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Changing the Equation: Redesigning Developmental Math

Workshop Homework

The workshop agenda includes three topical sessions:
1) how to organize a Math Emporium, 2) how to modularize, and 3) how to engage students. In preparation for this workshop, please send Carol Twigg a list of questions, categorized by the three topics, which you would like to discuss. To help you construct this list, we have posted a number of questions often asked of NCAT staff and Math Scholars. You may choose among these questions and/or add some of your own. There is no limit to the number you may choose. Please send your list on or before May 12. (It would be helpful if you would identify your choices by group letter and question number such as A 3, 6, 10 and 12; B 4 and 19; C 1, 4, 7, 12 and 17.)

Group A: How to Organize a Math Emporium

  1. How many machines per student do we need?
  2. How many tutors per student do we need?
  3. Should students bring their own computers to the lab or should they all use those already in the lab?
  4. How much and what kind of training do lab tutors need?
  5. What qualifications/background do lab tutors need to have?
  6. What are the most important factors in choosing a particular software package, especially when the number of students using it will increase dramatically?
  7. What should we do if students cannot purchase software access codes at the beginning of the term?
  8. Do students need to use a textbook?
  9. How do we prevent students from surfing the web (e.g., Facebook) during required lab time?
  10. How do we track student participation in the lab?
  11. How do we manage student flow—since all students procrastinate, how can we avoid lab overload before important deadlines?
  12. How do we determine faculty load?
  13. How do we deal with constraints on changing faculty load in the union contract?
  14. How do we ensure that all students have a consistent learning experience—same content, same standards, same grading?
  15. How many hours should students be required to spend in lab each week—two? three? four? more?
  16. Should all students be required to spend the same amount of time in lab—i.e., what if some are completing their work in less than the required time?
  17. Do students need some/any lecture from instructors?
  18. If we have a weekly group meeting, what should we do in it, especially when students are at different points of progress through the course sequence?
  19. How will we cover the necessary course content with only one group meeting per week?

Group B: How to Modularize

  1. How many modules should we have—10, 20, 30? How do we decide?
  2. How many modules should students be expected to complete each week?
  3. What should we do if students fall behind the expected pace?
  4. How do we resolve the apparent contradiction between letting students move at their own pace vs. an expected pace of completion?
  5. What level of mastery should we use—for homework? for quizzes? for tests? 70%? 75% 80%?
  6. How many quiz attempts should students be permitted—two? five? ten? unlimited?
  7. How many test attempts should students be permitted?
  8. How many exam attempts should students be permitted?
  9. What number/percentage of points should we give for attendance, homework, quizzes, tests, exams?
  10. How should we place students in the module sequence—everyone start at module #1 and demonstrate mastery vs. placement according to diagnostic testing?
  11. How should we handle partial credit, especially in view of current software limitations?
  12. If we have a weekly group meeting, what should we do in it, especially when students are at different points of progress through the course sequence?
  13. Should the content of the developmental curriculum be to remediate high school deficiencies or to prepare students to succeed in college-level courses?
  14. Should we have variable exit points according to student educational and professional goals ala Jackson State?
  15. How will we “register” students?
  16. Should we keep “three-credit courses” and let students move flexibly through them, should we assign one credit (or a smaller fraction) per module or should we use “shell” courses ala Jackson State?
  17. How will we handle transfer issues (transcripts) when students move to other institutions?
  18. How will we keep track of student progress—in view of college-wide record systems?
  19. How will we conform to financial aid requirements?

Group C: How to Engage Students

  1. How will we track student progress through the modules?
  2. How do we get students to come to the lab for the required number of hours?
  3. What do we do if they do not?
  4. How do we get students to spend the required lab time actually doing work?
  5. What do we do if they do not?
  6. How do we get students to come to the required weekly class meeting?
  7. What do we do if they do not?
  8. How do we get students to complete their homework?
  9. What do we do if they do not?
  10. How do we know that students are actually doing work when they are logged on (outside of lab)?
  11. How do we know that students (and not their friends) are doing the work (outside of lab)?
  12. What do we do if students do not start working immediately at the beginning of the term and fall behind?
  13. How do we motivate students to do the work—beyond requiring it and giving points?
  14. How should we intervene if students are not doing the work—email, individual meetings, telephone calls, buddy systems?
  15. What kinds of organizing tools and other supports (beyond instructors and software) can we use to help students keep on track—task lists, notebooks, guided studies?
  16. What should we do about “techno-phobes” to help them overcome computer anxiety?
  17. What do we do if students say they don’t “like” the redesign format?
  18. Do “non-traditional” (older) students require different approaches than “traditional” students?
  19. What impact will significantly increasing class size have on student engagement?