Skip to Main Content
Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale Community College Library

Eight week courses: Community College specific studies

A guide to research related to compressed schedules in academia.

Studies specific to community colleges

Academic Performance In Compressed Courses: A Phenomenological Study of Community College Student Success  
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore students’ lived experiences in compressed courses. This study was launched because of a phenomenon that occurred at one community college; student success was higher in shorter courses, with the highest success rates realized in the shortest duration courses. The increase in success rates was unexplained previously. Inputs-Environment-Outputs (I-E-O) conceptual theory framed this study. Nine students participated in the study. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology allowed the researcher to examine participants’ experiences through individual interviews. Thorough data analysis, review, and interpretation led to the generation of common themes from the participants’ stories. The central research question that guided this study was: How do students explain higher success rates in compressed, 7-week courses than in full-semester length courses? Five common themes emerged from this study including time management, focus, motivation, knowledge retention, and instructional methods. The themes were consistent with current literature on the compressed course modality. The findings are relevant to community college administrators and faculty who may be considering a compressed course implementation or who already offer this format but do not fully understand whether student success is greater in shorter courses. Additional research is needed to explore the perspectives of faculty who teach compressed courses. Research could be expanded to examine students who experienced a decline in success rates under the compressed course format.
Amarillo College Divided on Compressed Courses
Amarillo College is moving ahead with its transition to eight-week courses after testing the concept with some classes during the spring
An Evaluation of Student Performance and Student Success in ACA 122 Comparing Eight-Week and 16-Week Courses  
This study evaluated the performance and success rate of students in the College Transfer Success Course ACA 122. The study compared the differences in eight-week and 16-week course lengths evaluating grade point averages (GPAs), end of term final grades, student satisfaction, and retention. The study was conducted at a medium-sized multi-campus community college located in the Piedmont-Triad area of North Carolina.
Austin Community College Eight-Week Course Feedback Survey: First Eight-Week Session, Fall 1998
Results of a survey of faculty and students after the first eight week session implemented at ACC.
Do 5-Week, Time-Compressed, Face-to-Face Summer Courses Increase Course Retention Rates of Students at a 2-year College?
The purpose of this study was to examine College Algebra and Composition I course retention rates of students enrolled in 5-week, time-compressed, face-to-face summer courses compared to traditional 16-week, face-to-face fall courses as a comparable course delivery method. The study used a non-experimental, quantitative design with statistical analysis employing a chi-square test of independence. The results of the study indicated that no statistically significant difference existed in course retention rates of 5-week, time-compressed, face-to-face summer courses compared to traditional 16-week face-to-face fall courses in either College Algebra or Composition I.
Eight Weeks of Chemistry: The Advantage of Accelerated Online Learning
Accelerated online learning opportunities have shown great promise in many disciplines, but little is known about student performance in laboratory science courses completed in an accelerated, online format. This study of 347 community college students enrolled in online laboratory science courses reveals significantly higher final exam scores for students completing accelerated, 8-week online courses compared to 15-week online courses. When examined by semester, final exam scores of summer students are significantly higher than final exam scores completed during the traditional fall/spring academic year. Implications for student self-efficacy, retention, and graduation are presented. The potential financial impact of accelerated online learning on higher education institutions is discussed.
Examining the Relationship Between Class Scheduling and Student Achievement in College Algebra
This study examines the relationship between scheduling (3-, 2-, and 1-day-per-week classes) and achievement in college algebra. The study is grounded in spacing effect theory, which examines how variations in the frequency and timing of instruction affect student learning, and involves 116 Florida community college students. Regression analyses controlling for student and teacher attributes show that the 1-day-per-week group consistently scores the lowest on unit tests and final examinations. The findings suggest that although many students may prefer intensive courses or compressed schedules that minimize the time they spend on campus, these scheduling options may not be optimal for learning, at least not in mathematics.
Impact of an Accelerated Course Format on Student Success for a Community College Media Arts Class
This paper describes a problem of practice stemming from an institutional transition to accelerated formatted courses at Progressive Community College (PCC), a pseudonym for a 2-year college located in the southeastern United States. In order to improve student success, the college transitioned from a traditional 15-week course format to an accelerated 7-week format. The identification of the problem of practice led to the development of a research focus examining the impact of an accelerated 7-week format on student success for a media arts production course. The study implemented action research methodology, collecting both qualitative and quantitative research data. Action research is often manifested as a cyclical set of procedures. While following Mertler’s (2014) action research sequence of planning, acting, developing, and reflecting, this study sought to improve accelerated course curriculum and examine student success for a media arts production course. The planning phase of the study involved identifying the problem of practice, reviewing relevant literature, and developing a research plan. The acting phase of the study involved the analysis and collection of quantitative and qualitative data through the use of interviews, observations, artifacts, and assessments. The developing phase of the study involved the implementation of an action plan formed on the results of the collected data. The reflecting phase involved the deliberation of all aspects of the study and communicating all terminal findings.
Impact of Course Length on and Subsequent Use as a Predictor of Course Success
This study analyzes course success rates of students earning a grade on record in 8- week condensed courses at Crafton Hills College, a small suburban community college in Southern California, over five academic years compared to students earning a grade on record in the same course taught by the same instructors in a full semester traditional course of 18 weeks. Controlling for instructor, course, and academic term in this study mitigates the impact of other influences on student success not fully considered in previous research. The study then applies classification tree algorithms and binary logistic regression to determine whether course length predicts students’ course success rates. The findings follow previous studies that students enrolled in condensed courses are more likely to be successful than students in traditional length courses. Findings include positive statistical and practical relationships for course success in six subjects and for students with a lower than average prior cumulative GPA. Additionally, prior cumulative GPA and course length are the best predictors of a student successfully completing a course.
Improving Student Outcomes Utilizing 8-Week Courses: Considering its Feasibility for Ivy Tech Community College
A report that summarizes the evidence for 8 week courses and examines its feasibility at Ivy Tech. 
Influence of Session Length On Student Success
Do compressed courses of six or eight weeks enable students to have high rates of success? This counter-intuitive idea was examined in a study conducted by Santa Monica College from a database from fall 1994 through summer 1999 consisting of 446,000 student enrollments. The enrollments consisted of more than three-quarters regular semester classes and the rest were eight 6-week or 8-week sessions. Students enrolled in the 6-week compressed sections had higher success rates than those enrolled in the same courses during a 16-week semester. The results for students enrolled in the 8-week courses were intermediate between the two delivery modes. The paper discusses factors affecting the finding including teaching performance, type of course, frequency of class meetings, length of class meetings, type of student, quality of student scholarship, student maturity, student background. Additional research needs to be done to evaluate the impact of compressed classes upon students, especially struggling and at-risk students.
Nontraditional Students Success in Compressed Courses within a Community College Cohort
Nontraditional students are an untapped population for American higher education institutions. Private baccalaureate-granting universities have taken the lead on creating programs for this population’s needs. These programs typically include combinations of online instruction, cohorts, compressed or accelerated courses, and prior learning assessment. Similarly constructed programs for nontraditional students at public community colleges are less common. A review of the Council for Accelerated Programs’ website reveals only twelve of the 98-member institutions are community or technical colleges, and only one is in California (Council for Accelerated Programs, n.d.). In 2016, Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District in California created the Accelerated College Education (ACE) program specifically for working adults. ACE utilizes a cohort model, compressed courses, structured scheduling, and dedicated staff and faculty. However, little research exists that evaluates the combination of these elements for correlation to course success or student feelings of connectedness at a community college. This study uses Tinto’s framework of academic and social integration, including criticisms of its applicability to nontraditional students, to evaluate academic and social integration of Shasta College students who completed ACE compressed courses between June 2016 and December 2017. Course grade data showed higher participation by nontraditional students in these courses, and the ACE-cohort x students’ course success rate was significantly higher than non-ACE-cohort students’ course success rate. Survey results demonstrated that ACE-cohort students had significantly more interactions with and feelings of connectedness to program/student support staff and other students than non-ACE-cohort students, and that these connections may have contributed to the success of their overall academics.
Odessa: The 8-week Term in Practice
Article on how the 8-week term is being implemented at Odessa College.
Success Rates For Students Taking Compressed And Regular Length Developmental Courses In The Community College
In recent years, developmental education in the community colleges has received much attention. However, there has been little research examining the relationship between course length and course success in developmental education. Using historical enrollment data from a large, suburban community college in southern California, this study examines the relationship between course length and course success in developmental education when social and academic background characteristics are controlled. The study hypothesized that there would be no significant or practical difference in success rates for students taking compressed (i.e. courses less than eight weeks in length) or regular length developmental English, reading, or math courses when social or academic characteristics are controlled. Results demonstrate that developmental course length was associated with statistically and practically significant differences in course success observed across all categories of age, gender, and ethnicity. Students enrolled in compressed-format courses were more likely to succeed than students enrolled in regular-length courses. Higher successful course completion rates for compressed courses were observed across all departments, with the highest successful course completions in the eight-week format in English. Further, students—irrespective of age, race, or gender—were more likely to successfully complete compressed-format courses than their counterparts in regular-length courses. Findings point to an educational benefit for students who enroll in compressed courses. Future research in this area includes an examination of students’ progress through a sequence of developmental education courses and a look into the effect of college experience and environment factors related to success in compressed courses.
The Eight-Week Semester as the New Normal
An article on how community colleges in Texas are adopting the 8-week schedule.
The Effectiveness of Accelerated Learning on Student Achievement in Developmental Courses Offered at a Rural Community College
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the accelerated course learning format on student achievement in developmental English and math courses offered at a rural community college. Due to a rise in the number of underprepared students who enroll in community college, some college officials implemented the accelerated course learning format to allow students to complete developmental coursework in a shorter timeframe.
Time-compressed Courses and Student Success: Evidence and Application in the Community College
Community colleges face pressure from both critics and advocates to improve student achievement and to meet increasing student demands for alternatives to traditional instructional formats. Time-compressed courses have the potential to address both of the seemingly competing demands. In a time-compressed format, courses meet for fewer weeks than traditional semester-length course, but have the same content and instructional contact. However, community college leaders lack evidence-based guidance on the relationship between time-compressed courses and student success, as well as on strategies for implementing these courses. This dissertation is a systematic review of the literature that first examines the relationship between time-compressed courses and student success and achievement. It then investigates how these courses may be implemented effectively. An expert panel provided feedback on the study’s context and guidance on the study’s direction. The study presents three theoretical models that provide contextual understanding for why these courses are effective and for overcoming institutional resistance to change that is inherent in the adoption of new instructional modalities. These include a learning theory, Cognitive Load Theory, and two management theories, Doubleloop Learning Theory and Adaptive Leadership Theory. The results of the study provide evidence of a positive relationship between time-compressed courses and student success. Five recommendations are provided for practitioners considering the implementation time-compressed courses: monitor enrollment patterns, conduct assessments of student learning, examine the influence of student services on student success, adopt active teaching/learning, and schedule courses to balance student success.