Using new mathematics program to increase learning

Submitted by Andrew Burch on

In the past I have used a program call MyMathLab (or MathXL) to test students understanding of mathematical concepts.  One of the frustrations I always had was that students could use a "help me solve this" or "view an example" help tool to walk them through their assignments, but they never learned.  This resulted in very high homework scores, but not as good of scores on the exams.  For example, in Spring 2011, my students had a class average of 93.8% on the homework and 88% on the quizzes.  However, their midterm average was only 80.7% and the final exam average was only 70.7%.

In Fall 2012, I began using a new program called IMathAS, which does not have the same help tools.  It is more instructor friendly in that it allows me to edit questions more easily. Students needed to score a 90% on a homework assignment or no credit was given and a 80% on quizzes or no credit was given.  The students had an 84% average on homework and an 84% average on quizzes, but their exam averages increased to 86.9% on their first exam and 86.35% on their second exam.  They also had an increase in Final Exam average to 81%!

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Average: 3.8 (4 votes)


Marianne Smith Tue, 01/08/2013 - 10:50am

This is a huge change not only in curriculum, but in the way we deliver MAT121/MAT151. I'm really interested in seeing your final numbers, and hearing your insights on hybrid versus face to face math.

Sarah Lockhart Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:01am

What was the average on the MML students first and second exam?

Jim Nichols Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:01am

I'm very interested in this since we are moving to use a similiar tool in computing. I'd like to hear more about the difference in the software tools.

Rene Willekens Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:05am

Can't wait for the next installment of data!  Did you also ask students for feedback on the software tool?  This is definately challenging the status quo.

Meha Trivedi Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:05am

Hi Andy,

I had a very similar experience with myProgramming lab during Fall 2012.  I did not use any tool previously so myProgramming lab was new.  I found that the "feedback" feature in the tool was completely useless and rather frustrated and confused students.

Another tool was recommended to me that is used in high schools.  I found that tool too easy for college level classes.

This semester, I decided to use the tool only in my Online version of the course.  I have told students to submit their best answer - ignore whether the system marks them right or wrong.  Rather, I will go in and offer feedback. 

This entry of yours has insprired me to put in my own entry in CATS for myProgramming lab.


Peter Turner Tue, 02/19/2013 - 2:01pm

If nothing else, Andy, your "experiment" produced a lot of interest and some thoughtful comments. But, it also is a good example of Action Research! I look forward to the final results.