Computer-Based Math Remediation: Evidence from Technology-Centered Instruction in Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges
By Angela Boatman | November 2019
Under the hybrid emporium instructional model, students primarily learn content and skills at their own pace through a computer-based platform; during class time, faculty serve more as tutors facilitating individual learning rather than as traditional lecturers. This study evaluates the adoption of this technology-centered instructional model in developmental math courses at public two- and four-year colleges throughout Tennessee.
Using a difference-in-differences analytical model to exploit variations in institutions’ timelines in adopting the hybrid emporium model over nine years, the study finds that, for community college students, being assigned to a technology-centered developmental math course led to a lower pass rate in their first college-level math course, fewer credits earned over time, and a lower likelihood of earning an associate degree within six years, compared to students who were assigned to traditional developmental math courses.
At four-year colleges, the adoption of this new instructional model resulted in a higher percentage of students passing their developmental math courses and thus spending fewer terms in developmental math. However, the pass rate in the first college-level math course of students assigned to hybrid emporium developmental math was lower than that of students assigned to traditional developmental math courses. The magnitude of the effects varied by gender, age, and ACT math score.
Assigning students to a hybrid emporium developmental math course did not change the developmental math pass rate at community colleges, but the rate at four-year colleges increased by 5.4 percentage points under the model.
At community colleges, the pass rate in the first college-level course was 5.7 percentage points lower for those assigned to a hybrid emporium developmental math course rather than a traditional developmental course.
At four-year colleges, the pass rate in the first college-level course was 5.4 percentage points lower among those assigned to a hybrid emporium developmental math course rather than a traditional developmental course.
Colleges in the Study
For states and systems looking to adopt a technology-based instructional model for their developmental math courses, the results of this study speak to the importance of alignment in faculty and instructional methods across developmental and college-level courses.