MyReadingLab educator study assesses Lexile improvement at Joliet Junior College

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MyReadingLab educator study assesses Lexile improvement at Joliet Junior College

Key Findings

  • Students in College Reading I completed an average of 13 diagnostics in MyReadingLab and improved their Lexile level an average of 110L; students in College Reading II completed an average of 15 diagnostics in MyReadingLab and improved their Lexile level an average of 153L.
  • In both levels, more than half of students improved their Lexile by 100L or more.
  • Students that completed 10 or more Lexile diagnostics in MyReadingLab had an average improvement of 147–190L compared to 65–77L for students who completed fewer than 10 diagnostics.

School name
Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL

Course name
Developmental reading

Course format
Face-to-face with weekly time in computer lab

Course materials
College Reading I: MyReadingLab; Read to Achieve by Rothman and Warsi
College Reading II: MyReadingLab;
Read to Succeed by Rothman and Warsi (custom text)

Timeframe
Spring 2016

Submitted by
Teresa Carrillo

Setting

The nation’s first public community college, founded in 1901, Joliet Junior College (JJC) offers pre-baccalaureate programs for students planning to transfer to a four-year university. A comprehensive community college, JJC provides occupational education leading directly to employment, adult education, literacy programs, workforce development services, and student support services. Its main campus is located in West Joliet, with satellite campuses in downtown Joliet and Romeoville. Joliet is located 35 miles southwest of Chicago. The district straddles seven counties covering a 1,442 square mile area and serves a population of nearly 210,000 households and 700,000 residents.

  • Annual credit/non-credit enrollment: approximately 35,000
  • Fall 2015 full-time enrollment: 5,327 (36%) | part-time enrollment: 9,617 (64%)
  • Spring 2016 full-time enrollment: 4,541 (31%) | part-time enrollment: 9,901 (69%)
  • Average student age: 24

About the Course

Joliet Junior College offers two levels of developmental reading. Each course is three credit hours and meets two or three times a week for 15 weeks. Students test into either level via ACT or Compass scores. Students must receive an A, B, or C to pass the course. If a student places into College Reading I, s/he must receive a minimum grade of C before also taking College Reading II.

Course descriptions from course catalog:

  • College Reading I: Designed to promote success in college reading by increasing efficiency in textbook and learning strategies, by improving perception of key elements of text, by expanding vocabulary through application of word parts, and by improving the ability to construct meaning through direct instruction in reading and study strategies.
  • College Reading II: This course is designed to promote success in college reading by reviewing basic reading and learning strategies, developing proficiency in recognizing and applying patterns of organization to college text materials, and by increasing vocabulary knowledge and strategies.

In Fall 2015 and Spring 2016, College Reading I had a combined enrollment of approximately 300 students, and College Reading II had a combined enrollment of approximately 650 students. Sections are capped at 20 students.

[MyReadingLab] can easily help us assess the reading level of students through the Lexile framework.

Challenges and Goals

The developmental reading program at Joliet Junior College was recently reviewed, and faculty came to realize that the program was not being adequately assessed. MyReadingLab had been in use at JJC in previous years, but as Teresa Carrillo describes, “We were not engaging students in the content or requiring much work. We were inconsistently using the Reading Skills and/or Reading Level portions from MyReadingLab in our courses.”

The faculty decided to return to MyReadingLab because, “it can easily help us assess the reading level of students through the Lexile framework.” They decided to re-work their MyReadingLab implementation to bring consistency to the program and help them better measure and share student progress in reading.

[MyReadingLab] can easily help us assess the reading level of students through the Lexile framework.

Implementation

Over the course of the semester, in both College Reading I and II, students are required to work on 30 Lexiles (one exercise + one diagnostic = one Lexile) in MyReadingLab, which equates to roughly two Lexile sets each week. As long as Lexile readings are complete, students receive full credit. Students may or may not complete the Lexile Locator diagnostic in the computer lab. If it is not completed in the lab, students complete it outside of class for homework.

Students go to the computer lab about once every other week for a total of eight to ten visits, although some instructors take their students more frequently. What is not completed during lab time is finished outside of class.

Reading Skills work from MyReadingLab is also required, covering a total of 12 topics. Students start by taking the Path Builder diagnostic. Some students complete this in the computer lab, others complete it outside of class. For each topic, students have to complete the Model (Overview and Animation are optional) and score 70 percent or higher on Practice 1 before the topic post-test is made available. The topic post-test score counts towards the course grade. Students complete their Reading Skills work by taking the Mastery Check and must achieve a minimum score of 70 percent.

Looking ahead to the fall, faculty plan on reducing the Reading Skills coverage from 12 topics to eight. Although there is a lot of beneficial information in MyReadingLab, it can overwhelm both students and instructors if too much is assigned. Carrillo shares, “We realized we needed to simplify the amount of work required. We only cover eight chapters in the textbook, so this will be a better alignment with the text moving forward.”

The regular class period is spent in a variety of ways, including: lecture, direct reading instruction from the e-book, small group discussion on textbook readings, and discussion or writing activities surrounding the novel used for the courses.

Implementation Challenges
Before the semester begins, Carrillo offers a MyReadingLab group training for all instructors, and after, she makes one-on-one training available to instructors who request help at any time. One issue she faces is when instructors need assistance but don’t ask for it. Some adjuncts can easily handle—and even embrace—learning a new online program, while others struggle. Carrillo says, “Our instructors have a varied comfort level using technology, and this is something we will continually need to work on improving with training and the sharing of best practices.”

Benefits and Best Practices
Carrillo highly recommends that students and instructors click the “View Progress” button in the Reading Level section of MyReadingLab. This links to a graph showing Lexile level change with each reading set students complete. On computer lab days, Carrillo conferences with each of her students and reviews their Lexile progress chart to see how they are doing. She says, “It helps them to have that visual; otherwise students don’t really know where they stand.” A college reading Lexile level is about 1300, and many of Carrillo’s students are starting at 800. When students see their chart, it confirms that they have a lot of catching up to do. Once they understand that each plot point represents a reading title, they can tangibly see their success as their Lexile level changes over the course of the semester. Carrillo calls this “a teachable moment.” She tells her students, “Whatever you’re doing to be successful with your Lexiles, replicate these same techniques when you do your reading for other classes. Use the same strategies that are helping you be successful in MyReadingLab—whether you are wearing earplugs to focus, taking notes, or reading aloud to yourself. Repeat these strategies for success!”

Assessments

  • 20% Reading homework and activities
  • 16% Tests on textbook reading
  • 14% MyReadingLab assignments
  • 10% Portfolio
  • 10% Vocabulary quizzes (6–10)
  • 8% Vocabulary final exam
  • 7% Vocabulary midterm
  • 6% Attendance, participation, classroom etiquette
  • 5% Reading final exam
  • 4% Vocabulary homework and activities

Results and Data

Carrillo shares, “Exporting data from MyReadingLab was so easy. I could view time spent and see whether students were actually putting in the appropriate amount of work.” From the MyReadingLab gradebook, she did an advanced export of student assignment results from each course level’s coordinator course in order to see initial and final Lexile measures for all sections in one spreadsheet.

  • Students in College Reading I completed an average of 13 diagnostics and improved their Lexile level an average of 110L; students in College Reading II completed an average of 15 diagnostics and improved their Lexile level an average of 153L (Figure 1).
  • Students that completed 10 or more Lexile diagnostics had an average improvement of 147–190L compared to 65–77L for students who completed less than 10 diagnostics (Figure 2).
  • To get a sense of typical Lexile improvement, Figure 3 shows the percent of students improving their Lexile level by 100L, 150L, 200L, 250L, and 300L. In both levels, more than half of students improved their Lexile by 100L or more.

The college will continue to collect and analyze data in order to determine appropriate Lexile baselines for both course levels and to set goals for student improvement with Lexile measures.

Average initial and final Lexile measures

Figure 1. Average Initial and Final Lexile Measures, Spring 2016. Reading 020 (n=45); Reading 021 (n=172)

Average Lexile change for students completing less than 10 diagnostics or 10 or more diagnostics

Figure 2. College Reading I: Students Completing <10 Diagnostics (n=20); Students Completing ≥10 Diagnostics (n=25); College Reading II: Students Completing <10 Diagnostics (n=57); Students Completing ≥10 Diagnostics (n=115)

Percent of students improving Lexile level

Figure 3. College Reading I (n=45); College Reading II (n=172), Spring 2016

Being able to measure and share average initial and final Lexile levels, as well as other data from MyReadingLab, helps us achieve our goal.

The Student Experience

Carrillo believes that students appreciate the one-on-one conference she has with them every other week in the computer lab. They tell her, “MyReadingLab made me read something that was harder and harder each time.” One of her learning disability students shared with Carrillo that, “The best part of the course is MyReadingLab because it challenges me to read more and more.”

Conclusion

It is extremely useful for Carrillo and her colleagues to have MyReadingLab data to include in their annual program update. Carrillo notes, “Developmental education is under a lot of pressure nationally, and we have to show our campus administrators that students are improving their reading in these courses. Being able to measure and share average initial and final Lexile levels, as well as other data from MyReadingLab, helps us achieve our goal.”

Starting this fall, JJC has a new initiative to pair a two-credit reading class as a co-requisite with psychology, personal finance, and visual art. Students will be working on their Lexiles and will most likely complete two Lexile readings each week. Carrillo is excited to think about new ways they can incorporate MyReadingLab and reading assessment data into more courses.

Being able to measure and share average initial and final Lexile levels, as well as other data from MyReadingLab, helps us achieve our goal.

Read The challenge of coordinating and teaching developmental reading, an interview with Teresa Carrillo, published December 2016 on Pearson’s Teaching & Learning Blog.

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