Math department moves to new course model for remedial students

The math department at BW makes the way for a co-remedial model, allowing students who need more help to still graduate on time.

In the fall of 2022, the mathematics department at BW began to implement and pilot a new model to help students graduate on time.  

The new model comes in the form of a class, MTH-120 Applied College Mathematics, a four-credit hour course that includes a help section in addition to the normal college class.   

Brent Strunk, the department chair of mathematics and statistics, said that the idea of the new co-remediation model is to eliminate the remedial courses that keep students from graduating on time.  

“If you have a student who is underprepared in some way, either from an ACT, SAT, or a placement test score, they used to be put into a class that started with a zero, which was 021 here,” Strunk said. “But the issue with that is it puts the student a semester behind their degree plan because that student isn’t in their prerequisite course until their second semester.”  

Applied College Mathematics is not a new course at BW. However, it no longer requires a prerequisite.  

If a student meets the threshold, they can be placed in a MTH-120 course that has no help section, but if a student needs it, they will be enrolled in a five-day per week course.   

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday students will attend the normal college course, earning their normal credits for their degree or core requirements. On Tuesday and Thursday, students will go to a help section with the instructor and an in-class tutor that provides help either on material that will be needed to complete future lessons or on material that was previously learned in the class.   

“Under this new model, it’s one and done because students can take their requirements and be done regardless of where they start,” Strunk said.   

Additionally, students in MTH-140 Precalculus Math can be enrolled in a similar model. However, due to a smaller number of students, an additional MTH-040 course provides in-class support. This co-requisite course was implemented four years ago to help reduce the number of students in remedial courses for Precalculus.    

“The students not enrolled in the additional support group still have the option to go. We tell students up front that this exists on Tuesdays and Thursdays and if they need extra help one week, they are welcome to come join the party,” Strunk said. “But the students identified as needing the extra support are required to go every week.”   

The idea of co-remediation has begun to be implemented across the country in many different formats. Prerequisites for most lower-level statistics courses and math education courses at BW were removed about five to six years ago altogether.   

“We just decided remedial math was not a good fit for these courses at all,” Strunk said. “They weren’t getting anything out of them, so why were we making students take them? So, MTH-101, 105, 108 and 111 had their prerequisites removed years ago.”  

In the Fall 2023 semester, all remedial courses were removed in the mathematics department. Those that can place higher will still be placed in those courses, but any student that doesn’t will be put into MTH-120 with support.   

“The hope is that we can help students get to their majors and get through their math courses faster and be more successful with the additional academic support, so they can get where they need to be on-time. That’s the goal,” Strunk said.