ERIC Number: ED498968
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Aug
Pipeline or Pipedream: Another Way to Think about Basic Skills. Carnegie Perspectives
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Asera assesses the challenges that community colleges face in educating students in basic skills. For a significant group of college students the seemingly automatic skills of literacy and numeracy have become opaque, creating a particular challenge for community colleges, 98 percent of which offer at least one remedial reading, writing or mathematics course. Originally such programs were designed to reacquaint returning adults with skills that had become rusty over time; what was needed was a refresher where they could relearn things they had previously learned in high school. Today, these courses are more likely to be populated by students recently out of high school, indicating that they never mastered these essential skills of English and math. Many of these students have had years of negative experiences with school and need courses in which they can, in effect, more successfully learn the content and learn to be students. Over the years, the jargon for such courses has changed: from remedial, to basic skills, developmental education, and pre-collegiate education. Although terminology has changed, teaching, writes Asera, has not. Too often, that is, basic skills courses are taught through drill and memorization of rules, lacking intellectual vitality and engagement. A long-term solution to the problem of under-preparation and student failure must be systemic, addressing alignment of curriculum and assessment across educational sectors. Noting that even as a long-term solution is required, the pre-collegiate classroom needs immediate attention, the writer advocates a different way to think about teaching "basic skills", one that depends on remembering what is actually entailed in successful reading, writing and problem solving, and making the complexity of those processes visible for students so that they can develop strategies for improvement by creating learning environments where students learn about themselves as learners and develop strategies for success.When campus leadership, including administrators, faculty, tutors, counselors, institutional researchers and student peers, join to make pre-collegiate education a campus-wide priority, the ideal of college access for all, Asera's understanding of the mission of community colleges, will evolve from pipedream to pipeline for learning and success.
Descriptors: Institutional Research, Remedial Reading, Community Colleges, Basic Skills, College Students, Teaching Methods, Literacy, Mathematics, Academic Achievement, Educational Research
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.