While I do not have the research in front of me, Dr. Denley, from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) has looked at this situation extensively. Bottom-line: adding a pre-requisite course does not improve student outcomes. Quite the opposite is true. The data from the TBR institutions shows that regardless of academic readiness, students perform better using the co-requisite model for support.
A simple illustration will show why this is true. Suppose you have a course that only 50% of your students successfully complete. In order to improve student outcomes, you add a pre-requisite course. After adding the course, you find that 70% of your students successfully complete the pre-requisite course, and of those, 70% successfully complete the course you were concerned about. Everything is better, right?
No, 70% of 70% means that you now only have 49% of your students successfully completing the course. That figure excludes the students you lost between the time they took the pre-requisite course and the course of concern. So, you actually have fewer than 49% completion now.
TBR has looked at data from community colleges and four-year institutions. In all cases, the institutions saw marked improvement by offering co-requisite support and eliminating pre-requisite coursework.
Director, Academic Support
Austin Peay State University
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Catherine Juozokas
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 8:50 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Request for Research on the Impact of Prerequisites
A member of the history department at my small community college asked if I know of any peer-reviewed research related to the impact of adding a pre- requisite to courses. Since I'm not familiar with research in this area, I thought I'd forward her inquiry to the listserv. At this time, the college has no pre- requisites for history courses, and students often struggle with the level of reading, writing, and critical thinking required in her classes.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Catherine Juozokas, Director
Academic Skills Center
Asnuntuck Community College
Enfield, CT 06082
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