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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Course Title: College Algebra, Precalculus for Business and Social Science, Precalculus I and Precalculus II
Contact: Ray Purdom

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 University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) plans to redesign its precalculus offerings (College Algebra and Precalculus for Business and Social Science) and its general two-semester precalculus sequence (Precalculus I and Precalculus II.) These courses have an annual enrollment of approximately 1700 students and are taught primarily by adjunct instructors in multiple small sections of 40 students each.

In these precalculus offerings, the quality of student learning has been uneven, and overall student preparation for subsequent courses has been uncertain. Uniform student learning objectives have not been developed for the 42 sections of these courses offered annually, and assessments of student learning have occurred at the individual class level rather than for the entire course. In addition, the passive learning environment and the lack of extensive individual assistance to students have further limited the quality of student learning. The planned course redesign will involve developing uniform student learning objectives and assessing the achievement of those objectives.

UNCG will use the Replacement Model in its redesign. The course redesign will enhance the quality of learning by moving students to an active learning environment. The course software, MyMathLab, will provide interactive, guided, homework problems and practice tests; online tutorials and assessment tools; and student progress tracking. MyMathLab will also be used to generate personalized study plans for students to enable them to master the skills in which they are deficient. Classroom instruction will change from instructors lecturing to instructors facilitating the learning of problem-solving and mathematics skills. Classes will meet once rather than three times per week. Although presentations by instructors will still be part of the classroom experience, significant time will be used to guide students through their online experiences and to address individual needs. A new Math Help Center will also provide both online and face-to-face individual assistance.

Course-wide assessment of the achievement of learning objectives will be accomplished by using common tests for all major exams. Comparison of student learning outcomes from the redesigned courses with baseline data from the courses in the 2003-2004 academic year taught in the traditional format will assess the impact of the course redesign on learning. Although a component of the redesign process is the movement away from primarily problem-based exam questions that are graded individually by instructors to multiple-choice questions electronically graded, the exams for the redesigned courses will contain a minimum of two or three problem-based questions that can be compared with common content from the baseline, traditional courses.

The cost savings produced by the course redesign will be the result of increasing section size from 40 to 60 students and reducing the number of adjunct faculty teaching the course from 21 to 14. The cost of adding the Math Help Center reduces the net savings, but the redesign project will produce an annual savings of $63,780 as a result of reducing the cost-per-student from $109 to $71. The redesign project is an important component of an overall plan for the improvement of the quality of the math program at UNCG. Cost savings from this redesign project will be applied to creating new tenure-track faculty positions. When new larger capacity classroom buildings currently under construction are completed, the class size for these courses may be increased for greater savings.

 

 

Quick Links:

Roadmap to Redesign Main Page...