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Project Title:Restructuring College Algebra to Increase Student Learning, Success, and RetentionInstitution Name:University of Central Florida Innovation Category:Instructional Design and Delivery Project Director:Tammy Muhs, Instructor/CoordinatorContact Information:(407) 823-1485, tmuhs@mail.ucf.eduWebsite:
Project Description:This innovation redesigns the college algebra experience to improve student learning, success, and retention through a student-centered learning environment where students spend one hour in lecture and a mandatory minimum of three hours per week in lab. This change is based on the National Center for Academic Transformation Redesign Concept, providing resources and active learning time for students to internalize math skills, and receive immediate feedback regarding their performance. Lab technical resources and availability of Graduate Teaching Assistants at all times are essential components. Funding is from a presidential initiative and administration through the math department was based on pilot efforts.
Objectives:
  • restructure college algebra to provide more individualized instruction to effectively address differences in previous student learning and student approaches to studying and learning material
  • increase student learning, success, and retention rates based on improved knowledge, sense of community among students, and relevance to STEM disciplines
  • create a cohort of faculty members who are focused, trained, and committed to teaching this general education class in a manner which enhances student engagement, communication, and opportunities for learning
  • provide continued assessment of performance for students in a single class and for improving delivery across sections and over time
Outcomes:
  • Retention rates in college algebra improved from 61% passing a traditional lecture section in Summer 2009 to 79% passing the redesigned section in Summer 2010. Subsequent fall and spring comparisons have shown improvements, though not as great as the summer increase.
  • Significantly more students earned A or B grades in the redesigned course than in the traditional course.
  • In Fall 2009, responses to an in-class survey indicated that 60% of students believed the redesigned course offered considerably more personal interaction than their other traditional courses.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The course redesign necessitated substantial new computer lab space. Besides budgeting funds to support construction of the lab, space had to be allocated on an already crowded campus. Timing issues with the construction required flexibility of scheduling, including running the new and the traditional formats simultaneously for two semesters. Faculty members were accustomed to traditional lecture formats and found it difficult to determine what to cover in just one hour of lecture a week and how to work with hundreds of students who were at different places in the lab.
Evaluation Approach:The university has a mature culture of assessment, which facilitated evaluation of the initiative.  Major desired outcomes were established and these outcomes are measured by item analysis of computer-based homework, quizzes and tests. The outcomes are evaluated course-wide, by sections, and by individual student. Broad outcomes can be easily subdivided into discrete and manageable indicators.
Potential for Replication:Several variations of this model (one lecture hour plus three lab hours) are possible and can be adjusted to suit specific settings. The most important aspect is the individualized attention given to students in a lab setting. Factors needing consideration are availability of qualified tutors, teaching assistants, and instructors to meet the needs of the target population, and the availability and efficient allocation of space, for the lecture portion and for the lab portion.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:John C. Hitt , President(407) 823-1823
jhitt@mail.ucf.edu
Date Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011