Mathways shows positive results

Students who participate in the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) model for developmental mathematics instruction are more academically successful than students who take traditional, algebra-focused remedial math courses, according to a study by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR).

DCMP, developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, offers community college students who need development math instruction an accelerated and distinct math course sequences aligned with their program of study.

In the DCMP approach, humanities students might take quantitative reasoning, and social science students might take statistics, for example, while students in science or engineering would continue to take algebra in preparation for higher-level math courses.

DCMP courses are condensed, so students are more likely to finish them and move on to college-level math.

Traditional development math focuses heavily on algebra for all students, on the other hand, which becomes a huge barrier for students seeking a degree. According to the CAPR, few of the 60 percent of community college students who take traditional remedial math pass college-level math courses or even get to the point where they can take those courses.

The research brief looked at students at four Texas colleges: Brookhaven College and Eastfield College (both in the Dallas County Community College District), El Paso Community College and Trinity Valley Community College.

Higher passage rates

After following students for three semesters, the study found:

  • 56 percent of DCMP students passed developmental math, compared with 48 percent of students in traditional courses.
  • 36 percent of DCMP students enrolled in college-level math, compared with 21 percent in traditional courses.
  • 25 percent of DCMP students passed college-level math, compared with 17 percent in traditional courses.

Students were randomly assigned to DCMP or traditional algebra-focused remediation to isolate the effects of the courses.

The results of the study show that DCMP “is helping students reach a critical college milestone: making it to and through a college-level math course,” CAPR said. While the early results are promising, however, DCMP courses “do not, as of yet, appear to have affected students’ college persistence rates.”

CAPR’s final report on DCMP, to be released in 2019, will provide a more in-depth analysis of the model, including a full year of quantitative data on credit accumulation and completion of a degree or transfer.

About the Author

Ellie Ashford
is associate editor of Community College Daily.