Diminishing Barriers to College-Level Coursework: NVC Launches Program to Embed Tutors in Classrooms

Thanks to a $200,000 grant, many Northwest Vista College students will be able to take advantage of an innovative supplemental instruction program that includes one-on-one tutoring embedded in courses that have been historically difficult.

NVC has found there’s a higher rate of students not passing developmental or remedial education, which are courses that prepare students for college level math, English or reading. Placing supplemental instructors in these classrooms can help reverse those trends. Studies have shown tutors or supplemental instructors in classrooms lead to higher grades for students.

House Bill 2223, which passed last year, is the driving force to help developmental education students. The bill mandates colleges who enroll students in developmental education classes to place students in a college-level course of the same subject concurrently, also known as co-requisite classes.

Previously, students took developmental classes separately, prior to the college level course, and if they weren’t successful, they would have to take it again before moving to the college-level course. The $200,000 grant is from a program called the Comprehensive College Readiness and Success Models (CRSM-2018), which awards funding for projects that meet or exceed the requirements of HB 2223.

Unlike traditional supplemental instruction models, the NVC program will require supplemental instructors to attend both the developmental and college level class and enable students to receive just-in-time interventions and tutoring support throughout the course. In addition, the NVC model also requires students to attend a certain number of out-of-class sessions and workshops that emphasize peer to peer learning.

“Students who test into developmental education often become frustrated with their potential to succeed in college and are unable to generate a direct path for moving to a degree-seeking status,” said Caroline Kuyumcuoglu, NVC academic program coordinator. “Participants in supplemental instruction programs have higher course pass rates, and higher institution retention than students who do not participate.”

Caroline said the supplemental instruction leader is a top student or recent graduate who has previously passed a freshman composition course, and is someone a student can relate to as a peer. Caroline added embedding supplemental instructors in all co-requisite developmental education classes removes some of the stigma associated with the program being perceived as remediation.

To test if this concept would work, NVC piloted the program in two co-requisite summer classes. Results showed that 88 percent or more of students in the co-requisite English classes earned a C or better.

Before HB 2223, NVC made strides over the last several years to help the success rate of math students by developing a one-stop shop, Vista Central, in which first-time-in-college students receive enrollment support, career goal assessment, and includes a faculty advisement element which ensures students enroll in the appropriate college math courses. With this new grant, NVC Math will also pair developmental math and college-level math courses and use tutors in classroom to provide more help to students.

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