Implementing Corequisites

Implementing Corequisites Can Change the Culture in Higher Education


Name: Connie Richardson
Role: Manager of Course Programs, Higher Education Team
Years with Dana Center and/or in this field:
7.5 years at the Center; 31 years in education


Can you give a brief overview of corequisites?

Corequisite support courses are defined as placing of students who have been assigned to developmental education directly into college-level courses and providing necessary additional supports to help them effectively engage with the college-level coursework.

What issues in education are corequisites meant to address?

There are many!

Placement practices are inaccurate, yet can track students into multiple semesters of developmental education, resulting in increased time and financial costs. Corequisites allow students to stay on track for timely degree completion.

Giving all students access to credit-bearing courses and then providing the supports they need to be successful can ameliorate the inequities many students have been subjected to in earlier schooling. One example of that is that students in low-income communities are less likely to have highly qualified teachers so it should not be surprising when they score less well on standardized entrance exams.

Traditional developmental education is focused backward—looking at high school algebraic content, which may or may not be needed for the student’s program of study. Corequisites are forward-looking, supporting students in developing the precise foundational skills needed for a particular math or statistics course.

Why do corequisites provide more equitable opportunities for students?

Traditional prerequisite developmental courses have proven to be a barrier to students in completing college-level mathematics and earning their degree. Minoritized students and those from low-income communities are overrepresented in prerequisite courses and are therefore more likely to be adversely impacted. When done well, placing students directly into college-level courses and providing extra supports has been shown to result in more equitable outcomes.

What do you see as a few of the biggest challenges to implementing corequisites?

Institutions must align their student success initiatives such as guided pathways, math pathways, multiple measures placement, enhanced advising, and other student supports. Ideally, they must also address the classroom experience, incorporating evidence-based curriculum and equitable pedagogies and change the classroom culture from competition to support. This alignment requires ongoing work with stakeholders across campus, which can be difficult to sustain.

What makes you excited about the future of corequisites?

Corequisites have the potential to change the culture. Mathematics courses are often used as a weed-out for programs; well-designed corequisites empower students as mathematical learners and build confidence and increase persistence.

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