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Student Success
Accelerating Developmental Learning with ALP
he Accelerated Learning Program
(ALP) is shortening the pipeline for
students taking developmental reading
and writing classes.
Following the lead of educational innovators
around the country exploring ways to improve
assessment, placement and developmental
education among community college students,
MCC's ALP is adapted from a similar program
developed at Maryland's Community College
of Baltimore County.
ALP helps students who have tested into
developmental English courses prepare
for, and pass, the required college-level
English courses by enrolling concurrently in
a developmental and a college-level reading/
writing class.
"Students who test into developmental
courses can often feel defeated before
the semester even starts," said Cathleen
McCarron, English Department Chairwoman.
"ALP helps students build their skills and
make progress toward earning their degree,"
she explained.
Through ALP, students who don't test into
college-level reading and writing courses
are encouraged to enroll in two courses a
college-level "English 101" course, and a
developmental "Writing Skills Seminar."
The same instructor teaches both courses.
"Our academic advisors are really great at
referring students to ALP and showing them
they can benefit by taking two classes in
one semester to complete their requirements
and stay on track to graduate on time," said
ALP students complete all the same
assignments as their non-ALP classmates,
but spend an additional three hours a week
working with their instructors and other
ALP students in a seminar-style class. This
extra time is devoted to supporting students
by working on assignments and developing
college-success skills, such as problem
solving and time management.
"The seminar portion of ALP essentially
functions as a workshop to help basic writers
build and master the skills needed to succeed
in `English 101' and other college-level
courses," said McCarron. "The course is
really structured around becoming a better
student, and we do whatever we can to
facilitate that."
During the seminars, students work together
on assignments, campus librarians are invited
to class to teach research skills, and Peer
Tutors come in to help students refine their
skills, added McCarron.
"One of the greatest parts of these courses is
ALP students create a really nice community,"
said McCarron. "We have students ranging in
age from 18 to 50, but they form a true cohort
who help each other build the skills they need
to be successful in this class and beyond."
Students are finding a lot of success in these
courses. In the fall of 2014, 139 students
participated in ALP alongside 147 non-
ALP students. A total of 64 percent of ALP
students completed "English 101" with a
grade of "C-" or better, compared to only 58
percent of the non-ALP students.
"Some students who start off in ALP go on to
take Honors courses," said McCarron.
Full-time faculty member Nicholas Papas
has been named ALP Coordinator, and the
department is planning to expand the popular
program to reach even more students,
said McCarron.
ALP courses aren't just successful for
students, but for teachers as well. Almost
all full-time English faculty, and a growing
number of part-time English faculty, teach
ALP courses, said McCarron.
"There is a lot of collegiality around this
program," she said. "Faculty members have
a Blackboard site where we can easily share
assignments and resources with one another.
ALP provides a great opportunity to focus on
student success in class and discuss ideas
with fellow faculty."
Tura Linderholm
Students enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) receive extra support to help them progress through developmental English coursework.