance on the same instructor to teach the college course and provide the academic support.

Some findings were mixed or negative

  • Corequisite remediation students were less likely to report having plans to use tutoring in the future.
  • Students assigned to standalone developmental education were more likely to perceive their instructors as believing in their potential to succeed.
  • Despite smaller class sizes, corequisite students were no more likely to report one-on-one time with the instructor. The greater time spent on individual desk work in standalone developmental education was often used to provide one-on-one support and may have offered additional opportunities for student-centered instruction.

Recommendations

  • The areas where researchers see clear contrasts in experiences between students assigned to corequisite remediation and students assigned to standalone developmental education—facilitating early opportunities for credit, increasing course rigor, minimizing the exposure of students to stigma, and closely aligning the course and the academic support—are the most likely drivers of the positive impacts found on early course outcomes.
  • Practitioners should consider whether and how their corequisite models support success skills and foster student-centered learning, and should consider strategies in these areas as potential topics for instructor professional development.
  • The evidence-based framework used to evaluate student contrasts in the study might also be thought of as a type of checklist for institutions to consider as they develop and refine corequisite models.

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences and undertaken by RAND Education and Labor in partnership with American Institutes for Research and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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