Remedial education

Remedial education

Postsecondary remedial education (also known as postsecondary remediation, developmental education, basic skills education, compensatory education, or preparatory education) is a large and growing segment of higher education in the United States. It is composed primarily of sequences of increasingly advanced courses designed to bring underprepared students to the level of skill competency expected of new college freshmen. Estimates suggest that as many as 41% of all new college freshmen enroll in remedial coursework during their postsecondary pursuits.

Contents

Remedial education in the United States

Postsecondary remediation is a controversial issue. As Bahr (Bahr 2008a, pp. 420–421) explains, "On one hand, it fills an important niche in U.S. higher education by providing opportunities to rectify disparities generated in primary education and secondary schooling, to develop the minimum skills deemed necessary for functional participation in the economy and the democracy, and to acquire the prerequisite competencies that are crucial for negotiating college-level coursework. On the other hand, critics argue that taxpayers should not be required to pay twice for the same educational opportunities, that remediation diminishes academic standards and devalues post-secondary credentials, and that the large number of underprepared students entering colleges and universities demoralizes faculty. Following from these critiques, some have argued for a major restructuring of remediation or even the elimination of remedial programs altogether."

Remedial education in Europe

While remedial programmes are common in the United States, they are less common in Europe. Nevertheless, several European higher education institutes have started to offer remedial education programmes as well [1]. One of the reasons why European universities are starting to develop remedial courses is the different situation in the two continents. In the United States, a common assumption is that remediation attracts underprepared students of low socio-economic status. Inadequate academic preparation is no longer a barrier to college access. In contrast, in Europe a large part of the transitional problems are caused by differences among national secondary educational programmes which are determined on a national level [2]. Therefore foreign students are hindered to effectively start a bachelor or master programme. Remedial or developmental courses can help to bridge this gap.

The effectiveness of remedial courses

The question that rises is whether successful completion of a remedial course guarantees students’ success in college. The literature provides limited evidence for the effectiveness of remedial courses on outcomes such as persistence to graduation, quality of performance in subsequent courses, and grade point average. Many researchers claim that very little research has been conducted to investigate the effectiveness of remedial or developmental education and that research concerning the effectiveness of remedial education programmes has been sporadic, underfunded, and inconclusive and has serious methodological flaws. Recently, efforts have been made to use more rigorous research designs (e.g. regression discontinuity design) to evaluate remedial effectiveness. [3]

Measuring the effectiveness

One way of measuring the effectiveness of a developmental/remedial programme is to investigate whether the enrolled students actually complete the remedial courses successfully. Several researches found that underprepared students who completed remedial coursework achieve greater academic success than underprepared students who didn’t complete remedial coursework or students who started college academically prepared. These findings support McCabe’s statement that successfully remediated students perform well in standard college work. "From what study?"

Success factors

Kozeracki (2002)[4] destinguishes seven commonly cited elements that are associated with student success in developmental programmes:

  • Orientation, assessment, and placement are mandatory for new students
  • Clearly specified goals and objectives are established for courses and programmes
  • The adult learning theory is applied in the design and delivery of the courses
  • The courses are highly structured
  • The programmes is centralized or highly coordinated
  • Counseling, tutoring, and supplemental instruction components are included
  • The social and emotional development of the students is taken into consideration

Other research suggests that "bridge" programs that integrate basic skills and remedial education with higher-level content or technical training can produce substantially better results than traditional remedial programs.[5]

ICT in remedial education

Online remedial education is defined as an instruction method using ICT which helps students to provide knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in university[6]. This way, foreign students can study in their home country, which reduces their costs while at the same time offering flexibility to develop their knowledge and skills. ICT has the power to support independent learning as well as to learn irrespective of time and geographical constraints with the widespread implementation of internet.

Advantages and possibilities

Advantages:

  • Flexible instructional pace and flexible class participation
  • Elimination of barriers of time and space
  • Cost-effectiveness of online courses
  • Electronic research availability (digital libraries and online databases)
  • A well-designed online course makes it easy for students to navigate and find the adequate information

Disadvantages and problems

Disadvantages:

  • Delayed feedback from the instructor
  • Unavailable technical support from the instructor
  • Lack of self-regulation and self-motivation
  • Sense of isolation, caused by the lack of interpersonal communication and interaction among students or between students and the instructor, or caused by the use of monotonous instructional methods
  • A poorly designed course interface makes students feel lost in seeking information

The role of the teacher in online remedial education

In order to provide a positive experience and to ensure the effectiveness of online remedial courses, the tutor’s roles in designing and organizing the learning experience, providing technical advice and support, encouraging and facilitating discussion, encouraging participation, using a variety of forms of instruction, and resolving communication problems are crucial[7].

Collaborative tools

A recent development in collaborative working and learning is the use of synchronous tools like web-videoconferences whereby learners meet online at a fixed time (synchronous) in an online classroom[8]. While web-videoconferencing is not a new phenomenon, tools like Skype, MSN Web Messenger and Adobe Acrobat Connect allow learners to efficiently communicate using free or low cost technology such as a simple desktop computer. Until recently, such basic technology would only allow for asynchronous learning, as for example in discussion groups.

European Framework of Transitional Preparatory/Remedial Teaching

In order to be able to compare and assess various preparatory courses in Europe, a European framework of transitional courses is necessary. By developing European Framework for Transitional Preparatory Courses (EFTPC), teachers around Europe can see how their design of their courses fit with the framework. In addition, potential improvements are identified and can be extended with the insights from the field. By using the WIKI technology, each teacher can add his/her suggestions to the EFTPC. This Framework is being developed in frame of European project STEP [Studies on Transitional Electronic Programmes http://www.transitionalstep.eu/].

See also

External Links

Notes

  1. ^ Rienties, B., Tempelaar, D. T., Dijkstra, J., Rehm, M., & Gijselaers, W. H. (2008). Longitudinal study of online remedial education effects. In N. P. Barsky, M. Clements, J. Ravn & K. Smith (Eds.), Advances in Business Education and Training 1: The Power of Technology for Learning (pp. 43-59). Dordrecht: Springer.
  2. ^ Brants, L., & Struyven, K. (2009). Literature Review on Online Remedial Education: A European Perspective. Industry and Higher Education, 23(4), 269-275.
  3. ^ Moss BG, Yeaton WH (2006). "Shaping Policies Related to Developmental Education: An Evaluation Using the Regression-Discontinuity Design.". Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 28 (3): 215–229. doi:10.3102/01623737028003215. 
  4. ^ Kozeracki, C. A. (2002). ERIC review: Issues in developmental education. Community College Review, 29, 83-101.
  5. ^ "Beyond Basic Skills: State Strategies to Connect Low-Skilled Students to an Employer-Valued Postsecondary Education". Center for Law and Social Policy. http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/Beyond-Basic-Skills-March-2011.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  6. ^ Rienties, B., Tempelaar, D., Waterval, D., Rehm, M., & Gijselaers, W. H.(2006). Remedial online teaching on a summer course. Industry and Higher Education, 20(5), 327-336.
  7. ^ Brants, L., & Struyven, K. (2009). Literature Review on Online Remedial Education: A European Perspective. Industry and Higher Education, 23(4), 269-275.
  8. ^ Giesbers, B., Rienties, B., Gijselaers, W. H., Segers, M., & Tmpelaar, D. T. (2009). Social presence, web-videoconferencing and learning in virtual teams. Industry and Higher Education, 23(4), 301-309.

References

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  • Bahr, P. R. (2008b). Cooling Out in the community college: What is the effect of academic advising on students’ chances of success? Research in Higher Education, 49(8), 704-732.
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