Dr. Paul Nolting's Academic Success Press Blog: A Publication Dedicated to Math Success
Dr. Paul Nolting's Academic Success Press Blog: A Publication Dedicated to Math Success
Thoughts on Wadsworth, Husman, Duggan and Pennington's "Online Mathematics Achievement: Effects of Learning Strategies and Self-Efficacy."
Hello readers! Today, in anticipation of our chat about online learning with Dr. Fitzroy Farquharson, we thought we'd turn your attention toward an article, which was written by the four authors listed in the title to this post and was published in the Journal of Developmental Education in 2007. It is telling that the authors—who published their article when online courses were more or less new—immediately recognized the heightened importance of study skills for online students.
The article explores in-depth how self-efficacy and study strategies affect the success of online math students. Working on the premise that academics have studied these factors at length as they pertain to traditional classrooms, the authors argue that the online environment differs enough from that of the classroom to merit a study on the ways self-efficacy, study strategies, and other affective characteristics specifically affect distance learners. After making this argument, the authors present their own study, which followed 89 students who were enrolled in an online developmental math course. Results indicated that “four types of learning strategies—motivation, concentration, information processing, and self-testing—along with self-efficacy” predicted 42% of the variance in grade achievement."
While presenting this data, the authors argue that “the increased autonomy of an online or Web-based learning environment” makes motivation and self-efficacy particularly important to online students. They also point out that traditional study skills do not always work for online students. “Although students in online courses are implementing many of the same strategies as their counterparts in traditional classrooms,” they write, “there has been little evidence to show what strategies are most useful in this new environment and how some strategies may translate to a new learning environment.”
The authors conclude their study by stating that specific online and computer-based study strategies are needed for students taking online courses. To better the chances for success, these study strategies should be “imbedded within the course work,” so that students “can better use these powerful tools to improve their learning.”
Dr. Nolting has made similar arguments over the past twenty years. It is absolutely vital that faculty integrate study skills directly into classrooms, online or otherwise.
For more, see: Wadsworth, L.M., Husman, J., Duggan, M.A., and Pennington, M.N. “Online Mathematics Achievement: Effects of Learning Strategies and Self-Efficacy.” Journal of Developmental Education, Volume 30, Issue 3, Spring 2007. Pages 6-14.
Good morning readers! So we have hit a slight snag in our feature schedule, but have many interesting posts planned for next week and beyond. In the meantime, we thought we'd pass along more links to interesting stories from around the Web. Enjoy!
1. The Huffington Post published a short article this week from an author who deals with math anxiety. The author, a former English major, describes how she would use humor as a defense mechanism to cope with her symptoms. "While the other students looked on in horror, I continued maniacally to poke fun at every new chapter. I'm not sure they ever realized that right below the surface of this babbling idiot was the bubbling lunacy of a terrified English major, whose worst nightmare was having to repeat a math class."
2. CNET posted a fascinating article yesterday about the combined efforts of numerous organizations to convince more than 100,000 young women to sign up for STEM majors in the next ten years.
3. ScienceAlert also published an interesting article about STEM, citing studies that measured and compared the cognitive abilities of students who graduated with various degrees over the past seven decades.
It's time for Monday links! Once again, we have culled a short-list of interesting articles from around the Web, all of which pertain to college math and math learning.
1. Andrew Hacker interviewed by The New York Times. This article features a short interview with Andrew Hacker, a long-tenured political science professor at Queens College, who claims that most college students do not need advanced mathematics to succeed in their careers. Interestingly, he takes things a step further than most who make similar arguments. He claims that high schools should radically alter their math curriculum and that the ACT and SAT also need drastic overhauls.
2. Victoria College received an award last month for its successful launch of Texas' new MathWays project. According to the Victoria Advocate, the school has been "focused on accelerating college students through developmental math classes while offering curriculum that helps prepare them for a specific field of study." They also cite extremely positive outcomes for the project.
3. Last week, the Houston Chronicle wrote a fascinating article about the mathematics struggles of a veteran who returned to college at the age of 28. In the article, the student, who attends San Jacinto College, sings the praises of the school's redesigned Pathway system. "Normally, I avoid math," she says. "But I have seven more math courses for my computer science degree. Initially, I felt weak in math, but once I started the Acceleration in Mathematics class, I gained confidence. It was a completely different experience than when I tried at a university. I was acing my tests. What made the difference for me is the level of patience from the San Jacinto College professors. It's not lecture, lecture, lecture, with half the class falling asleep. Our instructors find ways to engage the students with how they lay out the lessons and different ways of teaching."
ASP Blog: Can you start by describing the current state of college developmental mathematics (as you see it)?
Paul: Sure. I think what is exciting about developmental mathematics in general is that people are trying different things. Organizations are involved in efforts to redesign and improve mathematics education, as well as to develop solutions that promote student success and completion. Now there are multiple pathways for success in mathematics, which I think is exciting. I don’t think there is a silver bullet—I think there are different approaches that work for different students based on their needs and learning styles. Colleges and universities are open to exploring options and strategies to help students be successful and are taking math courses that are aligned with their chosen careers path.
ASP Blog: During the past few months, as I have been discussing developmental math with professionals from across the country, what I have found interesting is that the national redesign movement is producing so many answers—answers that many educators have had for years but were incapable, until recently, of putting into effect. Not all of these answers, however, gel together. Because the redesign movement is providing unprecedented channels to voice long-brewing strategies and ideas, I imagine the whole process could devolve into chaos if people aren’t willing to bend or aren’t willing to admit they are wrong when something isn’t working. Do you agree?
Paul: I think that is an excellent point. It shouldn’t devolve into chaos—but at some places there may be many problems. It is clear that as funders, legislators, and organizations have pointed out that changes are needed, faculty across the country have been examining the problems and working to find ways to better address student needs. With this focus on improving success, there are several types of redesign that are showing promise, including acceleration, compression, mainstreaming, and contextualization.
ASP Blog: Right. This brings up another major issue with math redesign and particularly the pathway system. Students often change majors. Many of the experts I have spoken with have vocalized fears that by pushing students away from more complicated math courses, we risk putting behind the eight-ball those students who might later shift to comparably demanding majors.
Paul: I think that is an issue we have to address, but I think it is doable. I think students need options that are appropriate to the major/career they select. Also, if you are talking about basic math, students need to know the basics no matter which major is selected. The next level of math—the one that involves getting students into certain careers—we need to be clear about the pathway at the very beginning when students are advised. I don’t think students will fall too far behind if we give them the basics in developmental math, and then we help them pick their path based upon the career they are choosing.
ASP Blog: Right. At some point you do have to make a decision on a pathway. Students have always changed majors. It is not like these new pathways are creating a new problem.
Paul: Right. The best we can do is advise students based on their selected majors.
ASP Blog: How does NADE, specifically, help faculty, college, and universities to develop math redesigns and/or improve math success?
Paul: One of the major ways NADE helps faculty and colleges is via the Certification Council, which certifies that developmental education programs meet certain approved standards. The NADE Certification Council exists to improve and enhance the success of students at all levels of academic preparation, as well as to facilitate the professional growth of developmental educators by setting standards of best practice, emphasizing the use of theory to inform practice, and promoting effective evaluation and quality research in developmental education and learning assistance programs.
The Council’s goals are 1) to promote quality program practices through professional standards and evaluation; 2) to advance research and evaluation in the field; 3) to create processes by which programs and services use self-study and evaluation to improve and enhance student success; 4) to contribute to the broader integration of theory and research with practice in the field; 5) to provide access to quality program models; and 6) to acknowledge and validate programs that meet or exceed standards of best practice.
NADE also provides three print resources: the NADE newsletter, the Journal of Developmental Education, and the NADE digest in addition to a national conference each year.
ASP Blog: Is this perhaps NADE’s greatest function? Bringing people together, furthering discussion, serving as a nexus point for developmental educators?
Paul: Yes. NADE is the largest professional association in the field who promote and advance the profession, and provide resources and professional development opportunities to improve practice. It is so important to have an organization that directly involves the practitioners. NADE serves practitioners and provides opportunities for professionals in the field to share information—like the National Math Summit. NADE has developed partnerships with key players involved in shaping the reform movement and the redesign landscape of developmental education. Players like Paul Nolting and the Carnegie Foundation, AMATYC, the Dana Center, and others working to promote student success. NADE provides opportunities to get together to talk about what is working, what is new in the field, and the most recent research, thus encouraging conversations among higher education professionals.
ASP Blog: This brings us to something Dr. Nolting is extremely passionate about: The National Math Summit on March 15-16 at the 2016 NADE conference. What can potential attendees expect during this event?
Paul: The National Mathematics Summit is a response to national discussion in developmental education in mathematics reform and redesign. This preconference forum was created to allow experts who have conducted scholarly research and institutionalized programs to discuss best practices and techniques in the field of mathematics education.
Many organizations, foundations, and centers have developed valuable strategies that have proven to promote student success and completion. This summit will serve as a national forum to discuss issues related to redesign and assessment of mathematics reform. It is designed to allow opportunities for math professors and program administrators to look at what the reform movement has accomplished and consider next steps. Although much of the data are preliminary, it appears that more students are passing remedial math and completing college math courses.
The summit is a great opportunity for educators to meet national experts from various organizations such as the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges, the National Association for Developmental Education, the Carnegie Foundation, the Dana Center, the National Center for Developmental Education, and the Mathematical Association of America. There will be opportunities for discussions with a panels of experts and opportunities to attend workshops specific to certain areas of redesign and assessment.
ASP Blog: In the past, what role has NADE played in these summits?
Paul: NADE has been a partner. NADE’s mission is to promote and advance the profession of developmental education and to provide resources and professional development opportunities to improve the field of developmental education. Redesign is very important in a lot of states, and NADE believes that it is vital to work with other organizations [involved in the summit] to help provide quality professional development for practitioners in the field.
And that just about wraps it up! We also spoke to Taunya Paul at length about specific ways to help institutions improve math success. We will run this second interview sometime in the near future.
Good morning! This week, the ASP blog begins what it hopes will become a Monday fixture. To help our readers keep up to date with national and local news stories pertaining to developmental education, mathematics learning, and learning disabilities, we plan to cull interesting articles from around the web and present them in a short list. This week, we start with stories about Complete College America, Microsoft, and
1. Last week, the website EducationDive ran an interesting update on the activities of Complete College America. The article posts statistics that catalog the success rates of the initiative's suggested "corequisite remediation model." (via Education Drive)
2. Microsoft is including new features in its popular note-taking software, OneNote, which are intended to help students with dyslexia better understand material. According to the Verge, these learning tools include "speaking text aloud as the current word is highlighted, spacing out the letters to make them easier to follow, using a custom font called 'Fluent Calibri' that Microsoft claims is easier to read, and parsing out both syllables or parts of sentences to clarify their sound and purpose" (via The Verge)
3. Earlier this month, the Oxford University Press blog ran an interesting piece on math and anxiety. Much of the post reinforces arguments Dr. Nolting has been making since the mid-1980s. The author provides a few extremely interesting tidbits about racial and socioeconomic factors and how they directly affect anxiety levels in first-year college students. Very interesting stuff! (via OUPblog)
Dr. Nolting is a national expert in assessing math learning problems, developing effective student learning strategies, assessing institutional variables that affect math success and math study skills. He is also an expert in helping students with disabilities and Wounded Warriors become successful in math. He now assists colleges and universities in redesigning their math courses to meet new curriculum requirements. He is the author of two math study skills texts: Winning at Math and My Math Success Plan.
American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges presenter, Senior Lecturer-Modular