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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.

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Transitional Math Students through Math Labs Nanci Barker Carroll Community College A Presentation at the 16th Annual AFACCT Conference January."— Presentation transcript:

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

2 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),

3 Trends 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),

4 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

5 CCSSE Student Results (continued) 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)

6 CCSSE Conclusions Academically underprepared students –E–Exert more effort –E–Experience greater academic challenge –U–Utilize more support services –R–Report more academic gain

7 CCSSE reports Colleges that develop strategies to retain these students – Offer students the opportunity to be successful in college – Level the playing field for these students

8 CCSSE Reports Students who successfully complete developmental courses are productively employed –P–Professionals 16% –M–Mid-level white-collar or technical positions 54% –H–High-skill blue collar workers 20% –L–Low skill jobs- only 9%

9 Why math labs? 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

10 Requirements 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 to 12.5% of course grade

11 Evolving Structure Pretest, practice then graded Practice on tutorial software then graded Practice then graded Moving toward all practice

12 Challenges Large number of course sections – Progress varies among sections – Avoid initial instruction in the lab Large Number of Labs – Staffing – Consistency – Grading

13 Challenges 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

14 Successes 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

15 Successes 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

16 Evaluation Challenges 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

17 Conclusion 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


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