Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Texas College Finds Success with Learner-Centered Math Package

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Texas College Finds Success with Learner-Centered Math Package

Article excerpt

Each semester, more than 3,000 students at Richland College in Dallas, Texas, enroll in developmental mathematics courses. As is common in community colleges elsewhere, many of these students -- between 30% and 40% -- fail such courses the first time.

Some students end up having to repeat the course over and over again. Many others drop out, never able to complete their mathematics requirements and earn a degree.

The Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), well-known for its leading efforts in the use of technology in education, has found solutions to help students learn in a variety of subject areas. But the district as a whole, and Richland specifically, had for years been unsuccessful in applying technology to significantly benefit their developmental mathematics students.

* A Frustrating Search

Jackie Claunch, Richland's vice president for academic and student development, says she spent nearly 10 years searching in vain for math courseware that had extensive lessons tailored for at-risk learners.

Now, however, faculty have a new tool to improve students' academic success. a network-based, multimedia course series called Interactive Mathematics, published by Academic Systems of Mountain View, Calif.

Richland's faculty unanimously agreed last summer to begin a partnership with Academic Systems, which is working with nearly 50 campuses nationwide to offer Interactive Mathematics courses. The software provides a learner-centered, faculty-guided instructional environment that enables more individualized support.

Interactive Mathematics follows a model of instruction called Mediated Learning. The model allows students to get the type of assistance they need, right when they need it -- from the instructor, from the accompanying print materials, and from the software.

"I believe and the faculty believe that student success and retention will be improved by using the Academic Systems materials," says Mary Darin, dean of the college's human and academic development division. "The way it's set up is just excellent."

In August 1996, Richland started offering six sections of Interactive Mathematics in a learning center with 25 Pentium-class PCs running Windows 95 within a LAN. …

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