MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus™ educator study measures quiz scores at Montclair State University

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MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus™ educator study measures quiz scores at Montclair State University

Key Findings

  • Students who choose to take multiple attempts on quizzes are required to follow MyStatLab’s Adaptive Study Plan between attempts. Their scores rise an average of 29 percent from Attempt 1 to Attempt 2.
  • In addition, faculty learned that batch enrollment through MyLabsPlus provides benefits for both instructors and students. Moving forward, Montclair State plans to incorporate Learning Catalytics during focus groups in order to measure student understanding throughout the session.

School name
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ

Course name
Statistics

Course format
Hybrid: Scheduled lab, fixed due dates; two 75-minute lab sessions plus one 40-minute classroom session per week

Course materials
MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus™; Introductory Statistics by Gould & Ryan

Timeframe
Spring 2015

Submitted by
Cathy Holl-Cross, Former Director, Red Hawk Mathematics Learning Center
Gregory Stock, Former Statistics Course Coordinator
Judy I. Summers, Director, Red Hawk Mathematics Learning Center
Elise Lahiere, Statistics Course Coordinator

Setting

Montclair State University is a public research university located in Montclair, New Jersey. Montclair State’s main campus offers almost 300 majors, minors, concentrations, and certificate programs. With approximately 20,000 students, including 15,885 undergraduates, the university has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1. Class size averages 22, and 87 percent of students attend full-time. Fifty percent are White, 27 percent Hispanic, and 11 percent identify as Black/African-American. The average combined SAT score for incoming students is 986.

The Red Hawk Mathematics Learning Center (RHMLC) at Montclair State is committed to providing a superior learning environment by coupling advanced, user-friendly mathematics technology with personal, on-demand assistance from highly qualified instructors, graduate assistants and advanced undergraduate tutors. Courses in the RHMLC are designed to encourage active learning and problem solving skills, as it is believed that students learn mathematics most effectively when “doing mathematics.” Students also have small group breakout sessions with an instructor and graduate assistants on a regular basis to keep them on target and to enable a stronger connection to their classmates, instructors and the material.

About the Course

Montclair State’s Statistics course, taught in the Mathematics Department through the RHMLC, introduces the use of statistics in the real world. This hybrid, three-hour computer-assisted course includes focus groups/recitation sessions as well as small-group tutoring and lab time where tutors are available to answer individual questions. Topics covered include data analysis and presentation, data variability and uncertainty, and techniques of statistical inference and decision-making.

Course prerequisites are either completion of a Basic Math Skills course (also taught in the RHMLC) or placement through the Montclair State University Placement Test (MSUPT). Because this course meets Gen Ed requirements, it attracts a wide mix of majors. Exceptions include math majors, education majors, and biology majors (who take a separate course in biostatistics, which is taught in the emporium as well).

Challenges and Goals

In 2012, the university envisioned and established a Mathematics Emporium, called Red Hawk Mathematics Learning Center (aka Math Lab). Primarily adjunct-taught mathematics courses with the largest enrollments were moved into the Hybrid Emporium format; Statistics was one of these.

Moving to the Hybrid Emporium enabled the department to synchronize delivery, content, and grading for the Statistics course, which was previously taught differently by different instructors. The department also anticipated that adopting MyStatLab and more active learning in the hybrid lab format would improve statistics learning outcomes, increasing students’ abilities and retention.

After two years of using MyStatLab to improve statistics instruction, the department decided to start using MyStatLab’s Adaptive Study Plan between quiz attempts. Instructors hypothesized that requiring students to review between quiz attempts would increase learning and improve quiz scores.

Implementation

Each course section meets in the Math Lab for two 75-minute sessions per week. The lab has four coordinators, and one is always available. The lab is also staffed with multiple tutors, some are professional tutors, some graduate tutors and some are undergraduate, ensuring that the lab maintains a student-teacher ratio of 12:1–15:1.

Course sections also meet once weekly for 40 minutes in a classroom run by graduate students. These “focus group” sessions contain about 25 students and cover tougher course topics and highlights of each week’s learning objectives.

During these sessions, students also take a five-question paper quiz. They work through the first four questions together as a group, and then complete the last question on their own; this problem is then graded. For each focus group session, students also receive another grade for attendance/participation: three points for attending, one for completing the final problem on the paper quiz, and one for getting it correct.

MyStatLab media assignments are used to deliver most course content. Students can watch videos, work with applets, and view PowerPoint® presentations. Every three to four homework assignments, students must complete a quiz. After completing a second set of homework assignments and quizzes, they take a test covering all material on both quizzes.

Homework is completed online during class time and at home. Assignments are untimed, and students have unlimited attempts at each problem. The department expects students to spend three to six hours per week outside of class/lab time to meet the course’s weekly objectives. As students work, they have access to all of MyStatLab’s learning aids with the exception of “view an example” as faculty felt it encouraged copying.

Timed quizzes are completed online during class time. These generally consist of 10–12 questions and take about 45 minutes. No learning aids are provided during quizzes.

Students may take any quiz up to three times. Between the first and second attempt, students must achieve 70-80% on the corresponding Adaptive Study Plan. Requiring the study plan helps focus students on the objectives they missed during their first attempt. During the semester, students may drop one quiz: its score is not counted towards their final grade. Because quizzes can be taken multiple times, the Question Pooling feature in MyStatLab is used to change the quiz between attempts.

Tests are administered and proctored in the RHMLC, and are timed with only one attempt allowed. Each test comprises two parts: one using StatCrunch and one without it. Students are given a one-week grace period/testing period to take each test.

In addition to work completed in MyStatLab, students must also complete a course project, which contains checkpoints throughout the semester. These checkpoints are entered into the MyStatLab gradebook as “offline items.” While captured in and reportable through MyStatLab, the course project is independent of MyStatLab.

The department also relies on MyStatLab functions such as the Gradebook, Search Email by Criteria, and Announcements. Using MyStatLab, instructors customize the course’s shell, encouraging students to check the live course schedule daily, so they know which assignments they should work on that day.

MyStatLab is also used to track lab attendance. For each Lab, there is a Check-In and Check-Out Quiz. The Check-In Quiz is open from 30 minutes before class until 10 minutes after class begins. If a student arrives later than 10 minutes after start time, they lose the point for that Check-In Quiz. The Check-Out Quiz opens at the end of class and remains open for 30 minutes. Therefore, if a student leaves before class is over, they do not receive credit for checking out. Students earn no credit if they don’t take either attendance quiz, and earn half-credit if they take only one. This protocol begins counting towards students’ grades on the fourth day of class, so students have time to learn how it works. They also get one “freebie” for missing class without penalty.

Assessments

  • 30% Unit tests (MyStatLab, two at 150 points each)
  • 20% Final exam (MyStatLab, 200 points)
  • 15% Homework (MyStatLab, 150 points)
  • 15% Project/paper (offline item, 150 points)
  • 10% Quizzes (MyStatLab, 100 points)
  •   5% Lab attendance (MyStatLab, 50 points)
  •   5% Focus group (offline item, 50 points for attendance and participation)

20 bonus points (two percent on final grade) can be awarded based on achievement of at least 80 percent of available mastery points. In other words, to earn the bonus, students must achieve 80 percent of the total number of points available, and they either earn all or nothing—no partial points are awarded.

Results and Data

The following analysis is based on 381 students from Spring 2015. Students receiving a zero on the final exam were excluded from analysis, since they likely abandoned the course.

Average MyStatLab homework performance correlated strongly to average quiz grade (r=.66, p<.001), average test grade (r=.60, p<.001), and final course grade (r=.75, p<.001). MyStatLab quiz scores were strongly correlated to average test score (r=.69, p<.001), and to final grade (r=.79, p<.001). (MyStatLab quizzes represented 10 percent of the final course grade, slightly influencing this relationship.)

On average, 39 percent of the class completed a second attempt on quizzes, and 11 percent completed a third attempt. A plurality of students (46 percent) achieved their highest quiz grade on their first attempt. Twenty-eight percent received their highest score on the second attempt, and 10 percent on the third. The remaining 16 percent dropped the assignment as the lowest of their six quiz scores. On average, quiz scores rose after each attempt (though sample size decreases as attempts increase). See Figure 1.

Average percentage point gain by quiz

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Figure 1. Average Percentage Point Gains by Quiz Between Attempt 1 to 2 and Attempt 2 to 3, Spring 2015; Attempt 1 to 2: Quiz 1 (n=180), Quiz 2 (n=245), Quiz 3 (n=116), Quiz 4 (n=189), Quiz 5 (n=57), Quiz 6(n=92); Attempt 2 to 3: Quiz 1 (n=35), Quiz 2 (n=88), Quiz 3 (n=34), Quiz 4 (n=58), Quiz 5 (n=7), Quiz 6 (n=26)

Gains or losses were calculated by comparing individual student scores on the first and second quizzes, and then on the second and third quizzes. Average gains are presented in Figure 2, below. Gains were the greatest from the first to second attempt, averaging an increase of 29 percent across all six quizzes. From attempt two to three, students averaged a 12 percent gain across all six quizzes.

Average percentage point gain by attempt

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Figure 2. Average Percentage Point Gains on All Quizzes from Attempts 1 to 2 and Attempts 2 to 3, Spring 2015; Attempt 1 to 2: Quiz 1 (n=180), Quiz 2 (n=245), Quiz 3 (n=116), Quiz 4 (n=189), Quiz 5 (n=57), Quiz 6 (n=92); Attempt 2 to 3: Quiz 1 (n=35), Quiz 2 (n=88), Quiz 3 (n=34), Quiz 4 (n=58), Quiz 5 (n=7), Quiz 6 (n=26)

The Student Experience

The focus groups that students are required to attend are a unique component of Montclair’s Statistics course. One student said this about them:

“In Math 109 (Statistics) I wasn’t familiar with many of the concepts and I had a slow start, but because of the focus groups, I was able to go back to the basics and tackle the concepts head-on. The concepts began to make sense and my speed and efficiency grew significantly. To this day, I’m still using some of the concepts I learned in Math 109; not just in other classes, but also in everyday life. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.”

Regarding MyStatLab, another student wrote, “This is my first semester back at MSU and my third time in a statistics class. Because of the Pearson program and tons of hard work, I am currently at an average of 87 for the semester.”

Conclusion

Montclair State’s course redesign has improved teaching efficiency, according to Judy Summers, Director, RHLMC: “We are running 2,000 students through the lab with three full-time instructors who are setting up the classes, doing any grading, etc., and are in the lab—they just don’t do the focus groups. We’re definitely more efficient now.” According to Cathy Holl-Cross, Former Director, RHLMC, batch enrollment was a key feature that helped convince the faculty to adopt MyLabsPlus. “Batch enrollment is the best thing to ever happen,” she says. “[The students] come in on day one and they’re in.” When considering future plans for the course, Holl-Cross states, “We also plan to start using Learning Catalytics, most likely during focus groups. That way, we can know where students stand throughout the session. It’ll give us data and intel that we just can’t know otherwise.”

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