Spotlight on prerequisites in MyLab Math and Statistics

A review of pre/post course performance at ten institutions that use prerequisites in MyLab, as documented in educator studies.

Community Colleges

Front Range Community College, CO
Course: Developmental Math sequence

Guilford Technical Community College, NC
Course: Developmental Math

Ivy Tech Community College, IN
Course: Business Statistics

Lehigh Carbon Community College, PA
Course: Mathematical Literacy

Wor-Wic Community College, MD
Course: Prealgebra and Elementary Algebra

Four-year Universities

Liberty University, VA
Courses: Fundamentals of Math and Intermediate Algebra

Mississippi State University
Course: College Algebra

Montana State University–Billings
Course: Introductory and Intermediate Algebra

University of Arkansas
Course: Finite Mathematics

University of South Alabama
Course: Intermediate Algebra

Incorporating Mastery-based Learning with Prerequisites in MyLab

First formally proposed by Benjamin Bloom in 1968, mastery-based learning is an instructional strategy and educational philosophy in which students must achieve a level of mastery (e.g., 90 percent on a knowledge test) in prerequisite knowledge before moving forward to learn subsequent information. If a student does not achieve mastery on the test, he or she is given additional support in learning and reviewing the information and then tested again. This cycle continues until the learner accomplishes mastery and may then move on to the next stage.

Mastery-based learning has been one of the most highly investigated teaching methods over the past 50 years. A large-scale meta analysis conducted by Kulik et al. (1990)[1] investigated 108 studies of mastery programs being implemented at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Results revealed positive effects in favor of this teaching strategy, with students also reporting positive attitudes toward this style of learning. This study also found mastery programs to be most effective for weaker students.

Despite the empirical evidence, many mastery programs in schools have been replaced by more traditional forms of instruction due to both the level of commitment required by the teacher and the difficulty in managing a classroom where each student is following an individual course of learning[2]. However, Pearson’s MyLab™ platform contains tools that may make the mastery-based learning approach easier to implement. Specifically, the prerequisites function can be used on virtually any component of the course to require a minimum level of achievement before students can move on to another specified assignment or course area. In fact, prerequisites can even be set to ensure students open certain multimedia components of the course before they can access a chosen assignment.

In an internal Pearson review, educator studies meeting the following criteria were considered:

  • Published between 2014–2017;
  • Implemented either MyLab Math or MyLab Statistics;
  • Utilized the prerequisites function; and
  • Data included pre/post results.

It was found that ten schools met all the criteria and, on average, saw pass rate increases of ten percentage points. Since each school implemented MyLab differently and required varying minimum scores for the prerequisite settings, individual summaries of each school’s implementation and results are included. For more detailed information, read each school’s complete educator study by following the link at the end of each summary.