MyMathLab Provides Students with More Math Options

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In an effort to provide students the opportunity to move through developmental math courses more quickly, GateWay Community College has piloted the MyMathLab Emporium model. 

Students sign up for Basic Arithmetic (MAT081) or Introductory Algebra (MAT091) and take the course in the MyMathLab online. The program can be accessed from anywhere and at any time giving students the flexibility to review the concepts covered in class at any time. In addition, the program also allows them to complete the course in less than the traditional 16 weeks giving students a chance to complete their developmental classes in a shorter period of time. 
To date, the program has worked very well for students in Basic Arithmetic where students need a refresher course. 
“In fall of last year I had many students who completed early and two who completed both Basic Arithmetic and Introductory Algebra in the same semester,” says Jim Baugh, Math Faculty. “Both of these students stated that this was a hard task to complete; but, appreciated the chance to complete two semesters in one.”
The program provides instruction through materials in a workbook; an interactive program with examples, practice problems and solutions; and through instruction provided via headphones. In addition, an instructor and a tutor monitor the class.  
The program also offers a number of concept checks to ensure students understand the concepts of each module prior to progressing to their homework. They must demonstrate a 75% level of understanding in the concepts that were presented prior to proceeding to complete their homework assignments, which must be completed at the 80% level. 
The program has not been perfect for all. The overall success rate was 4% higher than the in person Basic Arithmetic classes; however, the success rate for the Introductory Algebra students was 31% lower than the in person classes.  To address this, faculty members have added more mini-lectures at the beginning of the class in an effort to improve this latter success rate.  
In addition to having each module end with a quiz, GateWay instructors have added a pencil mastery test and still administer a common final to ensure student learning. Some mini-lectures are given on key points and small group board work occurs when several students are asking the same questions. This has helped students feel more confident about their learning process. 
“Students like the flexibility and the comfortable classroom environment,” adds Shannon Ruth, math faculty. “The program allows students with a good math aptitude to move more quickly through their developmental math courses.”
As with many self paced online programs, students must be willing to apply themselves to the learning experience both in and out of the classroom. The MyMathLab program allows for many opportunities for the instructor to interact with the student via email and to monitor time spent on task, as well as overall progress.  Still, many find it too easy not to do work outside the classroom when they are not held to the more rigid schedule of the traditional classroom. The biggest problem is that the student may get a false sense of what they have “learned” in that the program offers multiple chances on concept checks, homework, and quizzes.
Overall, the effort seems to be working for some students and it provides all with more options in order to complete their developmental courses.