Retention through Remediation : Enhancing Calculus I Success
"Retention through Remediation: Enhancing Calculus I Success" is a Type 1-B STEP project. Building on the success of a previous STEP 1-A award, this project is working in the new direction of improving students' mathematical background as a means of retaining STEM majors. This bridge-type program is using a series of technology-based strategies for identifying new STEM students with weak pre-calculus/algebraic skills and providing them with a Personalized Study Program to strengthen their pre-calculus skills and position them for success in college mathematics. The approach begins with using the results from a Calculus Readiness Assessment tool, which was developed during their STEP 1-A project, to determine which incoming students are mathematically at risk. Then they follow-up with these students by a variety of technology-mediation methods including direct synchronous contact with an experienced instructor via conferencing software; videos of important pre-calculus topics; Applets to add interactivity, depth of understanding, and improve visualization of the concepts; and an online text, assessment, and homework delivered through an online course management system. This program is taken during the summer prior to their first semester of college. In the following fall semester, these students participate in the "Just-in-Time" program, which reinforces algebraic concepts, as they are needed in the Calculus I course. The broader impact of this project includes their development of an effective, cost-efficient remediation program in pre-calculus available to large numbers of students who need it, prior to taking Calculus I, which is a STEM-gateway course. Their evaluation design is providing new knowledge about technology-based remediation of algebraically weak students during that summer prior to entering college and again in the first fall experience. This project team is disseminating their strategy and set of software tools for successfully addressing the issue of attrition due to failure in first-year calculus, which is a widespread issue that impacts STEM graduation rates in institutions across the country. This project is impacting at least 600 of the incoming 3,100 STEM students in both the summer and fall interventions. They are increasing their STEM graduation rates by at least 100 additional STEM graduates annually. The project's External Advisory Board is providing expertise on how the project materials work within the context of other campuses, which is helping with the dissemination of project learning resources. Presentations and publications are being developed to share this project's successes.