Adding up to success

By Alice Mannette

An update on a Kansas college’s new math modules.

Last June, we featured a post about Butler Community College’s new math modules. The Kansas college broke up math classes into three modules within a 16-week timeframe. The math modules launched in the fall, and the first-semester results are in. Read on for an update on the program.

Butler’s revolutionary approach to breaking up math classes into smaller units is helping students learn. After one semester, the results are positive:

  • 20 percent increase in student success
  • More than a 10 percent decrease in student withdrawals
  • More than two-thirds of students earn a “C” or higher

“The repetition was removed, allowing more time to cover content,” said Shannon Covert, associate dean of STEM at Butler. “The five-week courses provide small victories for students and allow for more flexibility if something happens that prevents them from attending classes for a length of time.”

Beginning fall 2016, Butler Community College launched a plan to change the way students are placed in math classes and how they complete their math sequence. A student takes a math assessment test and enters the sequence where they need to start learning, from math fundamentals to college algebra. The content is aligned to Kansas State Core Outcomes (KBOR) to ensure transferability of the college algebra sequence.

“When I started at Butler, I was scared I wouldn’t learn math,” student Hailie Harmon said. “But after taking math module classes, math makes sense to me now.”

Butler’s new math lab, which is staffed by math instructors, is helping students succeed as well. The lab is equipped with “white-board tables” that instructors can write problems on to help students learn.

Butler continues to monitor student success rates and is sharing these results with others. On March 8 and 9, Butler math representatives will present their success data during the Great Plains Conference on Acceleration to be held at Butler’s El Dorado campus.

“Math modules are a lot easier than the whole semester class,” student Mario Thomas said. “This is one of the best renovations Butler has made.”

Alice Mannette

Alice Mannette is a communications specialist at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.

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