N + 1 news article

Posted on May 7, 2020

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Here’s an article about developmental classes and technology   that I think I’ve seen written about before …about moving developmental math online:   basically students report positive experiences but … the actual results in passing the next class aren’t as good.  Faculty concerns:  students have positive experiences because they figure out how to game the tech and get right answers at the expense of learning, but if they were involved in design, they liked it better.  At least the idea that the actual curriculum matters is hinted at as opposed to “does technology work?”

The impacts of technology-driven instruction on credit attainment, degree completion, and passing a gateway college-level math course are largely null to negative.
Using transcript data from the 2006 to the 2015 school year, I found that adopting computer-based instruction in developmental math courses resulted in lower pass rates in students’ first college-level math courses. These results are largely driven by students. It is not clear whether these results are related to a negative effect of the technology or to the fact that students who had become accustomed to technology-based instruction in their developmental course returned to a traditional format in the college-level course. On other measures of credit accumulation and degree completion, there were few statistically significant differences. Students with the lowest ACT math scores had similar course completion rates to those with higher ACT scores.

…  The article also mentioned concerns that students were gaming the tech.   Well, yes, it is extremely easy to just Go Find The Answer. Then oops, back in trad class?   Where you have to actually do it?  Oops.   That said, the fact that completion rate was similar for low and high ACT scorers is unexpected, though it could simply be because whatever strategies were used to get through the developmental course work for college level; the article didn’t mention the completion rate of the develomental courses.

The other “okay, but I need to know this so I won’t work on the times tables yet!”  is Audrey Watters’ post, talking to the folks at Desmos about ed tech and epidemics and that “unprecedented” needs to be in quotes because … it’s not. There’s also history of corporate domination of the cultural decisions…

 As Laurie Ouellette writes in her book Viewers Like You, “The Ford Foundation envisioned television as a conduit for culture and adult education, a vision accountable not to the public but to the priorities established by its white, male, upper-class trustees.” That is key — accountable not to the public but to the priorities established by funders.

That’s just a taste — go read it!

and now it’s 9:57 and time for me to muck with layouts and times tables…

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