Faculty team members who teach Gateway math and English courses used data regarding course pass rates, persistence and completion rates of past cohorts to better understand which students do not persist and to anticipate causes. They have also taken initial steps to use formative, real-time data to make in-progress adjustments to student interactions. This past year, significant resources have been allocated to improve our internal reporting capacity as it relates to Gateway course success which will continue in the next year. Faculty teams attended professional development programs including “Got Evidence”, On Course principles, the Starfish Early Alert system, and training to learn about engagement strategies and classroom assessment techniques. They also contextualized learning as a method to increase student engagement. Students were placed in courses based upon benchmark scores as part of the Pathways to Success intervention. Struggling students received extra instruction from tutors in the classroom and the supplemental instruction offered in the new Student Success Center (an innovative Writing Lab, Math Lab, and Academic Coaching classrooms strategically connected to the College’s Library). The Starfish Early Alert system has been fully implemented during this academic year, providing instructors in Gateway courses a powerful communication and tracking tool that can be used real-time. Referral processes to supplemental instruction sessions are particularly focused on success in the Gateway areas.
Fall 2014 saw the first pilot offering of a Learning Community model at NWTC. This initial pilot featured pairing of Gateway courses in communication and math with social science and occupational program courses, respectively. Students indicated great satisfaction with the development of study groups, social connections, and enhanced student-instructor relationships as a result of the community, as well as improved ability to apply and see relevancy in the foundational skills taught in the Gateway courses. Course success rates in these pilot courses showed a small but promising improvement over non-community comparison classes, especially pronounced in math.
The communication skills instructional area also continued implementation and improvement of the Advanced Learning Program (ALP) model of developmental education, which features co-enrollment in both developmental writing and Gateway writing courses. The ALP model provides the opportunity for strong and developing writers to collaborate and utilizes the in-class coaching model that has been successful thus far at NWTC. The math instructional area developed a slightly different model that combines the curriculum of developmental math and Gateway math into “integrated” courses, saving students time and money and allowing remediation to be just-in-time for Gateway applications.
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