Math Redesign results are lower than expected

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Lauren Hamlin
The Broadside

The results are in and they disappoint. This term marked the one year anniversary since Central Oregon Community College’s Math 60 course made the full conversion to Math Redesign and the success rates are lower than what was originally expected.

The original goal for student success rate was a percentile in the mid 70s. Average success rates under the traditional model were between 64 and 66 percent. Under the Math Redesign, success rates in winter 2011 were 53 percent.

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“They (the success rates) certainly didn’t start out where we wanted,” said Doug Nelson, head of COCC’s math department. “We’ve met all the other objectives and now our success rates are back up to where they used to be, under the traditional model. We expect those to continue to climb.”

There are three main reasons for the low success rates, according to Nelson. Those include students not doing the work, personal issues (family crisis or financial issues) and students not using or not knowing all the resources they have under the new model.

“We are continually tweaking [the Math Reform courses] by changing assignments and having better communication,” said Charlie Naffziger, a COCC math professor. “Teachers are coming up with new material to help students better understand the whole program.”

The program used for the math classes is based on mastery learning. Students have to master the material to move on to the next math level. With this style of learning, there are fewer gaps in what students retain, according to Naffziger. With mastery learning, Naffziger hopes success rates in subsequent math courses will improve as well.

For improving success rates, instructors will conclude an analysis of the unsuccessful students from fall term to determine any commonalities and make slight modifications to the current model. They also plan to continue training the Students

Mastering Algebra through Revolutionary Techniques (SMART) lab instructors and attendants as well as meeting with all the Redesign instructors.

For more information on Math Redesign and SMART at COCC, contact the college’s math department at 541-383-7720.

(Contact: LRHamlin@cocc.edu)

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