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The Solution. A cademic M astery P roject. Black Swan Events are high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations. Such events are considered “extreme outliers” ( Taleb , 2007). Black Swan Theory. The event is a surprise

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the solution

The Solution


black swan theory
Black Swan Events are high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations. Such events are considered “extreme outliers” (Taleb, 2007).Black Swan Theory
identifying a black swan event
The event is a surprise

The event has a major impact

After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been


Identifying a Black Swan Event
arkansas s math remediation problem

Arkansas’s Math Remediation Problem

Two-Year College – 66% +

Four-Year College – 33%

(Arkansas Dept. of Higher Ed. 2008)


Nationwide Remediation Problem

76% of college students who take remedial courses in reading never earn a degree.

75 % of college students who take remedial courses in math never earn a degree.

(George, 2010)

the normal curve
The Normal Curve

All swans are white and the world does not offer any surprises. A rather boring place to live. (Most predictions in the world come from the assumption that all statistics fit the bell-curve model.)

reality for developmental education
Reality for Developmental Education

There are plenty of black swans. Two sets of outliers with different needs. An exciting world with little predictability.

does developmental education work
Does Developmental Education Work?

Direct Entry Students

ACT Scores or 19 or above

Mean – 2.32 Out of 4 points possible

Standard Deviation – 1.24

Students required to take Intermediate Algebra

Mean – 2.29 Out of 4 points possible

Standard Deviation - .65

foundations of mathematics a black swan process
Foundations of MathematicsA Black Swan Process

Contains all of the competencies of Essential Mathematics, Introductory Algebra and Intermediate Algebra.

Modulated competencies.

Computer Based program (Hawkes)

Based on Mastery Learning (80% / B level).

Student Regulated.

Open exit.

Pre and Post-test Assessment.

after two semesters
After Two Semesters

Traditional Intermediate Algebra Class

  • A & B - 35% (Mastery Level)
  • C – 40%
  • D – 5%
  • F – 5%
  • Drop-outs 15%

Foundations (23 students)

  • Essential – Intermediate 28%
  • Essential – Introductory Algebra 26%
  • Introductory Algebra – Intermediate Algebra 25%%
  • Essential 17%
  • Non-completers – 2%
  • Drop-outs – 2%
  • 28 % of the students enrolled completed three developmental courses with a B or better grade.
  • 51% or the students enrolled completed two developmental courses with an B or better grade.
what about today
What About Today?
  • Present enrollment 41.
  • 32 starting at module 1-6.
  • 2 starting at modules 7-10.
  • 7 starting at modules 11-14.
  • 4 students completed modules 1-6 retook the Compass and tested into Modules 11-14.
  • 2 students completed modules 1-6 retook the Compass and were placed in modules 7-10.
the problem
The Problem
  • The graduation rate for students requiring remediation in more than one level of English, Reading, and Mathematics is near ZERO.
  • Those students cannot graduate within 150% of program time.
the problem1
The Problem

75% of students who are remedial in mathematics NEVER graduate (George, 2010).

the problem2
The Problem
  • Community colleges receive a majority of entering students who require remediation and a vast majority of students requiring remediation in all three areas.
  • At CCCUA, 74% of students are remedial in one area. 65% are remedial in all areas.
  • Remediation = low statistical chances of graduation.
  • Community college students = 74% remedial students.
the solution1
The Solution

Academic Mastery Project (AMP)

  • Pilot phase
  • Some data, but more required
the solution2
The Solution
  • Total redesign of remedial


  • Mastery based learning (80% proficiency or better).
  • Modules similar to Adult Education format.
  • Completely customized to individual student needs.
the solution3
The Solution

Two new classes take the place of six remedial classes:

  • Foundations for Writing
  • Replaces College Reading, Essential English, and Developmental Writing
  • Foundation of Mathematics
  • Replaced Essential Math, Introductory Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra
the solution4
The Solution
  • Foundations of Writing will be piloted in the Spring 2011 semester.
  • AMP will be piloted with 40 students in the Fall 2011.
  • All instruction by full-time faculty…no adjuncts.
  • Computer based lab components accessible from anywhere.
the solution5
The Solution
  • AMP will contain a learning community of students who require remediation in all three areas: Reading, English, and Mathematics.
  • The students will be enrolled in
    • Foundations of Mathematics
    • Foundations for Writing
    • Success Strategies

AMP will allow students to:

  • complete remediation in one semester.
  • graduate within 150% of program length.
  • gain documented mastery skills necessary to persist in college level courses.

With AMP:

  • Remediation costs to the institution and the state will be greatly reduced (maybe cut in half!).
  • Students will save the time and costs of up to 12 credit hours of tuition and 4 text books.

George, M. (2010). Ethics and motivation in remedial mathematics education. CommunityCollege Review, 38(1), 82.

Taleb, M. (2007).