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Executive Summary
Common Math Assignment
Assessing Quantitative Reasoning, 2002-2003

This year, 13 instructors embedded a Common Math Assignment into the syllabi of 28 classes across the curriculum. The fall implementation surveyed student mathematical proficiency in several skill areas, and the spring implementation focused on one of those areas: graphing. Both assignments were anchored in the data from a recent Hartford Courant article which focused on an issue of general interest. Over 700 students participated, and the Student Learning Assessment Team scored 182 samples. The charts below provide a glimpse of the results.






  1. Analysis of results was impeded by the smallness of samples when selecting for two key academic history categories: Accuplacer scores (over half of the samples lacked Accuplacer records) and prior math course completion at CCC (over ¾ of the samples lacked prior math courses).
    1. Accuplacer scores should be regularly entered into Banner records to facilitate assessment analyses.
    2. The College should examine at what points in their studies students take mathematics courses (see also recommendation 2a, below).
    3. The math department should study the remaining unscored anonymous samples to enlarge the field from which progress patterns might be observed.

  2. Based on available data concerning past math courses at CCC, results show a clear improvement in CMA scores for students who have taken credit math courses at CCC, particularly from Math 080 upward. Since many students need to take mathematics courses for three or four semesters to successfully complete one credit-bearing math course, and since certain non-math courses require mathematical skills, these results suggest that the College may need to front load most programs of study with mathematics courses.
    1. The College should review academic policy to consider requiring students to take developmental mathematics courses during the early part of their programs.
    2. Chart 4 from CMA1 (see second chart here above) should be reproduced and posted throughout the College to focus attention on the fact that Math 046 is necessary but markedly insufficient for mathematical competency, encouraging early enrollment in higher levels of math study.
    3. The College should establish a reporting design for tracking persistence through developmental and credit math courses. Reports should be available on a regular basis to inform interventions.

  3. Based on available Accuplacer information, almost all students who scored low on the two math Accuplacer tests also scored poorly on CMA2.
    1. The Math department should undertake a study exploring the relationship between student success in Math 046 and intervals of scores on the Accuplacer tests, with a special focus on the arithmetic test.
    2. Information from the study should guide interventions, which might include more informed counseling about math study, referrals to ABE courses, tutoring, or other supplements to the current developmental math sequence for low-scoring students.

  4. Scores on the paragraph question in CMA2 suggest that students may be somewhat better able to draw conclusions from mathematical data patterns than they are to apply graphing principles to mathematical problems. Still, the mean was well below proficiency, indicating a need for greater exposure to data and numerical operations throughout the curriculum.
    1. Activities should be designed for embedding numerical operations and data interpretation into classes throughout the college. These might include systems for getting students to keep track of their grades through a class, projects for understanding and presenting information in graphic form, templates for tallying research data, etc. These should be piloted by volunteer teachers across the curriculum.

  5. The overall finding for the year is that student math skills are too low. In both CMA1 and CMA2, few students performed at the proficient level. Members of the Math Department have decided to review course outlines and comparability among sections, recommend that at least some sections of Math 080 be taught by full-time math instructors, gather data on progression between Math 080 and 131, focus the content of certain mathematics courses, and possibly add a course more basic than Math 046.
    1. The College should support the Math Department initiatives with IR support for ongoing studies (see also Recommendation 2c).
    2. Full time faculty should continue to mentor adjuncts who teach the three key math courses: Math 046, Math 080 and Math 131.
    3. Adjuncts and tutor liaisons should be encouraged to attend Math department meetings, and the College should seek funds to pay adjuncts a stipend for their contributions to these initiatives.

For further information, please contact Evelyn Farbman
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