Statistics elicit overall student angst, which affects grades, attitude, attrition and learning. Although students attended tutoring, were allowed to re-do homework and engaged in interactive classroom experiences, PSY 230 course retention rate remained at 25%. I used a different pedagogical technique this semester - Mastery Learning - which was used successfully in K-12 grades. Rather than a traditional letter grade or percentage on assignments, students received "not yet" grades and instructor feedback. Resubmissions were accepted as many times as necessary to reach mastery. The result: significant attitude shifts, increased student comprehension, improved grades, decreased attrition and, student ability to apply concepts instead of regurgitating information. Attached are some student's mastery projects, research summary/design, and qualitative data illustrating why students "love statistics." This semester's retention rate (63%) is significantly higher than last semester, x2 (1, N=64)=5.14, p<.05. More importantly, students reported feeling ownership over the statistical material rather than simply completing a prerequisite.
I LOVE this idea of mastery learning, especially as it produces the type of environment where students take ownership of learning statistical material. Excellent!
Laura, This is an excellent way for students to learn a more challenging topic! Smiles Olga
This is great idea! I love the method of measurement you used. This created a growth mindset for our students to achieve and accomplish. This placed the learning in the student's responsibility. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for the time you took to submit this CATS. I am interested in learning more about this and would like to meet with you. As you know, mathematics is difficult for students. I want to try mastery learning, but here are my concerns, especially since I primarily work with engineering majors.
1. Does this set students up for turning in late work?
2. Does this set up students to not take the assignment seriously the first time around? They know they can redo it.
3. How much extra work does this make for you, as the instructor, with students turning in material after the deadline until they master the content?
Like I mentioned, I'd really like to meet with you to discuss this more. I may consider trying this in one of my calculus classes. Thanks again for writing this.
Hi Becky! I had the same concerns going into this research/project and I would LOVE to talk to you more in depth. For now:
When I considered doing this, I was concerned that this was going to flop. It surprised me with how well the class functioned and the quality of the work that students produced. The key component to this seems to be the 1-1 checkins - students did not "buy into" this until AFTER the first check-in. During the focus group, students stated that it wasn't until they felt the instructor cared about them and their learning that their whole attitude towards the class changed. For the first 3 weeks of class, there were a lot of disgruntled students and complaints relayed to the statistics tutors - especially when the students received 0's on their assignment. Changing students' mindset about learning was the most difficult part - but the results are astounding.
I'm really curious to see if the mastery learning affects their final exam. Last semester, the entire class couldn't complete the practice final during the allotted 2 hours, nor did the students know what statistics to use on each of the 5 word problems. The comprehensive final exam results were terrible and the highest course grade was 84%. I'll submit another CATS once the quantitative part of the project is done. To date, students seem to be able to apply their learning - will know more after the last week of November when they complete their practice final.
I am eager to help you set up a class that will work for you! I'm going to do this again next semester in Statistics. You are also welcome to come to the class and ask the students questions.