# ALG Featured Speaker Series: OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry Adoption

## Mar 26, 2021 15:32 · 4798 words · 23 minute read

TIFFANI: Alright, so we are now recording. Welcome to the ALG Featured Speaker Series March presentation. These presentations are from past grantees, recent grantees who have completed their projects and are presenting on how their projects went, how their new newly designed or newly adopted course materials are going, and any challenges that they ran into, and so you guys get to hear from past grantees, and past grantees get to present on their awesome work.

So this month, today, we are hearing from Dr. Dolo at Savannah State University on his and Dr. Muche’s course, their College Algebra course in the Department of Math, and they adopted an Openstax textbook for their course, so this will be our first Featured Speaker presentation that involves an Openstax textbook and that was a straight textbook adoption. So I think that we’ll have some really great insight into that. If you’d like to go ahead and take it away, Dr.

Dolo. SAMUEL: Okay well thanks for the opportunity, and we’re happy to share our findings with you guys, and so the title is the Effectiveness of College Algebra Redesign at Savannah State University, and we were just fortunate to have received this affordable textbook grant at a time when the USG mandated that we redesign our college algebra course because of its high failure rate. So for some reason the grant just came right on time, and so we took advantage of that and so it’s like two stories: the redesign and then the grant.

As you’ll see from this project, I will have two different abstracts, and one for the redesign, and then a separate abstract will be for the textbook grant, and those two programs are inseparable in the end. Yeah do not look at them as two separate things, but just one. Okay and we are from Savannah State University, and I will tell you a little more about Savannah State University as we continue. Okay so let me see if this will work here.

02:52 - Okay, so for the abstract, I think we are all familiar with a lot of our curriculum enhancement projects throughout the nation when it comes to college algebra or other math courses, but just very few of them try to see a joint effect of curriculum redesign with technology, and so that’s what our project is going to do. So it said this work compares the effectiveness of course curricular and structure redesign and the traditional instructional method in developing college algebra students’ mathematics skills and student success.

So for the course redesign we are just going to call that CCSR, and then for the traditional method it’s just going to be TRM. Those will be the acronym that we’ll be using, and so the results have shown moderate increase. We did a pilot program and the results show a moderate increase in student comprehension, and they also dropped the data rate which was the most important charge given to the committee, and so that’s the program I want to share with you guys, and I would like to give some background information first.

So the semester was Fall 2018 through Spring 2019, and the pilot program have been doing this, the these two semesters. And just a little background for Savannah State, so it’s historically black university, one of three USG access universities, located in Savannah, Georgia, and when we were given the charge to redesign this course in Fall 2018 we had 22 sections of college algebra, and so 648 students were enrolled, and for the pilot program, 93 of the 648 students were enrolled in the pilot program.

Okay and then the following semester, and Fall semester will always have an increase in enrollment, and Spring semester it kind of, you know reduces, and that’s when we have increase in the enrollment for pre-calculus because from college algebra, they go to pre-calc. So in spring we only have four sections, with 134 students enrolled, and 60 of those students were in the pilot program. Okay and so the background statistics, so what led to this mandate from USG for us to redesign this course? It happened prior to Fall 2016, so I think USG must have been looking at all the data from 2015, 2014 and they realized that the university needed to do something about it.

So if you look at the data from Fall 2016, 1031 students were enrolled in college algebra, and the failure rate there was 36% if you just consider the d’s and f’s, but if you take into consideration i-incomplete grades, that number jumped to 42%.

06:30 - So it’s above the 40% threshold, and then in spring of 2017, the enrollment was 452, and of course this was pre-pandemic time, so and the failure rate in spring of 2017 was 39 percent, and so based on this, we, the department of math was asked by the dean of the college of sciences and technology to redesign its goals, and so what was the motivation? The motivation there was the high failure rate, okay and so if you read along, this says according to the data from the mathematical association of america, 50% of students nationwide do not pass college algebra with the grade of C or better.

So even though we’re in good company throughout the nation, but it’s a company that you don’t want to be in. And then the data from our own office of institutional research at SSU showed that college algebra has one of the highest failure rates at Savannah State University. So these, I think that prompted USG to give the department three years to improve, to remedy this problem, and not only that, but college algebra is a gateway course. So one of the gateway courses for retention, for graduation, completion, and it also happened in the USG momentum year.

Okay so one of the strategies designed to help USG students to succeed academically in their first year of college. So the university department of math was mandated to remedy this problem within three years.

08:36 - Okay and then the program description, the strategy that was developed we divide into two phases, phase one, phase two. Phase one was just curriculum changes, okay we just made few changes to the syllabus, and you will see that in just a little bit it. In phase two is where the real implementation happened, and so well first of all, the first phase one, and then to phase two, and the type of course redesign model that we look at, there are several course design models out there, but we decided to go over the replacement model, and the replacement model there, you try to replace, I mean to reduce some aspect of your calls, and then in doing so you will increase another aspect, give it more time.

Okay and that’s the model that we used. So replace some in-class lecture time with in-class assignment and technology, and the technology part is where the affordable textbook will come in, and then to reduce the number of lecture activities or skill and test preparation activities.

09:59 - Challenges, okay so we are all familiar with this stereotype around the world that math is a difficult subject, so it’s a worldwide perception, and then after that, different delivery method, teaching style, and sometimes that confused students. So for example if a student takes calculus 1 from you and then goes to another class and take calculus 2, different styles of notations, or sometimes it will confuse students. Time constraint, college algebra has a robust syllabus, a lot of topics, but the problem is we have limited time to cover all those material.

Okay because we have to make USG standard. Okay, and motivation problem was also a challenge, so the question is how do you motivate people with that stereotype, who have already in that system where they know that math is difficult. So it’s kind of hard to motivate them, and then maybe based on their past experience with math they may have gone through a bad experience, so to motivate them it’s also a difficult task. Okay so these were the challenges, and the component of our project, we had a learning component, practice and assessment, for the assessment we just focus on what tests, exams, or midterm.

Okay we did not consider homework assignment project, and all the other components to come up with, grading skill. So we just focus on tests, midterm, assignment, and final exam, okay and then there will be a technology component of this, this is myopenmath software, and we decided to adopt this because of the video component to it, and I will discuss that later on. And then the teacher role is just to teach a big topic, focus on a big topic, and then spend a lot of time in lab and in classes some activities.

12:29 - Okay so there was some constraints. So one of the constraints, we devoted two 50 minutes class time, okay so two class time we devoted that to in class assignment and technology, and one 50 minutes period, class period, was also allocated for individual in-class assignment. Okay so before every assessment, every test, there’ll be three free class period. Two of those will be spent on technology, where the student will go in the lab, and they do their homework, finish your homework, and then one class will be using them just in-class assignment, trying to develop their skill, and then that way before they can take the test.

Alright, and then the teachers role again, just to teach a big topic and then, and then leave the rest with the students, and the assessment for reference before every assessment, students were encouraged to complete the online assignment before taking the test, and then complete all in-class assignment before taking the test, and of course there was some exception, we have student athletes who will be gone for maybe sometimes a few days, so we also took those exceptions to consideration, and of course sometimes health emergency, but at least we made the effort for a majority of the students to meet the prerequisite before they sit for any test.

Okay and before we get into the detail of phase one, this screen is the ACMS which is the USG board, advancement board that gave the guideline for college algebra courses throughout USG, and they have three components to it. You have review topics, uniform topics throughout the entire state, and the additional topics that you can choose from, and so for the review topics, we decided to choose these topics that have been highlighted. Okay and then the ones that are not highlighted were the ones that we left out because according to USG, 20% of class time must be spent on these review topics.

And of course uniform topic, you cannot change anything. So these are standard throughout USG, and then for the additional topics, 10% must be 10% to 50% of class time must be spent on the additional topics, and so we decided to just use the absolute value equations and inequality topics for the 10%, and that’s what we use to develop the pilot program. In that way it will still be consistent with our USG policy. So the pilot program also follow our USG guidelines based on the standard.

Okay so yes, phase one data. Okay that’s a summary, this is test one summary, test two, test three, test four, so the template that we’re talking about, college algebra has four different tests, final exam. So that would be what five different assessment, okay again we’re focusing on just tests and exams, and I will discuss this table in detail, but as a summary of then for example you’ll see pilot one so we have two instructors teaching the pilot program so one of those instructors was teaching two sections pilot 1, pilot 1 and then the other instructor was teaching one section and then the traditional method okay so pilot one was also teaching what traditional method in another section and then for pilot two you are teaching the traditional session for another one okay and these are the results for examine test one, the first instructor therefore pilot the failure rate was 64 percent, pilot two the first one is 39.

3, second one 64, pilot two was 34. 5 percent failure rate in a traditional section, it’s 55 percent and then 41 okay but let’s discuss it in detail so let’s take each test one at a time and then go through it so for test one the analysis role right there is the most important one so the main failure rate for pilot for the pilot program exceeded the non-pilot program by 2. 5 percent 2. 525 and then furthermore the two-pilot section met the failure rate expectation of at most 40 again the goal demanded from the dean was well to make the failure rate to drop below 40 40 so two of the pilot program made a goal in test one and the other one was very close okay but the okay the other one did not meet that goal because it was about 64 percent okay and test two okay all three pilot sections met the failure rate expectation of at most 40 and the numbers were at 21.

4 36 22. 2 one of the non-pilot session met the expectation 35. 5 and then the other one did not for test two test three all three pilot sections did not meet the failure rate okay it went above 53. 5 percent 83 percent 51. 7 percent and all two non-pilot sessions did not meet the expectation either for test two test three and for test four one pilot session met the failure rate expectation and the other two fail to meet that expectation and then all two non-pilot program of course they did not meet the expectation but there’s four for the final exam all three pilots did not meet the expectation all two of the non-pilot also did not meet the expectation and then for the grades, that were submitted through the university system platform for submitting final semester grade okay remember we are just focusing on what tests and exam we are not taking into consideration homework assignment and projects and so forth but in the final analysis there all three pilot programs met the failure rate okay and then all two non-pilot programs met the failure rate as well right when it came to submitting the final grade for the semester okay again phase one was just what tiny little change which was about curriculum okay drop some topics drop some topics and see what the result would be and say what it was just a minor change the major change would now take place in phase two so phase two analysis which is the course delivery redesign phase one was what curriculum redesign so course delivery redesign is phase too and so for phase 2 is where the affordable textbook comes in and so we have a different abstract for that just to make a point and so we’ll start with Randolph and three other guys who wrote a report they were part of our textbook tax force and in a finding they survey a lot of students and they found that 37.

1 percent indicated that what their academic career at some time at some point they did not purchase required textbook was due to cost 11. 7 indicator that they did not register for a specific course due to a high cost of textbook 7. 8 drop out because of textbook 6. 6 earned poor grades as a result textbook costs and then 3. 4 percent okay that they have taken fewer courses due to what textbook costs okay just to you know manage financially okay and only 55.

4 percent always purchase textbook and course material and this data is very important okay okay and then so these are based on the statistic these troubling statistics will cause anyone to conclude that what one of the factors that contributes to the high failure rate d and f’s in college algebra nationwide can be attributed to a high cost of textbooks and noteworthy however a college algebra redesign initiative at Savannah State University enhanced by the adoption of the no-cost affordable textbook grant have helped us to reverse its high failure rate associated with college algebra and want to share this data with you okay and as I mentioned earlier of course math 1111 college algebra is a gateway course for the science major and so getting it right will lead to a lot of a good thing it will benefit our students because it will lead them to graduate on time and all the other benefit that comes with with that okay and so for the introduction how did we go about getting this specific textbook the grant enabled us to research for the appropriate low-cost textbook for our students and our search yielded to a textbook by Jay Abramson and the information link is given there and for this particular software, it displays most of the features that we require our students to have and the good thing is majority of the question if not all of them they have a video components to it so we pick questions that have a video component so that if the students need additional help in knowing how to work a problem the student was absent in class can still work out a video and still know how to work it so that’s one reason why we pick Jay Abramson textbook because it has all the features that we like and our students are also falling in love with it and so we presented this our textbook to the department and they gave us a go ahead to to do this or pilot okay so yes phase two data so phase two let’s just remember so we made a curriculum changes and now we are adding delivery changes now to it so it’s more robust now so for test one okay we have just two pilot programs so pilot 1 pilot 2 and one traditional this time okay so these are the summary four test one test two test three test four final exam and the grades are reported at the end of the semester and we’ll take a look at them individually in the analysis there for test one okay the two-pilot session method failure rate of at most 40 so it was 37 to 29.

7 but they are non-pilot the traditional section failed to meet the expectation which was about 46 percent it’s still above the 40 percent test two the two pilot session met the expectation but the non-pilot section failed to meet expectation test three the two-pilot program did meet the expectation the non-pilot did not okay in test four both pilot program met the failure rate expectation the non-pilot did not meet expectation final exam okay in the final exam both pilot met expectation the non-pilot section also met expectation for the final exam and for the overall semester grade both pilots met expectation and the nonpilot also met expectation so lesson learned and recommendations so after looking at all the data we compile our recommendation and the recommendations are as follows we strongly recommend the for institutional reform okay which we knew was not going to happen our recommendation was okay one of the things that we can do would be what we increase your credit hour from three to four so increasing until four then there will be about four I mean three class period for just lecture and then one class period just for you know skill development and technology and of course we knew that was not going to work because it would take a lot of you know effort to come up with that because that’s why increasing the the credit hours for the course and then we were told that some it will run into a USG policy because college algebra should just be for three credit hours so increasing into four there will have to be some changes made somewhere and they were not in a position to do that okay another recommendation increase in in a technology facility okay computer labs we don’t have a lot of computer labs in the math building so that was one recommendation and then another recommendation re-evaluate test three and test four these but yeah these are hard tests and those are the ones that have high failure rates and according to the USG standard those are uniform topics those are the topics that every university is covering so and the results there are not too favorable and and then the other recommendation was by decreasing the number of tests per semester from four to three and that’s the one that makes sense and so when with or this recommendation so decrease the number of tests from four to three and then we’ll use the additional period now to you know ramp up our in-class activities our computer activities and that’s what a replacement model you know also suggests and then so we presented this to the department and the department agreed with our three tests now instead of four tests and so with that pre and post course redesign data analysis and this is very important so due to the moderate success rate of the pilot programming fall 2018 and spring 2019 the course redesign committee strongly recommended and the math department adopted and implemented the committee’s recommendation since fall 2019 and the result for DF rate has summarized in the following so we did semester by semester comparison four semester we decided to go with spring 2017 for the pre-redesigned time okay for the pre-redesigned era we chose our spring 2017.

there were 452 students enrolled and then the failure rate in that semester was 39 and then for the post redesign we went with 20 spring 2020 which had a 119 student and the failure rate with this new program now is about 15 and that’s the spring semester comparison for the fall semester comparison okay we did two pre redesign and then two post one fall 2016 fall 2017 in Fall 2016 we have 1031 students 36 percent failure rate for 2017 727 students enroll 24 percent failure rate when it comes to the post redesign era fall 2019 413 students enroll 16 percent failure rate way below the 40 percent that we were mandated or charged to to to look out for and then for the fall 2020 just last semester 389 students 17 failure rate so in conclusion the results from phase one and phase two of college algebra redesign show a slight and a moderate increases respectively in student comprehension and engagement in terms of the course five major assessment tools the data indicate that on average the course failure rates decrease okay decrease by about 5.

31 percent for phase one and phase two is what we are encouraged which is about 34. 29 percent for phase two so due to the moderate success rate of the pilot program in fall 2018 spring 2019 the course redesign committee recommended to the department and the department has since implemented the committee recommendation and we are happy to report that as of now we are still we are the trend is still going down we are not sure how long that will continue and with the pandemic the good thing about you know the pandemic time is that our students now have this free software and they can do their homework the teacher can just assign homework with video component to it and they are able to do it at a distance so and so these are some references and want to acknowledge two people actually one the first one round 15 of the affordable learning textbook transformation grant they came in just in time and yeah thank you guys for giving us this opportunity it gave us the exposure to come up with something that you know just tie into what we were doing at that time and at one point I was thinking I said maybe I think Jeff knew that what we redesigned so they gave us this grant for that purpose but i’m just kidding but it just came in time it just came in right in time.

34:22 - JEFF: You guys had a great proposal that’s what that’s what did it SAMUEL: I know I know I want to thank you guys for giving us that opportunity and we also have other courses that we are looking at and and we also want to thank the math department these were people on the committee that have also set up the phase one redesign and phase two redesign okay and have there any questions JEFF: I’ll get it started while everybody’s thinking of it what what changes when you move an algebra course from a three credit course to a four credit course that allows faculty and students to dedicate more time is it just a scheduling thing because they have to take less yeah because from four to I mean from three to four so the faculty is going to be teaching okay three credit courses but he’s gonna be teaching he or she will be taking four credit hours course so one will be for lecture I mean three of those will be just for a classroom lecture and then on the fourth one is just for practice practice practice like a lab recitation you know in graduate school yeah where they just go and just improve on that skill they can be on the computer it can just be you know skills skills enhancement and but the problem yeah the problem with that according to some administration official that that would mean hiring more teacher okay because you’ll be paying an instructor for four credit hours that used to be for three credit hours and then looking at what the normal session that college algebra gets in a fall for example sometimes 25 different sessions and and then reduces in the spring so yeah they just couldn’t go with with that proposal yeah but it would be yeah if if they are going with that it would have been a lot better because in that way I guess but you can teach three classes here and then spend the fourth class here at just you know practicing.

36:53 - JEF: Yeah that makes sense thank you. SAMUEL: Yeah you’re welcome TIFFANI: Do we have any other questions from our audience this was a great presentation presentation SAMUEL: Thank you TIFFANI: Feel free to turn on your mics or to type in the chat if you have questions well Dr. Dolo would you would you like to share your contact information so that if anyone has questions they can email you or SAMUEL: Yeah sure TIFFANI: You can put that in the chat if you would like and if we don’t have any other questions I think we can go ahead and and and you know say thank you thank you so much for presenting with us thank you for giving us all this additional information, I was I was messaging Jeff at one point during the presentation that I had I hadn’t realized when I invited you to present the connections that your project had to so many other things like Complete College Georgia and the Momentum Year and all these curriculum changes and so there’s a lot that we can learn from you and and I also had not considered that Savannah state is an HBCU and so that is also something you know something else to learn from and and how these projects affect that so this was great this was this was a good good presentation we’ve got a couple of people typing in the chat okay looks like okay we have thank you SAMUEL: Yeah well thanks for the opportunity yeah thanks for the opportunity and again thanks for that I’ve granted round 15 grand yeah it came in handy TIFFANI: It was we love hearing from these projects and yeah this was great there’s a lot of data here so thank you thank you so much SAMUEL: Guys yeah thank you TIFFANI: I’ll go ahead and stop our recording now okay.