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In Teaching Math, Iterative Approach Shows Promise

In one of the first education trials of a new cyclical research model, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has developed a promising approach to teaching remedial math in community colleges.

I reported on Carnegie's Networked Improvement Community project last year. Researchers had first started to identify, test, and tweak the ways that teachers interacted with students in the very first days of a remedial math class. Earlier testing had shown that these early interactions could affect how students engaged and achieved throughout the rest of the class. The researchers used 90-day cycles of testing and refining interventions, a model which has drawn significant interest from the federal Institute of Education Sciences.

Now, as my colleague Caralee Adams reports, courtesy of the College Bound blog, the project has developed a teaching approach called the Community College Pathways model that is showing strong early results:

"In its new Community College Pathways model, students needing remedial help take a yearlong course for three to five hours a week that includes relevant problem-solving, a literacy component, and motivational activities to increase tenacity.

The initial results show the success rate of students in developmental math tripled and the gains were achieved in just one year, rather than the two or more years often required. Typically, after one year only about 6 percent of remedial-level students earn college math credit and 15 percent get it after two years. With the CCP Statway course, 51 percent of college students earned math credit in the first year.

Moreover, because the results are part of an ongoing continuous improvement project, "this is just the beginning; we're just getting started," said Tony Bryk, the president of the Stanford, Calif.-based foundation, in a media call Wednesday.

Check out Carnegie's site for more on the project.

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