The study was conducted in four community colleges in Texas. Two of the community colleges, Brookhaven and Eastfield, are single-campus schools located in suburban Dallas. El Paso Community College is a large, five-campus community college located in El Paso, a large city. Trinity Valley Community College is a small, rural community college serving five counties with three campuses. These colleges were selected in part because they had prior experience with the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP), they could scale their DCMP program, and they also had a "business as usual" developmental math program that provided a strong contrast to DCMP.
The study sample included 1,411 students who enrolled in the study over four semesters—fall 2015, spring 2016, fall 2016, and spring 2017. The intervention group included 856 students and the comparison group included 555 students. Students were 23 years old on average. The majority of students were Hispanic (54%) and female (61%). About 14% were White, 13% were Black, and race was not specified for 74% of students. Sixty-nine percent of students had enrolled in college within a year of high school graduation. Thirty-one percent had failed at least one math class in high school, and 84% of sample members placed two or more levels below college-ready in math.
The DCMP math sequence began with an accelerated developmental math course, Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning, which combined two developmental math courses into one semester-long course. This course was centered on introductory algebraic, statistics, and quantitative literacy concepts, and content was delivered in a student-centered approach where larger mathematical concepts were presented in narrative form. Moreover, course materials incorporated themes from other academic disciplines such as science and literacy. Upon successful completion of the course, students entered either a one-semester course on (1) college statistics for students majoring in social and health sciences, (2) quantitative reasoning for students majoring in the humanities or liberal arts, or (3) a two-semester path to calculus for students majoring in STEM.
Students enrolled in the comparison group completed their college’s standard developmental math sequence, which typically began with Beginning Algebra in Semester 1, followed by Intermediate Algebra in Semester 2. These courses were typically taught in a lecture style, where a higher emphasis was placed on the memorization of formulas and algorithms with little to no real-world application or problem-solving.
Support for implementation
All of the colleges had prior experience implementing DCMP. The Dana Center offered a three-day training on the DCMP curricula in three consecutive years (2013, 2014, and 2015). Nearly all of the DCMP faculty in the study had attended this training. Faculty may have attended this training well before the start of this study in fall of 2015. The Dana Center set up an online community for DCMP instructors where instructors could support one another. The Dana Center also organized in-person and virtual meetings where colleges with experience implementing DCMP could mentor and support others. Dana Center staff members visited each college to provide implementation support at least once. Faculty members had access to a mentor who was available for individual meetings.