Deana Forrester (from left), Kira Hand, and Danyelle Odom, students in Lynda Griffin’s AP I & II Fast Track Course, use a cake for their model portion of an AP project to present the four stages of an ulcer.
Students at Black River Technical College now have the opportunity to take “Fast Track” courses—class pairings taking one rather than the normal two semesters to complete. This semester, these integrated courses included combinations of Introductory and Intermediate Algebra, Freshman English I and II, and Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II. BRTC offered Fast Track courses last semester as well, and administrators plan to continue to offer them in coming semesters.
English instructor Lisa Inman explains of her Fast Track English I and II, “The accelerated nature of the course makes it more challenging at times for both students and teacher… [there is] a substantial amount of work—not only for students but also for me in terms of grading. [However,] if students are willing to put forth the extra amount of effort and dedication needed to succeed, the benefits are wonderful. Being able to knock out two classes with [a] one semester class block is so helpful to students looking to speed up the degree-seeking process.” Math instructor Al Dixon also notes this in his combination Introductory/Intermediate Algebra: “It has been referred to as a 16-week sprint… But no matter how grueling the course is—when it is over—the students that complete the courses are gratified they finished the two courses in one semester.” A&P instructor Lynda Griffin adds, “In the fall of 2012, I started the semester with 19 students and finished with 16 students. This spring, I currently have 26 students enrolled. I’m looking forward to this semester and this new group of eager minds.”
Online supplements can often help bolster students’ retention of the concentrated materials offered in Fast Track courses. Inman, Dixon, and Griffin all include online, hybrid elements in their classes this semester. Dixon mentions that his students “can use the Pearson My Math Lab to do their homework and get caught up,” and Inman notes, “For students new to the world of taking online courses, a hybrid course is a really nice way to ease into online class work because students still get to see me twice a week and have that face-to-face interaction in a traditional classroom setting.”
While more intensive than normal classes, Fast Track classes obviously have much to offer. They will be invaluable for students wishing to obtain their degrees quickly, as well as for those seeking a challenge or a way to absorb learning materials in a shorter amount of time.