Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mediated Algebra Project: Success!

Three instructors used the Mediated Algebra Project (MAP) materials during the Fall 2009 semester.  Kathie Yoder taught a section that met early afternoon twice weekly , and Kathy Yoshiwara and I taught the two sections that met mid-morning four-days-a-week.

We now have evidence that MAP students learn more than cohorts in other sections of the Pierce College intermediate algebra course:  On the departmental Math Exit Test (MET), our three sections all scored at least 2.5 standard errors above the department mean.

But we had significant setbacks during the semester.

We had numerous technical difficulties.  Many of the WeBWorK problems I had authored had coding errors and/or needed refinement in wording or formatting.  And most of the WeBWorK exercises taken from the national WeBWorK library were poor fits for our project and had to be rewritten or removed from our problem sets during the semester.

Our sets of video tutorials--intended to help with drill and skill exercises--had many gaps in content.  And yet we were not given sufficient space on our school's server to store the videos created  by our faculty for the MAP.  Instead, our IT department arranged that only a subset of those videos would be accessible at any one time.

All three instructors found that the project's classroom activities and clicker questions required more time than was available in a class meeting.  Some of the activities, or the clicker questions, or both would go unused in each lesson.

We heard complaints about our WeBWorK assignments, the insufficiency of available videos, and the amount of work we asked the students to do both in and outside of class.

But the students who persisted in MAP averaged much higher on a department-graded common exam than students from the other sections of intermediate algebra.

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