Leading Active+Adaptive Learning Innovation in Math Pathways for Student Success, Engagement, and Equity
Concurrent Session 5
We successfully redesigned a college Math Pathway in Statistics targeted at social science students with the goal of making learning more relevant to students' lives and areas of study. We describe curricular and structural changes implemented with active learning and adaptive systems and share results on student impact.
Challenges of College Math
Successful completion of math gateway courses is essential to undergraduate students’ progress towards graduation. Common challenges in gateway courses include a lack of alignment to student interests and needs; the narrow focus on procedures and notations rather than practical application and examples; and the lack of personalization or remediation of lessons. An additional challenge is whether math courses in sequence are truly related to student success: for example, does a College Algebra prerequisite actually prepare students for statistics courses or does it merely lengthen time to degree? All of these challenges have led to trends in high failure rates and equity gaps.
Transformation of Statistics as a Math Pathway for Social Science Students
In an effort to make math gateway courses more relevant and improve student success rates, the Math Pathways approach expands options for college students, enabling different paths through their math curriculum, depending on a students' course of study. We aimed to redesign a two-course math pathway sequence in Statistics targeted at social science students with the goal of making content more relevant to students’ lives and areas of study. We also removed the College Algebra requirement. Therefore, several curricular and structural changes were implemented.
We outline our process in three phases:
Phase 1: CoDesign for strategic visioning among stakeholders
Large curriculum redesign projects involve a broad set of collaborators and stakeholders. A key approach explored was “co-design”, referring to the collective effort of designers and non-designers working together to address a specific design problem -- in this case, a curriculum redesign for a Statistics pathway for social science majors. A cornerstone of co-design partnerships is to involve diverse groups of stakeholders from different fields early as productive contributors to the course design process.
A 3-day in-person strategy and design workshop was held, bringing together 37 participants (internal and external stakeholders) comprising faculty members from Math and Social Science departments, instructional designers, librarians, academic administrators, adaptive learning vendor representatives, and design workshop facilitators to reimagine how to teach Statistics to non-math majors. The workshop resulted not only in a unified design strategy between the Math and Social Science departments on common outcomes, core concepts, assessments, but also ensured diverse ideas and perspectives were incorporated early into the project.
Phase 2: Development and implementation of an "Active+Adaptive" blended curriculum
A key curriculum reform required shifting lecture-based pedagogy into what we refer to as an "Active+Adaptive" blended curriculum model, which emphasizes active learning for deep classroom engagement with adaptive learning for mass personalization at scale. The design and development of the new Active+Adaptive Statistics courses required a huge collaborative effort among faculty teams, instructional design teams, and vendor teams that ranged over two years. In implementing the project, additional support was required from the other departments and the undergraduate education office such as preceptors, academic advisors, and the registrar.
Some of the strategies implemented include:
Embedding personalized support for course preparation and remediation through adaptive learning systems
Personalization of formative assessments by social science discipline
Replacing lectures with active learning application projects and examples contextualized to social science disciplines and real-world problems
Replacing exclusively procedural assessments with assessments focused on conceptual understanding
Remixing and enhancing content from open educational resources (OER) to reduce textbook costs
Providing learner supports through adaptive learning course orientation, classroom preceptors, and academic advisors
Providing faculty development programming on active learning pedagogy and adaptive learning systems
Phase 3: Evaluation results and impact on students
We compared preliminary outcomes among two cohorts of students enrolled in the redesigned Statistics I Active+Adaptive course and in the traditional Statistics I course in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. Survey results show that students who engaged in the Active+Adaptive format had an increased growth mindset, sense of belonging, and motivation. Between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, there was no statistical difference between the final grades in the traditional Statistics I course, requiring the College Algebra prerequisite vs. Active/Adaptive Stats not requiring the College Algebra prerequisite. This implies that students remained as successful in Statistics I without a full semester of College Algebra, indicating that it can be removed as a prerequisite barrier. We also found that in Fall 2020, the Active+Adaptive Statistics I course design decreased equity gaps between white students and minority students. Additionally, in Spring 2021 the equity gap was reversed with minority students performing better than white students.
Student feedback on the redesigned course was positive. Their comments highlight a regained interest in math and statistics:
- "For the first time in my life, I was excited about mathematical coursework."
- "As a person who really struggles with math, I have had the best experience so far in this stats class."
- "I loved this Stats class. I feel that the way this class was designed helped me learn a lot better."
- "I am so glad I picked the right statistics class ... I am going [to] use what I am learning in this class with other classes I am taking this semester."
This presentation will:
- Identify curricular and structural reform strategies for redesigning Statistics for non-math majors
- Share strategies on designing, developing, and implementing the "Active+Adaptive" blended learning model
- Describe preliminary evaluation outcomes among two cohorts of students enrolled in the redesigned Statistics I Active+Adaptive course
- Brainstorm how similar strategies can be implemented at scale at other institutions