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Using a Math Tutorial Program to Decrease the Number of Failed Grades the First Semester helping the College achieve a 91% First Year Retention Rate

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

Student Success & Development - Focus on Mathematics

Tagged Topic

FYEE Division - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Mary E. Goodwin University of South Florida

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Dr. Goodwin, who has engineering degrees in industrial and environmental engineering, is the Director of Student Services in the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida. She worked in industry for nine years and more than 23 years in higher education, focusing on engineering education.

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More than ever before universities are feeling the pressure to improve their first year retention rates and their graduation rates. Learning communities, increased advising, first year seminars, summer programs, along with improvements in curriculum and teaching have all helped to improve universities retention rates.

Many students struggle with the transition to college emotionally, academically and socially. Some students struggle with time management and how to study effectively. Still struggle with not having the level of preparedness and knowledge in the subject area. Many come to school overconfident and are surprised at the level of difficulty and the pace of college courses.

The stress students encounter trying to handle these gaps in their preparedness affect their ability to be academically successful. Engineering students at this university who receive less than a 2.00 grade point average (GPA) their first semester have only about 30% chance of returning a year later. Many do not even return for the spring semester. The College piloted a new initiative to use the basic prep for calculus offered by ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) a web-based, artificially intelligent program for their incoming first year students. The purpose was not for math placement as many schools are using it for, but instead it was used to help students see how prepared they were in mathematics and to help those students who found that they were weak in various math subjects. Those students who spent time in the ALEKS tutorial program over the summer did significantly better than those students who did not, in their fall semester classes. The results from the year it was piloted saw dramatic decreases in D, W and F grades and a 50% reduction in the number of students receiving less than a 2.00 GPA their first semester compared to the prior year. An addition, for the first time in the history of the College, 91% of the 2015 cohort of engineering first year students were retained to their second year.

Goodwin, M. E. (2017, August), Using a Math Tutorial Program to Decrease the Number of Failed Grades the First Semester helping the College achieve a 91% First Year Retention Rate Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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