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Evaluation of the Impacts of Math Course Placement Improvement Achieved through a Summer Bridge Program John R. Reisel, Leah Rineck, Marissa Jablonski, Ethan Munson, Hossein Hosseini University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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Acknowledgements Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) under Award No. 0757055. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Todd Johnson, Tina Current, George Hanson, and Edward Beimborn (all at UWM)

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The Problem Many students aren’t graduating. Students entering UWM take a math placement exam to determine their initial math course. Historically, students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) who place below College Algebra have great difficulty graduating. The data on the right are from 2003-05 freshmen classes in CEAS.

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The Problem Placing into Intermediate Algebra (Math 105) generally adds one year to the amount of time students need to spend in CEAS to graduate. Pass rates in College Algebra (Math 116) are often quite low. –This can add even more time to graduation.

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Parts of the Solution Develop a study group program for the freshmen students to reinforce their math courses and improve study skills. Run a summer bridge program to give students the opportunity to improve their math placement. –Many students know most of the material. –Some students can learn more in intense study. –Students retake the math placement exam at the end of the program.

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Bridge Program Format Residential, 4-week program Some students are required to participate, some students participate optionally Mornings are devoted to math instruction, using ALEKS, with teachers present to provide structure and answer questions. Afternoons are devoted to engineering / computer science activities.

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ALEKS Web-based assessment and teaching system. Students proceed at their own pace, and focus on topics that they require the most. Students are placed into their initial courses based on their Math Placement exam results. Students continue to work on course until they have mastered 92% of the material.

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Role of Instructors Provide immediate answers to questions. Monitor student work – provide structure to the activity. Assign “homework” to initiate additional work outside of the class time. Provide “quizzes” to mimic the math placement exam.

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Implications of Program Both improving math placement and subsequent course performance are important indicators. Students who advance one or more math courses, and subsequently receive grades of C or better in their math courses reduce the time needed to complete their studies. Students who advance, but then do not succeed in their next semester are at worst no worse off than with no program. Students who fail to improve their placement, but who pass their next math course may be better off (due to large failure rates.)

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Implications of Program Place UpStay Same Pass Next Course EXCELLENTOK – program may have aided passing Fail Next Course OK – No worse off POOR

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Subsequent Course Performance Summer 2009 Bridge Students, Fall 2009 Math Course Performance Math 231: Calculus I

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Subsequent Course Performance Math 116 (College Algebra) / Math 117 (Trigonometry) –3 of 6 students who took both received a C or better in only one. 2 of the 3 rectified the situation in the Spring 2010 semester.

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Subsequent Course Performance Math 105 – Intermediate Algebra

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Discussion 67.6% of the students improved their math placement, 21.6% by two levels. 5 of 8 students who placed up two levels succeeded in their next course. Performance in Math 116/117 similar to course as a whole Success rate in Math 231 is also similar to overall course success rate. Students who did not place up from Math 105 did well in Math 105.

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Grade Comparison Bridge Students Below CEAS Freshmen overall, but close to course performance. Math 116 needs attention.

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Changes for 2010 Preference for hands-on instructor Allow additional time after program formally ends for students to work with ALEKS Provide evening tutoring. 2010 Bridge Results: 83% improved placement. (Still had problems with subsequent course performance – counteract with additional advising and mentoring in Fall 2011.)

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Summary Results are still preliminary, as sample sizes are small. The Bridge Program helps many students, and does not harm the others. Students generally perform at a level similar to students who placed into their math courses without the program. There is room to improve subsequent course performance.

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QUESTIONS?

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ALEKS Success Indicators To improve their score on the math placement exam, students are helped by completing most of their course, and by spending more time on program. 2009 Data: Placement scores increased (out of 24 students) Placement scores did not increase (out of 12 students) Final ALEKS scores greater than 75% 160 Final ALEKS scores less than 75%812 Hours greater than 40176 Hours less than 4077

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