Changes to remedial programs are discussed

Budget cuts could result in changes to remedial education at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, which could affect students as early as fall semester 2016.

The University Undergraduate Curriculum Commission reported to Faculty Senate on Oct. 27 that the UUCC endorses changes to UW-Platteville’s remedial Math and English programs. The changes, if approved at the university level, would save an estimated $310,000—$60,000 from changes to remedial English and $250,000 from changes to remedial Math, according to the report.

Remedial courses are taught on the UW-Platteville campus by faculty from UW-Richland in the case of English, and Southwest Tech in the case of Math. Tuition is paid to UW-Platteville, which in return pays UW-Richland and Southwest Tech. Current remedial courses being taught include Math 10, Math 15 and English 10.

“What is going to happen is that the current Math 10 is going to no longer exist,” Mathematics Department Chair Barbara Barnet, said. Instead, a course called Math 12 will be created. Barnet said Math 12 will include instruction in mathematics skills, basic study skills and note-taking. Students in Math 12 will not earn credit for the class.

“The biggest change is that students only need to take one class if they place into a remedial course and before they would have had to take two remedial courses before taking a general education course,” Barnet said.

The proposed changes to remedial Math received departmental approval on Nov. 2, and the new course would be offered as early as fall semester 2016 if approved, Barnet said.

Barnet also said that the changes would benefit students because they would spend less time taking remedial courses.

When asked whether there might be negative effects on student learning now that students who place into remedial math courses will be taking one remedial course instead of two, Barnet said, “We hope not. That’s why we are being very careful about how we create this class.”

The UUCC report stated that the UUCC “endorse[s] the changes to remedial math…which would create a one-semester developmental mathematics course that leads into the general education mathematics courses for majors who do not need the mathematics ‘path’ that requires Math 15.”

In terms of English remedial courses, according to the report to the faculty senate, UUCC “endorse[s] the elimination of the developmental English course and the creation of a new credit-bearing course that will be taken by all incoming students who would have placed into developmental English.”

Instead of a remedial class in which a student pays tuition but earns no credit, the English department would offer a course tentatively called English 1120. The course would cover some of the remedial work, but also fulfill general education requirements.

“Remedial education is really tricky,” English professor Amanda Tucker said.

Students need extra help to be prepared for university level courses, but end up paying for classes that they do not earn credit in. Tucker said the changes would be beneficial to students because the course would now be credit bearing. How the new English remedial course would incorporate the necessary remedial work is still being developed said English Department Lecturer Yasmin Rioux said, though the changes would not affect students who place directly into English 1130. Rioux currently teaches remedial English 10 classes.

Curriculum changes including a reduction in the number of required math remedial courses were first discussed by the UUCC after a Sept. 16 proposal to UUCC members stated that “a recent Business Intelligence report indicated that students are graduating from UW-Platteville with far more credits than are required by their major program.” This particular change to remedial Math would not reduce that number of credits, but would contribute to reducing the amount of time to graduation.

The proposal was made by a sub-committee of the senior administration team and included a list of potential curriculum changes. The list did not include proposed changes to the remedial English program, but did propose a suspension of the writing emphasis. The Faculty Senate voted to recommend that suspension on Oct. 27.

Nov. 9 was the final day for the campus community and four senates to provide feedback to the chancellor on the budget reduction process, according to the budget timeline. In January, Chancellor Dennis Shields will make the final budget decisions which may include those recommended for the remedial Math and English programs.

[email protected]