Tag Archives: developmental math

MathXL Adaptive Learning

The Study Plan Manager allows the instructor to customize the assignments the system will assign. With the newest version of our textbook, Pearson has added an adaptive learning tool. This is not new idea. Thirty years ago Camosun ABE instructor Jack Crane had a similar paper-based system for teaching math. The computer connected to the Internet makes it far easier to create an adaptive, mastery based learning system.

When a student completes a pre-test it analyses their responses and assigns homework, not just on what they got wrong, but also on the concepts that underpin a particular concept. For example, if they have trouble adding fractions with different denominators, it will suggest they need to also do work on finding lowest common multiples.

Click on the Study Plan Manager menu item to access the settings for this tool.  The Adaptive Study Plan button allows you to turn this feature on or off.

Mastery Settings allows you to select which which assignments you want the system to use and what the mastery level for each should be. The Assigned Homework option is turned off by default. I set Assigned Tests to 75& and Assigned Quizzes to 80%. The default for the Quiz Mes is set at 100%. The animator of today’s session, Donna Densmore, recommended allowing the student to get a least one wrong here, so I have set mine to 80%.

Coverage and Scoring allows you to choose which objectives of the course to include in the Study Plan as well as what questions to make available for practice. You can drill right down to the question level to decide which question to include. Donna recommends making all of the textbook content available to students, but then exclude the objectives that are not covered in the course. That way if a student want to practice concepts that are not directly covered in the course for review or personal interest, they are available to them.

We then saw a demonstration of how to create assignments mastery levels set as prerequisites before a student can attempt then. This is an area I am already familiar with. However, there looks to be a learning curve to properly implementing the new features described above. Looks like my summer is going to be busy getting my new classroom ready to accept student in mid-August.


Summer 2014 Upgrade to MathXL – New Features

Pearson, our textbook publisher, upgrades their MathXL system twice a year. Today I attended one of their Webinar animated by Donna Densmore. She showcased the new features that are part of the Summer 2014 upgrade for MyMathLab, MyStatLab, MathXL, and MyMathTest. 

In addition to new support for tablets, there was an upgrades to the Study Plan Manager and the addition of a new Reporting Dashboard in the Gradebook area. Click on the News link at the bottom of the page at http://mathxl.com for a summary of all the new features.

MathXL uses Adobe Flash for its assignments. Flash does not work on most tablets. They now are making the assignments available with HTML 5 which does work. I have tested this out on my iPad and it works well.

A new feature allows you to assign Study Plan exercises before a student attempts a quiz or test. This would be particularly useful as a review before a major test. The student could be prevented from writing the test until they had completed the assigned Study Plan exercises.

The Reporting Dashboard, available in the Gradebook area, provided detailed graphical reports on progress in your online classroom. These reports can be shared with any colleagues who have a MathXL login id.

Tomorrow I attend a session on Strategies for Adaptive Learning. The old version of MathXL already allows me to pre and post-test students and then assign Study Plan assignments based on their results. I will be interested in seeing how the upgraded MathXL system improves on this.

2014 SD Year Report


I have strived to be an educational innovator throughout my career at Camosun. As I enter the last few months of my post-retirement contract, I want to share with my colleagues lessons I have learned in promoting student success in online math.

To that end, I attended the 2014 League for Innovations in the Community College conference. I wanted to determine if I have been on the right path with my innovations in encouraging student success in online math learning as well as learn about new initiatives and trends in this area. I have also prepared a training workshop for my colleagues on teaching math online.

At the moment, I am the only math instructor at Camosun teaching online. It is my hope that the result of this SD activity will be to encourage colleagues to make use of the knowledge and resources I am sharing.

Report on Outcomes

I attended the League for Innovations in the Community Colleges Innovations 2014 conference (http://www.league.org/i2014/) to learn what other colleagues across North America are doing to enhance the community college experience. I have shared the insights I have gained at my faculty website at http://legacy.lwebs.ca/index.php/category/professional-development/innovations-2014/

The task of updating and improving my online math system at http://mathxl.com continues throughout the year. Details are available at my faculty website, my Google Plus site and YouTube Channel as well as in my online classroom  This is also a 52 week a year task. Pearson Ed, our math textbook publisher who provides the site, regularly makes changes to its site that I need to keep up on.  There are two MathXL updates in the month of July that I will need to master and then implement in my online classrooms in time for the Fall 2014 term. I begin my orientation to the online classroom by welcoming Fall 2014 student in mid-August. 

My chair and I had originally planned to deliver the online math training workshop in May. However, that will now happen the end of August when faculty and staff return from holidays. It is my hope that my colleagues will be willing to make use of this knowledge and these resources in their own practice, either as a supplement to their current face-to-face practice or in a fully online environment.

Encouraging colleagues to make use of the Internet in service of our students has been a goal of mine for over 20 years. See http://legacy.lwebs.camosun.bc.ca/lwebs/session1.htm for a report of a workshop I helped facilitate in 1996. It was also a goal when I was founding chair of the Community Learning Partnerships Department. Perhaps the time is right for faculty to finally cross Roger’s innovation chasm. See Technology adoption lifecycle for more information.


LA Community Colleges Adopt Hybrid Lab Courses for Core Mathematics.

This project was funded by Educause’s Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC). It is working to enhance college completion of ow income learners. Today’s presentation is by leaders of a successful Wave I project. Something proven on one campus can be scaled to other campuses. One of their key points is good data is critical to demonstrating the success of projects. Their Powerpoint presentation is available at http://www.scctv.net/league-dl/ppt/INV2014/s19846.pptx

Their approach is to invest in innovation to support student success. They seek to multiply impact and then accelerate adoption.

Kate Stevens is a California State University. The California Math Consortium developed a hybrid math lab. It is based on a web of connection to colleagues around the country. The issue is 60% of arriving students need help with developmental math. See slide 5 of the Powerpoint for a graph of students with A/B grades compared to DFU grades.

The reasons for these differences include weak prerequisites, poor transition between classtime and work. (e.g., Time on task) and poor coordination of course material and instruction. An illustration of the latter is  students looking for the least amount of work they have to do.

By ‘killing herself’ (including  adding supplemental instructions and remedial materials), she was able to flatten out graph between A/B DFU students. She scaled this out to other classes. She then discovered a glitch. Students had trouble with mid-term exam which some faculty had made more difficult. Students dropped out. She looked at data and found problem. Graph flattened out again. 50% passed, 50% failed.

Pasadena City College was experiencing similar issues with student success. It was taking six years for students to complete a two year program. They would spend four years repeating high school content. Students who start at the high school level had difficulty completing. If they placed in pre-calculus they did well. If they came from pre-algebra they did not succeed.

The first solution was a one size fits all curriculum. They were training everyone for calculus. Then they asked a critical question. Do all students benefit from taking algebra? They created SLAM, stats for liberal arts majors. Then a separate course for STEM students.

They then looked at Accuplacer and decided to ignore placements and look at the last course they took in high school. This still did not solve the problem.

Then started using Kate’s model. The key is a dedicated counselor who supports learning, manages at-risk students and be proactive. They also created a four day boot camp for students to remediate holes in their math. This set the tone for the entire semester. It was called boot camp for a reason. The students were organized in groups. They stayed together beyond the boot camp. This made them realize there was a commitment that need to be made. Their success rate increased to an 80% success rate.

They realized they were not challenging their students enough. By challenging them and providing them support they reached this success. They went from a one day boot camp which was not as successful to an  Accelerated Intermediate Algebra (AIA) program which includes support. See slide 36 which show an 80% success rate for Pasadena City College taking  AIA. They discovered students constantly have to have remediation. They use ALECS facilitated by f-2-f.

What’s in the pipeline? They are working with General Chemistry to make math more relevant and increase STEM majors. Stronger collaboration with K-12. Just in time learning with other departments.

Students do not pay for boot camp, but they must come. Boot camp pays for itself as it allows students to jump over several courses. No need to repeat.

My take away from this is I need to increase the use of  Khan Academy for remediation. It would also be go to to use podcasts, twitter and blog to direct and encourage students.