LA Community Colleges Adopt Hybrid Lab Courses for Core Mathematics.

This project was funded by Educause’s Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC). It is working to enhance college completion of ow income learners. Today’s presentation is by leaders of a successful Wave I project. Something proven on one campus can be scaled to other campuses. One of their key points is good data is critical to demonstrating the success of projects. Their Powerpoint presentation is available at

Their approach is to invest in innovation to support student success. They seek to multiply impact and then accelerate adoption.

Kate Stevens is a California State University. The California Math Consortium developed a hybrid math lab. It is based on a web of connection to colleagues around the country. The issue is 60% of arriving students need help with developmental math. See slide 5 of the Powerpoint for a graph of students with A/B grades compared to DFU grades.

The reasons for these differences include weak prerequisites, poor transition between classtime and work. (e.g., Time on task) and poor coordination of course material and instruction. An illustration of the latter is  students looking for the least amount of work they have to do.

By ‘killing herself’ (including  adding supplemental instructions and remedial materials), she was able to flatten out graph between A/B DFU students. She scaled this out to other classes. She then discovered a glitch. Students had trouble with mid-term exam which some faculty had made more difficult. Students dropped out. She looked at data and found problem. Graph flattened out again. 50% passed, 50% failed.

Pasadena City College was experiencing similar issues with student success. It was taking six years for students to complete a two year program. They would spend four years repeating high school content. Students who start at the high school level had difficulty completing. If they placed in pre-calculus they did well. If they came from pre-algebra they did not succeed.

The first solution was a one size fits all curriculum. They were training everyone for calculus. Then they asked a critical question. Do all students benefit from taking algebra? They created SLAM, stats for liberal arts majors. Then a separate course for STEM students.

They then looked at Accuplacer and decided to ignore placements and look at the last course they took in high school. This still did not solve the problem.

Then started using Kate’s model. The key is a dedicated counselor who supports learning, manages at-risk students and be proactive. They also created a four day boot camp for students to remediate holes in their math. This set the tone for the entire semester. It was called boot camp for a reason. The students were organized in groups. They stayed together beyond the boot camp. This made them realize there was a commitment that need to be made. Their success rate increased to an 80% success rate.

They realized they were not challenging their students enough. By challenging them and providing them support they reached this success. They went from a one day boot camp which was not as successful to an  Accelerated Intermediate Algebra (AIA) program which includes support. See slide 36 which show an 80% success rate for Pasadena City College taking  AIA. They discovered students constantly have to have remediation. They use ALECS facilitated by f-2-f.

What’s in the pipeline? They are working with General Chemistry to make math more relevant and increase STEM majors. Stronger collaboration with K-12. Just in time learning with other departments.

Students do not pay for boot camp, but they must come. Boot camp pays for itself as it allows students to jump over several courses. No need to repeat.

My take away from this is I need to increase the use of  Khan Academy for remediation. It would also be go to to use podcasts, twitter and blog to direct and encourage students.