For 2007-2008, the U.S. Department of Education reported an increase in the need for remedial courses by college students in two- and four- year schools. A look at college remedial math courses, services offered by colleges and how students can successfully complete course requirements.
About Remedial Math Education
Remedial education at the college level consists of courses for basic subjects like math and English and is required by students who don’t place well on their college entrance or placement exams. Since all of the basic subjects are required for any college major, students are given remedial education to make up for deficiencies in their academic backgrounds. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2007-2008 about one-third of incoming students in to four-year college needed remedial help in math and English while 42% of students entering public community colleges needed help.
College level Math and English are common courses that college students need to receive extra help in. Reasons for needing extra help in these particular subjects can range from not being sufficiently prepared in high school to deficiencies in basic organizational skills needed to do well in these basic courses. Because most majors in college require math courses, colleges provide remedial math courses to help students complete this requirement in their majors.
Remedial courses are at least one-half to an entire semester length and are non-credit or minimal credit. Credits and grades achieved from remedial math courses are usually not applied toward a student’s degree program requirements. Upon entering college, students are tested for initial placement into basic courses such as
Remedial Services Offered at Colleges
Most colleges and universities have separate departments or centers on-campus which offer help in college remedial math courses and are free to enrolled students. These centers are dedicated to helping student improve their academic skills. Typical names for these departments are academic learning center, skills center or tutoring services. Most academic learning centers consist of classrooms or large gathering spaces for tutoring in addition to computers and technology (calculator, audio programs) used to aid students currently enrolled at the college. Centers are usually staffed with full-time administrators (director, assistant) and part-time teachers and tutors. Many adjunct teachers will also work a few hours per week in a tutoring center as part of their job contract.
Better skills centers will help college students with skills assessment, test preparation, study techniques and time management. Students in need can visit centers to set up tutoring appointments; get tested for skill levels and anxiety problems and to receive support from tutors and other students in similar courses. Students attending tutoring at skills centers have a much better chance of succeeding in difficult classes and are more likely to handle the stresses and anxieties often associated with the rigors of classes and exams.
Students can also seek remedial help from private tutors and tutoring centers in their communities by looking for advertisements on their campus, in the newspaper or by asking around. Private tutors usually are other students, teachers or other adults that know the subject matter. Although private tutors are a good idea to use and are very effective, they can be very expensive, especially if the student needs tutoring help in multiple subjects. Reputable private tutoring centers are also quite expensive and may not have staff available to help with the precise material that is taught at one college.
What Students Can Do
Students having problems in classes must take an active role in making sure that they pass college remedial math and English courses. Students who sit back and either wait for help to come will ultimately fail courses from NOT doing anything to help themselves. Most college and universities believe support the notion that extra services are worth having because it is not advantageous for colleges to have failing student. Free access is usually available on campus and only requires that students walk in and seek help. Students in remedial courses need to practice a variety of skills including note-taking skills, test-taking, time and stress management.
“One-third of students need remedial college math, English", USA Today News online, May 2010
West Texas A& M University - Virtual Math Lab
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