KC retools courses to save students time, money

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Kilgore College is taking a major step towards streamlining their degree plans and expediting students toward their goals of degrees and credentials by eliminating many developmental courses from their catalog.

KC President Dr. Brenda Kays said Tuesday the college is easing the coursework burden on students by retooling courses so students can focus on skills more relevant to their chosen course of study.

“We have reduced our Developmental Ed. contact hours by forty-four percent,” Kays said.

“I’m really proud of that because you’ll notice that we’re in the top 3 or 4 colleges that have really pushed trying to get students through the developmental coursework as quickly as possible. We do a lot of joint enrollment in the developmental courses as well as the college-level course at the same time.”

Developmental courses are used at community colleges to bring high school graduates up to college level in basic skills like reading, writing and math before moving on to courses directly tied to their major or field of study. Not all graduates have to take them but those who are assigned to them based on test scores may spend an entire semester working through these basic courses.

Kays explained such courses can cause students to become discouraged and lose motivation, possibly even dropping out soon into their college experience.

A student with test scores requiring placement in multiple developmental classes could spend an entire semester enrolled in nothing but these courses while doing little or no work on their chosen major. Because these courses usually must be taken first before moving on to higher-level courses, students may get discouraged in their first or second semester and decide not to continue enrolling. Also, these courses add up in tuition costs and textbook expenses, eating into students’ grant and scholarship fudns.

KC’s solution?

Combine developmental courses with co-requisite courses and tutoring labs so students learn everything they need in one go, rather than struggling through multiple levels of Dev. Ed. coursework.

“Let’s face it, nobody comes to college thinking that they want to take developmental coursework. Everybody wants to start taking their major, whatever that might be. It’s really disheartening to be told, well, you now have to take multiple courses in Dev. Ed,” Kays said, describing the co-requisite class model.

“It’s the Dev. Ed. class and the college-level class. It’s just-in-time learning. If there’s something that you don’t know in order to be successful in a college-level course, what you get is that just-in-time developmental to back-fill what you don’t know so you can be successful.”

The college forfeited $396,363 in contact hour funding making the change. Fewer students taking developmental courses means less state funding but Kays says this is a welcome trade because many of those students are getting big savings by no longer having to cover tuition for developmental coursework.

In 2016, KC received a $297,500 two-year grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to launch the program.

Students can choose to take these courses in an accelerated eight-week format, allowing them to be done with basic course requirements even more quickly.

KC set up a math lab and writing lab which provide extra tutoring and support for students after normal class hours, all in an effort to help students get the most for their money at KC and to help them move into the classes that will lead them into a rewarding career after graduation. Faculty had to redesign and rework classes to be able to teach in a more effective way when combining with a Dev. Ed. course or accelerating a course to an eight week time frame.

“It’s about getting them on that pathway as quickly as possible and when you’re doing that with the co-requisite courses, you’re able to expedite that process,” Kays said.

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