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the former in 2009 and the latter this year. These awards
“recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices
that are successfully leading community colleges into the
future.”
Two of the Tennessee programs—a reading and writing
redesign at Columbia State Community College in the
center of the state, and a math redesign
at Chattanooga State Community
College—were considered less
successful. Nonetheless, said Treva
Berryman, TBR’s associate vice
chancellor for academic affairs, “what
we learned from themmay have made a
huge difference systemwide. It’s not that
they failed if they saved other campuses
from similar problems. A pilot’s a pilot.
Give it a try.”
Communication is often a problem
in redesigning courses. If a leader in a
pilot program thinks it isn’t going to
work, “you can forget about the rest of
the people,” Berryman said. “You have
to be willing to fail. And presidents have
to give support so that people aren’t
punished if they do fail.”
NCAT’s Carol Twigg has her own assessment. The
Columbia State redesign failed to incorporate a lab where
students could work, she said, and did not offer them enough
support in the technology they did have, which can be a
big problem in a rural area. As for the math redesign at
Chattanooga State, “the math faculty didn’t want to do it,”
Twigg said bluntly. But the academic vice president did, she
added, and has hired John Squires, who led Cleveland State’s
redesign, to chair the Chattanooga State math department.
He and the math faculty there are now creating mini-lectures
students can attend,
bridging the gap until they
can prepare CDs with the
course material similar to
the ones Wyrick and others
made at Cleveland State.
“You can’t just stick
a student at a computer,”
Squires said. Chattanooga’s
earlier attempt “just
didn’t work,” he added,
pointing out that Cleveland
State “had a semester of
planning and a semester
to create the program.
Chattanooga is in the
midst of it. We’re having to
push the reset button and
build it as we go. We have
ten faculty working on
course materials, and ten
doing the mini-lectures.
They will be developing the
videos over the summer.
We have much more flexibility at Chattanooga.” Demand
at Chattanooga State is greater as well. Of 9,427 students
(5,988 full-time equivalent) last fall, about 2,000 had to take
developmental math.
The Tennessee Board of Regents is expanding its redesigns
for developmental courses, and by 2013 all its community
colleges must have in place programs that have technology as
an integral part and must focus on helping students master the
subjects at their own pace. Developmental work was already
a major focus in TBR’s strategic plan for 2005–2010 after the
state legislature told the system it needed to do more with less,
said Paula Short, vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Tennessee worked with NCAT because it had “a proven
record in creating change,” Short said. NCAT provided
training for applicants and helped follow the pilot programs to
see what worked and what didn’t. “We saw this as systemwide.
We offered training to everyone. We wanted them all to have
the benefit of that training,” she added. “Redesign may appear
piecemeal because we’re not finished. It will be systemwide.”
As the colleges prepare their redesigns, Berryman said,
“we’re asking them to start with a blank slate. Take what you
know about how students have changed, how careers have
changed, how technology has changed. If developmental
studies didn’t exist, what would you need to carry our students
over the next 25 years?”
“We are not trying to fix what was broken in the
past,” Berryman added. “We are trying to teach whatever
competencies they need for careers they are going to choose.
That really is a different philosophy.”
Betty Frost knows that from her own experience. She
recalls a student years ago who wanted to enter the nursing
program but was struggling with intermediate algebra. “She
just never got it, and she disappeared. Today we see she didn’t
need intermediate algebra for nursing.”
u
Kay Mills is the author of “This Little Light of Mine: The Life
of Fannie Lou Hamer” and four other books.
The Community College
Futures Assembly,
based at the University
of Florida, gave its
Bellwether Award to
both the Cleveland
State and Jackson
State redesigned
math programs.
“Redesign may appear piecemeal because we’re not finished.
It will be systemwide,” says Paula Short, vice chancellor for
academic affairs for the Tennessee Board of Regents.
Harrison McClary, Black Star, for CrossTalk
“You can’t just stick a student at a computer,” says
John Squires, who led Cleveland State’s math course
redesign and is now chair of the Chattanooga State
math department.
Wade Payne, Black Star, for CrossTalk