(Mis)Measuring Developmental Math Success: Classroom Participants’ Perspectives on Learning

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Cox, R. D., & Dougherty, M. D. (2018). (Mis)measuring developmental math success: Classroom participants’ perspectives on learning.  Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/10668926.2018.1456378

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Poor completion outcomes in community colleges’ developmental education programs have spurred reforms in developmental education policies and practices in order to increase students’ chances of success. In the case of developmental math, the focus of this article, such changes include revisions to testing and placement policies, amendments to the intended curriculum, and restructuring of the format and sequencing of courses. However, the measures that have highlighted the inadequacies of developmental math are, in themselves, insufficient for assessing the effectiveness of reforms to developmental math. Drawing on interview data from a classroom-level study of a community college’s pilot reform initiative in developmental math, we explore the learning goals articulated by the instructors and a sample of students across four pre-algebra classrooms. Through our analysis of their goals, as well as the extent to which students reported accomplishing those goals, our research underscores the important distinction between course completion and learning. This study highlights the need to assess the effectiveness of developmental math coursework in ways that extend beyond completion rates. 


The full text of this paper will be available in October 2019 due to the embargo policies of Community College Journal of Research. Contact summit@sfu.ca to enquire if the full text of the accepted manuscript can be made available to you.

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