Personalized learning helps a professor raise the pass rate


Using personalized learning, a developmental math professor increases her course passing rate by 31.8 percentage points

Community College of Aurora, Aurora, Colorado

In 2014, when the developmental math department at the Community College of Aurora (CCA) analyzed course completion rates, Laura Stone-Majetic, a member of the faculty, was disappointed with the results. The study showed that the passing rate in her class for the previous two years was 7.4 percentage points lower than the department’s average.

“I had to find some radically different way to teach, now that I was aware of how many students I was failing,” Stone-Majetic realized.

Looking for a tool to help her students, Stone-Majetic chose Pearson’s MyMathLab®, an online program, in part because it was available for the algebra series developed by Elayn Martin-Gay, a well-known instructor.

Community-College-of-Aurora-340x248In the spring of 2015, Stone-Majetic implemented the online program in her face-to-face developmental math class. She had students watch Martin-Gay’s video lectures at home and use the program to do some easy problems for homework and to take quizzes. They spent class time unpacking the lectures and working on harder problems. “My results went up from the 50s to the low 60s,” Stone-Majetic said. It was, she thought to herself, a start.

As a next step, Stone-Majetic realized she needed to implement personalized learning. So the next semester, in the fall of 2015, she used a mastery model, in which students work at their own pace and do not move on until they have mastered concepts.

“It would be absolutely impossible to do that without MyMathLab because I’m only one person,” she explained. “I can’t be in seventeen different places at once. But Elayn Martin-Gay can be in seventeen different places at once. She can be on every person’s computer, giving a different lecture and offering different instruction for every student. So I quit being the teacher. Elayn Martin-Gay became the teacher in the classroom, and I became the coach.”

Stone-Majetic spent thirty minutes before each class using the online program’s course gradebook to check students’ progress. She calculated how many days ahead or behind each student was from the expected pacing. Then, based on that number, she assigned students to work together in groups during class.

“I went from success rates in the 60s to 88 percent success,” Stone-Majetic remarked.

Stone-Majetic observed that it is not just the program’s personalized learning features, such as extra help at point of use, that have increased student success. Knowing exactly what progress each student has made every day, she has been able to provide intensive one-on-one support and encourage students to hold themselves accountable.

Over the course of two semesters, as Stone-Majetic changed her teaching strategies and used the online program, the passing rate in her class jumped from being 7.4 percentage points lower than the department’s average to being 12.7 percentage points above the average.

Course Passing Rates, Developmental Math

Community College of Aurora





“The whole vibe in the classroom is night-and-day different from what it used to be,” Stone-Majetic said. Before, some students were angry and frustrated. They lost interest and hope and dropped out. And she was frustrated too. “Now I get to class usually about fifteen minutes before class starts and half the class is already there. They want to be there. It’s a really exciting place to go every day.”

This spring, Ana Perea, a student who moved to Denver from Venezuela two years ago, completed the fifteen-week course in seven-and-a-half weeks. Since she had learned some of the course content in her previous schooling in Venezuela, she progressed through course objectives quickly and completed the class early.

With MyMathLab, it was my pace that I was following. No one had to wait for me, and I didn’t have to wait for anyone else.

Ana Perea, CCA Student

Ana then enrolled in an online college algebra course, which uses Pearson’s technology. “She finished two classes in one semester because pacing doesn’t drive the course anymore,” Stone-Majetic said.

Because of students’ success in Stone-Majetic’s class, CCA is expanding its use of the online program so that more students will benefit from personalized learning. Next fall, approximately half of the developmental math department will be changing teaching strategies and implementing the program.

To learn more about Stone-Majetic’s use of personalized learning at CCA, read the full success story.

Read the full success story


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