MyMathLab® in MyLabsPlus™ educator study analyzes student outcomes in Developmental Math sequence at Oakton Community College
MyMathLab in MyLabsPlus educator study analyzes student outcomes in Developmental Math sequence at Oakton Community College
Key Findings
 For the study period, 86.6 percent of the 1,525 students initially enrolled received final grades. For students completing the developmental courses, the overall pass rate was 98 percent. Nearly twothirds of those students earned final grades of at least 90 percent.
 Students passing the courses spent an average of 3.4 hours working in MyMathLab each week, as compared to an average of just 0.9 hours per week for students who did not successfully complete the courses.
 The data indicate a strong correlation between homework grades and test grades in MyMathLab.
 A moderately strong correlation exists between the time spent on homework assignments in MyMathLab and a student’s average test grade.
School name
Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, IL
Course names
Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra
Course format
Emporium: Scheduled lab, flexible pacing
Course materials
MyMathLab in MyLabsPlus; Prealgebra and Introductory Algebra by MartinGay; Intermediate Algebra by Bittinger
Timeframe
Fall 2015
Educator
Bob Sompolski, Dean of Math and Technologies
Results reported by
Julianne Labbiento, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager
Setting
Oakton Community College’s 147acre main campus sits in a forest preserve in Des Plaines, Illinois, with a second campus in Skokie. A public twoyear community college in the heart of Chicago’s northern suburbs, Oakton Community College serves approximately 46,000 students from 55 nations. More than half come from a minority background, bringing a wealth of diversity to campus. Oakton offers associate degrees in 80 areas of study, preparing students to transfer to fouryear institutions or to enter the workforce.
About the Course
Oakton Community College offers three levels of developmental algebra: Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra. These sequential courses utilize an instructor and tutor and are based in a computer lab classroom with MyMathLab. Each course is divided into five modules containing homework assignments, quizzes, and module posttests. Students spend four hours per week working in the lab. Faculty do not lecture, but are encouraged to find students working on the same module and give minilectures as needed.
The Prealgebra course includes fundamental concepts, operations, and applications of arithmetic in basic algebraic contexts including linear equations, statistics, square roots, graphing, and polynomials. Elementary Algebra explores linear equations and inequalities, polynomial operations, graphing equations and inequalities in two variables, and systems of equations. Finally, the Intermediate Algebra modules include real and complex numbers, exponents, polynomials, radicals, first and seconddegree equations, systems of equations, inequalities, and rational expressions.
Students may complete a course at any time during the semester. Upon completion of a course, the student can immediately start the next sequential course. A new MyMathLab access code must be purchased at that time. If all modules of a course are not successfully completed within a semester, the student can reenroll in the same course the following semester and begin with their first uncompleted module. Grades for any of the five modules that a student passes for any of the courses are honored for up to two years, so students can easily pick up where they left off.
Challenges and Goals
Oakton’s policy prior to redesign in 2012 was to have MyMathLab shells available for the classes but not to require faculty to use them. Some faculty would engage completely, while other faculty would ignore the shells entirely, even though all students had access to their course shells. According to Bob Sompolski, Dean of Math and Technologies, students also exhibited many gaps either coming into or leaving the Intermediate Algebra course due to inconsistencies in classes at that level. Part of the strategy of the redesign was to close those gaps, while increasing success rates at the developmental level and ensuring consistency across all courses.
Implementation
The courses utilize MyLabsPlus as the primary means for material dissemination in a flipped, computerbased classroom with a selfaccelerated format. Labs are scheduled and are flexibly paced, with students receiving a pacing guide at the beginning of the semester. Due dates exist, but students are not penalized for late work; if they fall behind, the instructor reiterates that if they stay behind, they will not finish. Students may always work ahead and are encouraged to finish early and move on to the next course, if possible.
Each module contains homework, a quiz, and a posttest. Students have unlimited attempts on all assessments. They are encouraged to achieve the recommended 100 percent mastery level on homework assignments and quizzes, with all learning aids turned on for the homeworks. Multiple attempts are also allowed on posttests; students unable to achieve the 75 percent mastery level are required to complete a personalized homework before retesting.
The objectives contained in the five required modules for each course are summarized below:
Prealgebra
Module 1
 Perform operations with whole numbers and integers
 Solve applications with whole numbers and integers
Module 2
 Solve linear equations with integers
 Perform operations on algebraic expressions
 Solve problems with linear equations
 Simplify fractions
 Multiply and divide fractions
Module 3
 Add/subtract fractions
 Solve linear equations with fractions
 Solve applications with fractions
Module 4
 Solve operations with decimals
 Solve linear equations with decimals
 Solve problems using ratios, rates, and proportions
 Calculate square roots and apply them to formulas
Module 5
 Perform operations with percents
 Solve applications with percentages
 Calculate measurements of geometric figures
Elementary Algebra
Module 6
 Solve and graph first degree equations in one variable
 Solve formulas for specific variables
 Solve applications involving first degree equations in one variable
 Solve and graph first degree inequalities in one variable
Module 7
 Simplify expressions using the laws of exponents
 Calculate using Scientific Notation
 Perform addition/subtraction of polynomials
 Perform multiplication of polynomials
 Perform division of a polynomial by a monomial
Module 8
 Factor out greatest common factor
 Factor trinomials
 Factor polynomials using difference of squares
 Solve quadratic equations by factoring
Module 9
 Solve and graph first degree equations in two variables
 Calculate slope and intercepts of linear equations in two variables
 Solve applied problems involving slope
 Solve and graph first degree inequalities in two variables
Module 10
 Recognize and apply concepts involving functions
 Solve problems involving direct and indirect variation
 Solve systems of two equations using graphing, substitution, and addition methods.
 Recognize and apply concepts regarding applications involving systems of two equations
Intermediate Algebra
Module 11
 Use interval notation
 Find intersections, unions, and compound inequalities
 Calculate the absolute value of equations and inequalities
 Solve systems of equations with three variables
 Solve applied problems using systems of equations
Module 12
 Factor polynomials, including sums and differences of cubes
 Solve second degree equations by factoring
 Calculate, simplify, and perform operations on rational expressions
 Find the LCMs of rational expressions
 Demonstrate the ability to divide polynomials
Module 13
 Simplify complex fractions
 Solve rational equations
 Recognize and apply applications of rational equations, including proportions
 Compute with rational formulas and applications
 Calculate variation and applications
Module 14
 Simplify and perform operations on radical expressions
 Compute with rational numbers as exponents
 Solve radical equations
 Perform the basic operations of complex numbers
Module 15
 Solve quadratic equations using the principle of square roots, completing the square and the quadratic formula
 Apply concepts learned to solving word problems
While a few instructors were not interested in teaching the courses under the redesign, others are very happy with the format and have seen a reallocation of the distribution of their time. The use of MyMathLab has increased, thereby decreasing time spent on grading. Now, more time goes into maintaining the MyMathLab gradebook and making regular use of the analytics it provides. There is also a greater expectation that faculty be available offcampus to answer student emails in a timely manner.
Before proceeding with the redesign, Oakton’s developmental classrooms had an allocation of 20 students each. With the emporium model, faculty were asked to be cost effective, which required raising the allocation to 30 students in the Prealgebra and Elementary Algebra classes and 35 in the Intermediate Algebra classes. Math faculty asked for help with classrooms that large, so the Learning Center provides an embedded tutor for all sections that exceed an enrollment of 20 students. The Learning Center, housed in the Student Success Center, also provides free tutoring encompassing all subject areas.
Assessments
To pass the Prealgebra course, students must earn 100 percent on every homework section, at least 70 percent on every quiz, and at least 70 percent on every posttest. Minimum scores in the Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra courses are determined by the instructor. Each of the first four modules for any of the three courses must be completed with the minimal required posttest score to proceed to the final module for the course. Although the course is delivered on the computer, all work for exercises must be completed in a notebook.
Results and Data
Sompolski believes that results for Fall 2015 are impressive:
 86.6 percent of the 1,525 students initially enrolled were retained through the end of the semester.
 97.9 percent of the 1,320 students who completed their respective math courses (Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, or Intermediate Algebra course) earned credit for the course.
 Nearly twothirds of all student final grades were at least 90 percent.
Figure 1 displays the final course grade distribution by course.
Distribution of final course scores
Figure 1. Distribution of Final Course Scores, Fall 2015, Prealgebra (n=370); Elementary Algebra (n=440); Intermediate Algebra (n=510)
Figure 2 examines the average weekly time spent working in MyMathLab as it relates to course success. Students passing their Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, or Intermediate Algebra courses spent nearly four times as much time working in MyMathLab each week as those who did not pass. A ttest, which measures whether the means of two groups are statistically different, was used to compare the average weekly time spent in MyMathLab of students who passed their course and the average weekly time spent in MyMathLab of students who failed their course. Results of the ttest show that students who passed their course (mean = 3.4 hours) spent more time in MyMathLab than students who failed their course (mean = 0.9 hours), where t(34) = 12.69 and p<0.001, indicating that this increase was statistically significant.
Time spent in MyMathLab, in hours per week
Figure 2. Time Spent in MyMathLab, in Hours per Week, Fall 2015; Students Passing the Course (n=1,292); Students Failing the Course (n=28)
Figures 3 and 4 are correlation graphs. A correlation measures the strength of a relationship between two variables, where r is the correlation coefficient. The closer the r value is to 1.0, the stronger the correlation. The corresponding pvalue measures the statistical significance or strength of the correlation, where a pvalue < 0.001 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.
Figure 3 examines the correlation between homework grades and test grades in MyMathLab. Note that only students posting both homework and test grades are included in the analysis. Data indicate a strong correlation between these two grades, regardless of the course, r(1,245)=0.75, p<0.001.
Correlation between homework and test scores
Figure 3. Correlation between Homework and Test Grades in MyMathLab, Fall 2015 (n=1,247)
When the time spent working on homework assignments in MyMathLab was compared with students’ test grades, regardless of which course they were in, a moderately strong correlation was found, r(1,245)=0.50, p<0.001. (figure 4.) Again, only students posting both homework and test grades are included in the analysis.
Correlation between time spent on homework and test score
Figure 4. Correlation between the Number of Hours Spent on Homework Assignments in MyMathLab and Students’ Test Scores , Fall 2015
The Student Experience
In a survey given at the beginning of the semester (27 percent response rate), students were asked about their feelings towards math prior to the start of their course. Results indicate that 61 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “I get very nervous doing math problems,” and 71 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “I feel helpless when doing math problems.” Approximately 50 percent of students who ultimately completed the course selfidentified as firstgeneration college students, having parents who may or may not have completed high school, but did not attend college. At the end of the semester, 90 percent of those firstgeneration college students earned passing grades in the Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, or Intermediate Algebra course in which they were enrolled.
While only six percent of students completed an endofsemester survey, those who responded overwhelmingly found MyMathLab to be an important factor in their learning. Some comments included:
Question: How has MyMathLab impacted your learning in the course?
 “It was helpful especially with the problems I had to do over and over again.”
 “It helps me keep on track of what homework I needed to do and also prepare for what test or quizzes I need to study for.”
 “Really amazing!!! I am really weak at math but now I feel confident in doing math or learning math.”
Question: What do you think are the benefits of using MyMathLab?
 “I can go on my own pace and there are similar questions on sections I can redo.”
 “Instant feedback when a problem is solved incorrectly. Love the *Help Me Solve This* feature as well as *Similar Problem* feature.”
 “It tracks your improvement and it helps you understand the material you are learning.”
Conclusion
Prior to redesign, Sompolski says, “Success rates on the lowest levels of math were horrible, and we were desperate to do anything to improve.” Postredesign, he reports that all faculty now use MyMathLab in a consistent manner, leading to improved success rates and strong correlations between homework and test grades in Oakton’s Prealgebra, Elementary Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra courses.
1 Comment

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educator study analyzes student outcomes in Developmental Math sequence at
Oakton Community College.
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