MyLab Math educator study examines correlations in the Developmental Algebra sequence at Hillsborough Community College

MyLab Math educator study examines correlations in the Developmental Algebra sequence at Hillsborough Community College

Key Findings

  • Students earning higher scores on their Integrated Review assignments also earned substantially higher average chapter review quiz scores.
  • Data show strong correlations between video homework assignments and both chapter review quizzes and final course scores.
  • Data show strong correlations between Review/Preview homework assignments and chapter review quizzes.
  • Students in an end-of-semester survey indicated that they found both the Skill Builder assignments and Integrated Review assignments helpful in their preparation and learning of the required material.

School name
Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL

Course names
Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra

Course formats
Hybrid, Fully online (16-week and 8-week)

Course materials
MyLab Math for Beginning & Intermediate Algebra, 6th Edition by Martin-Gay

Timeframe
Fall 2016

Educator
Dr. Sunshine Gibbons, Instructor

Results reported by
Julianne Labbiento, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager

Setting

Serving the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) has five primary campuses, three satellite locations, and is home to the Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education (ICCE) on Davis Islands. HCC serves just under 45,000 students, with approximately 55 percent female and 45 percent male. With more than 40 percent of all degrees awarded in 2013 going to minority students, roughly 28 percent of students identify as Hispanic and 21 percent African American. Hillsborough offers 68 Associate’s Degree options and 88 Certificates and program awards.

About the Course

HCC offers several course options in their developmental math sequence, including both single and combination courses, so that students may choose the path that best fits their academic goals, skill levels, and timelines.

Pre-Algebra (MAT 0018) focuses on manipulative skills of whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals. Topics include prime factorization, square roots, and absolute values, order of operations, use of percents, formulas, measurement, geometry, and introduction to algebra. Pre-Algebra is a three-credit course that serves as a prerequisite to Beginning Algebra.

The Beginning Algebra (MAT 0028) course provides a full introduction to algebra. Topics in this three-credit course include basic linear equations and inequalities, properties of real numbers, operations involving exponents and polynomials, factoring, quadratic equations, applications, graphing of linear equations, and an introduction to radical simplification.

For students needing remediation in basic skills, but still wishing for a single-semester option, an Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra (MAT 0022) course is available. This five-credit course combines the arithmetic skills review of the Pre-Algebra course with the objectives from the Beginning Algebra course to specifically cover all mathematics skills necessary for entry into college-level mathematics. Arithmetic topics include operations with real numbers, fractions, decimals, exponents, geometry, measurement systems, percents, and ratios. Algebra topics include polynomial operations, factoring, solving and graphing linear equations and inequalities, operations with quadratic equations, and applications of all concepts.

Topics in the four-credit Intermediate Algebra (MAT 1033) course include relations, functions, polynomial operations, factoring, absolute value, rational expressions, equations (linear, quadratic, radical, rational), systems of equations, inequalities, exponents, radicals, graphs of linear equations and inequalities in two variables, complex numbers, and applications. Intermediate Algebra may be used only for elective credit.

All courses require MyLab™ Math as an online learning component and students are awarded final grades of A, B, C, D, or F. The Pre-Algebra, Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra, and Beginning Algebra courses also offer students an N as a final grade option. N is a non-punitive grade which may be awarded at the discretion of the instructor to a student who has earned at least a 70% for homework and attendance, but has not earned at least a D overall. Those students then must repeat the course during the following term.

Challenges and Goals

Students are placed using the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.), Florida’s common placement exam. Senate Bill 1720, enacted in July 2013, contains a provision requiring that students whose test scores indicate the need for developmental education must be advised of their options and may then enroll in the developmental education options of their choice. (https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2013/html/501)

Professor Sunshine Gibbons, Instructor of Mathematics at HCC, relates that since the bill’s ratification, she finds a much wider range of skills among students in her developmental math classrooms. While the  traditional lecture and homework strategy had already started to give way to the inclusion of multimedia and digital resources, she felt that having a textbook complete with a myriad of adaptive resources, such as MyLab Math, would best benefit all of the students enrolled in the classes by giving them a variety of learning aids that could address a host of learning styles. In particular, Dr. Gibbons wanted to find an option that provided just-in-time remediation for students who needed quick review and on-board videos for added support.

Implementation

Three courses were analyzed for this study and they were offered in at least one of two formats: hybrid or fully online. Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra (MAT 0022) and Beginning Algebra (MAT 0028) hybrid classes each met four times per week for 75 minutes, with a maximum of 25 students enrolled per class. Dr. Gibbons organized the class meetings as either three lectures with one lab period per week or two lectures with one lab and one review period per week, depending on the weekly material. Having her students meet at least one day in the lab allowed her to make a personal connection to them, as she was able to watch them work and speak with them immediately as they ran into difficulty. She recorded her lectures using her iPad, saved them as unlisted YouTube videos, and provided them to students via Canvas, HCC’s learning management system. She also utilized the Martin-Gay powerpoints, available in MyLab Math, adapting them for her particular classroom use.

Students were guided through a series of assignments and exams designed to help them both learn the new material and review necessary prior skills. These included:

  • Skills Check quiz (one per chapter)
  • Skills Review homework (one per chapter)
  • Video homework (one per section)
  • Section homework (one per section)
  • Review/Preview homework (one per section)
  • Chapter review quiz (one per chapter)
  • Midterm
  • Final exam

Students began each new chapter by taking a Skills Check quiz, which allowed them to test their current skill level prior to learning new content. Upon completion of the Skills Check quiz, a personalized Skills Review homework was generated in MyLab Math. This individualized Skills Review homework was populated with topics and skills that the student needed to remediate, as determined by their performance on the Skills Check quiz. The Skills Check quiz and Skills Review homework assessments represent the components of the Integrated Review feature, available in MyLab Math with select textbooks. The Integrated Reviews are designed to provide students with just-in-time remediation within a course.

Once the Integrated Review for a chapter was completed, students began to work on the new chapter material. For each section in the chapter, students watched a video in MyLab Math and completed a video homework based on what they learned. Students also completed a traditional section homework assignment in MyLab Math. Finally, students worked through a Review/Preview homework assignment, allowing them to reinforce what they just learned and see how it would tie to the future section about to be covered. Dr. Gibbons made all homework available at the beginning of the semester, so students could opt to do the video homework before lecture, after lecture, or both.

Dr. Gibbons wanted the students to have every resource available to them. To that end, she always kept all available learning aids turned on in the MyLab Math homework assignments, including Skill Builder, View an Example, and Help Me Solve This. Skill Builder Adaptive Help provides students with additional practice that does not count toward the homework grade, however both students and instructors can see that it has been completed. Students are able to ignore the Skill Builder recommendations if they wish, but Dr. Gibbons appreciates that it allows struggling students time to continue to work on a skill without affecting the homework grade.  

At the end of each chapter, students took a chapter review quiz to assess their knowledge of the chapter contents. Once complete, they moved on to the Skills Check quiz for the next chapter. Any necessary remediation from prior chapters was caught with the Skills Review homeworks generated from the Skills Check quizzes, so that students were constantly presented with exercises to reinforce weak skills throughout the course. A midterm and comprehensive final exam were also given. These exams were both administered in a paper-and-pencil format, with the final exam being designed by the Mathematics Department and required by all teaching the courses.

In addition to her hybrid classes, Dr. Gibbons also offered Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra (MAT 0022), Beginning Algebra (MAT 0028), and Intermediate Algebra (MAT 1033) courses in a fully-online format, with the latter two being offered in compressed 8-week semesters. No appreciable changes were made to the homework assignments or assessments for those online options, with the exception of removing the Review/Preview homework assignment from the 8-week online Intermediate Algebra course. Dr. Gibbons was concerned that there may have been too many assignments for the compressed semester format, given the content required in that particular course. In retrospect, however, she says that she would indeed include it in the future, as many students continuing on from the 8-week Beginning Algebra course indicated that they found the Review/Preview homework to be a valuable component and wished it had been incorporated in their Intermediate Algebra course as well.

 Assessments

The grades for each course are calculated according to the following point system:

300 points Midterm
300 points Departmental final exam
200 points MyLab Math homework and quizzes
200 points Attendance and participation

Letter grades are based on the following scale:

A         900-1000 points
B         800-899 points
C         700-799 points
D         600-699 points
F/N*  Below 600 points

*A grade of N may only be given in Pre-Algebra, Integrated Arithmetic and Algebra, and Beginning Algebra to a student who has earned at least 70 percent on homework and attendance, but has not earned at least 600 points overall. It is awarded at the discretion of the instructor and any student receiving a grade of N must repeat the course in the following semester.

Results and Data

For students to achieve success, Dr. Gibbons believes it is critical that features such as the Integrated Review, videos, and Skill Builder are readily accessible and easy to use. An analysis of data from her courses shows strong correlations when relating those assignments to chapter review quiz and final course scores.

A correlation measures the strength of a relationship between two variables, where r is the correlation coefficient. The closer a positive r value is to 1.0, the stronger the correlation. The corresponding p-value measures the statistical significance or strength of the correlation, where a p-value <0.01 shows the existence of a positive correlation between these two variables. Note that correlation does not imply causation; it is simply a measure of the strength of the relationship.

Results for the Integrated Review components, the Skills Check quizzes and the Skills Review homework assignments, were first compared to the chapter review quizzes. Strong and moderately strong correlations were found for MAT 0022 and MAT 0028 and very strong correlations were found for MAT 1033. Results are displayed in table 1.

MAT 0022 Ch. Rev. quiz MAT 0028 Ch. Rev. quiz MAT 1033 Ch. Rev. quiz
Skills Check quiz 0.66 0.60 0.82
Skills Review homework 0.71 0.41 0.88

Table 1. Correlations Between Integrated Review Assignments and Chapter Review Quizzes, MAT 0022: n=39, MAT 0028: n=44, MAT 1033: n=27 (0.801.00: very strong, 0.600.79: strong, 0.500.59: moderately strong, 0.400.49: moderate)

The availability of videos in a course is something that Dr. Gibbons feels is very important. Videos allow students to review lectures as often as necessary to close the gaps in their knowledge and move forward in the developmental math sequence. Video homeworks assessed a student’s understanding of the lectures themselves. Dr. Gibbons view the inclusion of videos in MyLab Math courses as a step towards providing consistency in video availability to all students. The data show that video homework assignment scores were also strongly and very strongly correlated to chapter review quizzes (table 2) and to the final course scores (table 3) in all three courses.  

MAT 0022 Ch. Rev. quiz MAT 0028 Ch. Rev. quiz MAT 1033 Ch. Rev. quiz
Video homework 0.61 0.61 0.85

Table 2. Correlations Between Video Homework Assignments and Chapter Review Quizzes, MAT 0022: n=39, MAT 0028: n=44, MAT 1033: n=27 (0.801.00: very strong, 0.600.79: strong)

MAT 0022 Final Score MAT 0028 Final Score MAT 1033 Final Score
Video homework 0.70 0.66 0.90

Table 3. Correlations Between Video Homework Assignments and Final Course Scores, MAT 0022: n=39, MAT 0028: n=44, MAT 1033: n=27 (0.801.00: very strong, 0.600.79: strong)

Finally, data centering on the Review/Preview homework assignments were also analyzed. The Review/Preview homeworks were assigned to help students prepare for the chapter review quizzes and to give a preview of upcoming topics. Review/Preview was not offered in the MAT 1033 course, due to time constraints. Figure 1 illustrates the strong correlation calculated for MAT 0022 and the moderately strong correlation for MAT 0028.

Correlation between Review/Preview assignments and chapter review quizzes

Figure 1. Correlation between Review/Preview Assignments and Chapter Review Quizzes in MAT 0022 (r=0.70, n=39) and MAT 0028 (r=0.57, n=44)

The Student Experience

Dr. Gibbons surveyed her students at the end of all three courses (99 percent response rate, n=81) to learn their preferences and perspectives of the various types of learning aids and assignments that she included in the courses. Students responded favorably to the use of Skill Builder, the Integrated Review components: Skills Check quiz and Skills Review homework, and the use of videos in MyLab Math.

  • 79 percent of students agreed that the Skill Builder in MyLab Math helped them learn the material
  • 90 percent of students agreed that the Skills Check quiz and Skills Review homework helped them prepare for the upcoming chapter in MyLab Math
  • 86 percent of students indicated that they watched the videos in MyLab Math to help them learn the material
  • 94 percent of students said that they used the final review materials to study for the midterm and final exam

Dr. Gibbons notes that one surprising survey result was in response to the statement, “There was too much homework given in the course.” Only 41 percent of responding students agreed with that statement, indicating to Dr. Gibbons that they identified with the need for and usefulness of each different type of assignment given.

Students taking a separate survey (37 percent response rate) were also asked about their impressions of using MyLab Math. Some responses given to questions about impact and benefits were:

How has MyLab Math impacted your learning in this course?

  • “The lecture videos providing examples made it very helpful to compare with the homework problems.”
  • “As my first online class it was easy because I could go through the videos multiple times to understand a concept.”

What do you think are the benefits of using MyLab Math?

  • “I was able to take my time going through the lessons. The help me solve this and the videos are extremely helpful which was a very positive impact.”
  • “Resources such as Skill Builder.”
  • “The tools like help me solve this are very helpful if you are still confused about certain problems.”

Conclusion

Dr. Gibbons feels that the move to the current text has been a very positive experience for all of her students and, through the use of accompanying features in MyLab Math, she has also found a digital option that provides just-in-time remediation and on-board videos for added support. The Integrated Review features allow students to brush up on remedial skills as they continue learn new material, without needing to access an alternate resource. The videos available in MyLab Math provide students with a consistent interpretation of the material in the text and are conveniently housed within the program for easy access. Finally, her students’ appreciation of the variety of homework assignments, Skill Builder, and Review/Preview options, has inspired her to add more options into her online Intermediate Algebra compressed course in future semesters.

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