The Selfishness of the Corequisite Model

One of the major ‘things’ right now is “corequisite remediation”, referring specifically to the practice of placing (most or all) students in a college mathematics course with a requirement that certain students take a support class.  Over time, we will discover that this has sufficient promise to justify further exploration and use.  The problem is … the practice is very selfish on our part in many of the common implementations.

Most data on this practice comes from two college math courses — introductory statistics and liberal arts math.  For most offerings in those courses, few prior skills are needed for success; in both cases, the most common need is for expressing fractions as percents and some proportional reasoning.  Algebraic reasoning is seldom needed.  In both cases, the legacy prerequisite (usually intermediate algebra) was an artifact more related to establishing transfer than to course needs.  Few co-requisites structures have been done in college algebra nor in quantitative reasoning with an algebraic emphasis

My contention is that using co-requisite methods for a non-STEM math course amounts to a selfish decision on our part.  We place a higher priority on improving our ‘measures’ of completing that one math course … at the expense of preparing students for other quantitative needs in college.  This is especially an issue for our friends in science, who often depend on a variety of algebraic concepts in their courses (as they should).  The co-requisite model focuses almost totally on “What do they need for THIS terminal math class?” (which is a small set); ignored is the larger set “What do students need for college quantitative work?”.

Now, it is true that the traditional developmental mathematics courses do not deliver on that larger set — at least, not in an efficient manner or with good results.  Replacing developmental math courses with the co-requisite model (as is being suggested) is placing students at risk … just so a math course can ‘look better’.  Our response should be:  “How can we make fundamental improvements in the course content and design so that developmental mathematics works for almost all students across their college program?”

Our reason for existence in developmental mathematics is the whole student for their whole college experience.  We can achieve short term ‘better results’ for ourselves with co-requisite remediation.  This comes at the expense of leveling the playing field, equity, and student success in general.  Can we be that selfish?

I realize that I am attributing a personal motivation to a practice in the profession.  I’m okay with that … most of us are in this profession because of personal motivations.  I think large numbers of ‘us’ have a deep commitment to equity, as well as upward mobility.   Co-requisite remediation creates a system focused on the short-term ‘results’, often involving minority-heavy support classes, with few long-term benefits (if any).

Our responsibilities involve much more than “one math course”.  Let’s do our job.  Instead of taking the easy ‘out’ of co-requisite remediation, we should replace the traditional sequence of developmental math courses with a very short structure to serve all college students and all of their needs … Mathematical Literacy and Algebraic Literacy (or similar courses).

Join Dev Math Revival on Facebook:

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

WordPress Themes