The University of New Mexico is “stretching” the summer session into fall to give students extra instruction in math and English to get them on the path to success as incoming freshmen.

Cristyn Elder, assistant professor in the English department, said that offering this course model provides students with an opportunity to avoid taking remedial classes (ISE 100), a non-degree course. Last fall, 23 percent of first time freshmen were placed in ISE 100. The courses are taught at CNM, using different textbooks and a different approach.

The department is offering English 101 courses that began in the summer and will continue through the fall semester. Two sections were formed, with about 10 students in each. “They have the same instructor throughout the course,” Elder said. The teaching assistants who are the instructors for the classes attended a practicum in May to learn how to teach for the extended courses.

“We provide them with support and answer their questions. We are doing pre and post surveys of the students and their instructors to get a sense of the attitudes toward the stretch courses, as well as their assessment of the value and effectiveness of them,” Elder said. She added that a focus group at semester's end is also an assessment tool they plan to employ.

In the fall, other sections will be created that will carry over from fall through the spring semester.

She and her colleague Assistant Professor Bethany Davila, who, with Elder co-directs the core writing program, are organizing the program as a pilot project. Elder said that they looked at students' ACT scores. "Those students who scored 16 or below received a letter inviting them to take a stretch course to avoid remedial coursework,” Elder said.

Students who scored between 16 and 18 were encouraged to enroll in a studio class. Studio English? “In addition to the three credit hour instruction class, the students have a one credit hour writing lab,” Elder said. Writing is critical across disciplines and is significant for student success.

Goals of the pilot include improving student success by using instructional models that have proven effective at other institutions, reducing the amount of remedial coursework and improve students' writing ability, keeping them in school and engaged through to graduation.

The human resource costs of the program are offset by decreased funds going to ISE 100. “Improved retention and graduation rates may yield revenues that more than offset these costs,” the project description reads.

The English department is working closely with enrollment management, advisement and Student Affairs.

Mathematics and Statistics looked at Intermediate Algebra, or Math 120. Jenny Ross, lecturer, said, “We broke it down into three one-credit courses: 101, 102 and 103. Students who would have gone into ISM 100, the remedial math class, got letters inviting them to take the module over the summer.” More than 20 students took advantage of the summer option.

They can take one, two or all three courses, she said, depending upon whether or not they needed to go on to College Algebra, Math 121.

The math program is online and the students come into the Math MaLL, located in the Centennial Science and Engineering Library. “They sign up for a a time slot and some instruction in the MaLL,” Ross said. The program, Alex, is the course's textbook. “They buy time on Alex. The program is self-paced, so the students finish at different times. We have students who have completed all three courses, haven't exhausted the time they purchased on Alex, so they can go on into Math 121,” Ross said.

Ross added that College Algebra, Math 121, is available in the MaLL or through face-to-face instruction in the fall. “Students can select, based on their preference,” she said.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: