Tips for implementing college transition programs

We’ve seen programs be most successful when they incorporate the following elements:
  • Early communication about math requirements and placement exams.
  • Access to a trained coach
  • Emphasis on mastery
  • Clear goal posts
  • Continuous improvement

1. Communicate expectations about placement tests

Once students enroll in your institution, set expectations as soon as possible about math requirements and placement exams. By communicating these requirements early, you can help students better prepare for placement exams and minimize the number developmental math classes they take.

2. Select the type of program you’d like to implement

Structured Programs
  • Summer bridge courses: An instructor teaches a short refresher course, usually 1-3 weeks long.
  • Tutorial centers or lab/emporium model: Students work through a curriculum at their own pace during required lab time and have access to a tutor.
Independent preparation, usually with online support
  • A college gives students instructions for using Khan Academy and tells them what content to study, perhaps by posting this information on a website. Often students also receive online support, such as targeted intervention from a coach.

3. Choose coaches and how they’ll interact with students

One coach can support many students, and this interaction can be light-touch. For example, coaches could simply make themselves available to answer student email. The important things is for students to have a way to get 1:1 support and encouragement. Any of the following people could act as coaches:
  • Professors
  • Counselors/advisers
  • Teaching assistants
  • Peers If students will be tutoring each other, you’ll want to find an online or in-person way for them to connect with their peers (e.g., Google Hangout or lab time).

4. Select a curriculum that meets your students’ needs Students can either choose a mission or create a customized study plan.

5. Set clear goals

Here are a few examples below.
  • Goal: Master a mission (i.e. Algebra Basics)
  • Goal: Master all the skills on a study plan (i.e. two-week study plan for Algebra I)
  • Goal: Earn a badge related to mastery (i.e. the Magellan sun badge, which students earn by mastering 100 skills)

6. Prepare

Train coaches on Khan Academy and how they’ll interact with students.

7. Launch

Get students started on the program by providing the following information:
If students will be tutoring one another, explain how the system will work. For example, you could explain the concept of productive persistence and encourage students to encourage one another. You may also want to set up “Help me” and “I can help” message boards so that students can request help on specific skills and volunteer to act as a peer tutor for specific skills.

8. Support

Check in with students and modify your approach based on their feedback.

9. Analyze and improve

Reflect on your program to make it even better.
  • Get feedback from coaches and students on program logistics and design to help you decide what to keep, change, and remove.
  • Get feedback from students on their progress in math.
    - Has their comfort with math changed as a result of the program?
    - What about their attitude toward math and their confidence in their mathematical abilities?
    - Use student results to refine your goals and incentives.
    - Do you see a correlation between skill mastery and student success?  
    - Do you see an effect on longitudinal metrics (e.g., retention rates, likelihood of taking an upper-division math course, usage of Khan Academy for other classes)?