Providing Remediation: How College Professors Can Help All Students Succeed

by Earlesha Butler
Ph.D student, University of Florida

Earlesha Butler

Earlesha Butler

Offering remediation, or academic assistance, to students is nothing new for state and private universities. Because some states have cut or reduced funding for student remediation, students who’d typically enroll in fundamental classes to enhance their academic skills are now in courses with peers who may be advanced.

Federal statistics show that 19 to 26 percent of all college freshmen require help to overcome remedial needs, according to the Education Commission of the States – an organization that follows policy updates.

The reasons students may require more academic help vary. For example, students may have scored below average on national exams like the ACT or SAT. Or, students may need additional academic assistance because they’re first-generation college students, which mean no one in their immediate family is a college graduate. These students tend to have no one in their families to rely on for help and they may loose motivation or quit school altogether, due to lack of support. Lastly, life disruptions happen and college students fall behind in their schoolwork. So college professors have to be ready to provide help as needed.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips by Marilla D. Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie suggests that college professors can use several strategies to help their students. Here are some key pointers:

1.     Make educational resources available via the Internet. Post instructional videos on a class blog or website as well as handouts to help students best grasp key concepts.

2.     Place key readings on reserve at the university’s library or online as well. This may assist students who may not have had a prerequisite.

3.     Encourage students to work or study with peers and offer extra credit to them for doing so. In addition, never be afraid to provide group work to ensure understanding of key class concepts.

4.     Set up a class discussion board on the course blog or website. This allows students to post concerns or questions for their peers or professor to answer.

5.     Direct students to university resources like the writing center or a coaching center, where they can visit to receive assistance.

It is important to motivate students and to remind them that they’re professors and college staff are there to help. Also encourage them to take responsibility for their own education, as Svinicki and McKeachie point out. Any college student may need academic assistance and it is up to future as well as today’s educators to provide support.

http://neatoday.org/2014/10/15/another-lousy-reform-idea-eliminating-remedial-education/

This NEA Today article discusses the impact of some state legislatures (including Florida’s) eliminating college remediation classes.

For more information and data on college remediation, refer to the following:

National Bureau of Economic Research
http://www.nber.org/papers/w18457.pdf?new_window=

Florida Department of Education Developmental Education Data
http://www.fldoe.org/fcs/pdf/q2.pdf

National News Analysis of College Remediation Issues
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/07/03/schools-and-colleges-still-struggle-to-reduce-the-need-for-remedial-education

Remediation Report by Complete College America, a national nonprofit organization that works to increase college access
http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/file/CCA%20Remediation%20ES%20FINAL.pdf

Florida’s law on college remediation, which took effect on July 1, 2013
http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2013/html/501

For news features on college remediation, refer to the following articles:

Community College Students Face a Very Long Road to Graduation

Who Gets to Graduate?

Earlesha Butler is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).

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