Advanced Placement® courses—or “AP®” courses as they’re more commonly known—give high school students the opportunity to take a higher level course and earn college credit before attending a college or university.
We recently had to the opportunity to sit down with Laurene Transue, the AP Department Chair at Fuel Education, to discuss the benefits of AP courses, and how online AP courses and test prep classes are redefining how AP courses are taken.
Here is what Laurene had to say:
FuelEducation: What impact do AP courses have on a student’s academic career and future? How can AP courses help students during their college career?
Mrs. Transue: In general, taking an AP course is overall beneficial for a student’s academic career. Most colleges and universities give students credit for participating in an AP course and testing well on AP tests. These credits—when transferred to their college or university—count towards their college requirements. This expedites their college career and saves them money, since they don’t have to pay to take those credits. There are also college scholarship opportunities for students that have taken AP courses and have done well on AP tests.
But there are more benefits than saving money. The writing and work needed for an AP course also helps students prepare for college. These courses are higher level than traditional high school courses. AP courses enable students to experience what college course material is going to be like, and ultimately better prepare them for the rigor of college.
FuelEducation: In what ways are online AP courses different from those offered at traditional brick-and-mortar schools? How are online AP courses beneficial for students?
Mrs. Transue: There are two kinds of curriculum taught in AP courses—overt curriculum and covert curriculum. Overt curriculum involves gaining knowledge in the subject matter. The covert lessons being taught are work habits, skills and other knowledge, such as learning how to use technology, or gaining an understanding of college-level materials.
Traditional and online AP courses deliver on the overt curriculum, but generally online courses are stronger in delivering the covert curriculum. Online programs are not only teaching these students the subject matter, they’re teaching them how to use technology, and how to use online sources to find information and solve problems, and even how to work collaboratively with other individuals online and in workgroups.
Then there’s the issue of personalized learning. With traditional AP courses, if one student is struggling with the material, the class can’t stop to help them learn it before moving on. However, online courses can be more personalized since students take them at their own pace. If a student is struggling to grasp a particular concept, they can spend additional time on it. Similarly, students that find themselves ahead of their classmates can work ahead and further explore topics that interest them.
Access is also an issue. Not all schools have the teachers they need to offer AP courses. In some cases, there may not be enough interest to justify the purchase of materials and the hiring of AP teachers. Online learning can enable schools to expand their catalog with AP courses for the students that are interested in taking them.
The College Board®, which oversees AP, originally wanted to use these courses as a way to gauge whether high school students were prepared to attend college. Since then, many school districts have narrowed that intent and offer AP courses only to the strongest students. Through online learning, districts can deliver on The College Board’s original vision by giving all students access to AP courses.
FuelEducation: What about online AP test prep solutions and mobile AP test prep applications? How are these different than traditional methods of preparing for AP tests? What benefits do they deliver?
Mrs. Transue: When it comes to preparing for AP tests, the difference lies in the intuitiveness of the online test prep classes. Online exam review courses are intuitive. They let students identify their gaps in knowledge and fill them through review and study.
With online solutions, students take practice exams and get instant feedback on what they know and don’t know. They also gain more detailed insight on their skills, such as whether they are better at multiple choice questions or essays. This insight enables them to focus on the subject areas and skills where they are weakest, instead of reviewing an entire course in a truncated period of time.
There’s also the issue of familiarity. Today’s students are “on the go” and are used to being able to get any content from anywhere on a number of devices. Online test prep classes and mobile test prep applications are available “on the go” for a mobile generation of student. They allow students to learn like they live.
For additional information about online AP courses, and to learn more about Fuel Education’s online AP courses and test prep classes, click HERE.
Advanced Placement®, AP® and College Board® are trademarks registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this article.