Developmental math N+1

Posted on January 21, 2020

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This one is in Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges… ACCELERATING STUDENT SUCCESS THE CASE FOR COREQUISITE INSTRUCTION
by NEKISHA BURGESS-PALM, SANDRA DAVIS, AMANDA DECKER, HEATHER DIRITTO, SHANA DIX, MAGGIE EMBLOM-CALLAHAN, CAMISHA PARKER, & ERIC STYLES

It’s currently online here (click to download; says there have been 91…)

Early in it notes the difference in completion within 8 years between students who require a developmental class (25%) and those who don’t (40%) and notes that “neither statistic is particularly impressive.”

This is not duly noted later, though, with “The successes of corequisite remediation courses and supplemental instruction over traditional remediation courses… have been widely and recently documented.”

Figured I’d check that out and grabbed “Should Students Assessed as Needing Remedial Mathematics Take College-Level Quantitative Courses Instead? A Randomized Controlled Trial.” This article compares”traditional” remedial (“elementary algebra”), students in remedial classes but getting support, and students bumped tostat classes getting support. They’re called EA, EA-WS and Stat-WS. … I don’t know if there was a minimum classification to get to EA. I suspect there was.

Attrition rate 21% from the get-go, between randomizing and course census. Significantly more attrition for EA-WS; much discussion of this.

Lots of discussion of lots of things — they got *lots* of information about the students. Do I have time to analyze it all? No. (I will try to figure out whether there was a minimum cutoff.) However! They do have a chart w/ the pass rates … and of the 105 students who were “High Compass” — scored relatively high on the Compass placement — 67.62% passed stats with supports, compared to 68.99% pass rate in the “nonresearch” Intro to Stats courses.

So, essentially — if you almost qualified for the course, and you got extra help, you did about as well as people who actually qualified (which included people who were really highly qualified, so that’s saying something). They noted that since if you placed into EA you *had* to do the workshop thing to be allowed to take stats, they couldn’t say for sure that the workshops helped.

If you *weren’t* in the “relatively high” group … you still did better than the folks just put in the remedial algebra… and you were in the “harder” course. The folks getting help in remedial did a tad better than the ones not getting help… and even those folks did 3% better than the folks in “nonresearch” Elementary Algebra. Possibly the “we’re in a research study so they’re watching” had that effect…

Also excruciatingly important was noting that having to take EA and Stats meant two filters … so actually getting through stats is significantly less likely.

UPDATE: A closer read of the full study and information posted about the long-term effects inspired a different take. Yes, I’d like to see better than 59% pass — but unlike many studies, Withdrawals and Incompletes were included.

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