Research suggests that accelerated developmental math, better alignment between student goals and course content, and student-centered pedagogical practices improve students’ progress through remediation and better prepare them for college-level courses. The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) project, developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas, incorporates each of these attributes by providing accelerated developmental and college-level math pathways, which differentiate math content and instruction to fit students’ career needs. A 2015 MDRC report analyzes the development of the DCMP at nine Texas colleges. CAPR’s instruction study addresses the following questions:
- Do DCMP students have better academic outcomes than students in traditional developmental math programs? Are these outcomes mediated through changes in student engagement?
- To what degree is there fidelity to the DCMP model across colleges? What aspects of DCMP are consistent across sites? What adaptations were made and why?
- How do the curriculum and pedagogy in DCMP courses differ from the colleges’ traditional developmental math courses?
- Is DCMP cost-effective relative to business as usual?
The five-year study is conducted in collaboration with the Charles A. Dana Center and several Texas community colleges currently implementing the DCMP model.
The Study Design
The research sample will be composed of approximately 2,000 students at four to six colleges in Texas who are assessed as in need of one or two levels of developmental math. Students who agree to participate and meet the study criteria will be randomly assigned into a treatment group that enters the yearlong DCMP program or into a control group that enters the colleges’ traditional developmental and college-level math sequence. A random assignment design is ideal for this study because any differences in later outcomes can be attributed to this difference in type of developmental math course sequence.
Students will be followed for at least four semesters after their developmental math sequence assignment to learn about their subsequent performance in college. The outcomes of primary interest are completion of developmental and college-level math courses, average number of math credits earned, transfer to a four-year institution, and overall academic progress and course completion. This wide array of measures will give a more complete picture of students’ success in math, rather than of success only in passing the DCMP courses.