Compressed-Term (7-Week) Schedule Conversion

NOTE: The report below is from the Fall 2014-2015 academic year, but the data results for the Fall 2015-2016 academic year largely mirror the 2014-2015 results. Therefore, we have kept the information from the previous year’s report.


In Fall 2014, Trident Technical College converted to a college-wide compressed format course schedule, with Fall and Spring semesters each featuring two compressed 7-week terms.  The “Compressed Term” classes contain the same amount of instructional time as full semester classes.  However, full time students take 2-3 classes per term rather than 4-6 classes in the full semester format.

The decision to undergo this college-wide transformation was driven by student success patterns.  Multiple data studies at the college have shown that, in aggregate, students perform better in shorter terms.  For example, between 2006 and 2011, success rates of students in compressed courses were 16.2 percentage points (p.p.) higher than success rates of students in full term courses.  This pattern of increased success by shorter term length remained consistent among both white and African-American students.  However, only 5.8% of enrolled students were in compressed courses.

In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, TTC significantly increased the numbers of compressed course classes in preparation for the full conversion in Fall 2014.  In Fall 2012, for instance, compressed course enrollments were 8.6% of total student enrollments, and the compressed course enrollments increased nearly threefold to 24.6% of total student enrollments in Fall 2013.  Likewise, Spring 2013 compressed course enrollment comprised 10.3% of total enrollments, and compressed course enrollments increased to 36.3% of total enrollments in Spring 2014.  These changes allowed many students to register for a fully compressed-course schedule.  In fact, half of Spring 2014 enrolled students registered for at least one compressed course, and 21% of enrolled students took only compressed courses.

The differences in success rates between compressed courses and full term courses were quite notable.  Students in their Fall 2013 compressed courses had success rates nearly 8 p.p. higher than students in full term classes.  In addition, Fall 2013 students in compressed courses had higher success rates than students in full term classes in the following areas:

  • Lecture format courses (10 p.p.)
  • Online courses (4 p.p.)
  • Developmental courses (13 p.p.)
  • Developmental math courses (16 p.p.)
  • College-level courses (8 p.p.)

Demographic studies also reveal significant differences in success rates between compressed and full term courses.  Students in the multiple demographic groups had higher success rates in Fall 2013 compressed classes than full term courses by the following margins:

  • African-American students (9 p.p.)
  • White students (8 p.p.)
  • $0 EFC students (10 p.p.)
  • First time freshmen (8 p.p.)
  • Continuing students (9 p.p.)

The full conversion to the compressed-term format in Fall 2014 has produced striking gains in success rates across the college.  In fact, the increases in student success rates from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 have been unprecedented at the college.  In Fall 2014, approximately 95% of all classes were taught in the compressed-term format, and the Fall 2014 aggregate college success rate reached 75.8%, our highest since 1991.

First time freshmen (FTF) in Fall 2014 had an aggregate success rate that was 13.0 percentage points (p.p.) higher than Fall 2013 and 20.5 p.p. higher than Fall 2011.  TTC also tracks the percentage of FTF who do not pass any of their classes in their first term.  In Fall 2014, the percentage of FTF not passing any of their classes dropped 10.5 p.p. from Fall 2013 and 16.3 p.p. from Fall 2011.

The percentage of Fall 2014 first time freshmen persisting from the Fall to Spring semesters also increased by approximately 8 p.p. over FTF persisting from both Fall 2013 to Spring 2014 and Fall 2011 to Spring 2012. 

Students taking classes at different academic levels showed significant gains in success rates in Fall 2014.  Students in the following courses experienced the listed increases in aggregate success rates from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014:

  • Developmental courses = 10.3 p.p.
  • Gateway courses = 8.3 p.p.
  • All college-level courses = 7.4 p.p.

Fall 2014 students also progressed through development course sequences at noticeably higher rates than students in previous years.  The following demonstrates the increases in the percentages of students who completed a developmental course sequence or a developmental and initial gateway course in two semesters in 2014-2015 versus students in 2013-2014:

  • Developmental Reading through Critical Reading = 22.0 p.p.
  • Developmental English through Introduction to Composition = 14.6 p.p.
  • Introduction to Composition through Gateway English Composition I = 15.6 p.p.
  • Developmental Math Basics through Developmental Mathematics = 21.5 p.p.
  • Developmental Mathematics through Beginning Algebra = 8.9 p.p.
  • Beginning Algebra through Intermediate Algebra (or Gateway Probability and Statistics) = 16.3 p.p.
  • Intermediate Algebra through Gateway College Algebra = 10.4 p.p.

Demographic studies also reveal the college’s significant progress in increasing students’ course completions.  Students in the following demographic groups experienced the listed increases in aggregate success rates from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014:

  • African American students = 9 p.p.
  • White students = 7 p.p.
  • Full Pell eligible students = 9 p.p.
  • Partial Pell eligible students = 7 p.p.
  • Not Pell eligible students = 7 p.p.

Another very encouraging indicator of TTC’s progress in helping students complete their classes is a significant reduction in the percentage of students withdrawing from classes.  The college’s Fall 2014 student withdrawal rate was under 10% and was approximately 4 p.p. lower than in Fall 2013 and approximately 7 p.p. lower than Fall 2011.


ID 15638

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #15638, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

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