‘Open’ Classes Build Confidence, Success

Britain’s Open University, which offers free online Open Learn classes to all comers, is being imported to the U.S. to help “ill-prepared, self-conscious” students adapt to college work, according to the Hechinger Report.

Students placed into low-level reading, writing or math — especially math — rarely succeed, researchers have found. Most give up.

“You take a student who doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence, you give them a placement test, and you tell them they have to take three semesters of math—that’s pretty de-motivating,” said Josh Jarrett, a former software entrepreneur who heads the postsecondary-education program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

. . . The foundation, through a collaborative, multi-year initiative called Next Generation Learning Challenges, has invested $750,000 to adapt two free Open University, at-your-own-pace online courses for use at about a dozen U.S. colleges and universities this academic year: one meant to make students comfortable with math so they do better on placement tests or move more quickly through remedial courses, and another to teach them study skills and other things they’ll need to know to be ready for college.

“Nothing succeeds like success, and in mathematics—especially developmental mathematics—getting the students to understand they really can be successful, that’s the most important step,” said Daniel Symancyk, a math professor and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Anne Arundel (Community College), one of the places where the pilot program is being tested as part of Anne Arundel’s goal of doubling its number of graduates by 2020. (Read more.)

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

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