TitleIncreasing student success in high enrollment mathematics and statistics classes Request Date2012-11-28
DepartmentMathematical Sciences
RequestorTomas Gedeon Phone4069945359
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts All programs in College of Engineering, all programs in Sciences
Proposed Dates Start: June 2013 End:  
The Department of Mathematical Sciences proposes a fundamental restructuring of four high enrollment mathematics and statistics courses with the goal of substantially improving student learning and success. 3859 students in their critical first year will be impacted; fall-to-fall retention and six year graduation rates will improve.
Proposed changes to each course will hold these principles in common:
1. Increased engagement of all students in their learning experience
2. New approaches to classroom management and content delivery
3. Teacher coaching and training
4. Early direct engagement of struggling students.
Objective L.1: Assess, and improve where needed, student learning of critical knowledge and skills.

Metric L1.2: University measures of undergraduate quantitative reasoning will be developed by 2014.
For each of the four courses under consideration, course learning outcomes, Q-core learning outcomes and schedules for their assessment are in place and were approved by the Core 2.0 Committee. The results of these assessments will be carefully scrutinized and used to make mid-course corrections to our restructuring plans.

Objective L.2: Increase graduation rates at MSU.

Metric L2.1: By 2019, the bachelorís graduation rate will increase from 51 percent to 65 percent as measured by the six-year graduation rate.
A majority of undergraduates at MSU seek degrees that require at least one of the four courses addressed in this proposal, or one of two other large courses impacted by this proposal (Precalculus and Survey of Calculus). Low pass rates in these mathematics and statistics courses directly impacts degree-completion rates.

Metric L2.4: By 2019, the first time, full time freshman fall-to-fall retention rate will increase from 74 percent to 82 percent.
Introduction to Statistics is the second highest enrolled course at MSU and is a required course for all business, nursing, biology and other majors.
College Algebra is taken by nearly 1,000 freshman each year. Increasing success from the current 58% will have profound effects on the Fall to Fall Freshman retention.
Calculus I and II are required of all engineering and physical science majors. Early first-year success in these courses and their prerequisites is therefore also critical to fall-to-fall retention rates.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       242611  73345     
Benefits       34187  11590     
Materials & Supplies         3696     
Travel         3800     
Contracted Services              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 276798  92431     
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

Budget justification

College Algebra (M 121)

One time only budget:

1.  Funding from the Provost’s Course Redesign RFP for video equipment has been awarded.  However, we will need portable white boards and possibly other props as we develop the necessary student videos discussed below.


2. Tom Hayes and Mary Ann Sojda (longtime Department non-tenure track faculty) lead the College Algebra redevelopment effort.  Two weeks summer 2013 and summer 2014 salary ($1350 for each) is requested.  Duties will include curriculum refinement, training and coaching GTA’s for Fall semester, and the statistical evaluation of the Spring 2013 pilot TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) project.

One time total salaries: 2 X $1350  x2 summers                           $5400

One time benefits 22% for NTT faculty in Summer 2013, Summer 2014:

 0.22 X ($1350) X 2             X2                                                   $1188

Total:                                                                                           $7188

Base budget

Currently, each section of M 121 enrolls approx. 45 students who are taught by a single instructor.  We propose that six GTAs be trained and coached by an experienced instructor in a TEAL classroom.  These GTAs will then be prepared to use a TEAL classroom on their own.

            6 X GTA stipends. $13,450 X 6                                     $80700

            Benefits            0.0063 X 80700                                  $508

 Total:                                                                                       $81,208




Calculus I (M 171)


One time budget

Prof. Jack Dockery will lead our M 171effort. We request a one-course buyout for Fall 2013  (1.5 month of salary) and spring 2014 (1.5 months of salary) to redesign the M171 curriculum. Prof Dockery will lead the initial implementation of the curriculum in Fall 2013. After assessment, evaluation and potential redesign of the course, he will lead a re-implementation in the Spring 2014.              

1.            Salary: 3 X $8164                                                            $24492

            Benefits: $24,492 x 0.32                                                     $7837

2.            2  Wacom Intuos5 Medium tablets at                                 $698

3.            2 Canon VIXIA HF R32 32GB HD Camcorders                     $898                                               

4.            Cost of 10 short 10 min videos                                          $1500

Total:                                                                                               $35,425

Base funding.

Annual one month summer salary is requested for a tenure track faculty member to create, refresh and redesign iMathMSU to keep up with technological and pedagogical developments.  In Summer 2013 and Summer 2014 Prof. Dockery will develop iMathMSU for M171.

Salary:                                                                                          $8164

Benefits: $8164 x 0.32                                                                    $2612

Total:                                                                                               $10,776


Calculus II (M 172)

One time only budget

Prof. Mark Pernarowski will lead our M 172 effort. Because our Department will be short multiple tenure-track faculty, the M 172 curriculum cannot be significantly restructured next year.  One month summer salary is requested so that Prof. Pernarowski can develop the M 172 iMathMSU platform.  He will serve as Calculus II Supervisor throughout next academic year without salary compensation.

Salary:                                                                                          $7303

Benefits: $7303 x 0.32                                                                   $2337

Total:                                                                                              $9,639


Introduction to Statistics (STAT 216)

Prof. Jim Robinson-Cox will lead our effort in STAT 216.  Tenure-track, non tenure track, GTA, research assistant, OTO and base budget salaries as well as travel expenses are requested.

One time only budget

1.  FY 14 GTA salary                                                                       $14450

            Benefits                                                                             $91

2.  FY 14 RA salary                                                                         $7250

            Benefits                                                                             $46

3.  FY 15 RA salary                                                                         $14450

            Benefits                                                                             $91

4. Course Supervisor travel in FY 13                                                 $3800

Total:                                                                                             $40,178

Base budget

1.  One course buyout for Prof. Jim Robison-Cox (1.5 months)

$64564 X (1/6)                                                                              $10760

Benefits 0.32 x 10760                                                                     $3443

2.  One credit Stat. Ed seminar (additional comp.)

$64564 X (1/6) X (1/3)                                                                   $3587

Benefits 0.32 x 3587                                                                       $1148

3. Salary for 4 GTAs. 4 X $14,450                                                    $57800

            Benefits                                                                             $364           

Total:                                                                                             $77,102


Note:  The major expenses for STAT 216 are related to training STAT 216 instructors to handle a new curriculum and use TEAL classrooms.  We will take full advantage of training events related to TEAL offered by the Faculty Excellence Center.  Furthermore, in Spring 2013, Prof. Robison-Cox will travel to Minnesota for training and will offer a Stat Ed training seminar to those who will be teaching the new CATALST curriculum in Fall 2013.  Also in Spring 2013 we will begin training GTAs by hiring an extra 0.5 instructor in each of four CATALST courses, which will be paid by TEAL funding from the Provost's office (not the funds requested in this proposal).  Secondly, we propose to bring two CATALST trainers to MSU from Minnesota in August 2013, just before classes begin. The third training piece, continued support of extra GTAs in CATALST classrooms is needed to ensure a continuous flow of trained instructors ready to teach CATALST in TEAL classrooms each term.  The four requested GTA positions would actually be used by different individuals each semester, providing eight trained GTAs who could lead CATALST sections in the following year.  NTT instructors would also be leading these sections, but they turn over more slowly, so training will not be a big issue.  To evaluate the success of the new curriculum, we are requesting funds for a research assistant (PhD stat graduate student) who would analyze test and compare the two curricula. 


Engagement of marginal and struggling students.

We request support for non-tenure track Student Success Coordinators (SSCs) for each of the four courses under consideration. SSCs will seek to maximize student success by direct intervention when students are falling behind, and will attend to substantial course managerial needs.  Furthermore, SSCs will typically have a long term commitment to a particular course, providing additional continuity semester to semester.

Each student success coordinator will be paid a base salary of $20,400 to provide direct intervention to struggling students in all sections of the course.  Each will deliver weekly mini-lectures on upcoming material to course GTAs and NTT instructors, frequently visiting their classrooms so as to coach and provide continuing feedback.  Each SSC will be responsible for the substantial managerial duties associated with each class, estimated to require at least twenty hours per week.  We anticipate that SSC will also teach two sections of their course each semester funded as currently through the College of Letters and Science. The request $20,400 for each student success coordinator was calculated as a cost of two sections each semester at $5,100 per section.

Base budget.

Salary: 4x $20,400                                                                         $81,600

Benefits: $81,600 x 0.32                                                                 $26,112

Total:                                                                                                $107,712


One time budget grand total:                                                         $92,430

Base budget grand total:                                                                $276,798


Describe the Proposal

The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers six courses with very high enrollment.  With 38 sections per AY, Introduction to Statistics is the second largest course at MSU.  26% of all new Freshmen and 32% of all degree recipients take this course.  27 sections of Calculus I and 19 sections of Calculus II are offered annually.  In fact, 12% of all degree recipients take Calculus I, and 10% of all degree recipients take Calculus II.  College Algebra with 29 sections is the pre-requisite for Survey of Calculus and Precalculus. 

Last year 3859 students enrolled in one of the four courses under consideration in this proposal.  Unfortunately, nearly half of them either eventually withdraw from the course, or receive ‘Ds’ or ‘Fs’.  Our faculty finds this unacceptable and this proposal aims to restructure and redevelop these courses to address this situation.

While certainly some lack of student success can be attributed to insufficient preparation prior to arrival at MSU, significant improvements can be made by learning environment redesign, and by instructional reorganization. In particular, in an ongoing national survey of calculus instruction by the Mathematical Association of America a main preliminary finding  (Bressoud 2012) is that successful Calculus students feel more engaged with their instructors, the course material, and the learning process. Therefore the overarching goal of the proposed restructuring is increased engagement of the students in our classes.

There are several obstacles that have prevented fully addressing these issues in the past.  At many top tier public institutions large classes are delivered by master teachers with subsequent recitations led by teaching assistants. Historically, we have delivered these courses in sections of 40 or more students.  A lack of sufficient tenure track faculty has lead to a system where most sections are taught by teaching assistants and non-tenure track faculty. Despite the best efforts of the faculty who supervise these classes, this fragmented delivery system results in uneven learning environments and low student success. Our proposal addresses these issues by

  • redesigning the classroom experience by employing reversed or flipped classrooms, group projects, online lectures and online grading software
  • by coaching and mentoringour teaching assistants and
  • by hiring dedicated “student success coordinators”, who will increase accountability of instructors and help marginal and struggling students succeed.



This proposal addresses four mathematics and statistics classes: M 121, College Algebra; M 171, Calculus I; M 172, Calculus II; and STAT 216, Introduction to Statistics. As mentioned, M 121 student success impacts both M 151, Precalculus and M 161, Survey of Calculus.

Increased engagement in the learning process can be encouraged through many techniques, but optimal methods depend on the particular course, and the learning experiences of the enrolled students.  College Algebra students have often had poor past experiences with mathematics and may have serious deficiencies in their mathematical background upon arrival at MSU. The Calculus I & II students are some of our most successful mathematics students and respond well to a challenging learning environment.  Lastly, Introduction to Statistics students are very diverse since this course is required of majors from across campus, from Business and Exercise Science to Nursing and Biology.  Due to these course-to-course variations, we propose different approaches for each course while keeping overall focus on student engagement, teacher coaching and reaching out to struggling students. We now summarize the proposed changes for each course and then describe them below in greater detail.

College Algebra, M 121

We propose a new instructional delivery method for College Algebra utilizing the features of the technology enhanced active learning (TEAL) classrooms. In these classrooms, we will use

  • Reversed instruction
  • Cooperative learning
  • Group presentations
  • Peer led assessment

In addition, we will train our teachers for one semester directly in the classroom and then will coach them in subsequent semesters when they are responsible for their own classrooms. Finally, the course will employ a Student Success Coordinator who will, among other things, reach out to students that are struggling and need extra help.

Calculus I & II, M 171-2

We propose to develop an online “iMathMSU platform”  that will centralize in one place a variety of learning tools.  Specially selected short online lectures, practice problems with worked solutions, each tied to individual textbook chapter subsections, and links to abundant resources on the Web will be developed.  iMathMSU will then provide a platform upon which course instructors can revise their classroom learning environments by employing

  • Reversed instruction or “flipped classrooms”
  • Cooperative learning
  • Web videos wherein engineering, business, science and other faculty from across campus discuss the value of mathematics to their disciplines.

To increase the quality and consistency of instruction, we must better coach our instructors. We will use video capture of our instructors and live weekly mini-lectures for the purpose of coaching and training. As mentioned, the Student Success Coordinators will be directly involved in instructor coaching, and will intervene directly with struggling students.  The tenure-track Course Supervisor (CS) will oversee course content and quality, write common hour exams, manage course instructors, and direct textbook selection.  For these duties the CS will not be reimbursed. 

Introduction to Statistics, STAT 216  

We have started experimenting with a new CATALST curriculum, developed at University of Minnesota, which uses high interest practical problems, group work, and computer simulations to develop intuitive understanding of key statistical concepts. Because of highly encouraging preliminary results, we propose to expand this approach to ten sections in Fall 2013 and to all sections in Fall 2014. This new curriculum focuses on student engagement and allows them to construct their own foundational understanding of complex statistical concepts.

The new curriculum will require training of teaching assistant and NTT faculty in the new curriculum, which will be accomplished by in-class participation for one semester prior assuming their teaching responsibility. Further, an ongoing teaching seminar will provide ongoing coaching.

SSCs will be responsible for identifying and reaching out to vulnerable students and will share the responsibility of managing the course.

Engaging the vulnerable students

Substantially decreasing the failure rate in entry level mathematics and statistics courses requires a multifaceted approach. To decrease DFW rates from 40% to 30% requires that we find ways to turn around one quarter of the students who are now having difficulty succeeding in these courses.

While we propose approaches to increase student engagement which depend on type of the students and material, all our approaches share the vision of increased responsibility of the instructors, as well as instructor training and coaching. We have preliminary data that indicate that the instructor training may be the most important factor in increased student retention. In College Algebra the average undergraduate success rate over the last three semesters was 55% in classes led by a graduate teaching assistant, but rose to 64% in classes led by a non-tenure track faculty member. The principal difference is that the non-tenure track faculty are more experienced and usually have taught the class previously. This suggests that training and coaching of teaching assistants before and during the semester may bring a substantial increase in the success rate. Our second piece of a data comes from STAT 216 where in Fall 2011 we hired a non-tenure track coordinator dedicated to this course who acts as a first contact for students in need and also runs a weekly coaching session with each GTA. Although our preliminary data are limited to one semester, the DFW rate dropped from 42%-48%, where it hovered for years, to 31%.

The Roles of the Course Supervisor and Student Success Coordinators

Building upon these successes, the key pillar of our plan to increase student success in our classes is to put into place a dedicated two-person course leadership team for each class.  Each of the four designated multi-section courses will be headed by a tenure-track Course Supervisor (CS), who will guide learning environment transformations and be responsible for course content and quality, and by a Student Success Coordinator (SSC) who will maximize student success by direct intervention when students are falling behind, and will attend to substantial course managerial needs.  In multi-course sections with hundreds of students (many of whom are on campus for the first time), course management and administration can require hundreds of hours of one-on-one communication with students.  Students drift away from classes, have special exam rescheduling needs, or simply fall through the cracks.  The SSC will ensure that these students have the possibility to right their ships before it is too late.  Furthermore, each SSC will typically have a long term commitment to a particular course, providing additional continuity from semester to semester.  In return, it is our goal to offer multi-year contracts to SSCs to ensure their long term commitment to these courses.  In summary, Student Success Coordinators will

  • frequently observe classes and provide individual feedback to instructors to improve their learning environments
  • help run coaching and training sections for all instructors
  • monitor students and identify those having trouble before it's too late for them to recover
  • act as a contact for students needing to add, drop or change sections, or who have exam conflict issues
  • teach multiple sections of the course (funded through the regular Department budget)


Detailed description of proposed activities

Below are detailed plans for novel delivery of our classes in 2013-2014, and beyond. Further expansion will be contingent on our assessment of its success and continuing support from MSU.

M 121, College Algebra

We propose a new instructional delivery method for College Algebra utilizing the features of the Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classrooms. Our proposed redesign features include:

Reversed Instruction:  Students will listen to instructional videos outside of class.  There are several videos, animations, and PowerPoint lectures currently available through the multimedia libraries available with our current eText publisher.  We will supplement these with our own instructional videos as well as others already available through KhanAcademy, MathTube, etc.  Students will be instructed to complete active listening notes as they use these resources.

Cooperative learning: During scheduled class meetings, students will work in groups to complete problem sets based on the concepts presented in the videos. It will be beneficial for students to complete these in groups since they will undoubtedly discuss the best solution strategy.  We will also develop and/or search for additional activities which ask students to analyze, model, and solve problems with meaningful contexts.

Group presentations:  Within the TEAL classrooms, groups will be asked to display their solutions to the entire class and lead a discussion based on their solution.  Instructors will also be able to use certain group's questions and difficulties to promote the learning process.


Peer led Assessment:  Student groups will be graded on problem sets with the whole group receiving the same grade.  To insure individual accountability, students will complete mid-term exams and a comprehensive final during scheduled common-hour times.   


Instructor coaching:  All instructors will be trained in the TEAL classroom for a semester by co-teaching the class with an experienced teacher. After they assume responsibility for their own class they will be monitored by the class supervisor and/or student success coordinator. The best practices will be shared at weakly meetings of the instructors.



 M171, Calculus I


This is a flagship sequence of courses which provide bedrock skills on which future engineers and scientists build their careers.  Therefore we must not only increase the retention and the completion rate in our Calculus sequence, we must enhance fundamental skill acquisition by those who pass through our classes. Calculus I has been steadily growing as MSU grows.  In Fall 2012, 903 students took M 171, 18% more than in Fall 2011. Over the same period there has been an increase in the number of sections offered from 15 sections in Fall 2011, with enrollment caps of 38 students, to 17 sections in Fall 2012 with caps set for the majority of the sections at 43 students. The majority of the students enrolled in this course are from the College of Engineering (Fall 2011: 74% of declared majors, Fall 2012: 76% of the declared majors).  If one includes the Physics majors one finds it is closer to 79%.

At present this course is taught in “small” sections (<44), mainly by GTA's who have full responsibility for the daily classroom environment.  While there are common-hour exams and a syllabus the mode of delivery is left for the most part up to each instructor.  With this many sections taught by so many different teachers with widely varying experience, there are inevitably inconsistencies in the delivery of the material.  Many engineering students who are not successful in calculus classes complain that they could not see the relevance of calculus to their engineering career.  To remedy this situation, we solicited a number of engineering faculty members and excellent educators  (J. Heys, A. Richards from Chemical and Biological Engineering,  S. Codd and R. June from Mechanical Engineering and R. Snider from Electrical Engineering) who agreed to film short videos illustrating how they use calculus in their everyday work.

The main features of our Calculus I redesign are:

Multi Media resources: As part of the iMathMSU platform, we will archive and develop multimedia resources to be used both in the classroom and outside of class by the students and instructors. This material will be aligned with the curriculum and will support the instructors whom often have varied experience.  We will develop a library of “how to” media that is appropriate for M 171, some of which we will obtain through repositories like, the Khan Academy, and MathTV. We will screen for content appropriate for our course.  Much available material on the Web is mathematically incorrect and confusing for the astute learner.  Some material that some instructors would rate very highly is not at a level appropriate for our students. Screening must be done by an experienced teacher who is an applied mathematician.


We will develop some of the mutli-media how to's locally using tools like Camtasia Relay, ScreenFlow,  and Smart pens.  Pencasts are very useful for difficult multistep problems. With many sections of a course, there are always a few times when an instructor becomes stuck on a difficult problem and has to revisit it.

With Pencasts available for the more difficult problems, new instructors to the course can learn the correct solution techniques and we will have a more consistent delivery of material.  Via iMathMSU, we can make them available to students who can replay these as many times as needed to gain an understanding of the solution process.


For M 171 the multi-media will be linked to the syllabus and the students will be able to provide feedback on the Pencasts and short lecture casts via the feedback capability in D2L. They can rate the topics on a five-star scale and leave comments.  We will use this information to assess the lecture casts and Pencasts and update them if needed.


Similar iMathMSU multi-media content will be developed by the Calculus II Course Supervisor next year with the long range goal to expand the iMathMSU platform to all entry level mathematics and statistics courses


Reversed Instruction:  Students will be assigned to watch to instructional lecture-casts and pen-casts outside of class, some before class as preparation for the in class activities.  They will be required to do pre-classroom homework assignments over the basic material.  Webwork will be used, as it is now for online homework. This system is very flexible and allows the students to check her/his work with immediate feed back.


Student engagement in cooperative learning: Class time will be spent on the more difficult concepts and problem solving via cooperative learning supplemented by lecture where necessary.  Post-classroom assignments will cover the more difficult concepts and applied problems.


Instructor coaching:The variety of instructor experience and background creates inconsistencies in classroom management as well as in lectures, so coaching is needed.  At present, course supervisors try to visit each class several times per semester but with the growing number of sections and decreased numbers of Department tenure track faculty, this has become very difficult to do. We propose to video capture our instructors to allow improved coaching and assessment.  For this we propose to purchase several camcorders, have the instructor start them and let them run during class.  This way the course supervisor can view and review classroom sessions at any future time in private or with the instructor. Some of these lecture casts may also be incorporated into iMathMSU.



STAT 216, Introduction to Statistics

To increase student engagement, we will implement and carry out a comparative experiment focused on a new curriculum for introductory statistics. CATALST (Change Agents for Teaching and Learning Statistics) hasrecently been developed by statistics educators at the University of Minnesota under NSF funding (  In contrast to the usual lecture delivery method, CATALST students spend most of the class meeting time working in groups on interesting problems.  For example, the first session explores the concept of randomness by asking, "What rules allow us to judge that a playlist of songs is not in random order?"  Students work in small groups using computer simulation and visualization, actively engage in discussions, and construct their own conceptual understanding of statistics from the ground up.  The formulas which play too prominent a role in the typical introduction to statistics course are shown to CATALST students only as shortcuts near the end of the course after the concepts of p-value and confidence interval have been firmly established through use of randomization tests and bootstrapping.

Instructors should observe CATALST courses being taught first hand and should work as an assistant under a previously trained teacher before attempting to lead their own section. We propose to formalize this training by appointing future teachers of the course as assistants (GTAs) to two sections per semester.  The assistants will help facilitate group discussions and will grade homework's, while simultaneously learning content and pedagogy.  This will increase the per-section cost because our current TAs and NTTs are responsible for their own lecture section (with little formal training).

To improve statistical knowledge and pedagogical skills, we will offer a one credit seminar course for our graduate students slated to teach STAT 216 the following year.  This course will strengthen their understanding of fundamental concepts of statistical inference and introduce pedagogy and best practices for the new curriculum.

In August 2013, we have been funded by the Provost's office to bring in a  CATALST researcher or associate from the University of Minnesota for three days of training in the software and pedagogy just before classes begin, as a teaching ``bootcamp.''  Staffing is always a bit uncertain due to fluctuating enrollments and the `extra section' budget, so this will allow new NTT faculty to be trained in the new pedagogy and will sharpen the teaching skills of those who took the spring seminar.

Instructors will continue to need close supervision by the Course Supervisor who is highly trained in statistical inference and familiar with the CATALST curriculum.  We prefer a coordinator with a Ph.D. in Statistics or Statistics Education for this position.  We are currently searching for two tenure track statisticians, and would be delighted if we could hire one statistics educator.  If we are not able to hire such a person, Dr. Jim Robison-Cox has agreed to supervise the course for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014.  In either case, there will be substantial work to do as we make the transition to the new curriculum and implement a formal comparison of the new and current curricula.  Therefore a tenure track course buyout is required.

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

The four courses covered in this proposal enroll almost four thousand students every year, which is almost 25% percent of all undergraduate students. These four courses provide a foundation for quantitative education on campus in the sciences, engineering, business and beyond.  Unfortunately, these courses also have high DFW failure rates.  Increasing the passing rate will have a significant impact on campus retention efforts, the six-year graduation rate and ultimately, on undergraduate student education loan indebtedness

Development of iMathMSU will allow us to reach out to the Montana high school community in a more direct way than ever before. By accessing our online materials mathematics teachers across Montana will be able to better calibrate their classes to the requirements of our courses.  In the long run, this connection promises to provide better prepared students to MSU which may improve our retention even more than our efforts in the classroom.

The long term sustainability of these efforts is crucial to the success of MSU students. No Land Grant institution can afford to teach entry level mathematics and statistics classes solely with tenure-track faculty. In the absence of sufficient numbers of large classrooms on campus the only solution is to have dedicated non-tenure track faculty who, in tandem with tenure track faculty, take leadership and provide sustainability of these courses.  In addition, MSU needs a sufficient number of qualified tenure track faculty to coach and train instructors in these classes, but also attract highly qualified graduate students who then serve as independent GTAs. This interlocking and delicate construction requires sustained investment in both tenure track and non-tenure track faculty.

Implementation Plan

 Implementation Plan: Please click here for complete timeline table.



Assessment Plan

Our fundamental goal is to improve student learning by a combination of innovative classroom techniques, training and coaching of the instructors, and an outreach to vulnerable students.

Therefore the fundamental metric of the success of this restructure plan will be a decreased DFW rate in the four courses under revision.

However, since each course serves a different population of students, we must assess learning outcomes differently in different courses.  In addition, we will assess which aspects of our revisions work and which do not and subsequently adapt our approach accordingly.


College Algebra

  • During Spring 2013 we will have students in three pilot TEAL sections completing the same comprehensive final exams as students in the other ten sections taught in the traditional lecture delivery mode.  Quantitative assessment of student success rates can be made at that time by simply comparing the three TEAL sections performance with the ten traditional sections.
  • A qualitative assessment of student's satisfaction and attitude towards the TEAL classroom environment compared to students in the traditional classroom environment will also be conducted.  
  • If Fall 2013 assessment results show a positive improvement in student success and satisfaction, a more robust assessment involving Mathematics Education and Statistics GTAs will be planned for further implementation during Spring 2013.
  • Similar assessments will be conducted in subsequent semesters as the program is implemented on a larger scale and more sections have been delivered in the TEAL classrooms.  This assessment will include both student success rates and student satisfaction surveys. 
  • The training and coaching of new GTAs will also be evaluated through classroom observations as well as individual meetings.  GTA satisfaction with this classroom experience as opposed to independent classroom teaching will be assessed.      



Calculus I & II


  • Initial assessments will address student utilization of the online iMath MSU resources. Surveys will be conducted during the semester to determine which resources the students used the most: video theory lectures, videos of solved problems, automated interactive sites, textbook sites, traditional review sheets. Each resource will have a Facebook like up-vote and down-vote sign in addition to a box where student can post verbal comments on how that resource can be improved. Web page counters will provide broad utilization data.


  • Student utilization surveys will drive the initial site development. Site resources that students use often will be promoted as the site evolves.


  • To assess the success of the course redesign, in addition to DFW rates we will record attendance, completion rates and final grades and compare these to AY12-13 results.


  • We will interview student advisors in engineering and science departments to solicit their views on quality and preparedness of our students.



Introduction to Statistics

  • The CATALST materials have been tested at UMN and several other institutions and comparisons have been made between four sections of CATALST students and a historical control group from various colleges and universities (Garfield, J.,R. delMas, and  A. Zieffler  (2012) Developing statistical modelers and thinkers in an introductory, tertiary-level statistics course. ZDM).
  • We propose to use the previously validated comprehensive assessment of outcomes in statistics (CAOS) (delMas, R., Garfield, J.,  Ooms, A., and Chance, B. (2007). Assessing students’ conceptual understanding after a first course in statistics. Statistics Education Research Journal, 6(2), 28–58)  test (or a similar validated instrument) to compare MSU students taking the CATALST course with those in the regular Stat 216.
  • As secondary measures, we will record attendance, completion rates, and final grades of the two groups.
  • The budget covers the stipend of a PhD graduate statistics student who will analyze the data. The student will also analyze data from Student Success Coordinators on their contacts with vulnerable students and the success rate of different interventions. This analysis will identify the best practices which will be then be widely adopted.


In all classes we will keep detailed records of how many marginal and struggling students were identified by SSCs, what changes were suggested, response of the students and whether the intervention was successful.  By statistical analysis of these records we will learn and adapt the best intervention strategies for vulnerable students.


If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

The four courses targeted in this proposal touch almost 4000 students each year. We cannot fail these students by not improving their educational experience and by not giving them every chance we can to succeed.  We fully anticipate that our redesign will work and will increase retention in our classes. However, we know that not every part of our extensive set of plans will work equally well.  We will assess all parts of our plan, expand those that work and redesign and reconfigure those that do not.  As technology progresses and changes the landscape of higher education, we must be nimble and be constantly on the lookout for possible improvements.

Lastly, in the same way that we do not anticipate that our proposal will be the last word in mathematics and statistics education at MSU, we do not think that these are the last courses that will be subject to substantial redesign. We plan to implement the positive outcomes of this proposal in other large enrollment classes, in particular M151, Precalculus and M16, Survey of Calculus in the future.

Department Head: Ken Bowers (
Dean/Director: Paula Lutz (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (