ACCelerator math course enrollment grows 43 percent & boosts success

Austin Community College’s newly redesigned developmental math course is showing promising results – providing a pathway to success in an area that presents the biggest challenge for college students across the country.

“About 40 percent of students entering community colleges aren’t prepared for college-level math,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “They frequently struggle through years of developmental courses that don’t result in college credit, and many drop out of college altogether. We’re working to reverse that trend by increasing persistence and completion on a grand scale.”

That change is happening in ACC’s Highland Campus ACCelerator – the nation’s largest learning lab, with 600+ computer stations for individualized learning. ACCelerator offers MATD 0421 (Developmental Math), which allows students to master math skills at their own pace. The course uses an adaptive learning system called ALEKS, which creates a personalized lesson plan tailored to each student’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Students work with faculty, tutors, and academic coaches during class and open lab time. They also can work from home or complete assignments on their mobile device—anywhere they have Internet access.

“It’s truly revolutionizing how our students learn.”

“It’s truly revolutionizing how our students learn,” says Dr. Constance Elko, ACC math department chair. “We have had students who completed the entire developmental mathematics sequence of three courses in a single semester. Alternately, students can work at a slower pace if necessary, and when a new semester begins, they are able to bypass skill sets they have already mastered.”

The new approach clearly resonates with students. Enrollments for MATD 0421 are up nearly 43 percent, from approximately 700 students in the inaugural fall 2014 semester to nearly 1,000 in spring 2015. The withdrawal rate is roughly half the rate for traditional developmental courses. And, by the end of the first semester, almost 40-percent of the students had completed half of the ALEKS modules, with two percent completing all 12 modules.

“It saves me time and money,” says Jillian Roberts, a MATD 0421 student. “I got through the equivalent of two courses in fall. Now I’m returning for spring, and I’m picking up right where I left off. I don’t have to start over.”

“I’ve always been terrible at math. I was scared to start again,” says Alex Villatoro, a MATD 0421 student who returned to school after serving in the military. “I didn’t want to be the guy in class who was holding up everyone else because I was asking a question that the rest of the group understood. The way this class works, I didn’t have to be that guy.”

More than 90 percent of students say they would recommend the course to a friend, and the vast majority of students who took MATD 0421 in the fall signed up to continue working in the same course structure in the spring. The results support the idea that effective integration of technology with active learning and personalized interactions with faculty results in students who are more likely to persist to their goals.

“Perhaps what is most exciting is that as students succeed in math, they see that they can succeed in other areas,” says Rhodes. “They become more confident and engaged in the learning process. What we are doing in MATD 0421 will ultimately translate to more students earning the credentials they need to succeed in the workforce.”

Visit the MATD 0421 webpage to learn more about the course at

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