2020-2021 Innovation of the Year Award Winner: Community College of Baltimore County

Self-Directed Placement

Following a shift to an integrated and thematic approach to composition, the English faculty at the Community College of Baltimore County (CBCC) felt that standard placement practices were disconnected from their curriculum. During the intake process, students were presented with videos from classrooms, writing assignments, and discussions based on texts used within the English 101 and developmental classes. Students could see what different placements meant to them in the context of the classroom, and then make their own choice of where to start their college journey. The tool is interactive and available to students anywhere they can access the Internet. CBCC is yielding a dramatic increase in equity after several years of using the program. In one semester, we increased access to credit classes for African American students by 40 percent (from 18 percent to 58 percent enrolling in credit-bearing English 101). So far, more than 3,000 students have utilized self-directed placement.


  • Jamey Gallagher, Assistant Professor, Accelerated Learning Program
  • Elizabeth Hart, Assistant Professor, English
  • Kris Messer, Assistant Professor, English
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