Poplar Bluff college develops transitional program to boost student skills | News
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Three Rivers College is transitioning the way it serves students who need to strengthen the skills necessary to be successful in college-level courses.
“Three Rivers has been using a $2 million Strengthening Institutions grant to redesign the traditional classroom model of developmental classes. We have developed a Transitional model that uses computer modules and individualized instruction to help students master higher level skills more quickly and effectively,” said Three Rivers Math Instructor Kevin Wheeler. Wheeler is helping lead the team of college instructors and staff members using the federal Department of Education grant to develop innovative approaches to better prepare students for success.
Using ACT scores or computerized placement assessments, Three Rivers evaluates the math, reading, and writing skills of all new students. The Transitional courses will replace developmental courses for students whose scores indicate they need to boost their math, reading, and/or writing skills in order to be successful in college level courses, Wheeler said.
The Transitional courses provide a more individualized way of learning than the traditional classroom developmental model in which an instructor lectures and all students do the same homework problems, he said.
Wheeler explained that a student in a Transitional course works through Internet-based modules that explain concepts, test understanding, and provide instant feedback and more instruction if needed. As soon as the student shows mastery of the concept, he or she moves to the next module.
Students can work on the modules in class, where the instructor is available to offer help and guidance. In addition, the modules also can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer so students can work on their skills outside the classroom, including at home, in the college’s Tutoring and Learning Center, or a computer lab.
“The most important advantage is that the Transitional model helps students progress through developmental classes more quickly and can save students money,” Wheeler said.
With the developmental classroom model, a student placed in the lowest level math course would take three classes and three semesters to progress to College Algebra. With the Transitional model, it’s possible to do this in one semester and pay for just one class, Wheeler said.
The math courses are set up to allow students who complete Transitional Math 1 during the semester to move directly into Transitional Math 2 and then into Intermediate Algebra. This makes it possible for students to complete one, two, even all three math classes in one semester and only pay for one class, saving students money and time, he said.
He gave the example of a pre-nursing student who completed all three math classes in one semester. Because of the Transitional program, she was able to apply for the nursing program a year earlier than would have been possible with the traditional model.
The writing and reading Transitional classes are set up in a similar way to take advantage of computer modules. With writing, students work through grammar skills modules with writing skills taught using the traditional classroom model.
“Studies show that the more quickly students can progress through developmental courses, the more likely they are to persist to get a degree. This is part of our effort to help students reach their education goals,” Wheeler said.
The Transitional courses were offered in a pilot program at the Poplar Bluff campus during the Fall 2012 semester, with more being offered during Spring 2013, he said. The program will expand to Three Rivers centers and other off-campus locations in Fall 2013.
Three Rivers College offers quality, affordable college and career courses on campus, off-campus and online. For more information about the wide variety of programs offered, about enrolling and about financial aid, call 573-840-9665 or visit trcc.edu.
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