kitchen table math, the sequel: Update on using MathBooster in my summer class

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Update on using MathBooster in my summer class

As some of you remember, I posted that my colleague and I wrote an online homework/assessment website for my basic math class. I am piloting that website this summer and collecting data to assess its effectiveness.

My colleague and co-programmer Tim Vorce always says “We have to meet students where they are. And where they are is online.” MathBooster is a web based learning and assessment tool inside a course management shell developed specifically for remedial students. Instructors assign the skills and difficulty level. The problems are generated by mathematical algorithms. There are an infinite number of unique problems generated at each level. The homework system is designed so that students are required to complete a specified amount of problems correctly. Students receive immediate feedback and practice each skill until they have achieved mastery regardless of how many problems are required. This program was specifically designed to give extra support to those students who, while motivated and dedicated, have too many gaps in their background to pass a one semester basic math class.

The data for effectiveness assessment consists of two parts. The first is the average on Test 3. Test 3 assesses all of the fraction math skills. I chose this because fractions are very difficult for students and because this test comes just before the halfway point of the class.  The second assessment will be the score on the final exam. The final is written by the math department  and is consistent from semester to semester.
The class average (n=9) for Test 3 is 85.6% vs an average of 67.4% for previous semesters (n=68). Since the sample size is so small, any conclusions would be premature although I am encouraged by this result. The data that is really interesting is this: on average, in order for my students to complete 20 problems correctly, they must attempt 34 problems. The range is 25-65 problems. I draw two conclusions from this data, one surprising and one expected. I expected that students have not been given enough “good” problems at each skill level and that they would require more than 20 problems to master each skill. The surprising result (to me) is that students will do up to 65 problems if they are given good feedback and they feel like they are progressing. 

I welcome any feedback from the KTM community. If you are interested in trying the site yourself, the link is MathBooster link.  You can register as a student or as an instructor. If you register as an instructor, there is an instructor resource page that details what problems are generated for each skill and level.

1 comment:

Catherine Johnson said...

This is fantastic --- I desperately need such a site for my writing students -----

I will try!

(I don't know if you saw the comment, but Chris had a site probably much like this for his physics class and it was very helpful... )