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Supporting Transitional Math Students through Math Labs

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Supporting Transitional Math Students through Math Labs

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### Supporting Transitional Math Students through Math Labs

Nanci Barker

Carroll Community College

A Presentation at the 16th Annual AFACCT ConferenceJanuary 2006

Trends in Transitional Students

- McCabe found that half of the students entering community college enroll in one or more developmental courses but only half successfully complete (2003)
- Kozeracki found 55% of community colleges reported the number of students in developmental courses increased over the past five years (2002)
- McCabe, R. H. (2003), Yes we can! A community college guide for developing America’s underprepared. Phoenix, AZ: League for Innovation in Community College.
- Kozeracki, C. A. (2002), ERIC review: Issues in developmental education. Community College Review, 29(4), 83-100

Trends

- The national rate of successful completion for developmental algebra courses is 50% (Journal of Developmental Education, Winter 2004)
- Yet, developmental algebra students surveyed by Weinstein reported spending more time than their peers on homework (2004)
- (2004). A new algebra approach for struggling students. Journal of Developmental Education, 28(2),40
- Weinstein, G. L. (2004). Their side of the story: remedial college algebra students. Mathematics and Computer Education, 38(2), 230-241.

Per the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (2005)

- More than half (53%) students are academically underprepared, i.e., taking transitional courses
- 53% reported “often” or “very often” working harder than expected to meet their professors expectations (43% of academically prepared students reported)
- Available at http://www.ccsse.org

CCSSE Student Results (continued)

- Helped them “quite a bit” or “very much”
- 60% to solve numerical problems (44% academically prepared)
- 70% to think critically and analytically (61% academically prepared)
- Encouraged them “quite a bit” or “very much”
- 75% to spend time studying (64% academically prepared)
- 28% to cope with nonacademic responsibilities (20% academically prepared)

CCSSE Conclusions

- Academically underprepared students
- Exert more effort
- Experience greater academic challenge
- Utilize more support services
- Report more academic gain

CCSSE reports

- Colleges that develop strategies to retain these students
- Offer students the opportunity to be successful in college
- Level the playing field for these students

CCSSE Reports

- Students who successfully complete developmental courses are productively employed
- Professionals 16%
- Mid-level white-collar or technical positions 54%
- High-skill blue collar workers 20%
- Low skill jobs- only 9%

Why math labs?

- Research shows higher student interaction results in greater success
- Assist students to pass their transitional math courses
- Guided practice
- Professionals to answer questions, to interact with students, to offer help
- Tutoring software
- Exam study materials

Requirements

- Each student registers for a weekly lab
- Students complete practice and receive help
- Grade included as component of course
- Average of 10 labs
- Count as unit test in course approximately 11.75 to 12.5% of course grade

Evolving Structure

- Pretest, practice then graded
- Practice on tutorial software then graded
- Practice then graded
- Moving toward all practice

Challenges

- Large number of course sections
- Progress varies among sections
- Avoid initial instruction in the lab
- Large Number of Labs
- Staffing
- Consistency
- Grading

Challenges

- Missed Labs
- Special make-up lab times
- Mastery and Make-up
- Dropping one or two grades
- Efficient use of resources
- Attrition
- Scheduling to meet different needs
- Cost

Successes

- Students perceptions generally positive
- “Agree or strongly agree” Labs are beneficial
- Range from 72-83% Students grade labs as “A” or “B”
- “Agree or Strongly agree” Lab Instructors provide timely and supportive help

Successes

- Open ended evaluations consistently include positive comments about the help received
- Former transitional students comment that they wish labs were available for their college level math courses

Evaluation Challenges

- Changes in course content or placement scores
- Limited ability to compare results over different terms
- No base period without labs
- Lab grades compared to course grades
- Initially lab grades higher
- Recently lab grades have actually lowered some students’ grades

Conclusion

- Although outcome data is hard to determine, students think math labs are beneficial
- We plan to look for more ways to evaluate outcomes and improve the labs

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