This section provides general descriptive information about remedial courses, such as the type of credit earned, whether remedial courses were recommended or required, how students were selected for remedial courses, who provided remedial education, and when and how remedial courses were provided.
The survey collected information about the most frequent type of credit given for remedial reading, writing, and mathematics courses: degree credit that counts toward subject requirements, degree credit that counts toward elective requirements, institutional credit (e.g., counts toward financial aid, campus housing, or full-time student status, but does not count toward degree completion), or no credit. Institutional credit was the most frequent type of credit given for remedial courses in fall 1995. For example, among institutions that offered remedial mathematics, 71 percent gave institutional credit, 13 percent gave no credit, 11 percent gave elective degree credit, and 5 percent gave subject degree credit (Table 7). Patterns of credit given were similar for remedial reading and writing courses. There was some variation by institutional type; for example, about 80 percent of public 2-year institutions offered institutional credit compared with about half of private 4-year institutions.
Institutions were asked whether remedial courses for students needing remediation were required or recommended but not required. About three-quarters of the institutions indicated that remedial courses were required for students needing remediation (Table 8). Public 2-year institutions required students to enroll in remedial courses less often than did public or private 4-year institutions.
Institutions vary in their policies toward students taking regular academic courses while they are taking remedial courses. Some institutions do not place any restrictions on the regular academic courses students can take while they are enrolled in remedial courses, while others do not allow students to take any regular academic courses while they are taking remedial courses. Other institutions allow students enrolled in remedial courses to take some regular academic courses (e.g., a student taking remedial mathematics could take regular English courses but could not take regular mathematics courses until remediation in mathematics was complete).
About two-thirds of institutions placed some restrictions on the regular academic courses that students could take while they were enrolled in remedial courses; about one-third of institutions did not place any restrictions on regular academic courses (Figure 4). Only 2 percent of institutions did not allow students to take any regular academic courses while they were taking remedial courses.
Institutions have a number of options for selecting those students that need remedial coursework: they may give all entering students placement tests to determine need for remediation, they may give entering students who meet various criteria (e.g., low SAT/ACT scores or low grade point averages) placement tests to determine need, they may require or encourage entering students who meet various criteria to enroll in remedial courses, or they may use some other selection approach (e.g., faculty/staff may refer students for enrollment, or students may refer themselves for enrollment).
The most frequently used selection approach was to give all entering students placement tests to determine the need for remedial coursework; about 60 percent of institutions used this approach in each subject area (Table 9). Entering students who met various criteria (i.e., who do not have SAT/ACT scores, who score below a certain level on the SAT/ACT, or who have a grade point average below a certain level) were given placement tests to determine the need for remediation in about a quarter of institutions, and they were required or encouraged to enroll in remedial courses in about 10 percent of institutions. Other selection approaches were used by the remaining 7 to 9 percent of the institutions. Public 2-year institutions gave placement tests in reading and writing to all entering students more frequently than did public and private 4-year institutions, and in mathematics more often than did public 4-year institutions. Public and private 4-year institutions required or encouraged students who met various criteria to enroll in remedial courses more often than did public 2-year institutions in all subject areas.
A traditional academic department was the most frequent provider of remedial reading in 55 percent of institutions; 30 percent most frequently provided remedial reading in a separate remedial division ( Table 10). Remedial writing and mathematics courses were most frequently provided by traditional academic departments at about 70 percent of institutions, and by a separate remedial division at about 20 percent of institutions. Learning centers were less frequently used, with 7 to 12 percent of institutions most frequently providing remedial courses in the various subject areas in this way. A larger percentage of public 2-year than private 2-year institutions offered remedial writing and mathematics courses in a separate remedial division; institutions with high minority enrollment provided remedial reading, writing, and mathematics courses through a separate remedial division more often than institutions with low minority enrollment did.
Twenty-five percent of institutions that offered remedial reading, writing, or mathematics courses in fall 1995 offered remedial courses in other academic subjects (Figure 5). Public institutions (both 2-year and 4-year) offered such courses more often than did private 2-year or 4-year institutions. The most frequently mentioned subject areas were science (general science, biology, chemistry, and physics), English as a second language, and study skills.
About half (47 percent) of institutions that enrolled freshmen offered English as a second language (ESL) courses (remedial and nonremedial) for college students (Table 11). Public institutions, both 2-year and 4-year, offered ESL more often than did private institutions. All ESL courses were considered remedial at 38 percent of institutions, and an additional 38 percent of institutions considered none of their ESL courses to be remedial. The remaining 24 percent of institutions considered some of their ESL courses to be remedial. Public 2-year institutions classified all their ESL courses as remedial more often than did 4-year public and private institutions; 4-year institutions, both public and private, considered none of their ESL courses to be remedial more often than did public 2-year institutions. Institutions with low minority enrollment more often than institutions with high minority enrollment considered none of their ESL courses to be remedial.
Almost all institutions that offered remedial courses in fall 1995 offered remedial courses during the daytime (Table 12), about twothirds offered remedial courses in the evenings and/or during the summer session, 18 percent offered such courses on weekends, and 4 percent offered them at some other time (primarily during a winter "mini-mester"). Public 2-year institutions offered remedial courses during evenings and weekends more frequently than did public and private 4-year institutions, and offered remedial courses during summer session more often than did private 2-year and private 4-year institutions.
Figure 6 shows the percentage of institutions that offered remedial courses in various combinations of time periods. A quarter of the institutions offered remedial courses only during the day; 37 percent offered remedial courses during the day, evenings, and summer; and 16 percent offered remedial courses during the day, evenings, weekends, and summer. Various other patterns were present for the remaining institutions.
In addition to the time periods for course offerings, 3 percent of the institutions offered remedial courses through distance learning (not shown in tables). Distance learning includes instruction using such modes as television broadcast or cable.
Three percent of institutions that offered remedial courses indicated that they have formal arrangements to offer remedial courses to students from other postsecondary institutions (not shown in tables). While 7 percent of public 2-year and 3 percent of public 4-year institutions have such arrangements, no private institutions (as estimated by this sample) have arrangements to offer remedial courses to students from other institutions.
Remedial education services/courses were provided to local business and industry by 19 percent of institutions that enroll freshmen (Figure 7). However, among these higher education institutions, public 2-year institutions were the primary providers of remedial services/courses to local business and industry. While half of public 2-year institutions provided these remedial services, only about 5 percent of other types of institutions did so. Most institutions that provided remedial education services to business and industry provided remedial reading (87 percent), writing (93 percent), and mathematics (94 percent); 18 percent provided remediation in some other subject area (mostly English as a second language and basic computer skills; not shown in tables). Most of the institutions provided remedial services to business and industry at business and industry sites (89 percent) and on the campus of the institution (74 percent); only 5 percent of the institutions offered such remedial services through distance learning and 3 percent offered them at some other location (not shown in tables).