2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010)
Paper No. 85-14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM-11:45 AM

GETTING STUDENTS TO USE THE SUPPORT THEY NEED: SURPRISING RESULTS FROM TWO COMMUNITY COLLEGES USING “THE MATH YOU NEED, WHEN YOU NEED It” MODULES TO SUPPORT QUANTITATIVE SKILLS IN AN INTRODUCTORY GEOSCIENCE COURSE

BAER, Eric M.D., Geology, Highline Community College, Des Moines, WA 98198, ebaer@highline.edu, BURN, Helen E., Mathematics Department, Highline Community College, 2400 S. 240th Street, Des Moines, WA 98198-9800, WENNER, Jennifer M., Geology Department, Univ of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI 54901, and KRAMER, Kate, Earth Science & Geology, McHenry County College, 8900 US Hwy 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60012

Open-door two-year colleges must support a range of student abilities while maintaining the rigor required for successful student transfer. One means of support is web-based materials that review material before it is needed in class. However, several authors have noted difficulty with getting students to complete online materials ( e.g. Phillips et. al, 2002). “The Math You Need, When You Need It” modules help students with quantitative skills in introductory geoscience courses. At two community colleges, Highline C. C. (WA) and McHenry County College (IL) varying participation rates from 40-100%, offer the opportunity to examine factors influencing student use of out-of-class support materials.

One important factor in student use of online materials appears to be faculty, although it is unclear what characteristics of the instructor are responsible for higher or lower use. At Highline, four different faculty used TMYN and had widely scattered use rates, ranging from 40-80% of students completing support materials, despite the consistency of target student demographics and educational intent, timing and number of modules used, class size, etc. At McHenry, all students completed the assigned modules; the same instructor also had high use in a class at a four year college. Whereas it is unclear how an instructor influences the use of the modules, more experienced instructors typically had a higher use rate.

The impact on a student’s transcript did not seem to influence use rates. At Highline, even in the class with 40% participation, module use was the most important factor in a one-credit course grade and students. On the other hand, at McHenry grading stakes were low – participation had a small impact on a lab grade which was in turn a small part of the course grade. There are other factors that may have an impact on the use of these materials that are currently being explored through continued use of these modules at Highline, McHenry and other institutions.

As faculty strive to support under-prepared students through out-of-class remediation, finding effective ways to engage students will be an important part of their success.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 85
Geoscience Programs at Community Colleges: Models for Success and Innovation II
Colorado Convention Center: Room 201
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Monday, 1 November 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 210

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