Support courses boost math proficiency

By Efrain Valdez, Advocate Staff

With helping students in need of additional support in mind, the math department implemented a co-requisite for students taking Math 120, Math 164 and Math 171.

For years, community college students in California have been placed into remedial math and English classes that delayed their path toward graduation and transfer. California Assembly Bill 705 came into effect in January 2018 in an effort to avoid putting students in classes that would be considered remedial.

Math professor Terrill Mead said, “A lot of what AB705 has done is thrown this back at faculty. If you (instructors) have students who aren’t as well-prepared for these classes, how do we support them?”

Mead also served as the math department chairperson during AB 705’s implementation.

The professor said, under the umbrella of AB705, community colleges in the state have the option to allow students to enroll directly into the transfer level courses and if the college wants, they can provide additional support.

What the math department at Contra Costa College did was create a one-unit co-requisite that goes with the Intermediate Algebra (Math 120), Calculus (Math 171) and Statistics (Math 164) classes.

“Some colleges are offering support courses that are optional, some are making them required,” Mead said.

“Some (colleges) are doing it for credit and others are doing it for non-credit, but there are all kinds of options.”

“What we opted to do is make a one-unit lab credit so that the cost for students wouldn’t be much more than what they already pay,” he said.

Professor Perry Aliado said he and other professors at first thought it was going to be similar to the regular math classes, but he said they were wrong.

“Our strategies of teaching the old course completely went out the window,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve had to come up with different strategies. I haven’t been able to coast through like in my 164 class,” Aliado said.

“There is an amount of comfort and autopilot that goes on with the 164, that totally was not happening in the 164 (math co-requisite). There are more worksheets, interactive work and group assignments. It’s changed the way I teach the regular course,” he said.

According to Mead, the “pilot” is going good so far but that the department won’t be able to fully judge this until the end of this school year.

Both professors agree that this new way of doing things has changed the way they both teach the regular course as well because of the extra time they get to spend with students.

Business major Eugene Cornel said the 164 class he is taking is interesting and not the extra burden he originally thought it was going to be.

“At first I thought it was going to be a drag because of the extra class time, but it turns out it’s not that bad. I’ve been able to get more help and better understand some of the harder concepts,” he said.

Aliado said his students have received the new course well and that they have been able to build a community within the class.