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Course Assessment Report
Semester/Year: Fall 2010
Department: Mathematics
Course Title: M141/Beginning Algebra
Participants: all sections
Course-Level SLOs assessed this semester:
Students will simplify various algebraic expressions.
Students will factor polynomials.
Students will solve equations and inequalities.
Students will graph functions.
Students will solve application problems.
Method of Assessment:
All the M141 SLOs are assessed with a common final exam which is administered and graded by fellow instructors. All sections of M141 in Fall 2010 participated. The data is then collected and summarized in the attached sheets. These summaries are presented to the division as a whole, as well as to the individual instructors.
Analysis of Assessment:
A more detailed analysis is included on the attached sheet, labeled item analysis. Problems were scored on a right/wrong basis with either 1 or 0 points.
SLO 1: Simplifying algebraic expressions was tested on numerous problems on the exam simplifying rational exponents (average = 0.48), simplifying complex fractions (average = 0.34), simplifying radical expressions (average = 0.45), order of operations (average = 0.59), simplifying rational expressions (average = 0.39). Students seemed to have the most difficulty with rational expressions this semester. The division noted an ongoing difficulty with fractions in general, and the scores of the part-timers are much closer to those of the full-timers . Overall average is 0.45.
SLO2: Factoring polynomials was also tested on the final (average = 0.24). This was an unusual problem this year, and the results were lower than for last year.
SLO3: Solving equations and inequalities was tested in several problems solving a rational equation (average = 0.38), solving a radical equation (average = 0.45), solving a linear equation (average = 0.54), solving a quadratic equation (average = 0.36). Students seemed to forget to check their answers on many of the problems, resulting in a score of 0, even when most of the work had been done correctly. Overall average is 0.4325
SLO4: Graphing was tested several times on the exam graphing an absolute value inequality (average = 0.50), graphing a circle (average = 0.46), graphing a parabola (average = 0.64), graphing a linear inequality (average = 0.37). Overall average is 0.4925. This shows an improvement from last year.
SLO5: Solving applications was tested on several problems on the exam interest word problems (average = 0.45), Pythagorean Theorem (average = 0.27). Overall average is 0.36. This year the geometry word problem was more difficult and scores were lower.
Graphing was the strongest SLO in the batch. We have held work shops on this topic in recent years and will continue to monitor improvements.
Plan:
The division discussed the results at their annual retreat. Instructors who have a particularly high score in a particular area are asked to share their techniques. In order to communicate this information to the adjunct instructors, the chair meets with them individually. We also offer workshops that focus on the type of problems that give students the most difficulty usually graphing and word problems. Raising required placement scores for M141 was also discussed due to the impression that some students were placing into the class without the necessary arithmetic prerequisites.
Due to our switch to right/wrong grading, reported scores are lower than in past years where partial credit was given. Although this is not necessarily the grading that is employed by individual instructors, it is of interest pedagogically. We have discussed various methods of convincing students of the necessity of checking their answers, including a technique employed by some instructors that incorporates right/wrong grading into the quizzes/exams during the semester.
We will continue assessing M141,145,146,101,119,120 during the fall and spring semesters as long as funding for the common final continues.
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