Type of Document Dissertation Author Gubitti, Rebecca LuCinda URN etd-04132009-090704 Title A Phenomenological Study Linking a College Success Course With a College Preparatory Mathematics Course Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Teacher Education, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Elizabeth Jakubowski Committee Chair Kenneth Shaw Committee Member Sharilyn Steadman Committee Member Jeffrey Milligan Outside Committee Member Keywords
- Developmental Students
- Skills Course
Date of Defense 2009-03-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractCommunity colleges are increasingly becoming a popular alternative for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. The purpose of the typical American community college is to meet the needs of the community by providing open door access to opportunities for individuals so they can meet their academic, career and personal goals. Developmental education plays a key role at these institutions, as 94% of college students needing remediation attend community colleges. Of these remedial students, a glaring 83% typically need remediation in the mathematics area. Community colleges have implemented strategies to improve the academic success of students needing remediation. One of these strategies includes the instructional approach of utilizing learning communities to foster stronger bonds and inter-reliance among students by having groups of students attend a series of college preparatory courses together. The concept of students taking courses together is not new at the elementary and middle school level, and is often discussed with respect to looping. In academic context, this is the practice of keeping students with the same instructor for multiple years.
A variation of looping could be possible at the post-secondary level by offering linked courses for students in the developmental areas. Linked courses normally involve two subject areas, being taught by two different instructors, having the same cohort of students and incorporating integrated assignments. This phenomenological study looked at the benefits and limitations, as defined by students and the instructor, of linking a college success skills course with a college preparatory mathematics course. The uniqueness of this study pertained to the same instructor for both content areas, back-to-back class times, the same cohort of students, and a curriculum designed to integrate both content areas on a daily basis. The overarching investigation for this study was to determine the types of learning communities that develop when linking a college success course with a college preparatory mathematics course. Information gathered through this study on learning communities and the benefits and limitations for linked courses study will provide support for future recommendations for the college preparatory program at this community college and others throughout the State.
Through the review of field notes and other data sources for the study, four assertions were generated in the areas of Peer-Learning, Self-Monitoring and Self-Growth, Community of Learners, and Teacher Change. These assertions and findings were based on observations and data collection only within a linked course. Through this study, the following four assertions were made:
1) Peer-learning was positively affected by the linked course.
2) Participation in this linked course led to the development of increased
self-monitoring and self-growth.
3) A community of learners developed in this study and its foundation
relied on this being a linked course.
4) The implementation of this linked course required the engagement of process of teacher change.
If community colleges are going to maintain the “open door” policy, they have ethical responsibilities to the students they admit and enroll each semester. They must meet the students’ needs not just on the academic, specific-content level, but also by preparing them to be mature, life-long learners and successful adults. Pairing the college skills course with the developmental studies courses, particularly mathematics, could be part of the active steps to this positive direction for integrating the yin and yang of student learning in college that is needed today (Blake, 1996). Improving developmental students’ attitudes towards learning, self-efficacy and motivation, and increasing their ability to see the usefulness of an education are worthy goals. This study shed light on how a linked course can provide a foundation for the development of a community of learners and in reaching these goals.
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