Alicia Michael, Casper College
Math was one of the reasons Alicia Michael didn’t succeed during her first attempt at college.
The business administration sophomore said the traditional way to teach math had never worked for her: example problems on the blackboard while she took notes.
When she returned to Casper College last year, she discovered that while math itself had not changed, the teaching practices had.
“I enrolled in a self-paced class,” said Michael, 47, who ran two bars and a restaurant in Texas and Wyoming before returning to college. “You work on a computer on your problems, and if you don’t understand something, you raise your hand and the teacher comes over.”
Taking courses from Deb Swedberg and Jake McIntyre, she was able to move through her remedial math classes and complete the general education math needed for her degree. She said that while math is still work, this way of teaching clicked for her. Better still, she said students can complete the class early, and move on to another math class if they wish. If they don’t finish, they don’t flunk. Instead they begin from where they finished the next semester.
“I could see this working for science and English classes,” she said. “I was able to build my confidence and not dread the subject.”
Ironically, she said she was not able to keep up with the pace when she first took college math in 2011. However, with the new methods, she moved faster through the subject, completing her remedial math class with 25 percent of the semester remaining.
“Let’s be clear, this type of class would not work for everyone,” she said. “I tell everyone, you need discipline. And I am a very disciplined person.”
Kimberly Goggles, Central Wyoming College
Central Wyoming College student Kimberly Goggles started her college experience in the fall of 2013, taking classes at the Lander outreach center and main campus in Riverton.
“I was pretty worried about whether or not I was going to be able to write papers at a college level, but I didn’t want to take an extra remediation class if I didn’t need to,” Goggles said. “I would have had to travel more and it would have cost me extra money too.”
After speaking with her instructor, Buck Tilton, she found that she could take advantage of a new option called a “co-requisite” English class, in which you take the typical English 1010 and add an additional credit hour to allow for one-on-one tutoring from the instructor throughout the semester. “We got a lot of individual attention,” Goggles said. “During the extra time we spent in class we were introduced to all sorts of resources to help us like the tutoring center, library service assistance, computer assistance and one-on-one coaching to help us write better.” Thanks to this model, Goggles successfully completed the course in one semester and was able to continue her program without getting off sequence with her English classes.
Remediation classes have been a constant challenge for post-secondary institutions. If a student is not performing at a college level, these classes are required to assist them in reaching the appropriate level prior to taking classes that count toward their degrees. They are costly, time consuming, and can be an obstacle that is difficult to overcome.
“Sometimes the students get discouraged taking a full semester of a remediation class that costs them money and time,” said Buck Tilton, associate professor of English. “They may successfully pass the class, but lose their enthusiasm to take yet another class, at the college level, in the same discipline.The co-requisite model allows them to be in class with their peers, getting college credit, and spending the extra time needed to help them succeed, without spending an entire semester.”
Goggles is set to graduate in December 2015 with a degree in health sciences. She is applying to radiography schools in Wyoming so she can continue her education after she graduates from CWC.