A Comparison of Traditional Lecture and Computer-Mediated Instruction in Developmental Mathematics

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper compares developmental mathematics students' performance in traditional lecture classrooms to their performance in computer-mediated classrooms at Victoria College over a ten-year period from 1996-2005. The paper assesses students' preference for types of instruction, completion rates, pass rates, and average scores between traditional lecture and computer-mediated classes. The results reveal that students' performance in the computer-mediated courses showed no better than their peers' in lecture classes. Therefore, computer-mediated instruction for developmental mathematics education cannot substitute for traditional classroom instruction, and institutions and instructors should assist students in selecting the instructional format that will best meet their preferences.

As Galileo put it, "The great book of nature can be read only by those who know the language in which it was written. And this language is mathematics" (Van Doren, 1991, p. 200). Mathematics is the universal enabling discipline, which underpins the physical sciences, chemistry, biology, modern technology, and the global economy. Therefore, to have adequate math skills is one of the most important factors for students to succeed in higher education.

Ginsburg, Cooke, Leinwand, Noell, & Pollock (2005) provide the statistical data that U.S. students have lower math scores in comparison with their peers from other countries in some international assessments. Within the common 12-country group, U.S. mathematics scores rank 8th on TIMSS-4 (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study); 9th on TIMSS-8; and 9th on PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). In a similar vein, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said "In our K-twelve we were doing okay at the fourth-grade level, we were doing middle-of-the-road in the eighth grade, and by twelfth grade we were hovering near the bottom in international tests related to math" (as cited in Friedman 2005, p. 261). Tracy Koon, Intel's Director of Corporate Affairs commented on teachers "who do not have the ability to make science accessible and gripping for kids" (as cited in Friedman 2005, p. 273). Research has shown that more than one third of all college students are underprepared in mathematics skills (Shults, 2000; McCabe, 2003). Consequently, how to improve teaching and learning in mathematics for postsecondary education is already a national priority for mathematicians and mathematical educators (McCrory, 2006).

Review of the Literature

A number of studies have been conducted to research the impact of different instructional formats in developmental mathematics education.

Remedial/Developmental Mathematics Education

Open-door admissions, more affordable tuition, convenient locations, links to industry, and a mission of serving local needs make community colleges an attractive choice for students, including many who are under-prepared. In addition, according to Cohen (2001, p.3), "Many young people are leaving high school lacking both the academic preparation necessary for postsecondary education and the broad knowledge, habits of mind, and personal and social skills necessary for success in the workplace and in a diverse, democratic society."

Remedial/developmental education has evolved to provide curriculum and services for entering postsecondary students who are not academically prepared to perform college-level work (Kozeracki, 2002; Shields, 2005). Studies have determined that remedial/developmental education is effective in improving collegiate success for under-prepared students (McCabe & Day, 1998; Merisotis & Phipps, 2000). The investment in a student's developmental education commonly results in retention and a more productive life for the students. Successful retention is measured by the finding that die under-prepared students are equally likely to graduate from college as those who do not require developmental classes (Moses, 1999). …