Finish Faster Initiative After One Year
A College of the Mainland initiative aimed at helping underprepared students complete required English and math classes is proving successful after a year of implementation.
The results of the “Finish Faster” initiative at COM has garnered the interest of the American Association of Community Colleges and others across the country. Under the corequisite program, underprepared students take a developmental course and the college credit course in the same subject at the same time. The developmental course serves as a tutor for the college credit course.
College of the Mainland was the first college or university in Texas to fully implement the corequisite pairings, which were mandated by the Texas Legislature. During the 2017 spring semester, COM made the decision to fully implement a corequisite program and the “Finish Faster” initiative began with the 2017 fall classes.
All students entering College of the Mainland take a compulsory entrance exam. Before the Finish Faster initiative, those who received low marks in English and math were required to take and pass a developmental course before being able to enroll in a college credit course. The developmental course does not garner any credit toward a student’s degree. College data showed that many students did not complete the developmental course or dropped out after completing the developmental course without ever enrolling in the credit course.
“We decided to implement the Finish Faster initiative without doing a pilot program first,” said COM President Dr. Warren Nichols. “Our faculty and staff were on board 100 percent and their dedication to the program shows in the student success results.”
The success rates from the “Finish Faster” initiative have been impressive.
Of the 185 students who enrolled in the corequisite English classes of English Composition 1 along with Integrated Reading & Writing, 70 percent were successful – completing the highest level course within a semester. The paired courses were taught by same instructors. Students attended composition class, then attended the support course immediately thereafter and also were provided tutoring through the Speaking, Reading and Writing Center on campus.
Of those enrolled in the corequisite English pairings, 72 percent of female students and 61 percent of males were successful. When broken down by ethnicity, 82 percent of Hispanic students, 61 percent of African American students and 57 percent of white students passed the credit course, according to data from COM’s Office of Planning, Effectiveness, Analytics and Research
COM’s Office of Planning, Effectiveness, Analytics and Research data also shows that students who enrolled in the traditional method of taking the English developmental class one semester and then the college credit course another semester, 47 percent successfully completed the college level course within one academic year.
For math, several corequisite pairings were offered to accommodate the various types of entry-level math courses that correspond to different academic programs. The paired developmental and credit courses included Fundamentals of Math Reasoning with Quantitative Reasoning; Fundamentals of Math Reasoning with Elementary Statistics; Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra, and Elementary Algebra with Intermediate Algebra.
Of the 115 students enrolled in the Fundamentals of Math Reasoning developmental course and either Quantitative Reasoning or Elementary Statistics, 40 percent were successful, compared to 4 percent of students enrolled in the traditional model. Of the 239 students enrolled in Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra, 44 percent were successful, compared to 17 percent with the traditional model. Of those taking Intermediate Algebra, 33 percent successfully completed compared to 21 percent with the traditional model.
For all of the corequisite developmental and college level math pairings, 46 percent of female students and 37 percent of male students successfully completed the college level course. By ethnicity, 47 percent of white students, 41 percent of Hispanic students and 38 percent of African American students successfully completed the college level course.
With COM being the first college in Texas to fully implement the corequisite courses, Nichols has been invited to speak about the college’s success. In late June, Nichols attended the American Association of Community Colleges conference in Baltimore, Maryland. During the “AACC Pathways Institute: Integrating Redesigned Developmental Education into Pathways” conference, Nichols participated on a “Getting Results” panel discussion to emphasize COM’s successful results after implementing the Finish Faster initiative. Nichols also participated on a panel on “Corequisite Instruction” to provide participants an opportunity to ask questions of college leaders who have successfully scaled corequisite instruction with great results.
In May, Nichols was the keynote speaker at a Corequisite Convening at Houston Community College for full-time math and English faculty members. He shared information on how COM faculty collectively worked together to implement the Finish Faster initiative.
Nichols also spoke at the AACC 2018 Convention in Dallas in April on “What’s the Evidence?” and presented information on how COM implemented its corequisite program.