A Strategic Approach
Using adaptive learning software, Georgia State has changed outcomes for introductory classes that were once barriers to student success.
How It Works
Several years ago, the university began to redesign all introductory math courses—Pre-Calculus, College Algebra and Elementary Statistics—using adaptive learning. Before the redesign, drop, fail and withdrawal rates in the courses regularly topped 40 percent. The non-pass rate in College Algebra averaged 45 percent in 2007. After failing once, students would have to retake the course, often picking up another D or F. Hundreds of students were losing their scholarships and dropping out because of this one requirement. Georgia State no longer offers traditional lecture sections of any of these math courses. Students attend class as a group with instructors in one of several computer labs dedicated exclusively to these classes 24/7. Each student sits at an individual terminal working on the same chapter of material using adaptive learning programs and receives personal feedback throughout each class.
Under this “flipped” classroom model, non-pass rates across the three math courses have dropped from an average of 31 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014, with the number down 15 percentage points (33 percent) for Pre-Calculus. All 8,000+ seats of introductory math Georgia State offered last year were delivered in this adaptive format, meaning hundreds of additional students are passing their math requirement in their first attempt than was the case eight years ago. The gains from this approach have been strongest for students who are part of at-risk populations.
To continue with this success, additional candidates for conversion to adaptive-learning courseware and delivery have been identified. Deploying adaptive courseware in five gateway courses in Economics, Political Science and Psychology, the project has the potential to make a significant and sustainable impact on retention and graduation rates, particularly for high-risk populations (black, Hispanic, Pell eligible, first-generation and adult learners). Based on an approach that is data-driven and collaborative, the initiative supports faculty members in the targeted departments as they explore, pilot, refine and scale adaptive learning courseware across all sections of the identified courses—with more than 15,000 seats annually. This systematic approach will be complemented and supported by the development of a faculty learning community aided through monthly brown-bag seminars and an ongoing speaker series on adaptive and personalized approaches to teaching and learning.
The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which provides support for pedagogical and technological innovation, has made adaptive learning a top priority. By using a data-based process to build faculty collaboration and buy-in across the five identified high-impact courses, Georgia State can build a sustainable model that will improve outcomes for thousands of students.