Supporting Student Learning: Unpacking One Institution's Implementation of the Corequisite Model
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Supporting Student Learning: Unpacking One Institution's Implementation of the Corequisite Model


Introductory mathematics courses at postsecondary institutions simultaneously function as gateways and gatekeepers to degrees and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for historically minoritized and marginalized students. While these courses provide access to higher education, they also thwart student STEM pathways due to increased time to degree completion, the STEM weed-out culture (Weston et al., 2019), and insufficient academic support structures for students deemed as not college-ready (Koch, 2017). The corequisite model of academic support has been introduced at many institutions nationwide to combat this pressing equity issue. Yet, little is known about students’ actual classroom experiences within these courses. But classroom experiences are crucial to student success. Moreover, recognizing that the classroom is part of a larger academic ecosystem, this study examines the intersection of institutional structures (e.g., coordination and placement), classroom environment, and student experiences in a College Algebra lecture and corequisite course. The goals that guide this investigation are to: (1) Describe an implementation of the corequisite model at a public four-year institution. (2) Examine how opportunities to engage in course content are distributed within corequisite courses. And (3) Understand the impact on the student. Taking a convergent mixed methods approach, quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed towards addressing these research goals. Using institutional data, student surveys and class reflections, interviews of students and institutional leaders, and classroom observations, I was able to characterize the institutional context and scrutinize the cultural change that occurred at the institution of study, towards adopting corequisites in their College Algebra course. A team of instructors and course coordinator worked together over five iterations to redevelop the College Algebra course. Through the establishment of the core goals of coordination, collaborative learning, and incorporating metacognitive activities, the team of instructors redesigned the College Algebra corequisite to better support their student population. The findings from this study demonstrate the importance of academic scaffolding and community-building in the corequisite course for an enriching learning experience.

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