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A collection of articles and arguments for and against course acceleration.
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Kathy, for what it's worth, I don't think there is a protocol yet. To me, it would seem that using the comments tab for extended discussions is probably easier than using the main "content" tab. That also makes it easier to distinguish contributions by different participants, and to see when they made their remarks.
I also put my comments in the main thread -- I didn't realize that was the wrong protocol. (Still learning how to navigate this site...)
Hi Tom, I put a David's response in the main thread -- I felt it fit better there.
1. I don't think the term "course acceleration" is the most accurate one to use, because it does not seem that the work within a course is accelerated. I think "accelerated completion" if more accurate - which begs the question of 'completion of what' that David implicitly raises.
2. David suggests that the picture might look better if students not aiming to complete a transfer-level course are not counted as incompletes, making their success rate more like those who start 3 levels short of their goal rather than 4 levels.
Well, sure, students who start closer to their goal should show a higher success rate - I don't think that invalidates the point that fewer steps in the sequence (however 'step' is defined) will result in higher completion rates. There is fuller data on this from multiple colleges in a research report at http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/Publication.asp?UID=734, and a peer-reviewed version in Economics of Education Review, vol. 29, pp. 255-270. March 2010.
3. I didn't get the point about probabilities: these are success rates from past classes, so that makes them proportions, yes? Not sure where randomness etc. comes in. If the argument is that these numbers may represent outlier data, the report cited in point 2 indicates otherwise.
4. I would love to see a deeper analysis of why we lose students "between the steps", assuming as per David's point that they are stopping before completing their goal. Do they fail to enroll in the next course due to neglect or lack of information? Do they run out of energy because they still seem far from their goal, or do they realize that their finances and part-time jobs won't carry them through the planned sequence? Shortening the sequence will help with any of these, but maybe there are other solutions which would address one or more of these problems if the students really need a large amount of content doled out in our current course-size bites?