MyReadingLab educator study reports on post-test completion rates and reading assessment scores at Harford Community College

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MyReadingLab educator study reports on post-test completion rates and reading assessment scores at Harford Community College

Key Findings

  • After fully integrating MyReadingLab into class time in a computer lab, student post-test averages increased from 66 to 74 percent, and completion rates increased from 91 to 98 percent. As a result, all upper-level developmental reading sections now work on MyReadingLab during class time.
  • After MyReadingLab became an integrated part of class time in all sections, students showed greater improvement from their Path Builder to Mastery Check scores. Completion rates also improved five percentage points.
  • Students in lower-level developmental reading are now completing Lexile work and showing good improvement in their reading level. In fall 2015, the average increase was 142L and in spring 2016 it was 204L.

School name
Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD

Course name
Developmental reading (lower-level and upper-level)

Course format
Lab-based

Course materials
Lower level: MyReadingLab (introductory level); The Skilled Reader by D.J. Henry
Upper level: MyReadingLab (intermediate level); Reading and Understanding College Textbooks, (custom text)

Timeframe
Fall 2013–Spring 2016

Submitted by
Elizabeth Holmes and Gina Williams

Setting

Harford Community College (HCC) is a suburban, two-year institution 35 miles outside of Baltimore that enrolls over 9,000 credit students (18 percent full-time, 82 percent part-time) annually. More than a quarter are first- time students; the median age is 21, and 27.5 percent are minorities. In addition to credit students, over 11,000 non-credit continuing education students enroll annually. Most students have the goal of obtaining an associate’s degree; some enroll with the goal of transferring to a four-year institution. Approximately 50 percent of students have computer access at home.

About the Course

The Educational and Transitional Studies Division offers two levels of developmental reading. Annual enrollment in upper-level developmental reading is approximately 250; in lower-level developmental reading annual enrollment is approximately 200. Students are required to take developmental reading based on their standardized reading placement test score. Students meet three hours a week for 15 weeks.

  • Lower-level developmental reading places emphasis on vocabulary development, word attack skills, literal reading skills, and critical reading skills.
  • Upper-level developmental reading emphasizes improvement of the reading process and study skills necessary for understanding and learning college-level material; it focuses on strengthening reading comprehension and encourages critical reading skills that are necessary for successful completion of college courses. The course is divided into four modules each representing a college-level text from four different disciplines: psychology, business, sociology, and marketing.

Challenges and Goals

Previously, students were required to take division exams on an internal web portal in the tutoring and testing center. If students did not receive a score of 80 percent, they would be assigned to work with a tutor in the computer lab to improve their skills before taking the exam a second time. Professor Williams notes, “We experienced high volumes of paperwork and grading errors, and students were not getting what they needed to succeed.”

Professor Gina Williams and Elizabeth Holmes chose to implement MyReadingLab due to the challenges they had been facing with tutoring. The cited the following reasons: “MyReadingLab offers a flexible, convenient way for students to remediate wherever and whenever they choose. It provides instructors with all the necessary content in one location and the ability to ensure consistency of topic mastery across sections.” MyReadingLab was first implemented in fall 2013 in upper-level developmental reading courses. After seeing an increase in learner outcomes, it was decided to incorporate MyReadingLab in lower-level developmental reading course starting in fall 2015.

It has been a goal of Williams and Holmes to tweak their MyReadingLab implementation each semester to improve student results and the completion of designated MyReadingLab topics.

Implementation

As of fall 2015, all upper-level developmental reading sections are held in an on-campus computer lab, and students are able to work on their MyReadingLab topics during class time. This approach was piloted from fall 2014 to spring 2015 in Professor Williams’ sections, and an increase in post-test completion rates and overall scores was observed (see Results and Data section for details). After this, it was decided that all sections should provide students with access to technology in the classroom to increase success in the course. Currently, not all sections of lower-level developmental reading meet in a computer lab, but that is likely in the future.

The completion of six MyReadingLab topics is required in both levels of developmental reading: stated main idea, implied main idea, supporting details, inference, patterns of organization, and critical thinking. Lower-level developmental reading students also complete the topic on vocabulary for a total of seven topics.

Before working on topics, students take a modified Path Builder during class. The assessment matches the topic coverage. Students are not able to master topics based on their Path Builder results and must work through the skills overview, learning activities, and post-test for each topic. Prerequisites are set so that students cannot skip to the post-test without first working through the content. Students have two chances to take the post-test; their highest score is counted. Students take an abbreviated Mastery Check post-assessment during their final exam session. The MyReadingLab score that goes towards the final grade is an average of topic post-tests and the Mastery Check.

Other than requiring the completion of topics in the Reading Skills Learning Path, instructors have the freedom to incorporate more of MyReadingLab if they wish. For example, some instructors use content from the Study Skills section in MyReadingLab with journal activities.

Holmes and Williams recently decided to start incorporating Lexile work from MyReadingLab into the lower-level developmental reading course to help students improve their reading level. Although implementation is not standardized section to section, on average, instructors typically require the completion of 10 Lexile readings. 

Assessments

Lower-level developmental reading

  • 40% MyReadingLab topic post-tests (7) and Mastery Check assessment
  • 20% Classwork and homework
  • 15% Vocabulary assignments
  • 15% Journals
  • 10% Attendance and participation

Upper-level developmental reading

  • 35% MyReadingLab topic post-tests (6) and Mastery Check assessment
  • 35% Discipline chapter notes
  • 20% Classwork; homework; vocabulary
  • 10% Attendance and participation

Results and Data

In Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, students completed MyReadingLab work outside of class for homework. In Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, students only in Professor Williams’ class sections were given class time to work on their MyReadingLab topics with the hope that completion rates and post-test averages would improve.

  • Professor Williams’ students performed significantly better on their post-tests in Fall 2014–Spring 2015 than they did in Fall 2013–Spring 2014, p<.01 (Figure 1). Students who did not complete a post-test received a zero; any zero was included in their average score.
  • The post-test completion rate was also significantly better for students in Professor Williams’ sections in Fall 2014–Spring 2015 than it was in Fall 2013–Spring 2014, p<.01 (Figure 1). All cohorts of students were academically equivalent from 2013–2014 to 2014–2015.

Average score and completion rate of post-tests in upper-level developmental reading

Figure 1. Average Score and Completion Rate of Post-tests in Upper-level Developmental Reading (Professor Williams’ Sections Only), Fall 2013–Spring 2014 (n=96); Fall 2014–Spring 2015 (n=104)

Based on this analysis, beginning in fall 2015, all upper-level developmental reading sections are held in an on-campus computer lab, and students complete their MyReadingLab topics during class time. Figure 2 shows an increase in the change between Path Builder and Mastery Check scores in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 which may have to do with allowing students to work on MyReadingLab during class time. Please note, only students with scores for both tests were included in this analysis.

Average scores on Path Builder and Mastery Check

Figure 2. Average Path Builder and Mastery Check Scores in Upper-level Developmental Reading, Spring 2014 (n=52); Fall 2014 (n=139); Spring 2015 (n=98); Fall 2015 (n=111); Spring 2016 (n=51)

One of Holmes’ and Williams’ goals was to improve the completion of designated MyReadingLab topics. The completion rate of post-tests has been monitored and analyzed over the past five semesters. (The completion rate is calculated by taking the average number of post-tests completed and dividing it by the total number assigned.) Holmes and Williams are pleased to see the completion rate increasing each year in upper-level developmental reading (Figure 3). It is important to note that in Fall 2015, the number of assigned topics was reduced from eight to six because students were already familiar with content from the vocabulary and graphic topics.

Now that MyReadingLab is being implemented in lower-level developmental reading, Holmes and Williams have begun to monitor the completion rate of topic post-tests in the course. Figure 4 shows a steady completion rate of seven topic post-tests for the 2015–2016 academic year.

Post-test completion rate in upper-level developmental reading

Figure 3. Upper-level Developmental Reading, All Students: Spring 2014 (n=55); Fall 2014 (n=160); Spring 2015 (n=106); Fall 2015 (n=117); Spring 2016 (n=55)

Post-test completion rate in lower-level developmental reading

Figure 4. Post-test Completion Rate in Lower-level Developmental Reading, Fall 2015 (n=110); Spring 2016 (n=25)

Because Lexile work is now being incorporated in the lower-level developmental reading course, Holmes and Williams wanted to start measuring the improvement of students’ Lexile level. Figure 5 shows an average improvement of 142L in Fall 2015 and an average improvement of 204L in Spring 2016. This is encouraging data. In 2015–2016, on average, students completed 13 Lexile diagnostics; the median number was nine. Although Lexile work is not strictly mandated, 76 percent of students were actively completing Lexile readings. Lexile work will continue to be included in the lower-level developmental course.

Average Lexile level in lower-level developmental reading

Figure 5. Average Lexile Level in Lower-level Developmental Reading, Fall 2015 (n=110); Spring 2016 (n=25)

We believe that by fully incorporating MyReadingLab work into class time, we will help students succeed and also relieve a significant burden.

The Student Experience

Williams notes, “Student survey results from the first semester of use indicated that students appreciated the direct instruction and practice they received from MyReadingLab—they could see their growth concretely. Most students work part- or full-time jobs, and many don’t have a personal computer or their own transportation to get to a computer lab. As such, students were relieved to be able to work on MyReadingLab during class time. We believe that by fully incorporating MyReadingLab work into class time, they will help students succeed and also relieve a significant burden.”

We believe that by fully incorporating MyReadingLab work into class time, we will help students succeed and also relieve a significant burden.

Conclusion

Since adopting MyReadingLab in fall 2013, Holmes and Williams have been making small changes each semester to improve their implementation. The data analysis helped them make decisions like moving to a computer lab for all sections of upper-level developmental reading and allowing students to work on MyReadingLab during class time. In fall 2015, they incorporated Lexile readings into the lower-level developmental course to add another layer to their implementation. In upper-level developmental reading, they increased the weight that MyReadingLab counts toward the final grade from 25 to 35 percent. Says Holmes and Williams, “We truly believe in its value.”

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