San Jacinto College has an interesting program designed to help students who are weak in mathematics tackle algebra. AIM (Acceleration in Mathematics), as the program is called, is a compressed course that teaches developmental math skills and college-level algebra in one semester, five days a week.
It's covered by Cheryl P. Rose, in the Houston Chronicle. The article includes a brief description of the program. It's a good example of how experimentation at the local level can produce results. The rates of success with AIM are superior to the traditional pedagogy used at the school, with a blend of strategies, the article reports.
Not all students are required to take algebra, but many technical fields require the course. It remains a significant gateway class, and a strong predictor of graduation. If students can crack algebra, they are much more likely to succeed in other courses, too. Learning math, especially for weaker students, often involves incremental steps, so maybe the five-day a week component is particularly fruitful.
From the article:
"We identified the developmental skills that support college algebra and we streamlined the curriculum," he said. "Then we teach those developmental skills right before they are needed for the related college algebra topic. AIM classes meet five days a week with daily homework assignments, making it closer to the high school model than a typical college course."
Also, AIM involves practice in class, with the guidance of instructors and peers.
"AIM uses activity-based learning as opposed to lecture," [math professor Matt] Lewis said. "We don't talk for an hour. We talk for 20 minutes, and then we have a group practice with peers. It's a system that works very well for students. AIM classes provide extremely supportive environments."