ASAP / Co-Req Program Evaluation

Joe Betz

Ball State University

 

Commented on Group 1, Group 4

 

 

 

Abstract

            This program description aims to describe the Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) and the co-requisite program initiative, modeled after Community College Baltimore County’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), through a postmodern lens.  Both of these programs are currently implemented within the Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana system, though this system comprises several campuses.  The Ivy Tech-Bloomington campus is used as the basis for describing the co-requisite program.
 

 

 

 

ASAP Program Description

            The Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) is a course of study allowing adult learners to complete an associate’s degree in one year.  Built for recently graduated high school students, the program compresses two years of study into five, eight-week semesters.  The Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana ASAP program is the focus of this description.

Key Features

            ASAP aims to move students through freshman and sophomore level courses quickly and efficiently while providing each student financial and emotional support. After five, eight-week semesters, students earn an associate’s degree (in General Studies for this particular program) and immediately enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution.       

            The students must meet the following requirements:  1) Referred/Nominated by High School Guidance Counselor.  2) Minimum 2.5 High School GPA and strong attendance record.  3) No older than 21 years of age.  4) Parent/guardian must agree to provide room and board.  5) Full application must be submitted by X date.  6) Student and parent/guardian must complete a pledge form, and 7) students must also be applicable for Pell and SSACI benefits (“A College Degree,” 2014).

            These students progress through a 40-week curriculum over five, eight-week semesters or “learning modules” (“Associate Accelerated Program,” 2014).  Each semester, students take four classes that meet, approximately, M-F from 8:30am to 4:30 pm.  Students form a supportive learning community that is guided by a faculty mentor, and students are financially supported through a small stipend of $100 per week ($5200 for the year).  This supports the program’s goal to discourage student employment while in the program and instead view ASAP “as a job” (“A College Degree,” 2014). 

            This program is designed for new adult learners entering a transitional phase of their educational career.  These students must meet certain educational, age, disciplinary and financial requirements.  Jeffrey Jourdan, a faculty mentor and program chair of the ASAP program at the Indianapolis Ivy Tech campus, highlighted a focus on economically disadvantaged students within the program (personal communication, February 15, 2014).  An 86% success rate for this program, defined as students earning a degree or still enrolled after 12 months, is five times higher than the average for all Ivy Tech Community College students.  In addition, retention rates are 10% higher than average, a major focus of community colleges (“A College Degree,” 2014). 

Postmodern Implications

            The ASAP program disrupts the conventional two-year process for associate degree seekers or those wishing to earn credit for transferrable gateway courses.  This compression of time, the value of community building and shared experiences, the uplifting of suppressed voices, and the variety of courses explored within a General Studies curriculum fit well with postmodern ideals in higher education; however, a restriction on age, income thresholds, and the potential for reduced reflective opportunities due to the program’s pace are problematic.

            postmodern strengths.  Dominant hierarchies must be challenged and fundamental assumptions within a field must be questioned (Jacobs & Kristonis, 2007, p. 4), so within higher education the assumption that one should progress through a course of classes over two years rather than one, or three or more, is confronted.  The ASAP program believes students can successfully fulfill their educational goals in nearly half the time of the traditional student following the dominant paradigm, and that belief has been validated with an impressive success rate—though pace is viewed in this research as both inhibitor and prohibiter of effectiveness.   

            Within this compressed space, students are presented with a wide variety of courses taken from the General Studies curriculum.  These courses include foreign languages, thereby exposing students to new cultures and ways of communication; English, math, history, and science, covering gateway courses; creative opportunities such as music appreciation and creative writing; and technology centered courses exposing students to 21st century computer applications.  These course offerings, then, provide a heterogeneity students would not otherwise be exposed to had they followed any other disciplinary track.  This “multiplicity of experience,” defined by Edwards & Usher (1997), is valuable for emotional and intellectual growth (p. 159), and the multiple ways of knowing one’s world is revealed. 

            More important than a change of pace and a variety of course offerings, and the true cause of ASAP’s impressive success rate, are student-to-student and student-to-faculty interactions that redefine the set authoritarian relationships toward communal relationships.  The students within ASAP represent repressed voices—all socioeconomically and some through race and gender.  This repression is removed within a communal context, as ASAP both uplifts the value of the person through direct communication with faculty mentors and reinforces community through student grouping.  Students enter ASAP as a cohort, forming bonds as members of this localized community, and are then supported financially through weekly stipends removing at least some financial repression.  The removal of barriers and the strength found within the localized community of ASAP cohorts is unique within higher education and questions effectively, through its impressive success rate, the dominant, individualized paths of traditional adult learners in higher education.

            postmodern weaknesses.  Postmodern theory explores the strengths of heterogeneity over homogeneity, yet within ASAP certain barriers to entry limit variety and compromise this program viewed through a postmodern lens.  The strongest barriers are age and financial means.  If a student is older than 21, he or she cannot enter; if a student does not come from a poor family relative to the country’s economy, he or she cannot enter.  These restrictions limit group dynamics wherein a variety of experiences are excluded in favor of a mostly homogenous cohort.

            In addition to this tilt toward homogeneity in age and socioeconomic status, if the goal is to produce a citizen with a “full social identity,” as described by Nguyen (2010, p. 92), the pace of the program might be too fast for quality reflective practice.   Through reflection, we consolidate and reformulate experience to make meaning, even though that meaning does not stay fixed; yet, if a student is constantly pushed from course to course and views ASAP “as a job,” something to be done not something to explore and define for oneself, does the student have the opportunity for this reflective practice?  In this regard, ASAP could value the modernist ideal of producing productive, functioning citizens for specific tasks (labor) rather than the postmodernist value of producing a citizen with a fully realized social identity. 

Co-Requisite Program Description

            The co-requisite program at Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington borrows the ideas of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), developed by Peter Adams and Community College Baltimore County, and allows certain developmental education students to take both noncredit-bearing, developmental courses with a for-credit English composition course.  This co-requisite initiative is the focus of this description.

Key Features

            The co-requisite program borrows many ideas from the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), “…a form of mainstreaming developed at the Community College Baltimore County. ALP attempts to combine the strongest features of earlier mainstreaming approaches and, thereby, to raise the success rates and lower the attrition rates for students placed in developmental writing” (“What is ALP?” 2014).  This “mainstreaming” hopes to move students as quickly as possible into and through credit-bearing gateway English courses.  At Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, the main course is Composition 1, a standard freshman composition course that transfers to all four-year universities in the state.

            The co-requisite model places developmental education students (adult learners who after taking placement tests do not score high enough to enter credit-bearing English courses) into a developmental English course, Introduction to College Writing, and a freshman level, credit-bearing English course, Composition 1, simultaneously.  These students are of all ages, though their writing ability tends toward the higher end of the developmental writing scale.  At Ivy Tech, students test into 080 or 090 level courses, with 080 courses focused on reading instruction.  If a student does not test into 090 level courses, he or she is not eligible for the co-requisite program and must complete their 080 course work first. 

            In a class of 20 students in Composition 1, up to eight students would be developmental writing students.  This mix exposes developmental writing students to stronger writers with the hope that modeling will occur.  However, students who have tested into credit-bearing courses are unaware of developmental writing students within the class. In a typical face-to-face class meeting twice per week, after these eight students complete their Composition 1 class, they move to a new classroom and attend Introduction to College Writing.  The classroom is changed to solidify the idea that the courses are separate, though it is explicit that Introduction to College Writing skill building activities support Composition 1. The same instructor teaches both classes, providing consistency in teaching style while allowing a strong student-teacher relationship to form. 

            The co-requisite model is being implemented for the first time this academic year, 2013-2014, so no data exists to describe statistically significant results at Ivy Tech-Bloomington.  However, the ALP model claims pass rates for students more than double within this co-requisite model compared to students who take their developmental writing course outside of the program, and this is very promising (“What results…?,” 2014).

Postmodern Implications

            The co-requisite program disrupts the dominant developmental writing paradigm that claims a student must first pass X before taking Y, with Y being the beneficial course to the student concerning their academic advancement toward a degree due to its credit-bearing nature.  By combining X and Y, heterogeneity enters with the hope of replicating positive academic results found within ALP.  Furthermore, the mix of student age, ethnicity and experience within the developmental education student base creates a multilateral classroom within both Introduction to College Writing and Composition 1.  However, an unequal distribution of developmental writing students within the credit-bearing Composition 1 classroom serves to promote the dominant majority while silencing the minority.

            postmodern strengths.  Like ASAP, the co-requisite plan challenges the dominant hierarchy that claims, in this example, a developmental student must pass through developmental writing class X before taking credit-bearing gateway English course Y.  By combining X and Y, the student now has the opportunity to learn in a new environment that critically questions the effectiveness of the traditional model, and this new environment, modeled after ALP, promises strong student results.

            The variety of experiences developmental education students bring into the classroom is a second postmodern strength.  Anecdotally, in the one developmental writing course the author is teaching, the class consists of four white females, (ages 33, 20, 22, 24), one Hispanic male (19), one Native American male (55), and one white male (18).  The value of multiple voices is important in postmodern thought, becoming more important the more multicultural our society becomes (Williams, 2008, p. 3).  In addition to gender, age, and race disparity, within the Composition 1 classroom, ability disparity creates yet another difference, another voice, through which learning material will be interpreted. 

            postmodern weaknesses.  The most pressing weakness of the co-requisite model (and the ALP model) is the preference for “college ready” students within the Composition 1 class.  The unequal distribution of 12 “college ready” students to 8 “developmental” students serves to silence the minority who, in this case, are assumed to have an educational disadvantage based on their initial entry exams. Postmodernism rejects the belief that a minority should be silenced for the majority’s dominance, and in fact the repressed or silenced voices must enter the conversation and the mechanisms within these conversations should not exist to perpetuate dominance (Hicks, 2004, p. 17 as cited in Nguyen, 2010, p. 93).  If group discussion occurs, an unequal grouping of students based on classification of ability will occur, effectively causing the silencing of that minority group: developmental writing students.  Therefore, an adjustment toward equality or, perhaps, a new majority of developmental writers within the credit-bearing course, should occur.

 

Appendix A            

Table of Key Features and General Applications Toward Program Design

Table of Key Features and General Applications Toward Program Design

 

 

References

Associate Accelerated Program (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.ivytech.edu/shared/shared_dcompwg/asap/ASAPProgramSheet2013-2014.pdf

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.

Jacobs, K., & Kritsonis, W. (2006). National Strategies for Implementing Postmodern Thinking for Improving Secondary Education in Public Education in the United States of America. Online Submission

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/

What results has ALP produced? (2014).  Retrieved from http://alp-deved.org/what-results-has-alp-produced/

Williams, M. (2008).  National Focus on Postmodern in Adult Education.  Focus on Colleges, Universities, and Schools, 2 (1), 1-4.

 

 

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