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Projects

Mainstreaming Remedial Mathematics Students in Introductory Statistics: Results Using a Randomized Controlled Trial

Nationally, about 60% of new college freshmen are assessed as needing remedial (developmental) courses, with students having the greatest difficulty with mathematics remediation. Students designated as remedial are less likely to complete college.
Remedial courses, particularly in mathematics, constitute the largest specific blockage to students graduating with a college degree.  This project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, examines the effects on remedial mathematics students of placing them directly in college-level courses.  Previous quasi-experimental analyses of the success of remedial students taking college-level courses have yielded conflicting results.  The present research used a randomized controlled trial to determine whether students, assessed by their community colleges as needing a remedial mathematics course, could instead succeed at least as well in a college-level, credit-bearing quantitative course with extra support (a weekly workshop). Over 700 students assessed as needing remedial mathematics were randomly assigned to one of three types of courses: traditional, remedial, elementary algebra; traditional, remedial, elementary algebra plus a weekly workshop; or college-level, credit-bearing, introductory statistics plus a weekly workshop. The experiment was conducted at three CUNY community colleges. To control for instructor effects, a full-time faculty member taught one section of each of the three types of courses.  The workshops were led by advanced, trained, supervised undergraduates.  The pass rates for the three types of courses were 39%, 45%, and 56%, respectively.  Thus, many remedial mathematics students can be successfully placed into college-level statistics with extra support.  Such placement will help these students progress more quickly to a degree, incurring less personal, college, and state expense, and may also decrease any stigma that these students feel in being labeled remedial.  Mainstreaming some remedial mathematics students in college-level statistics with extra support should therefore result in higher graduation rates. However, definitive conclusions must await this project’s additional research about which remedial student characteristics are predictive of success in statistics, and about the long-term academic performance of the remedial students who are placed into statistics.

Evaluating the Impact of the CUNY Start Program for Remedial Students

This project, conducted as a partnership between an independent research organization (MDRC) and The City University of New York (CUNY), is evaluating the effectiveness of the CUNY Start (CS) program.  This project is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education.  Nationally, about 60% of new college freshmen are assessed as needing remediation, and the greater a student’s remedial needs, the less likely that student is to complete a college degree.  National pass rates in remedial courses are less than 50%.  In the current project the target population is students with significant remedial needs at four CUNY community colleges. Quasi-experimental analyses have previously shown that CS removes students’ remedial needs at a far greater rate than does traditional remedial education.  For the current experiment, a random assignment design is being used to estimate the causal effects of CS. Over three semesters, approximately 5,000 students will be assigned to either a control group or a program group during the class registration process. The students in the program group are enrolled in CS, a multifaceted prematriculation program that provides intensive instruction in reading, writing, and math through a carefully prescribed curriculum and instructional delivery method to students with significant remedial needs. CS condenses the time students spend preparing for college-level English and math into a single semester.  In addition, CS delivers enhanced academic and nonacademic supports in the form of advisors, tutors, and a weekly seminar that builds college success skills. Charging only $75 for the semester, CS allows students to preserve their financial aid for future college-credit courses. Control group members have the opportunity to matriculate in college and enroll in traditionally-structured courses. Most of these students will enroll in 1 or 2 developmental (remedial) courses offered for 3-6 hours per week that use a lecture-based pedagogy. They may also enroll in some college-level courses (e.g., psychology). Primary outcomes will be obtained through college transcript records and include: reduction and/or elimination of remedial needs and college-level credit accumulation (a proxy for overall academic progress toward a degree). The program’s effects on students’ knowledge and skills will be explored through college-administered standardized exams. Measures of implementation fidelity and the treatment contrast will be obtained through surveys (student and instructor), interviews and focus groups (instructors, advisors/counselors, academic support staff, and administrators), classroom observations, and transcript data. Intent-to-treat estimates will be computed by comparing average outcomes of the program group and control group members using standard statistical tests. Subgroup analyses will be conducted based on, e.g., students’ level of remedial need and college.  Should this project demonstrate, consistent with the previous quasi-experimental data, that CS removes students’ remedial needs at a significantly higher rate than does traditional remediation, the CS program could be used to greatly enhance college completion rates in the United States.

Articulated Technological Education Pathways (ATEP)

The Articulated Technological Education Pathways (ATEP) project is developing three high school level courses that address standards-driven technology concepts and skills and STEM career choices in biochemical technology, information and communications technology, and materials and manufacturing technology. The materials are designed to bridge high school technical programs and community college programs in technician education. The materials are mainly digital and delivered through a learning management system. They emphasize web-based learning, simulations, and hands-on, design-based physical modeling activities that can be delivered as hybrid courses. Each course consists of two nine-week modules that can serve as replacement or supplementary curricula for high school Career and Technical Education and engineering and technology programs. They are being developed by a team of content experts, faculty from high schools and community colleges and a senior level industrialist. CASE is conducting formative and summative evaluation of the development process and materials.

Bridges to Academic Success

This is an ongoing project, which began with support from the NYC Department of Education and the New York Community Trust and is now also being supported by the NYS Education Department. The goal of the project is to provide an intervention for newly-arrived adolescent immigrant students with limited native language literacy, to include those designated by the New York City Department of Education as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE). The program aims to develop and implement a one-year, transitional program called “Bridges to Academic Success” to help these students succeed in middle and high school. The project began in selected New York City high schools and is now being introduced in school districts in Western New York State. Also being developed by our research team, pending funding approval, is a SIFE Curriculum for middle and high school students across the State.

Development of a Self-Regulated Learning Online Prototype

The Development of a Self-Regulated Learning Online Prototype is a CUNY program designed to demonstrate how both instruction and assessment in developmental mathematics can be delivered online via the use of a self-regulated learning model. The prototype module deals with adding and subtracting fractions. Depending upon continued support, we expect to start pilot testing the prototype with students during the 2013 – 2014 academic year.

Jumpstart Research

Jumpstart Research is a quasi-experimental, pre/post mixed methods research project to study the impact of participating in Jumpstart on young adult “Corp Members.” Jumpstart college students are trained to help develop literacy and language skills to their preschool age partners through a series of reading, writing and social activities.  The research is examining the impact these experiences have upon the college students in areas that include civic engagement, knowledge of early childhood and workforce readiness. Data are collected from both Jumpstart and comparison students using pre-post surveys, interviews and observations.

Mathematics Infusion into Science Project (MiSP)

The Mathematics Infusion into Science Project (MiSP) is an NSF project that developed, implemented, and researched an instructional model and prototypical materials that infuse mathematics into middle school science education. MiSP infuses mathematics into replacement science lessons which are taught at the 8th grade level. The program model was implemented and institutionalized in 14 low-performing schools in Long Island, New York. The mathematics that is infused in MiSP is related to unit rate of change/linear equations, a math concept that is considered critical for the understanding of more advanced math, particularly algebra, but with which middle school students typically struggle. Within MiSP the topic of unit rate of change is presented in three sequential levels: graphing, unit rate of change, and linear equations. Two math infused lessons are taught at each level, for a total of six replacement science lessons over the course of the year (generally, two in the fall, two in early winter, and two in early spring),  By introducing the topics with increasing complexity, students are able to master and practice the skills needed to progress to more difficult work. CASE is evaluating and researching these efforts.

MSPinNYC2

The MSPinNYC2 project extends a program called  the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC), which restructures 9th grade STEM courses to have 7 or 8 Teaching Assistant Scholars facilitate group work on a daily basis. TA Scholars are generally 10th graders who passed the course and the associated required state exit examination during the previous year and are concurrently trained in a TA Scholar course led by the same teacher as the 9th grade class. Pilot studies with PERC during the MSPinNYC project suggests that the program reduces failure rates, closes achievement gaps, and improves graduation rates. The MSPinNYC2 partnership is currently implementing PERC in seven high schools in New York City. 

The research plan includes studying how PERC serves as a catalyst for school renewal, how the depth and sustainability of PERC implementation support scalability, how participation in PERC impacts teaching practice, and how and why PERC experiences lead to improved academic outcomes for students. The evaluation examines the fidelity of implementation and quality of the project's major components to provide formative evaluation, while the summative evaluation focuses primarily on assessing student achievement outcomes, their long-term academic success, and the overall diffusion of PERC into the secondary and post-secondary settings involved in the partnership.

Multi-Campus SRL Program

The Multi-Campus SRL Program was a FIPSE supported project that used an enhanced formative assessment and self-regulated learning (EFA-SRL) model to improve the achievement students enrolled in developmental mathematics courses at several community colleges. The program included the use of specially formatted quizzes designed to assess both the students’ mathematics and metacognitive skill levels. When the corrected quizzes were returned, students were required to demonstrate how they used both the mathematics and metacognitive feedback to improve on their errors. Results indicate that program students earned higher mean grades and achieved higher pass rates in developmental mathematics course than students enrolled in comparison classes.

Role of Academic Momentum in Retention and Degree Completion

The Role of Academic Momentum in Retention and Degree Completion, funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is informed by, and combines, two theoretical ideas – academic momentum and ‘reluctant students’. Academic momentum is a perspective on undergraduate success, pioneered by Clifford Adelman, which argues that a student’s experiences in the first year or so of college set a firm trajectory towards graduation or drop out. That trajectory is mainly a matter of the number of courses and credits taken, the kinds of grades received, whether a student withdraws or drops out of courses, in the first year. This perspective implies that certain early interventions (i.e., full time courseload, a summer class following the first year; summer bridge class prior to the first year) may improve students’ academic momentum and consequently increase their graduation rates.

Reluctant students are students who are given the option to take an intervention, but do not do so. The project therefore asks the research question: if reluctant students did take these interventions would they benefit in terms of increased retention and graduation? This is an important research question in that should it be found that previously-reluctant students who participate in these interventions benefit from them, then it would be relatively easy to ‘scale up,’ as many colleges already have these programs. Extending the accessibility of such interventions could improve upon the retention and graduate rates of students who are most vulnerable to stopping out or exiting entirely.

The project has two primary goals: (1) to test and extend the academic momentum framework, by documenting the extent to which early changes in momentum (either losses or increases in momentum) affect the progress of low-income community-college students towards a degree, and to discover what other factors that affect student progress; (2) determine whether certain interventions can reverse the loss of momentum among ‘reluctant’ disadvantaged community-college students and thereby improve their retention, academic progress and graduation rates.

Self-Regulated Learning Program for CUNY Students

The Self-Regulated Learning Program for CUNY students was a CUNY supported project that assisted students from eight of the universities campuses who had failed developmental mathematics courses, most of them multiple times. The program used specially formatted quizzes and self-reflection forms. In addition, the program also had the assistance of a counselor to support students in their efforts. Program results indicate that there is a relationship between the students’ level of engagement and their academic success. It was also found that both successful and unsuccessful students had very positive perceptions of the program, in contrast to their previous experiences in mathematics classes.

The complete description of this project will appear in September, 2013 issue of The International Journal of Research and Review.

Accompanying article: The Use of Self-Regulated Learning, Formative Assessment, and Mastery Learning to Assist Students Enrolled in Developmental Mathematics

Self-Regulated Learning Program for Mathematics Students

The Self-Regulated Learning Program for Mathematics Students was an IES supported project that employed a multi-step enhanced formative assessment program (EFAP) featuring a self-regulated learning (SRL) component. The program was used with over 500 students enrolled in developmental and first credit level mathematics courses at an urban college of technology. The program employed brief, specially formulated content and metacognitive assessments as well as self-reflection exercises that were used to guide in-class discussions based on the data generated by students and teacher feedback. Program students earned higher pass rates in the developmental mathematics course as well as higher pass rates on the mathematics portion of the ACT than students randomly assigned to control group mathematics sections. In addition, there is some evidence that program students transferred this learning into subsequent college-level mathematics courses.

A complete description of this project appeared in Psychological Test Assessment and Modeling, 53, 108-127.

Accompanying article: Enhancing self-reflection and mathematics achievement of at-risk urban technical college students

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE)

Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) is a five-year project to develop and research the academic potential of a hybrid instructional model that infuses computer simulations, modeling, and educational gaming into middle school technology education programs. The prototypical materials use 3D simulations and educational gaming to support students learning STEM content and skills through developing solutions to design challenges. The virtual environment allows students to analyze and improve their designs by changing variables and observing how their changes affect design performance. Once the designs are optimized on-screen, students construct physical models and compare their functionality and effectiveness to the simulated virtual models. The research conducted by CASE is investigating the potential of this model to improve STEM teaching and learning.

Virtual Enterprise (VE)

Originally developed in Europe, the Virtual Enterprise (VE) is an experiential pedagogy that evolved in the United States to enable high school and college students to practice business skills in their classrooms by creating and running simulated businesses. In 2008, faculty members at the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE) were awarded an NSF grant to enhance technician training by combining technical content with classroom activities that require students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes to develop entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills. The grant supported the introduction of VE into both information technology (VEit) and biotechnology(VEbt) courses.  The STEM-VE students worked in teams to create virtual companies in their technical fields and run their VEs by assuming the responsibilities of such positions as CEO, sales manager and marketing director. CASE conducted formative and summative evaluations of this project and subsequently of other types of VEs, such as VE-it Careers courses, designed to help students make informed career decisions on a lifelong basis and to strongly consider the IT field. CASE is currently evaluating a project, being conducted by IVE, designed to create videos that will serve both as tools for training STEM faculty in how to conduct VEs and as a means of instructing and interesting students in STEM entrepreneurship through observation of VE class activities.