May 2009, Volume 13, Number 5


Survey: Math students' attitudes changing

Representatives from Miami Dade College’s mathematics discipline recently met to assess an update to the department’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). They evaluated the plan’s results to date, and discussed overall strategies and next steps.

The evaluation consisted of comparing previously set targets for each QEP goal. The first goal, to improve student mastery of math competencies in four target math courses was set at a 60 percent pass rate. Results showed that the goal was met in 2008 in two of the four courses, MAT1033 and MAC1105.

The second goal was to foster positive student attitudes toward learning mathematics. The target was set at one-half standard deviation above baseline survey results.

In the fall of 2008, a survey was given to a random sample of MAT0020, MAT0024, MAT1033 and MAC1105 classes asking students to evaluate their attitudes on three factors, confidence/enjoyment, importance/value and mathematical thinking. Surveys were returned to Institutional Research for scanning and analysis.

Findings showed that students’ attitudes improved between the spring semester of 2005 and the fall semester of 2008. Goals for two of the three factors, and for all course levels, were exceeded. Attitudes related to one factor – confidence/enjoyment – improved but did not reach the target. The largest increase was evident on items included in the importance/value factor.

The group also recommended strategies to revise the QEP after reviewing the latest research and some promising new approaches.

— Katherine Joss

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