Using Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles and Interdisciplinary Conversations to Transform Introductory Mathematics Courses

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Collaborative partnership, College Algebra, modified emporium model, plan-do-study-act cycles

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We describe how faculty and staff used improvement science design Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles and engaged in interdisciplinary conversations in an effort to improve students’ performance in introductory mathematics courses. This initiative started with College Algebra a course with a large enrollment of students that had a high failure rate. We engaged in PDSA cycles over a period of 4 years. From 2011–2015, we used data from student assessment scores, course evaluations, lab surveys, and instructors’ observations to inform decisions to transform introductory mathematics courses. The transformative efforts positively enhanced students’ performance. Furthermore, to reflect on our PDSA cycles and the broader implications of institutionalized change to mathematics courses, we engaged in frequent interdisciplinary conversations to discuss complexities and challenges. These meetings provided an opportunity to build a common vision about the nature and delivery of the mathematics taught to better serve students The themes of the conversations were on curriculum, assessment, instruction, the complexities of the change process, cultivating a growth mindset, and the need to engage in research in general education mathematics courses. Therefore, in this article we provide insights as to how interdisciplinary conversations were used to implement evidence-based teaching practices and also pedagogical approaches that can be used to facilitate students learning.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

PRIMUS, v. 29, issue 8, p. 881-902