MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus educator study analyzes student outcomes in Statistics course at Stanly Community College

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MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus educator study analyzes student outcomes in Statistics course at Stanly Community College

Key Findings

  • The course completion rate for students with a high school GPA range of 2.6–2.99 increased from 50 percent in Spring 2015 to 75 percent during the Spring 2016 semester. Note that the number of students in this group increased during the period of this study.
  • Students with high school GPAs ranging from 2.6–2.99 who completed the MyStatLab RMI pre- and post-tests during the two-week Multiple Measures period saw average test scores improve an average of 21 percentage points for Fall 2015 and an average of 11 percentage points for Spring 2016.
  • Instructors observed that the Let’s Go Racing module did indeed accomplish the goal of engaging students who were otherwise unwilling, underprepared, or undermotivated. Module completion rates were 97.7 percent in Fall 2015 and 92.3 percent in Spring 2016.
  • Using the coordinator course and course copy features in MyStatLab, the department chair was able to offer students a similar experience by creating one homogeneous course across all sections, regardless of instructor or method of delivery.

School name
Stanly Community College, Albemarle, NC

Course name
Multiple Measures Modules with Statistical Methods I

Course format
Fully online or hybrid; boot camp

Course materials
MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus; Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World by Larson & Farber (hard copy book optional; code required); TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator

Timeframe
Fall 2014–Spring 2016

Educator
Brigette Myers, Department Head of Mathematics

Results reported by
Traci Simons and Betsy Nixon, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Managers

  • Using the coordinator course and course copy features in MyStatLab, the department chair was able to offer students a similar experience by creating one homogeneous course across all sections, regardless of instructor or method of delivery.

Setting

Stanly Community College (SCC) is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS). SCC is located in Albemarle, NC, with a satellite campus in Locust, NC. The college serves over 10,000 students annually in all types of programs including associate degree, diploma, certificate, general education, occupational training, adult literacy, and a comprehensive online degree program.

Students enrolled in the curriculum program at SCC during the 20142015 academic year were mostly female (71 percent); 68 percent of students reported their ethnicity as Caucasian and 18 percent African American. Students age 2024 comprised 26 percent of the population, under 20 comprised 25 percent, and 2529 comprised 15 percent.

Graduation rates reported on the school’s website state, “As of 2013, the curriculum program graduation rate for Stanly Community College is 18 percent. This is 12 percentage points lower than desired.” In addition, the school reports a retention rate* of 58 percent as of June 2014, seven percentage points lower than the institutional goal. While graduation and retention rates aren’t where the college would like them to be, course success rates** are more than five percentage points higher than the institutional goal of 75 percent. As of academic year 20142015, the Stanly Community College curriculum course success rate is 80.2 percent.

*Retention rates are based on the number of first-time, full-time, degree/certificate-seeking students who enter the institution in the fall term and who return to the same institution the following term.
**Success Rates are determined by the number of students in a course with a “C” or better compared with the total number of students enrolled in the course.

About the Course

Beginning in 2012, North Carolina underwent a Math Curriculum Improvement Project which resulted in many math courses being archived and new courses being developed. SCC offered Statistical Methods I course for the first time (online only) in the Fall of 2014; however, they were also still running the “old” course (Statistical Analysis), so most students still took that course. SCC continued to offer both the old and new statistics courses in Spring 2015 and Summer 2015. The Multiple Measures (MM) module was first implemented in Statistical Methods I in Summer 2015.

Starting Fall 2015, the Statistical Analysis course was no longer offered. At that point, SCC was fully implementing the new Statistical Methods I course and the MM module.

The Statistical Methods I course at SCC is delivered as a 12-week, fully online course, or a 16-week, hybrid course where students spend two hours per week in class and two hours per week in lab. Content is delivered through the Moodle learning management system and through MyStatLab in MyLabsPlus. Over the semester, eight chapters are covered (chapters 1–7 and 9); weekly assignments are due each Monday night in MyStatLab.

The course provides a project-based approach to introductory statistics with an emphasis on using real-world data and statistical literacy. Topics include descriptive statistics, correlation and regression, basic probability, discrete and continuous probability distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. Upon completion, students should be able to use appropriate technology to describe important characteristics of a data set, draw inferences about a population from sample data, and interpret and communicate results.

The Multiple Measures modules covered the first two weeks of class contain the following content: Operations with Integers; Fractions and Decimals; Proportion/Ratios/Rates/Percents; Expressions/Linear Equations/Linear Inequalities; and Graphs and Equations of Lines. Students must also have taken Integrated Reading and Writing III as prerequisites to the course.

Challenges and Goals

When the NCCCS created its Multiple Measures of Placement Policy in 2013, community colleges were required to revamp placement procedures for incoming community college students across the state within the following two years. Essentially, incoming students who had graduated from high school within the last five years would be waived from placement testing in math and English, if their high school grade point averages (HS GPA) were 2.6 or above. Prior to the Multiple Measures policy, all incoming students took a placement test. As an early adopter of Multiple Measures, SCC began to admit students using these new rules in Fall 2013. Student success rates in gateway math courses were assessed during the following Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 terms. Preliminary results suggested that students with a high school GPA lower than 3.0 who were exempt from a placement test as part of the MM program, referred to as Multiple Measure-waivered (MMWAV) students, were less likely to be successful in their first math course than were their counterparts whose high school GPAs were 3.0 or above.

This lack of success for the MMWAV students led SCC to create a just-in-time, boot camp-type intervention that would quickly get students up to speed so they could be successful in the school’s Statistical Methods I course. Aided by a sub-grant from the Gates Foundation, Stanly developed the Let’s Go Racing modules intervention (RMI). The primary goal of the RMI is to help students succeed by identifying gaps in prerequisite knowledge and subsequently provide appropriate lessons that review relevant material. To measure these learning gains, Stanly chose to implement pre- and post-tests as part of the RMI curriculum.

Implementation

Planning to brand their online intervention module and market it to students, SCC instructors looked to North Carolina’s well-known auto racing industry for inspiration and called their module, “Let’s Go Racing” (aka RMI for reporting purposes). They wanted to avoid using terms like pre-test, post-test, and remediation since they felt those terms sometimes have a negative connotation to students. So instead they named the three phases of the module, Start your Engines, Pit Stops, and Winner’s Circle. According to Myers, “Students don’t question the module. Rather, they tend to jump in and get started on it the first week because we don’t use those terms that they find so scary.” Myers believes that were it not for the motivational aspect of the Let’s Go Racing brand, students may not have engaged with the module as effectively.

Implementation of the RMI in Statistical Methods I started in Summer 2015. All students were given access and strongly encouraged to complete the RMI through MyStatLab during the first two weeks of class. Each Let’s Go Racing module has three primary sections:

  • Start Your Engines is a 25-question pre-test delivered in MyStatLab and designed to detect prerequisite skill areas in which students need additional training. The test is timed at two hours, and students have one attempt. Coverage includes 45 problems covering the following modules: Operations with Integers; Fractions and Decimals; Proportion/Ratios/Rates/Percents; Expressions; Linear Equations; Linear Inequalities; and Graphs and Equations of Lines. Created by Myers and Greg Edwards, Coordinator of Developmental Math, the questions cover the appropriate developmental math material needed for the Statistical Methods I course.
  • Pit Stops are instructional modules designed to address individual gaps in content knowledge identified from what they answered incorrectly on the pre-test (Start your Engines). They are assigned as homework within MyStatLab. Students have unlimited attempts on the homework and are given a handout (also posted in Moodle) that directs them to the homework problems they should work based on what they answered incorrectly on the Start Your Engines pre-test.
  • Winner’s Circle is a post-test in MyStatLab that gauges and records changes in knowledge and skill levels. The post-test is a copy of the Start Your Engines pre-test with a two-hour time limit and one attempt allowed. This allows instructors and coordinators to determine the increase in content understanding that occurred by taking the RMI, and to anticipate any continued student needs as they enter the statistics course. Student performance on the Winner’s Circle counts as one quiz grade for the entire course.

After the first two weeks of class and completion of the Let’s Go Racing intervention module, students move into the credit-bearing content portion of the MyStatLab course, which includes the following:

  • Homework assignments: There is a required MyStatLab homework assignment for every section covered in the course. Students have an unlimited number of attempts on homework assignments but the assignments must be completed by the due date. There is no time limit on homework assignments.
  • Quizzes: There is a required online quiz for each chapter (with the exception of chapter eight) completed in MyStatLab. Quizzes must be completed by the due date. Students have two attempts on each quiz. The highest grade of the two attempts is used to calculate a student’s course average.
  • Lab assignments: There is a required lab assignment for each chapter in Moodle. For the online course, students print the assignment and complete it. They then submit their answers online in Moodle in the corresponding answer entry sheet. Students have one attempt and a one-hour time limit to enter their answers. For the hybrid version of the course, students complete the lab assignment in the classroom in groups.
  • Pre-tests: There is a required pre-test before the midterm and final exam that must be completed online in MyStatLab by the due date. Students have two attempts and a three-hour time limit on each attempt. The highest grade counts towards a student’s final grade.
  • Exams: There is a required midterm and final exam that is completed online in MyStatLab by the due date. Students have one attempt on each exam. The exams are each timed at two hours.
  • Study Plan (optional): While students are not required to answer questions in the study plan, they are encouraged to use it as a resource to assist them in learning the material throughout the course.

SCC designs the course in MyStatLab using the coordinator course functionality. A master template is used to create all member sections, and each section offers a fully loaded, ready-to-go course complete with assignments, quizzes and exams, and due dates, intended to offer every student the same experience across all sections. As students progress through the course, they are familiar with how to navigate the program and complete assignments and assessments.

Assessments

  • 23% Chapter quizzes and pre-tests
  • 20% Final exam
  • 20% Midterm exam
  • 20% Homework assignments
  • 17% Chapter labs

Results and Data

Because the Statistical Methods I course was added in Fall 2014 to replace Statistical Analysis, the enrollments for this course varied and increased during the period of study as the prior course was phased out. In Fall 2014, seven Multiple Measure-waived (MMWAV) students took the Statistical Methods course online for the first time. Due to the low number of students enrolled in the course initially and the subsequent increase in enrollments, comparison of performance from semester to semester is difficult. Since the prior course is now phased out and enrollments leveled off, the school plans to continue to track and monitor results for this course. Table 1 shows the enrollment changes for the course from Fall 2014 through Spring 2016 and includes all students who enrolled in the course. Some students who started the course may have dropped it but are included in the initial enrollment count.  

Enrollments in MMWAV and Non-MMWAV

MMWAV
2.6
2.99

MMWAV
3.0

Non-
MMWAV

Total
enrolled

Total
completed
No RMI Fall 2014

2

5 9 16

n/a

Spring 2015

2

9 43 54

n/a

RMI Fall 2015

7

18

63 88

86

Spring 2016 16 19 69 104

96

Table 1. Statistical Methods I Enrollment

Over the period of study, completion and success rates varied for students entering under the MMWAV or non-MMWAV models. For the two semesters without the MyStatLab RMI, enrollment was low with only two students each semester with a high school GPA of 2.6–2.99 and only 14 total students with high school GPAs of 3.0 or higher. When the MyStatLab RMI was required, 46 percent of the enrolled MMWAV students (16 out of 35) had a high school GPA of 2.6–2.99. While there was an increasing number of students in the 2.6–2.99 GPA group enrolling in the course, figure 1 shows that the group had a 50 percent or higher completion rate after the RMI was implemented.

Statistical Methods I completion rates for MMWAV students

Figure 1:  Completion Rates for MMWAV Students Based on High School GPA; Fall 2014 w/o MyStatLab RMI 2.6–2.99 (n=2); Fall 2014 without MyStatLab RMI ≥ 3.0 (n=5); Spring 2015 w/o MyStatLab RMI 2.6–2.99 (n=2); Spring 2015 without MyStatLab RMI (n=9); Fall 2015 w/MyStatLab RMI 2.6–2.99 (n=7); Fall 2015 with MyStatLab RMI ≥ 3.0 (n=18); Spring 2016 with MyStatLab RMI 2.6–2.9 (n=16); Spring 2016 with MyStatLab RMI (n=19)

Pre- and post-test average scores by student group

Figure 2: Average Pre- and Post-test Scores by Student Group; Fall 2015: Developmental Students (n=36); Placed Students (n=28); MM Students with HS GPA 2.6–2.99 (n=6); MM Students with HS GPA 3.0 or Higher (n=17); Spring 2016: Developmental Students (n=35); Placed Students (n=26); MM Students with HS GPA 2.6–2.99 (n=14); MM Students with HS GPA 3.0 or Higher (n=18)

According to a Multiple Measures report generated by Stanly Community College, while instructors are happy with the increases in scores from pre- to post-tests in the RMI, they admit the waiver system isn’t faultless: “Throughout this study, it was discovered that even with intervention, students who were waived the requirement of placement testing, due to having high school GPAs between 2.6 and 3.0, are less likely than all other incoming students to achieve passing grades in their first college math and English courses. It is therefore reasonable to consider a revision of the Multiple Measures Waiver policy.”

The Student Experience

Instructors report that student feedback has been positive. Some quotes from students collected by the department are as follows:

  • “I believe the Pit Stops were a good use of my time. It helped trigger some of the things I was taught in high school and had forgotten.”
  • “I think it [Start Your Engines Quiz] is a great way to show how prepared a student is for the course.”
  • “The Pit Stops were very helpful in making sure each student covers what they’ve missed in order to succeed in the class without going over what they already know in order to make the most of their time.” 

Conclusion

Stanly Community College’s Let’s Go Racing Modules Intervention is a unique approach to getting students up-to-speed with the developmental prerequisite knowledge needed for the Statistical Methods I course. The department has found the module implementation to be cost-effective for both the college and the students. Other colleges in the sub-grant chose to require target students to take the remediation as a one-hour, co-requisite course. These students had to pay tuition for that course, and instructors or teaching assistants also had to be paid to teach those courses. At Stanly, there is no extra cost to students to complete the remediation module since the MyStatLab access codes are already a required part of the course. Students responding to the survey reported that RMI was a key motivator that prepared them for work in the credit portion of the course.

Preliminary RMI data indicate that students with a high school GPA of 2.6–2.99 experience lower course completion rates than the other cohorts. Per Stanly’s report, “As the project continues into future semesters, RMI completers will be offered opportunities for feedback, as SCC wants to ensure that the modules are efficient and effective.”

Overall, Myers has found using MyStatLab to implement the early intervention has been a very positive experience because the instructors and students typically find MyStatLab to be very user-friendly. According to Myers, “The module was fairly easy to build and implement since both our developmental and curriculum math courses were already using MyMathLab.” She goes on to state, “MyStatLab has made my job much easier as both an instructor and as the head of the math department. All sections of each course use the same assignments which helps provide homogenization across course sections.” Department faculty report that they are happy with the results from the intervention and will continue to closely track student learning gains from pre- to post-test, as well as success and completion rates in gateway math courses.

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