Ivy Tech Community College is transitioning its offerings to primarily eight-week courses.
While there are no specific goals, according to Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann, each campus has been charged with moving away from the traditional 16-week format.
“I’m adamant about not putting a percentage on it,” Ellspermann said. “We’re going to learn what works best for students.”
The idea for the transition started with internal data. Performance reports showed success rates — the percentage of students earning at least a C — for eight-week courses were greater than those for both 16- and 12-week courses. The figures were convincing, but Ellspermann wanted to see if other community colleges were experiencing similar trends.
Researching this topic led Ivy Tech officials to Odessa College in west Texas. It had been one of the worst performing colleges in the Texas system before transitioning about 80 percent of its courses to an eight-week format. This change was credited with an increase in graduation rates of more than 50 percent in five years. The turnaround earned Odessa the Aspen Institute’s “Rising Star College” award and $150,000.
Ellspermann said she wasn’t surprised to see a higher success rate for eight-week courses. They’re common among MBA and graduate programs because they work better for adult students who are often trying to balance a job and family responsibilities while going to school.