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Student Engagement in College Algebra at Colorado Mountain College. A Learning Community Approach to a Barrier Course for Students By Jane Szucs Instructional Chair Developmental Education and College Success Roaring Fork Campus, Colorado Mountain College jszucs@coloradomtn.edu.

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student engagement in college algebra at colorado mountain college

Student Engagement in College Algebra at Colorado Mountain College

A Learning Community Approach to a Barrier Course for Students

By

Jane Szucs

Instructional Chair Developmental Education and College Success

Roaring Fork Campus, Colorado Mountain College

jszucs@coloradomtn.edu

continuous process of improvement
Continuous Process of Improvement
  • Plan: What is the problem and how do we solve it?
  • Do : Develop Improvement Theory and Implementation plan.
  • Study: Implement the theory and study the results.
  • Act: Engraft Improvement into the system and plan for the next iteration.
  • Adapted from Stanley E. Jensen, Continuous Process Improvement: AQIP Team Development for Colleges and Universities ( Iowa, McMillen, 2003), 4.2.
slide3
Plan

Barrier Courses at CMC

Classes with the highest rate of F’s, D’s and W’s

slide4
Plan
  • In the Fall of 2008 an instruction and student affairs team studied the top twenty barriers courses at CMC.
  • The team found that five math courses and six math intensive courses were in the top twenty barrier courses.
  • College Algebra was number seven with a 38% failure rate college wide and a 49% failure rate at our residence hall campuses.
  • The team chose to focus on this class because it was second in terms of the number of students it impacted.

*Out of the 778 students who enrolled in MAT121 during the 07-08 school year, 295 of them failed.

slide5
DO

A Learning Community Approach

Increasing student success in College Algebra through a

paired course and supplemental instruction strategy

what is a learning community
What is a Learning Community?

“In higher education, curricular learning communities are classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students. A variety of approaches are used to build these learning communities, with all intended to restructure the students time, credit, and learning experiences to build community among students, between students and their teachers, and among faculty members and disciplines(P. 1)”

*Adapted from the Learning Commons, Washington Center, http://www.evergree.edu/washcenter/lcfaq.htm#21

fall 2009 proposed mat 121 mat 101 learning community at cmc
Fall 2009 Proposed Mat 121/Mat 101 Learning Community at CMC
  • College Algebra and Enhanced Mathematics Support are linked thematically.
  • Students register for both courses and attend supplemental instruction one day a week.
    • Students with a Mat 121 average grade of 80% or better do not have to attend SI but often choose to.
  • Three common assignments.
    • 1st Year: Learning how to read a math text, developing a practice test, correcting a test
    • 2nd Year: Five hours of learning resources, developing a practice test, correcting a test
  • Shared syllabus for both classes
  • Common Learning Community Outcomes
study and act
Study and Act

Did the learning community approach help students succeed in College Algebra at the Roaring Fork Campus, Colorado Mountain College?

findings first iteration we have work to do folks
Findings: First IterationWe have work to do folks!
  • Overall passing percentage.
    • 41.7% of the experiment group passed when compared to 69.7% passage rate of control group. This is not a flattering statisticand can be attributed in part to the fact that the pilot was at a disadvantage from the start.
      • 7/12 students or roughly 58% of the class scored less than or equal to 65% on their first exam.
  • Passing rate for students scoring below 65% on their first exam.
    • 2/7 (28.6%) who score less than or equal to 65% passed the class in the control group. 3/7 (43%) who score less than or equal to 65% passed the class in the experiment group. The pilot “saved” one more student out of 7 who score less than or equal to 65% on the first exam.
  • Overall exam average.
    • 69% exam average for experiment group compared to 77.9% exam average for control group.
  • Differences in Control and Experiment group:
    • Three MAT 121/101 common assignments were assigned in the experiment group. These assignments hurt every students’ gradeand counted for 10% of their overall grade. The common assignments contributed to one student not passing the class that would have otherwise passed.
first iteration mistake and recommendation number one
First Iteration: Mistake and Recommendation Number One
  • Enrollment:
    • Advertising for this class was targeted to students who were “at-risk” from the beginning.
  • Recommendation:
    • Advertise the class to ANYONE.
    • Strong students in the class are good role models and help bring the lower students up to speed.
first iteration mistake and recommendation number two
First Iteration: Mistake and Recommendation Number Two
  • Common Assignments:
    • Selection and weight of the common assignments demotivated students to complete and subsequently negatively impacted their grades. “Reading the Textbook” was least turned in among students.
  • Recommendations:
    • Reconstruct assignments to include external motivators.
    • Eliminate the “Reading the Textbook” assignment and replace with “5 hours of learning resources/tutoring outside of class”.
first iteration mistake and recommendation number three
First Iteration: Mistake and Recommendation Number Three
  • Supplemental Instruction and Enhanced Mathematics Support:
    • Students attended Supplemental instruction and MAT 101 on the same day as College Algebra. This lead to burn out and lack of attendance in both SI and MAT101.
  • Recommendation:
    • Offer Enhanced Mathematics and Supplemental Instruction on the opposite days of College Algebra. Students worked on math 4 days a week instead of two.
findings second iteration a huge success
Findings: Second IterationA Huge Success!
  • Overall passing percentage.
    • Ten out of thirteen students (76.9%) taking the first exam passed the class. 
    • Tremendous gains in student success were made when comparing this statistic to the FA 09 learning community and control group.
      • Students taking the first exam in the FA 10 community improved by 35.2% over the FA09 experiment group, which had a 41.7% passing rate.
      • In this same category, a 13.5% gain by the FA 10 experiment group was made in relation to the FA09 control group, which had a 63.4% average.
      • Passing rate for students scoring below 65% on their first exam.
        • Five out of eight students (62.5%) scoring less than or equal 65% on the first exam, passed the class. This was highest percentage compared to ALL of the MAT 121 classes that I've taught at CMC. 
        • Compared to the FA 09 learning community,  which was 42.9% in this category and the control group which was 29.4% in this category, we can conclude that our learning community was a huge success
  • Overall exam average.71.7% exam average for experiment group compared to 76.9% exam average for control group. The exam average for the FA 09 group was a 69% representing a 2.7% gain in student success in the FA 10 learning community.

.

second iteration mistake and recommendation number one
Second Iteration:Mistake and recommendation number one
  • Enrollment:
    • We advertised to all students but did not consider how strong math students would feel about taking MAT 101 and SI. A couple of strong students voiced feelings of resent for having to take MAT 101.
  • Recommendation:
    • Suggest to strong students that they become peer tutors in MAT 101 and in supplement instruction.
    • Have them participate in a peer tutor training as a part of completing learning resource hours.
second iteration mistake and recommendation number two
Second Iteration:Mistake and recommendation number Two
  • Books:
    • Mistake:
      • We required students to purchase a book for each class adding up to almost $250 of expenses in books. Students often resisted buying both books.
    • Recommendation:
      • Eliminate the book for Enhanced Mathematics Support and use curriculum from academic assistance workshops in study skills.
where are we now
Where are we now?
  • Spring 2012 this program will launch college wide and include 6 out of 7 CMC campuses.
  • We will study the results on a campus and college wide level– looking specifically at the Barrier Course report.
  • Fall 2012 this program will move to developmental education classes on the Roaring Fork Campus.