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Foundational Mathematics Instruction (2010/11)

Published on: Thu, 05/06/2010
Last Modified: Fri, 06/17/2011 - 2:20pm

$21,000 one-time, $124,000 base

The proposal seeks to develop the capacity to support student achievement and success in mathematics through an early intervention plan. High failure rates in first-year mathematics are a concern in universities across Canada, particularly since mathematics is a gateway course to many programs, and success has an impact on retention. At the University of Windsor Mathematics 60-140 is a high enrolment introductory differential calculus course involving primarily first-year students from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Interfaculty programs, and Arts and Social Sciences (approximately 900 students annually). This course has historically had high failure and attrition rates compared to other first-year courses in these faculties. This proposal will provide an increase to weekly tutorial and lecture hours, allow for smaller sessions and study groups, increase GA support, and ensure full-time faculty course delivery. These changes will increase contact time with full-time faculty and offer greater opportunities for support.

Update: November 30, 2010

Progress to date includes a course re-design to include effective teaching methods, additional tutorial hours, regular progress meetings, identification of course assessment methods and submission of survey and required documentation to Research Ethics Board for approval. The project is expected to enhance math learning and subsequently improve grades and work ethic, improve retention rate, decrease attrition, and enhance student experience to increase future enrollment. An initial survey is to be distributed in early December to gather initial data. Interviews are to be conducted with professors to determine methods employed to enhance learning experience, and collection of other data relevant to determining the effectiveness of the program. Detailed budget has been developed. No changes to the initial objectives of the proposal; however, 62-139 has been included as part of the project, within budget means. There has been a lot of enthusiasm for project and positive feedback has been received from students and instructors. The Math Squad will receive a special recognition at the upcoming Faculty of Science Celebration of Success to reflect their outstanding effort in this critical area of student retention.

Update: April 30, 2011

There has been significant progress toward achieving the intended objectives of this project. The following are the main areas where progress has been made in relation to project assessment:

  1. Assessment methods for this project have been identified and selected.
  2. The survey and all required documentation were approved by the Research Ethics Board.
  3. Pre-survey and post-survey were administered in the Winter 2011 term.
  4. Data from pre and post-survey were organized in tabulated form and are now being statistically analyzed. In order to select the best statistical techniques, contact has been established with the Centre for Statistical Consulting, Research and Learning and also with the Academic Data Centre.
  5. Contact has been established with the Registrar’s office and the following information collected:
    1. historical grade data for 62-139 and 62-140 from Fall 2007 to Winter 2010
    2. courses taken by each student registered in 62-140 in the Winter semester. This information will be used to see if trends exist in students’ performance in other courses as compared to their performance in 62-140.
  6. A draw was held for the pre-survey and two students were selected, each won an iPod touch.
  7. A poster presentation was prepared for the Windsor-Oakland Conference in order to disseminate this project.

Conducting the survey in the winter term was beneficial since having both pre and post survey results will enable comparison of math and calculus skills before and after taking the course. This way it will be possible to evaluate the effect that curriculum change and material delivery methods have on students’ success. The following courses and sessions were offered for this project in the Winter, 2011 semester: 62-140-01 and 62-140-02. Five lab sections were offered for section 01 and four lab sections were offered for section 02. The SPF monies were used to pay to instructors for one additional hour of lecturing for each section. The students (TAs and GAs) were hired to run the labs and to mark the assignments and tests.

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