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Impact on Students

University of Idaho

In the redesign, did students learn more, less or the same compared to the traditional format?

Improved Learning

Under the redesigned conditions, overall student performance as measured by grades is improving. Grades are a reasonable measure for student learning in this case because comparable examinations and assignments were used in each situation. For both the Intermediate Algebra and Pre-Calculus courses, the percentage of students earning A's and B's was higher during the fall 2002 semester. The percentages of C's, D's and F's were lower for fall 2002 in Pre-Calculus. The proportion of students earning A's, B's, and C's in Intermediate Algebra was higher for the fall 2002 semester while those for D's and F's were lower.

Of particular note here for Algebra is the fact that there were far fewer "F" grades, and far more A and B grades, in the two redesigned conditions than in the traditional Pre-Polya course format.

For Pre-Calculus, the percentage of A and B grades again tended to be higher for redesign students, though the proportion of failures was not reduced dramatically.

Improved Retention

In both Intermediate Algebra and Pre-Calculus, the proportion of students who are unsuccessful has decreased. Percentages in each category (D, F and W) were lower for fall 2002 than in the traditional course format.

Other Impacts on Students

One of the most remarkable accomplishments is the success that Polya has enabled for the Hispanic students who are part of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). Historically, most students in this program have not been successful in mathematics courses at the University of Idaho. During the fall 2002 semester, however, the team observed an 80% pass rate in Intermediate Algebra compared to a 70% pre-Polya pass rate. Not only is this unprecedented, but also students in this group surpassed the success rate for the entire algebra population as a whole.

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