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   Biology 1


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About Fast Track

Chaffey College began the journey toward accelerated classes in the spring of 2010. Some of the members of the Enrollment and Success Management Committee were familiar with the movement in California initiated by the successes of English students documented at Chabot College. As part of the decision about moving forward with acceleration, the Committee explored the research from Chabot as well as reports from the Institutional Research Office of Chaffey's neighbor, Citrus College. In the fall of 2010, an English instructor from Citrus visited the Committee to share the pitfalls and triumphs of acceleration that had been experienced at Citrus.

While the research and experiences of colleagues were a determining factor in Chaffey's acceleration story, the other determining factor was the Enrollment and Success Management's decision to explore the efficacy of moving the late registration deadline from the third week to the beginning of the second week. In practice and philosophy, the policy of allowing students to enroll after three weeks of instruction had passed seemed opposed to a success and learning-oriented philosophy, and internal research supported the sense that such a practice seemed to correlate to higher incidents of failure. Institutional Research verified this conclusion through internal data collection, and the Enrollment and Success Management Committee acted on changing the last day to a point closer to the date instruction begins. So acceleration opportunities also became a way to offer students multiple access points during the semester given that they would no longer be able to add courses after three weeks beginning fall 2011, while simultaneously acting as well as a way to move students more successfully through a sequence.

In the spring of 2011, Chaffey offered approximately 50 accelerated courses ranging from English, Spanish, math, and ESL to Astronomy and Biology. In some cases, courses are packaged so that students can move through two levels within a sequence during just one semester. In other cases, courses were planned so that students could access alternative starting points or choose accelerated courses because they better fit their schedules or their learning needs.

Chaffey has also begun experimentation in accelerated review course in mathematics. The first course of this kind, Math 610, is designed for students who assessed into arithmetic but believe that with review, their assessment may better reflect their knowledge. After three weeks of intensive instruction, students take a 6 week intermediate algebra course and then move on to complete college algebra.

To date, the curriculum was either designed at inception as an accelerated learning opportunity or existing curriculum offered in an accelerated format. Given the eagerness of faculty to explore the option, this was the easiest way to begin. With a little experience, more faculty are interested, and discussions about pedagogical change and curriculum modifications have begun. Accelerated learning has also developed into what Chaffey College calls its "Fast Track" program, emphasizing the students' ability to achieve quickly. The College is also exploring the use of Supplemental Instruction leaders in accelerated classes as the infrastructure around acceleration continues to evolve.

Despite the caution of some of the faculty who initially engaged the accelerated formats, most have discovered some of the same benefits that faculty of other colleges extol in their accelerated teaching experiences. Melissa Utsler, English instructor, noted that she "has never loved teaching so much." Emily Avila, Biology instructor, taught an accelerated version and a traditional version of Biology 1. The acceleration class not only increased success by 20%, but they were more cohesive and engaged that her traditional class. She stated that the students developed a strong bond and "were more supportive of each other than [she] had ever seen before."


Here are the statistics from Emily's biology class:

emily stats

folks 1

folks 2

In addition, the internal research on acceleration is consistent with that of other colleges who are implementing these options.

Success and Retention Rates in Select Accelerated Learning Sections
Comparison to Comparable Sections and WSCH Sections

success 1
Success and Retention Rates in Select Accelerated Learning Sections
By Basic Skills Status
Spring 2011 Semester

success 2


For fall 2011, Chaffey scheduled over 70 accelerated courses across the disciplines. As Chaffey faculty prepare to teach accelerated courses for the first time, the Faculty Success Center is offering a variety of professional development opportunities for collaboration and preparation. Additionally, Institutional Research is surveying current students to determine factors that seem to correlate between acceleration and student success. From this information, the college will develop a diagnostic instrument that can be used by counselors or students to help determine if acceleration are right for them.


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Rev. 10/11/13


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