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Seton Hall University

Course Title: Beginning Algebra
Redesign Coordinator: David Middleton

Status: This project originated as part of NCAT's FIPSE-funded Roadmap to Redesign (R2R) program, 2003 – 2006, and was successfully completed.

Descriptive Materials: In addition to the project description below, links for this project include a final project report, which describes the impact of the redesign on student learning and student retention; final cost savings achieved; techniques that most contributed to improved learning and reduced costs; and, an assessment of future sustainability.

Project Plan:
The developmental math program at Seton Hall University offers Beginning Algebra to students who have scored 510 or lower on their SAT math section. The traditional course enrolls approximately 430 students divided into sections of 12–14 students. Students meet each week for two 1.5-hour lecture periods and 50 minutes of mandatory tutoring. Student work is assessed by graded homework assignments, quizzes and tests. The course is taught by a combination of full-time faculty (19 sections), adjunct faculty (11 sections) and graduate teaching assistants (8 sections.)

The department of mathematics and computer science has been concerned with the high failure rate in the developmental math program. As a result of the high failure rate, students are delayed in taking their required college-level math course until their sophomore year. One contributor to this problem is the quality of instruction; 60% of the course sections are taught by adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Seton Hall will use the Replacement Model in its redesign. The course software, MyMathLab, will provide interactive, guided, homework problems and practice tests; online tutorials and assessment tools; and student progress tracking. Sections of 30 students will attend two one-hour lab sessions and will meet one hour per week in groups of 15 for lecture/check-in with their instructors. Additional small group tutoring will be offered for at-risk students. Sections will be taught by two full-time faculty members, two GTAs and two adjunct faculty. The redesigned course will serve approximately 660 students, which will accommodate a greater of number of students who have been placed in the developmental math program.

The interactive nature of the web-based materials will allow for individual student growth and self-directed learning coupled with individualized instruction from instructors and tutors. Materials will be available to students via the campus computing infrastructure for use at all times. Seton Hall University provides laptops and technology support to all of its undergraduate students, ensuring equity in fundamental resources and necessary tools. Using MyMathLab, and its associated textbook, will provide a learning environment fostering active learning, building upon provided resources. In addition, the structure of the course will facilitate collaborative learning in small groups within the lab and classroom settings. The reduction in the number of sections taught will ensure that students will receive instruction from experienced instructors.

The impact of the redesign on student learning will be assessed in both the pilot and full implementation phases. During the pilot, scores on common examinations from parallel sections of the traditional and redesigned formats will be compared. The full implementation of the redesign will compare scores collected from the pilot parallel sections and from the fully implemented redesign to historical data from 2000 to 2004. In addition, Seton Hall will administer satisfaction surveys to students.

The redesign will enable Seton Hall to serve more students with fewer faculty. The number of full-time faculty will decrease from seven to five, and the number of adjunct faculty will decrease from eleven to five. The use of course management software and automated grading will reduce the number of hours faculty members spend on these repetitive tasks and the number of students will increase from 432 to 660 annually. The redesign will reduce the cost-per-student from $866 to $321, a 63% decrease.



Quick Links:

Roadmap to Redesign Main Page...