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Geoff,
I have taught Intermediate Algebra for many years and I agree that the first 
test - usually a review of the intro. algebra concepts - is the make or 
break test. If students don't have these concepts well in hand it is highly 
unlikely (as you found out) that they will be successful.

Another problem inherent in Intermediate Algebra is the amount of material 
that is usually crammed into the course. This occurs because of the 
different paths taken by students who take the course.  We try to prepare 
them for a basic college algebra class or a social science math class or 
precalculus or statistics or business calculus. This is the one course where 
I see the most diversity in student skill level - even more so than 
introductory algebra.

Maybe a good diagnostic test prior to the start of class can determine which 
students are likely to be unsuccessful. Then a heavy dose of advising would 
be called for. I know students don't want to take any more classes than is 
necessary, but as I told my college algebra class - "The prerequisite for 
this course is not having failed it three times already." Students sometimes 
have to be helped to "see the light".

Melissa Quinley
Developmental Math Instructor
Isothermal Community College
Spindale, NC


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Geoffrey Krader" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: Math Intervention


> Judy,
>
> I teach math at a community college, and a large proportion of our math 
> courses are developmental math, so I, too, would appreciate your sharing 
> any insights you find.
>
> One of our high runner developmental courses is "Intermediate Algebra" - a 
> course I have taught 6 times over the last three years.  In looking back 
> at my data for these 6 courses, I have found that students' results on the 
> first exam are a good indicator of their chances for success in the 
> remainder of the course.  The first exam occurs during Week 4 or 5 (in a 
> 16 week semester) and covers Chapter 1 of the textbook (Dugopolski, 
> Intermediate Algebra).  The subject matter includes a review of 
> arithmetic, order of operations, properties of real numbers and algebraic 
> expressions. Sometimes the first exam also includes the first section of 
> Chapter 2, where students learn how to solve algebraic equations.
>
> This course is a pass/fail course.  I have found that students who fail 
> (that is, score below 70) on the first exam have only a 5% chance of 
> completing the course successfully.  Students who score above 70 have much 
> better chances (those who score 70-79 are still unlikely to pass, but 
> their chance of success is still considerably higher than 5%).
>
> Based on these data (which only cover the sections of the course I have 
> taught), we have decided to offer a standardized Exam 1 and collect 
> similar data for the rest of the instructors.  If the results are similar, 
> it suggests we do something different during the first four weeks to make 
> sure all students have the foundation needed to pass Exam 1 and have a 
> chance of passing the course.  It also suggests that students who do not 
> pass Exam 1 may not be well served by continuing in the course.  For 
> example, perhaps they need some additional review of the basics covered 
> during the first four weeks.
>
> If anyone has any similar data or experience, I would appreciate your 
> sharing it.
>
> Thanks,
> Geoff Krader
> Mathematics Instructor
> Morton College
> Cicero, IL
>
>>From: "Luther, Judy" <[log in to unmask]>
>>Reply-To: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals 
>><[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: Math Intervention
>>Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 15:00:06 -0400
>>
>>Hello:
>>
>>We're currently in the process of redesigning the curriculum for our
>>developmental math class, and we want to embed intervention strategies
>>within the course.  If anyone has any course designs or tutoring/lab
>>intervention ideas to share, I would appreciate your assistance.
>>
>>Thank you!
>>
>>Judy
>>
>>*******************************************************
>>Judy H. Luther
>>Director of Student Achievement and Retention
>>Spalding University
>>851 S. 4th Street
>>Louisville, KY  40203-2188
>>(502) 585-9911 ext. 2217
>>[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>>
>>May I never miss a rainbow or a sunset because I am looking down.
>>Author Unknown
>>
>>
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