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Supporting Transitional Math Students through Math Labs . Nanci Barker Carroll Community College. A Presentation at the 16th Annual AFACCT Conference January 2006. Trends in Transitional Students.

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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

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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

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  • 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.

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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

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CCSSE Student Results (continued) (2005)

  • 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)

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CCSSE Conclusions (2005)

  • Academically underprepared students

    • Exert more effort

    • Experience greater academic challenge

    • Utilize more support services

    • Report more academic gain

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CCSSE reports (2005)

  • Colleges that develop strategies to retain these students

    • Offer students the opportunity to be successful in college

    • Level the playing field for these students

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CCSSE Reports (2005)

  • 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%

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Why math labs? (2005)

  • 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

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Requirements (2005)

  • 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

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Evolving Structure (2005)

  • Pretest, practice then graded

  • Practice on tutorial software then graded

  • Practice then graded

  • Moving toward all practice

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Challenges (2005)

  • Large number of course sections

    • Progress varies among sections

    • Avoid initial instruction in the lab

  • Large Number of Labs

    • Staffing

    • Consistency

    • Grading

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Challenges (2005)

  • 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

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Successes (2005)

  • 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

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Successes (2005)

  • 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

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Evaluation Challenges (2005)

  • 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

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Conclusion (2005)

  • 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