Receives Grant to Redesign Developmental Math Classes
N.J. -- Mercer County Community College has received a $40,000
grant from the National Center for Academic Transformation
(NCAT) to teach math fundamentals in a whole new way. MCCC
will participate in "Changing the Equation," a program
that focuses on redesigning developmental math courses.
According to MCCC Liberal Arts Dean, Dr. Robin Schore, the
project will result in radically redesigned classes for students
who come to MCCC needing pre-college math. He notes that the
goal is to improve learning outcomes. "We want to help
these students move quickly into college level classes, and
ultimately, to graduation. With an emphasis on learning math
by doing math, students will work with computer software as
well as receive one-on-one assistance from faculty."
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Betty Peterson was instrumental
in writing the grant application and will develop the curriculum
for the two courses to be offered in spring 2011. The courses
will follow a structure created by NCAT that has been used
across the country over the past ten years.
faculty members, from left, Richard Porter, department chair,
Assistant Professors Betty Peterson and
Dr. Charlene Sharkey, and Liberal Arts Dean, Dr. Robin Schore.
reports often dramatic improvements in student performance and significant
cost savings to participating institutions. According to center
statistics, its partner institutions have seen a 51% increase in
the percentage of students who successfully complete a developmental
math course, with a 30% reduction in the cost of instruction on
redesigned courses will enable students to work their way through
modules in a computer lab setting. Peterson believes this hands-on
and actively-engaged approach will be highly beneficial. "The
traditional model is to have a professor standing at the front of
the room talking at students. Here, students will learn by doing,"
they demonstrate mastery, students will move from one module to
the next with the possibility of completing two or more courses
in one semester. Conversely, if students are not successful and
need to retake the course, they will be able to restart at the same
module where they left off instead of having to go back to the beginning.
Observes Assistant Professor Charlene Sharkey, who teaches several
developmental math classes and assisted with the grant application,
"Those who understand the material can move through so much
faster, while those who need extra help will get it."
The grant process was highly competitive, with 38 community colleges
nationwide selected for funding. Following the pilot semester in
spring 2011, MCCC expects to institute the program for all developmental
math students in fall 2011.
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