Using an online learning program, a first-generation college student succeeds in math

Nurses caring for patients in a hospital ward

Janet Correa is fascinated by hospitals. “Ever since I was a little girl, I would watch ER stories on TV. I guess that’s where it all started,” she explained.

Janet wanted to be like one of the characters on TV, and she also wanted to be like her mother, a medical assistant. “When I was a little girl,” she commented, “and I saw her in her scrubs, I would say, ‘I want to wear scrubs every day to work!’”

Headshot of Janet CorreaInspired not only by her mother but also by her father, who works for a construction company, Janet wants to become a nurse. “I really want to help others,” she remarked. “My dad has been the one that influenced me the most about that. When people come to him and ask for help, if he can, he will definitely help them.”

Janet, a first-generation college student, attends the Community College of Aurora (CCA) in Colorado. She plans to complete her associate’s degree in the spring of 2017 and then get a BS in nursing.

Her parents, who are from Mexico, are very proud of her educational goals. “Education is really important to them,” she commented. “My dad said that if I don’t complete college or if I don’t become something, he’ll feel like he failed.”

In her required face-to-face developmental math class at CCA, Janet used Pearson’s MyMathLab®, an online learning program. The program’s self-paced learning and extra practice helped her master concepts.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t really understand math,” Janet said. “Math and I didn’t get along. I never really understood what the teachers were doing. They would go too fast, or they would go too slow. It would be exam day, and I still wouldn’t know what I was doing.”

“But with MyMathLab, I can go at my own pace. It gives you a number of tries on homework, so you can redo a problem if you don’t get it. So I feel like I learned more with MyMathLab than I did in high school.”

I would tell people who didn’t like math to give MyMathLab a try because you learn a lot from it.

 

The program allowed Janet to concentrate on the concepts and skills she needed to work on. “When you took the pre-quiz, if you already knew some of the stuff, you didn’t have to do the homework for it,” she explained. “You didn’t have to waste your time on things that you already knew. You focused on the things that you didn’t know.”

Janet liked the fact that the program gave her the answer to a problem after three tries because it helped her see what she was doing wrong. “Let me go back and check my work,” she would think to herself. “Maybe I missed something. Maybe I forgot a negative sign. Maybe I didn’t square something.”

A visual learner, she also found the videos in the program helpful. “I really liked the examples because they weren’t too fast paced. It was just right. Everything was clear and in order. I felt like I actually learned more with the videos than I did by reviewing the example homework.”

Reflecting on her experiences using the online learning program in her class, Janet said that she and math “get along a little better now. I got a B. So I’m really, really happy.”

The success she achieved using the online learning program taught Janet an important lesson, which she applied to her other classes this semester. “If you’re patient and you know how to manage your time well and you’re motivated and you do your best, you can do great things,” she said.