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The Accelerated Program For All Learners (APAL) Program Design

Joe Betz

Ball State University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

            The Accelerated Program for All Learners (APAL) combines postmodern implications discovered within the Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP), designed for college-ready graduating high school seniors and young adults (up to age 21), and the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), designed for developmental education students who have close to, but slightly under, college-level writing skills, to produce a sequence of study that equally values academic advancement and the development of students’ social identity.  APAL’s main purpose is to accelerate completion of gateway courses within Ivy Tech Community College’s system by providing consistent peer and faculty cohort support. 

Program Objectives

            APAL is a vehicle for students to complete gateway courses (transferrable to four-year institutions) at an accelerated rate while earning an Associate’s degree in General Studies. A second and equal objective is for students to develop a full social identity: a postmodern goal in higher education (Nguyen, 2010, p. 92). 

Students

            APAL recruits 30 students to form one cohort.  This cohort is comprised of an equal number of “college-ready” (15) and developmental students (15), based on an ACCUPLACER assessment—a test determining knowledge in reading, writing, and math (“ACCUPLACER,” 2014). Once a student tests into an upper-level developmental writing course and does not need reading skills remediation, he or she is applicable.  This developmental threshold follows the student requirements found in the Accelerated Learning Program, assuming that for students to handle the increased difficulty of accelerated writing deadlines, they must have close to “college-level” writing skills to succeed (“What is ALP?” 2014). 

            Student diversity in age, sex, and race will be encouraged during the application and selection process.  The goal will be to produce a classroom containing a multiplicity of voices, values, and experience.  A committee of faculty designated to teach courses within APAL will select candidates who have completed an application form (Appendix A) and personal interview.

Faculty

            Strong and supportive faculty members are the best attribute of accelerated programs.  According to Ivy Tech Community College English Department Director and Professor Carol Simmons, skilled faculty with backgrounds in public school teaching are strengths in a program containing academic skills advancement (developmental) students (personal communication, March 10, 2014).  Any faculty cohort within APAL should include primarily full-time instructors who have a variety of teaching experiences.  Similar to the student cohort goal, faculty selection should value diversity. 

Learning Assumptions

            APAL values postmodern assumptions within higher education, especially that diverse and repressed voices have value and must enter the learning environment (Nguyen, 2010, p.93).  Therefore, the restrictions of developmental education students and students older than 21 years found within ASAP are eliminated to produce greater diversity.  Other assumptions include:

·      Knowledge is not fixed: Knowing anything is elusive, and therefore the learner’s knowledge must be critiqued and refigured often.

·      Heterogeneity is favored over homogeneity: Dominant patterns—of thought, of practice, of knowing—should be dismissed, allowing new perspectives to enter the learning environment.

·      A skeptical attitude is necessary: Critical questioning and the development of critical thinking skills are paramount.

·      Social identity and self-understanding are most important: The individual and the community are valued for their own sake, not for the sake of production.

Program Design

            APAL builds on the postmodern strengths of the Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) and the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) to produce a new course of study highlighting the value of social identity with academic advancement.  The schedule to complete courses to earn an Associate’s degree in General Studies is borrowed from ASAP, and the value of heterogeneity is borrowed from ALP.   

            ASAP allows select students to complete an Associate’s degree in one academic year by completing five, eight-week semesters (“A College Degree ASAP,” 2014), and APAL uses this unique schedule challenging the dominant, two-year Associate’s track paradigm.  Before each semester, students select from a variety of classes that meet degree goals, using faculty recommendation to aid their selections. Courses within a General Studies curriculum are favored in APAL to produce a “multiplicity of experience” that is needed for emotional and intellectual growth (Edwards & Usher, 1997, p. 159).  APAL aims to emulate ASAP’s 86% academic success rate, with success defined as a student earning a degree or still enrolled after 12 months (“A College Degree ASAP,” 2014).

            The ALP model pairs eight developmental writing students with twelve college-ready writing students in a for-credit 100 level English composition course.  The developmental students take an additional writing course afterward (an upper-level developmental writing course), thus providing students with twice as much English writing instruction per week compared to traditional course advancement models.  APAL values age diversity and developmental writing students similarly but removes unequal distribution of students to better realize the value of repressed voices.

            To help achieve the goal of realizing a full social identity as described by Nguyen (2010, p. 92), students will reflect and critically question their progress throughout each semester, and at the end of each semester, students will be asked to consider who they are within a global and local societal context, how their views have changed, and what they hope to achieve with their cohort.  In addition to reflective practice, immersive learning opportunities should be presented to students to accomplish dual goals: academic advancement toward the completion of a course and social learning—i.e., students should be tasked with solving “problems” together within their community.   

Conclusion

            The Accelerated Program for All Learners values and builds from the postmodern ideals discovered in the Associate Accelerated Program and the Accelerated Learning Program to produce learning outcomes for students that achieve academic and social identity success.

References

             ACCUPLACER (2014).  Retrieved from http://accuplacer.collegeboard.org/students

A College Degree ASAP: The One Year Accelerated Associate Degree (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.ivytech.edu/asap/

Edwards, R., & Usher, R. (1997). University Adult Education in the Postmodern Moment: Trends and Challenges. Adult Education Quarterly, 47(3-4), 153-68.

Nguyen, C. H. (2010).  The Changing Postmodern University.  International Education Studies, 3 (3).  Retrieved from http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ies/article/viewFile/6052/5300

What is ALP? (2014).  Retrieved from http://alp-deved.org/what-is-alp-exactly/

 

 

Appendix A

Name:

Age:

 

Please answer the following questions on a new page:

1.) Why are you interested in the Accelerated Program for All Learners (APAL)?

2.) How would you define yourself as a student?

3.) APAL requires 40 weeks of Monday through Friday commitment.  Are you able to meet this commitment?  If yes, how will you meet this commitment? If no, what must change before you enter the program to meet this commitment, and how will you do this?

4.) Do you believe that all voices should be valued in the classroom?  If yes, why do you believe this?  If no, why do you not believe this?

 

Comments

 

Name: james justus

Email Address: jdjustus@bsu.edu

Subject: Project Design Comments

Message: Well thought out and well spoken. You have good clarity of your vision. I wish others at Ivy Tech had the same clarity. How many students do you think could graduate from the program each year? How would this program fit in with the current budget restrictions Ivy Tech has emplaced?
Good paper.
Jim

 

Name: Katelyn Neary

Email Address: krneary@bsu.edu

Subject: Project Design Response

Message: Robert,
Great program design, it was very informative and educational. I also really like the title of the program! You did a really great job of designing a program to fill a need. I really could see this being implemented by Ivy Tech and being successful.
Best,
Katelyn

 

Name: Carlynn Moore

Email Address: clmoore@bsu.edu

Subject: Mr. Robert

Message: Great Job! Your job is well organized and thought out. This program definitely meets learner’s needs. Writing is such crucial part of learning

 

Name: Kristy Garcia

Email Address: kjhagedorn@bsu.edu

Subject: Evaluation

Message: I love this idea and see how it would be very appealing to students. I can see how highly motivated students to get out onto the workforce sooner would benefit. I also think the students would get a lot out of the cohort. This would allow them to have an immediate support system with this compressed structure. I also like the idea of a variety of coursework. This would help the student who may not know what their interests are. This is also a great program because of the financial aide help but the higher than some english test scores. Great job.

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