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Mohave Community College in Arizona tackles remediation with new twist in its online learning communities

 
Mohave Daily News
 
As Mohave Community College redoubles its efforts to combat a rising student default rate, one of the initiatives it has planned involves reintroducing certain remedial courses online, but with a twist.

According to MCC president Dr. Michael Kearns, the college is preparing to begin implementing some new class models this spring using what’s called an “embedded advisor.” The idea, he said, is to pair a group of students in one class with a faculty member whose job will be to consistently monitor each student’s progress and make regular contact with them to ensure they’re getting all the help they need.

Kearns said the idea was based around reintroducing the online version of TRM, MCC’s transitional math course, which is a remedial course many adult students often have to take to regain some of the math skills they’ve forgotten since high school. Since virtually all college degree programs require students to pass at least one college-level math course, Kearns said TRM is an essential stepping stone to prepare those students for college algebra. But, he added, it’s important that the college do what it can to help those students along, especially given the fact that 96 percent of MCC defaulters never finish their degree and remedial students made up nearly two-thirds of the default rate in 2008 alone.

“What we’ve done in the past is we’ve restricted those classes to on-ground only, since we’ve seen student success is often remarkably lower in an online math class,” Kearns said. But this time around, he believes the embedded advisors could make the difference for those students who cannot otherwise attend a traditional classroom, since each advisor will be taking a proactive role, contacting students frequently throughout the year to make sure they’re attending their online lessons and learning the material.
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