The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Grant to study effects of NE Mod Math

By Kenney Kost/editor-in-chief

NE Campus was selected as the only community college in the nation to participate in a study on accelerated developmental courses, specifically the Mod Math program.

The campus was chosen for the study by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization. It works to get federal grants to study various programs and policies in an attempt to compile data and help get things that work to be implemented in other places, NE vice president of academic affairs Gary Smith said.

“They [MDRC] try to move the needle along on certain programs and get things moving nationwide,” Smith said. “They wanted to study accelerating developmental courses, and, after looking around the country, they narrowed it down to Texas. Then it came down to NE Campus.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences awarded the grant to MDRC, which will use a portion of the grant to develop and complete the study at TCC, said Mike Weiss, a co-principal investigator for MDRC.

“As with most IES grants, the written support of TCC and evidence of a strong relationship between MDRC and TCC were essential to winning the grant,” Weiss said. “Evaluating the effectiveness of Tarrant’s Mod Math program is one part of this larger IES grant to MDRC. Approximately $1 to $2 million of the grant will be used for Tarrant County.”

The study will be a randomized control study conducted from a pool of 1,500 student volunteers who are in developmental math. The study will compare the effectiveness of the Mod Math program versus a traditional lecture-based course, Smith said.

“We’re going to see whether it truly helps get them [students] where they need to be faster and with the proper knowledge,” he said.

The Mod Math program is an accelerated developmental program that allows students to work at their own pace in one-hour blocks instead of traditional three-hour courses, said NE math instructor Karen Pace.

“I like the mods a lot,” Pace said. “I like the fact that students can accelerate if they choose, but it’s something that is not for everyone. You have to be motivated and academically mature enough to make yourself stay on course.”

Student success is the main focus of the study, and their input is crucial, said Mary Visher, co-principal investigator for MDRC.

“We’re really trying to get student voices,” Visher said. “A lot of studies rely solely on data. We want to bring the study to life by talking to students. We’ve already conducted a few focus groups on NE Campus, and the students really helped inform the design of the study.”

The study will track students beyond developmental courses into college algebra and even further if the student transfers to a university, Pace said.

“We are going to be able to track the student throughout their college careers and see exactly how they were affected by these courses,” she said.

NE Mod Math coordinator Greta Harris-Hardland said the study is the first of its kind in this particular area and hopes the results spark interest nationwide.

“The national interest in a modular approach has not been studied,” she said. “We are very excited to get unbiased, true research design outcomes about the difference in student success in the one-hour sessions compared to the three-hour developmental course.”

Smith said it is an honor to be selected, and it will be a good gauge of whether the program is truly succeeding or not.

“It’s a good opportunity to have an outside agency look at what we do,” he said. “They have no reason to skew the results. We think we are doing a good job, and they will either confirm this or tell us otherwise.”

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