Implementing English Accelerated Learning Program (ALP)

Initiated during the 2011-2012 academic year, PGCC’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) is modeled after the program developed at the Community College of Baltimore County. The project combines EGL 0100 students with students in EGL1010. In the PGCC pilot, students enrolled in ALP registered and paid for EGL 0100 and EGL 1010, in the same semester. The ALP students occupy less than half (8 of 20) of the seats in an EGL1010 class; the remaining seats are for non-ALP students who are enrolling in the EGL1010 course as part of their program of study. ALP students benefit from a smaller class and extra hours during which the professor provides individualized instruction tailored to specific students’ reading and/or writing problems.

Two ALP sections were taught each semester of the 2011-2012 academic year. The faculty member who taught the course both semesters said this model allowed her time to focus on individual students’ particular needs while also teaching them both the grammatical and structural elements of writing. She believed the course benefits students greatly, and saw a 70% pass rate for the ALP students in each course. Therefore, 70% of the students successfully completed two semesters of work in one semester. Given the faculty member’s qualitative and quantitative data, the plan is to expand the project but be more selective with faculty who teach in the ALP program.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, the English Department again reviewed data about the ALP course.  As of that date, there was a 70% pass rate for ALP, which is on par with traditional courses.  Initial evidence also suggested that the students in ALP complete the final research paper much more effectively than those in the same section who are taking only the EGL 1010 course.  The department planned to add one evening section in fall 2013, as a number of requests came from working students who take evening classes only. 

In fall 2013, the Office of Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research (OPAIR) conducted a qualitative study using student and faculty focus groups, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. In particular, the student focus groups revealed that students viewed the program as an “advantage” and found their ALP English classes engaging, challenging, and helpful. Below is a short excerpt from OPAIR’s report that summarizes students’ opinions about the program.

  • Students agreed with the benefits generally associated with the program (saving time and money), but what they valued the most was the additional support that they got compared to their non-developmental peers in English 1010. In fact, ALP students viewed the program as an advantage and claimed that some of their non-developmental peers would have liked to join them in the 0110 segment, a claim that was confirmed by the latter.
  • Similarly, ALP students’ views about the program’s level of challenge were closer to the perceptions of [the faculty who support ALP]. Students felt challenged by the program in terms of workload and deadlines and this applied to both the developmental and the college-level English portions. In several instances, ALP students’ experience of these challenges fit into the notion of “productive struggle.” In the students’ own accounts, they had gone through a hard time at the beginning, but were able to overcome the challenges, thereby acknowledging the learning gains acquired in the process.
  • Students’ positive views about the value of the class were not confined to ALP participants. English 0100 students and non-developmental students in English 1010 found their classes extremely valuable not only for improving their writing but also for doing better in other classes and in college as a whole. Furthermore, both groups of students portrayed their English classes as more engaging compared to other classes.

As of that analysis, the biggest challenge facing the ALP program was enrollment/expansion. For fall 2013 and spring 2014, the Department expanded its ALP course offerings to four sections, offering seats for 40 eligible students. However, two sections in fall 2013 and one section in spring 2014 had to be cancelled because of low enrollment. In fall 2013, only 16 students registered for ALP, and in spring 2014, 22 students registered. Because of the lackluster enrollment, the department developed a plan to aggressively increase enrollment.

In fall 2014, the English Department assessed EGL 1010 and EGL 1011 (EGL 1010 with ALP students) as part of the college’s student learning outcomes assessment process. In spring 2015, the Department received the results of the assessment data, which revealed that the ALP students performed as well (if not better in some areas) as traditional “college-ready” students on the EGL 1010 assessment. In fact, the ALP students had a lower failure rate than the EGL 1010 students on the embedded assignment.

In Spring 2015, the Department also examined another data source—Business Objects—to assess ALP’s performance. An OPAIR-built report in Business Objects revealed that in Fall 2014, ALP students had an 80 percent success rate in EGL 1010, while traditional students had a 75.8 percent success rate.

Because of the positive assessment data, the Department continued to expand its offerings of ALP to six sections in Fall 2015. In addition, ALP sections were scheduled in a classroom specifically designed for ALP.  This classroom was reconfigured and outfitted with twelve laptops during FY 2015, with the College’s strategic funds.

In FY 2015, the English Department devoted a significant amount of time to developing marketing materials and setting up processes/practices—including working with the college’s Information Center and Marketing and Creative Services—to inform eligible students about the accelerated program.

In FY 2016, data about the English Department’s Accelerated Learning Program continued to indicate that the program is a success: ALP students performed as well (if not better in some areas) and had a lower failure rate than college-ready students on the English 1010 embedded assessment. Additionally, ALP students have an overall higher success rate (80 percent) in English 1010 than traditional students, who have a success rate of 75.8 percent. The Department remains committed to expanding ALP course offerings to allow all eligible students an opportunity to participate.  It is anticipated that ALP will become the default path for all students who test eligible for the program when the College fully implements Guided Pathways in fall 2018.

ID 16603

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