Accelerating Development

Matt DelConte, Ph.D. is a Professor in the English/Reading/Communication major. He was recently named Project Director for a SUNY grant which will support community colleges Accelerated Learning Programs.

 

Onondaga Community College has become a statewide leader in the effort to help students succeed simultaneously in developmental and credit-bearing courses. The College has been awarded a $600,000 grant from SUNY’s Performance Improvement Plan to support 10 community colleges as each either creates or improves its co-requisite model for teaching known as the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP). The Project Director is Matt DelConte, Ph.D. who teaches Developmental Writing at OCC. “We’re going to share our expertise, share our experiences and design a program that will help other schools do the kind of work we’re doing,” he said. “It’s really rewarding.”

Before the creation of the ALP program, students would take a developmental course in one semester followed by a credit-bearing course the next semester. Too many students weren’t making it to the credit-bearing course. Within higher education there was much conversation about work being done at the Community College of Baltimore County where faculty had created the ALP program. OCC decided to take a closer look. “We sent faculty there to learn what they were doing. They brought back ideas and began piloting a program.”

OCC’s ALP program began in the 2013-14 academic year. In the same semester a student takes credit-bearing English 103 (first-term composition) followed by Developmental Writing. The classes are taught back-to-back by the same professor. “Originally we only offered this in a few sections. We saw increasing success rates and good things happening so we built up and scaled up. Now it’s the principal option for students in a developmental writing class.”

Success within the ALP program has been two-fold. “Earning credit in the first semester is such a boon to doing well later in your college career. What’s also valuable is the way students develop a community amongst themselves and their instructors. It creates a valuable touchpoint for students who might not otherwise feel a connection.”

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