Community College: Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) redesigned College Composition, a required course serving approximately 3,000 students annually. The traditional format, which combined lecture and writing activities in sections of 30 students each, made it difficult to address individual needs. The redesign used technology to provide diagnostic assessments resulting in individualized learning plans; interactive tutorials in grammar, mechanics, reading comprehension, and basic research skills; online tutorials for feedback on written assignments; follow-up assessments; and discussion boards to facilitate the development of learning communities. The classroom was restructured to include a wide range of learner-centered writing activities that fostered collaboration, proficiency, and higher levels of thinking. By shifting many of the basic instructional activities to technology, faculty could focus the classroom portion of the course on the writing process.

TCC reduced the number of full-time faculty involved in teaching the course from 32 to 8 and substituted less expensive adjunct faculty without sacrificing quality and consistency. In the traditional course, full-time faculty taught 70 percent of the course, and adjuncts taught 30 percent. In the redesigned course, full-time faculty teach 33 percent of the course, and adjuncts teach 67 percent. Overall, the cost-per-student was reduced from $252 to $145, a savings of 43 percent. Full-time faculty were freed to teach second-level courses where finding adjuncts was much more difficult.

Five final out-of-class essays were selected randomly from the traditional and redesigned sections and were graded by an independent group of faculty using an established holistic scoring rubric. Students in the redesigned composition course scored significantly higher (p = 0.03) and had an average score of 8.35 compared to 7.32 for the students in the traditional course. Students in redesigned sections had a 62 percent success rate (grades of C or better) compared with 56 percent in traditional sections, representing a 13.6 percent decrease in the DFW rate. Success rates of students in the second-level English course increased (79.3 percent success for redesigned compared to 76.1 percent for traditional).

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