Streamline remediation options.
Research shows that traditional prerequisite courses hinder students’ progress and raise, rather than lower, barriers to gateway course completion. Therefore, increasing numbers of institutions are transitioning from a prerequisite paradigm of remediation to a default approach of placing students directly into credit-bearing courses with enhanced and integrated support.
Research comparing corequisite and prerequisite courses’ success in increasing institution-level course completion has found that a corequisite model significantly, sometimes dramatically, improves outcomes for students. Research from several states is also showing that students benefit from a pathway that starts at the college level, and that these patterns hold across race/ethnicity, gender, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services status, Disabled Student Programs and Services status, English language learner status and Pell Grant eligibility.
Corequisite courses vary greatly in format, type of instructor, number of credits, content and pedagogy. While there is a need for more research evaluating the effectiveness of various approaches, there is a growing body of evidence that points to the common characteristics of high-quality models. For example, the most promising models avoid having too many or too few credits attached to them: too many units replicates the very problem corequisite remediation is designed to address by inhibiting students’ ability to enroll in other courses, while too few hours (e.g., one hour per week) may provide inadequate time with an instructor. There are also promising approaches that provide an alternative to traditional remedial courses by offering a short, free-of-charge, one semester remedial support course prior to matriculation.
When it comes to instruction in corequisite models, there are many variations, including single instructors, two instructors each connected with the corequisite and gateway course components, embedded tutors and peer support. Much more research must be conducted to better understand the effectiveness of different models for particular student populations or circumstances, but there is widespread agreement on two key points. First, whether or not the corequisite course is taught by the same instructor as the gateway course, strong professional development for the instructor(s) and intentional coordination between the two courses is crucial. Second, whatever model is adopted, the most effective corequisite courses are those that are designed backward using the competencies of the main course.