A new study by the Community College Research Center adds to the growing body of evidence showing improved student outcomes in accelerated models of remediation nationwide. The study is one of the first to establish a link between accelerated remediation and longer-term completion outcomes like transfer and graduation.
Released this week, the CCRC paper compares the outcomes of Chabot College students who participated in an open-access, single-semester developmental English course and their peers who participated in a two-semester developmental English sequence. The study used two kinds of statistical modeling — regression and propensity score matching — to attempt to control for differences in the student populations and ensure that differences in outcomes were not the result of pre-existing differences between accelerated and non-accelerated students.
After five years, the authors write, “accelerated students were 17 to 22 percentage points more likely (depending on the model) to have completed English 1A,” Chabot’s gatekeeper college composition course. “At the five-year follow-up, accelerated students had also earned approximately 4 more college-level credits, had GPAs 0.08 to 0.12 points higher, were 7 to 10 percentage points more likely to have transferred (or to be ‘transfer-ready’), and were 4 to 6 percentage points more likely to have graduated.”
In addition to quantitative data, the study draws upon classroom observations, interviews with faculty and administrators, and student focus groups to shed light on pedagogical factors related to the improved outcomes.
“While the streamlined course structure is probably the most important contributor to the superior outcomes of students who enroll in the accelerated developmental English course, its success may in part be predicated on other features of Chabot’s developmental English model,” the authors write.
“Our classroom observations and the reports of students and faculty indicate that the instructional activities and settings in Chabot’s developmental English classes differ materially from what Grubb (2012) characterized as typical of developmental education. Students were leading conversations, identifying and articulating evidence in support of their arguments, drawing connections across multiple sources, and questioning their own logic. These community college students were publicly wrestling with ideas as students do in the seminars typical at elite institutions of higher education. These qualitative insights speak to what students who come to college academically underprepared are capable of when held to high standards and provided the emotional and academic support they need. And they suggest that structural changes to remedial courses must be accompanied by thoughtful modifications to curriculum and pedagogy if colleges are to substantially improve outcomes for developmental students.”