Project Plan
 
Description
Student success in mathematics has drawn much attention and effort at colleges across the United States. Sinclair is no exception. In 2004-05 the non-success rates (reflective of students who withdrew or completed courses with a grade of D or F) in four key elementary mathematics courses – DEV 084 (Basic Mathematics I), DEV 085 (Basic Mathematics II), DEV 108 (Intro to Algebra), and MAT 101 (Elementary Algebra) were 46.6%, 42.9%, 41.3% and 54% respectively. Sinclair Mathematics faculty in both the Developmental Studies and Math Departments have worked individually for many years as well as collaboratively for several years as the Transitions in Mathematics Council with a goal of improving students’ success in mathematics especially as students transition from developmental math to the Math Department courses. The Math AQIP project will build on departmental efforts and enlist broader institutional support to expand the search for new or refined teaching methods and other opportunities to improve math success and retention.

AQIP Criteria
Primary: Category 1 - Helping Students Learn

Related: Category 4 - Valuing People
                Category 7 - Measuring Effectiveness
                Category 3 - Understanding Students’ and Other Stakeholders’ Needs

Related AQIP Principles
A learning-centered college
Collaboration and a shared institutional focus
A mission and vision that focuses on serving students and other stakeholders

Rationale
Sinclair’s Institutional Planning and Research (IPR) Department team have analyzed student success and retention in DEV 084 (Basic Mathematics I), DEV 085 (Basic Mathematics II), DEV 108 (Intro to Algebra), and MAT 101 (Elementary Algebra), the entry level math courses. Student non-success in math has a significant impact on student retention and accomplishment of educational goals. For example, of the 485 students who enrolled in DEV 085 during their first year at college in Fall 2001, 323 or 66% were successful, a success rate higher than the average success rate of 51.6% for DEV 085 that year. 162 were unsuccessful. Only 25.9% of students who were unsuccessful in DEV 085 were retained by the college compared to a 70% retention rate for those who were successful in 085. That means that 216 Fall 2001 students may have given up on their college and career aspirations. Since students who continue to be unsuccessful in these courses are likely not to reach their educational goals, it is imperative that we identify and address the barriers that prevent them from succeeding.

Organizational Elements Affected by Project
This project affects a significant number of degree seeking students enrolled in associate degree programs across the college. Academic Advising will be impacted by potential changes in advising and registration to ensure that every student is properly placed in the appropriate mathematics course and section. The Achieving the Dream project team will be an integral part of the AQIP Math project, since our efforts will roll into Achieving the Dream and our measures of success are the same. Institutional Planning and Research will be affected through the development of study methodology, data capture, analysis, and reporting needed to evaluate and refine the project activities. Math and Developmental Department faculty and chairs will be affected by the demands of data collection, by participation in faculty development activities, and by changes in teaching or other intervention strategies.

Processes Affected by Project
The following processes will be impacted: Advising; Training academic counselors; Faculty and students; Student orientation, scheduling and registration processes; Course placement testing; Student referral to and from support services; Information technology (tools, electronic permissions); and Record and policy alignment as well as consistency.

Definition of Process Measures
Process measures likely will be refined as the project progresses. However, measures may include:
Academic Advising and registration: The percentage of advised students who have recently taken a math placement test; The percentage of math placement scores and math prerequisites checked for advised students who are registering for a math class; The percentage of advised students take math classes sequentially with no gap between classes.
Faculty Development: 100% of math pilot faculty will participate in or help develop the faculty development sessions; Faculty satisfaction of development sessions; Percentage of pilot faculty who implement new methods and the percentage who complete the data collection.
Registration and IT: Successfully implement some form of automated prerequisite checking. (Method is to be determined)
Student Orientation: Brochures and orientation sessions will strongly recommend that students take math classes in an uninterrupted sequence, that tutorial services and faculty help are available for math students, and that meeting with an academic counselor is an important step to college success.
IPR: Data is collected and analyzed; results show success or non-success or ways to refine the intervention strategies.

Definition of Outcome Measures
Success, for the purposes of this project, is defined as individual course completion with a grade of C or better, and success in the next course in sequence as appropriate for the students’ program of study (could be 102, 105, 106, 121, 131, or 191). The goal is to increase the student success/pass rate in DEV 084 (Basic Mathematics I), DEV 085 (Basic Mathematics II), DEV 108 (Intro to Algebra), and MAT 101 (Elementary Algebra).
The target population for this project is the Achieving the Dream (AtD) Cohort. New, Fall quarter entering, degree-seeking students – beginning with the Fall 2005 term population which will represent the baseline. The treatment group will consist of those students starting in the fall of 2006, fall of 2007, and the fall of 2008 and will be tracked through the spring of 2009.

Performance Targets

Year One: Document and assess Sinclair’s current mathematics success and retention rate; review the literature on methods used at other colleges to improve student success and retention in mathematics; identify promising strategies from the literature and visits to other colleges; identify factors that impact students’ success and retention in select Sinclair developmental math and math courses (DEV 084, DEV 085, DEV 108, MAT 101); define three to eight pilot projects; conduct the pilot projects; define the study methods and required data collection; collect and analyze data; modify or abandon projects; and continue pilot for additional term. We will specifically look for factors that impact: 1) Students’ success and retention within the individual identified courses; 2) Students’ success in progressing through their appropriate course sequence; 3) Students’ success in transitioning from DEV math to math (for those initially placed into DEV 084, 085 or 108).

Year Two: Implement successful pilot project strategies across other course sections. Continue to collect, analyze, and report results. Refine processes based on analysis. Define one to three additional pilot projects; conduct the pilot projects; collect and analyze data; modify or abandon projects; continue pilot for additional term.

Year Three: Implement successful pilot project strategies across some other course sections. Continue to collect, analyze, and report results. Determine which successful strategies can be applied to other Math and Developmental Math courses. Implement successful strategies across multiple course sections within the Math and Developmental Math departments.

Keeping Focused
Sinclair has established an AQIP Math Project Team and developed a formal project plan to meet the objectives of this project. The project will be led by a dean or director. The College’s AQIP Coordinator and participants from the Strategy Forum will join other stakeholders as team members. The AQIP team will use standard project management techniques to ensure the project stays focused. Our President’s Council leadership group will serve as the AQIP Steering Committee and monitor project status.

Contacts:  Math Project Team Leaders: Surinder Jain and Valerie Cope
surinder.jain@sinclair.edu and valerie.cope@sinclair.edu