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College Algebra Course Redesign Southeast Missouri State University

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College Algebra Redesign Pilot Spring 2012 Piloted redesigned course with all main campus students in sections that met between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm 357 students enrolled at start of classes 5 instructors taught 9 sections Modified emporium model Used MyMathLab for class work and homework exercises, but students took paper and pencil quizzes and tests Common Final Exam used as comparison

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Successes Increase of 7% in the number of ABCs on common final exam as compared to Spring Weekly collaboration among College Algebra instructors. Elimination of course drift. All instructors gave the same assignments, quizzes, tests and final exam. Students were actively engaged “doing math” during the entire class period. Evening study sessions held on a regular basis were well attended. A realization among the students that mathematics is hard work, but the format of the redesigned course gives students the tools to be successful.

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A Student’s Evaluation I really liked College Algebra this semester because: 1.MyMathLab gave great examples on how to solve problems and offered extra help to solve the problems step-by-step. 2.I liked the set-up of the class. The lecture at the beginning of the class was better because it was short enough to grasp the main concept of the session plus it helped me stay focused on the subject. Long lectures tend to drag and it makes me lose focus. 3.I also liked the fact that in-class assignments were given. It gave me extra practice to make sure I understood what was just taught. 4.The grading scale was good. Doing the math homework helped benefit me in both learning and earning points for the work that was done. Not to mention, how the final was graded was good because it didn’t make me feel like all the hard work that I put into homework and exams was thrown down the drain. Overall, I would rate this College Algebra experience as excellent!

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Another student’s evaluation I personally think the MyMathLab system worked well. I did end up relying a lot on the examples option so that reliance could be changed. I think that the lecturing part of the course should be kept the same as that helped my understanding of the topics. It was a good course overall and worked well with the in class tutoring. I would have liked MyMathLab to explain some solutions in smaller steps as there were times I was confused with how things added together to get the answer.

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My Observations 14% more ABCs in my redesigned classes (Spring 12) than in my lecture classes (Spring 11). Students were awake and engaged and thinking about math. Very little Facebook or texting. Nice blend of explanation and independent work time. Able to work with students one-to-one before they leave the classroom. Students that were willing to work hard understood the expectations of the course and were successful.

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Difficulties Students usually rent a textbook for $25 per semester. Some students dropped the course because of the increased price of the MyMathLab package. Difficult for students without Internet at home. Piloted with too many instructors. Difficult adjustment for instructors to give mini-lectures. What’s most important to discuss? Although final exam scores were improved, overall the grades in the class were not improved. This may in part be due to all students taking the same quizzes, tests and final exam. In the past, difficulty level of tests varied between instructors. Students became too dependent on “View an Example”.

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Students Comments At first I really didn’t like the MyMathLab program. I sometimes found it frustrating because it always wanted the answer a certain way or form. I understand that this was to help us remember and know how to write our answers, but it still caused quite a few headaches. I thought that MyMathLab was a great program. My only problem was that I depended too much on viewing the examples to complete the homework. However I really liked that with MyMathLab I could work problems as many times as I needed and all the resources that were available to help me study. I’m not a fan of the e-text. I prefer a book. The e-text is just not user friendly.

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Future Improvements Plan, plan, plan…. and train, train, train….before the semester starts. Instructors need time to adjust to a new way of delivering the course. Spend time at the beginning of the semester making sure students are comfortable with the course. Use of MyMathLab mastery quizzes to practice the material without helps such as “View an Example”. Require a notebook so students learn how to write mathematics. Expand and increase attendance in study sessions.

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