An interactive learning program helps students accelerate through developmental math


An interactive learning program helps students accelerate through developmental math

Howard College, Big Spring, Texas

According to Mary Tinsley, a developmental math instructor at Howard College, it has been said that “developmental math classes are where students come to die. It’s so sad. The students are embarrassed to be in developmental math. It takes too long for them to get through it. And they’re paying money for classes they don’t get credit for. So there are a lot of reasons that we need to look at and fix developmental math in Texas.”

how-heroSo Tinsley was excited to learn about the New Mathways Project, developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas in partnership with Pearson. The New Mathways Project is a series of five online interactive learning courses, which include rigorous, transferable college-level content that meets the requirements of specific academic programs and careers. The first course in the series, Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning (FMR), launched in July 2015, and Tinsley began teaching it in January 2016.

Tinsley teaches one FMR class that meets face-to-face for an hour and forty minutes, twice a week. Three lessons are covered in each class. The course uses a flipped classroom approach. Prior to each class, students are assigned interactive lectures to watch in the online program. The interactive lectures preview the skills covered in each lesson so that students can focus on project-based learning in the classroom. After class, Tinsley assigns practice assignments in the interactive learning program as homework.

Tinsley observed, “FMR is very interactive. The lectures are easy to understand, and they don’t assume any prior knowledge. The resource material explains what a fraction is and how to convert from a decimal to a fraction. Even though this is what’s considered our mid-level developmental math class, FMR explains things that might have been covered in the beginning level. And it does it in a way that is not condescending or insulting to the student.”

It is too early to tell what effect the interactive learning program is having on completion and success rates, but the feedback thus far has been positive.

One of Tinsley’s students commented, “I like how we are actively engaged in the class and how before class, we preview the work [at home] and then do homework after [we’ve discussed it in class]. The material has stuck with me. The course and Mrs. Tinsley gave me the confidence that I can understand math even though I have always struggled in this subject.”

I struggle with math, but FMR lets me see different ways to figure out problems. It has opened up my mind to math.

A Nursing Student

Tinsley enjoys the flipped classroom approach. “I love that I don’t have to lecture anymore because students are responsible for their own discovery,” she explained. But it has also been a big change for Tinsley. “I have to be on the ball. I have to know everything that’s going to happen in those three lessons and be prepared. And I have to be a little bit ahead of them because it’s not just solving equations. It is much more subjective than that. FMR is a tremendous amount of work, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

For more background on the New Mathways Project, see the blog post “New Mathways Project Connects Students to Their Future.” To learn more about Howard College’s implementation, read the full success story.

Read the full success story


New Mathways Project

Developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas in partnership with Pearson, the New Mathways Project includes interactive, digital courses, homework assignments, and additional resources to assess a student’s conceptual understanding of important skills and facilitate an active, engaging learning experience.

Learn more about the New Mathways Project