Posts tagged ‘community college’

Half of STEM graduates in US went to community college at some point #CSEdWeek

Interesting claim from the American Association of Community Colleges — thanks from Cheryl Kiras for this: http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/datapoints/Documents/ScienceCred_102814.pdf  Here’s another reason why it’s important to care about all of the education pathways, and to look to community colleges for more (and more diverse) computing undergraduates.

www_aacc_nche_edu_Publications_datapoints_Documents_ScienceCred_102814_pdf

December 11, 2014 at 8:32 am 7 comments

Why Community Colleges are Important for Broadening Participation in Computing

At our ECEP meeting after the NCWIT summit earlier this summer, Cheryl Kiras presented some data on community college enrollment that was really eye-opening for me.

This is from a fact sheet American Association of Community Colleges (available here).  This is describing the percentage of all undergraduates in a group that are enrolled in community colleges.  56% of all Hispanic undergraduates were enrolled in community colleges in Fall 2012.  48% of all Black students, and 59% of all Native American students.  Wow — that really supports the argument that if we want to broadening participation in University level computing, we need to improve the transfer and recruitment paths from Community Colleges into Universities.  We can make it better at the University (and we should), but that’s only reaching half the students.

 

August 5, 2014 at 8:16 am 5 comments

California community colleges’ experiment with accelerated remediation: Maybe there’s more learning going on

Remedial courses in higher-education are important to get right, for lots of reasons.  Certainly, that’s one of the big stumbling blocks in MOOCs — many people who start a MOOC aren’t prepared for that level material (or maybe, the MOOCs presume too much knowledge to start).  The CAITE alliance was able to improve diversity in Massachusetts’ universities, by improving the transfer from community college, but that path sometimes requires remedial courses.  If we could get remediation right, we might improve diversity, make distance learning more successful, and (as suggested below) improve graduation rates.

The story below is unusual: Make remediation better, by making it shorter.  A simple time-on-task model would suggest that there’s less being learned.  I hypothesize that it might be working (i.e., resulting in more learning), by looking at it from a different model.

At the Future Computer Science Research Summit in Orlando in early January, Nobel laureate Carl Wieman gave a talk where he referenced the famous Richard Hake 6000 subject study.  One of the results of that study is that traditional lecture only results in students learning about 30-40 percent of what was being taught, but with student engagement pedagogies, 60-80 percent is learned.

Note the word: engagement.  We can engage by using techniques like peer instruction.  I wonder if we can also engage by saying, “This required course will be made shorter.  You still need it to move on to something you want, but now, it’s less painful.”  Could that result in more learning?  Maybe that 30-40% becomes 50-60%?  So a reduction of a few weeks in time may actually result in equal or more learning?

Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.

The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million.

More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.

A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California.

“The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.

The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English.

via California community colleges’ cautious experiment with accelerated remediation | Inside Higher Ed.

February 10, 2014 at 1:54 am 5 comments

edX offers a CS1 MOOC via Massachusetts community colleges

Definitely the most interesting MOOC experiment I’ve seen in the latest batches — an edX CS1 aimed at community college students, and offered in a blended format.  I very much hope that they do good assessment here.  If MOOCs are going to serve as an alternative to face-to-face classes for the majority of students, they have to work at the community college level and have better than face-to-face retention rates.  Retention (and completion) rates are too low already in community colleges.  If MOOCs are going to be part of a solution, part of making education better, then they need to have high completion rates.

The fast-moving world of online education, where anyone can take classes at a world-famous university, is making a new foray into the community college system, with a personal twist.

In a partnership billed as the first of its kind, the online education provider edX plans to announce Monday that it has teamed up with two Massachusetts community colleges to offer computer science classes that will combine virtual and classroom instruction.

Beginning next term, Bunker Hill and MassBay community colleges will offer versions of an online MIT course that will be supplemented with on-campus classes. Those classes, to be taught by instructors at the two-year schools, will give students a chance to review the online material and receive personal help.

“This allows for more one-to-one faculty mentoring” than exclusively online courses, said John O’Donnell, president of MassBay Community College in Wellesley. O’Donnell added that the schools’ involvement allows edX “to test its course content on a broader range of students.”

Students will pay the same amount they would for a standard class.

via edX expands offerings to Mass. community colleges – Metro – The Boston Globe.

November 23, 2012 at 8:05 am 6 comments

What we don’t know about going to distance education, and the challenge of comparing apples to apples

The Georgia legislature had been considering a bill that required high school students to take on-line courses as a graduation requirement.  Maureen Downey of the AJC had a piece in last Monday’s column which reported on a study by the National Educational Policy Center at the University of Colorado about how well such requirements were faring:

Minnesota, which has tripled its full-time virtual high school enrollment, found that online students scored lower in state testing and dropped out of school at higher rates; a quarter of online seniors dropped out, compared to only 3 percent of their peers.

A study of Colorado’s full-time cyber-students noted similar performance lags. Once in the virtual school, students scored lower on state reading exams, with scores declining the longer that they were in the program.  An analysis by the I-News Network and Education News Colorado found that Colorado’s virtual high schools produced three times more drop-outs than graduates, which was the exact reverse of the state average, in which there were three graduates for every dropout.

Distance education is important to develop and explore. We can’t realistically ask broad questions like, “Does distance education work?”  Distance education (or virtual high schools) is not just one thing.  The evidence is strong that the Open University UK works, but it works because the courses are well-designed and well-tested.  We don’t know enough about how to design well and what factors influence success in distance education.  It is reasonable to ask about the impact of current practice, but in that case, the specifics on practice and context of the study is important.

In her blog, Downey recently considered the flaws of the 2009 US Department of Education meta-study on distance education programs.  I had critiqued the meta-study earlier for ignoring issues of drop-out rates.  Turns out that the definition of a distance education “course” varied considerably in the 2009 report, and that all the fully-online studies were at universities, where the students are much more motivated to complete than in high school or community college.

Nice try. But that study has serious flaws, especially as it pertains to community colleges. In the “Effectiveness of Fully Online Courses for College Students: Response to a Department of Education Meta-Analysis,” Shanna Smith Jaggers and Thomas Bailey of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University point out that only 28 of the 99 studies examined in the Education Department report focused on courses that were fully online. Furthermore, only seven looked at semester-long courses, as opposed to short-term online programs on narrow topics, “such as how to use an Internet search engine.”

In other words, out of all the studies reviewed by the Education Department, only a handful dealt with the kind of fully online, semester-long courses that are being touted as a means of increasing college-completion rates.

Even more alarming, for those of us on the front lines at community colleges, is the fact that all seven of those studies were conducted at midsize or large universities, five of which were rated as “selective” or “highly selective” by U.S. News & World Report. Those are not exactly the kinds of places that typically attract at-risk students—the ones least likely to complete their degrees. Community colleges do attract such students, and in large numbers.

via Online learning: Before we rush down that path, make sure we know where we are going | Get Schooled.

April 3, 2012 at 8:04 am 7 comments

Female STEM faculty in community college have parity and are happy

I would not have guessed this.  I think of community college faculty as driven hard with a huge teaching load.  Women STEM faculty at community colleges are happy, are roughly equal in number to men, and are paid well. Wow — interesting results!

The National Science Foundation is supporting a research project to focus more attention on STEM faculty at community colleges, where men and women are about 50-50 in faculty positions over all, and where women make up 47.7 percent of STEM faculty (compared to about one third at four-year institutions). Researchers who are part of a team at Ohio University studying the issue gave an overview of initial findings here at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Their major conclusions: Women in STEM faculty positions at community colleges are happy, and it’s not because their jobs are somehow easier than those at four-year institutions (although they are different). The Ohio researchers are combining their national statistical analysis with in-depth interviews with small groups of women on STEM faculties at community colleges — starting with 29 at institutions in Ohio, and then extending to other states. The analysis is complete in Ohio, and early results suggest similar findings coming from other states.

So far, the results suggest a career path that many women find satisfying. “These women are happy, they have pay equity, and there are more of them than at four-year colleges,” said Cynthia Anderson, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Ohio.

via News: Parity in STEM Faculty – Inside Higher Ed.

August 30, 2011 at 8:13 am 7 comments


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