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Ivy Tech raises remedial math pass rate

More remedial students are passing college-level math since Indiana’s Ivy Tech went to the “concurrent” model: Students enroll in a remedial math lab or workshop and a college-level math class. In one workshop, students stack wooden blocks to visualize math concepts, reports the Star Press.

MUNCIE — Paul Jones, a 39-year-old gas station clerk, stacked square, wooden alphabet blocks in his remedial math class at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday afternoon.

. . . The vast majority of students entering Ivy Tech are adults who hold a job. And 70 percent of them test into one of the remedial math classes, such as “Math 080, Mathematic Principles with Algebra,” a non-credit course.

“Anything to bring them down off the edge,” associate professor Rob Jeffs said of his props, which also include soup cans. . . . “The problem is when you get into the abstract. We are starting out at an intuitive level and trying to build on it. If I’d have put ‘y = mx + b’ on the board, I’d have lost half of them to start with.”

Both math classes use the same textbook, so students save money as well as time.

Ronald Sloan, vice chancellor for academic affairs for Ivy Tech’s East Central Region, calls the concurrent model “the first little light I’ve seen since I’ve been in this business (more than 30 years).”

Ivy Tech launched the new model, which it borrowed from Austin Peay State University and from the Community College of Baltimore County, last semester. The model is also being used by Ivy Tech for remedial English students.

In the past, about half of remedial math students would pass. Some wouldn’t sign up for Math 118, the entry-level for-credit class. Of those who did, only half passed. That meant only 15 to 20 percent of remedial math students made it through college-level math. “Now, it’s almost 60 percent,” said Sloan. “That’s big.”

In the old model, students would forget math skills from one semester to the next, Sloan said.

In the concurrent model, students in the remedial class take the 118 course together, so they know each other and can help each other. Or they can turn for help to non-remedial students in the course.