Improved NAU Student Success in Subsequent Courses After Math Emporium

Last week I published three e-Literate TV episodes on Northern Arizona University and their suite of initiatives aimed at helping first-year (and often first-generation) students. In those videos, NAU staff made some interesting claims, in particular that they are seeing improved student performance in subsequent courses after students take one of their modified emporium math courses in the Lumberjack Mathematics Center.

(YouTube playlist: http://bit.ly/etv_NAU)

(Video source specific claim: http://bit.ly/NAU_SMCclaim)

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Northern Arizona University: Modified math emporium for first-year students

In episode 1 of our e-Literate TV case study on Northern Arizona University, we gave a broad overview of the suite of initiatives (primarily) targeted at helping first-year students amidst the tensions coming from growing enrollments.[1] In episode 2 we covered their advising and student support, including work with IPASS initiative. In this episode we look at their modified math emporium approach leveraging the Lumberjack Mathematics Center.

Math emporia have a mixed reputation, occasionally described as “the place where all the non-math majors are generally sent to virtually teach themselves subjects” or that “we’ve outsourced jobs for professors to a bunch of students on hourly wage”. Yet studies have shown positive results in many cases. Just saying there is an emporium approach doesn’t tell you much – some are run well with plenty of support for students, and some leave students on their own with poor support. So it is useful to see a specific case. How has NAU implemented a math emporium approach, what does it look like, what support is provided, and what are the results? NAU has implemented a modified emporium, and they have invested in a new facility to support this model.

(Video source: https://youtu.be/A1GLmGri1So)

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  1. Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. []
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Winter Is Here: EdTech investments and M&A dropped significantly in 2016

With the long-term rise in Ed Tech investments – starting in roughly 2007 – many analysts have been predicting a fall for several years. Maybe not a bubble burst like we saw in 2001, but a real drop in activity and volume. Now we also find out that there is also a 70% drop in mergers and acquisition values for the education industry according to a new analysis by the investment bankers Berkery Noyes.

Throughout 2016 we had plenty of signs that the change was finally here. I got into the act in response to a ludicrous TechCrunch article that concluded that Ed Tech was “2017’s big, untapped and safe investor opportunity”. By the end of the year, there were several reports that investment (venture capital, private equity) had definitely gone down in 2016. Audrey Watters reported “The total dollars invested in 2016 are off by about $2 billion from this time last year”. EdSurge reported a drop of 31%. CB Insights reported a drop of 32% (based on estimates for Q4). Continue reading

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Northern Arizona University: Their work in student support and IPASS initiative

In episode 1 of our e-Literate TV case study on Northern Arizona University, we gave a broad overview of the suite of initiatives (primarily) targeted at helping first-year students amidst the tensions coming from growing enrollments.[1] In this episode we look outside of the classroom to see how they’re approach advising and student support.

As we mentioned yesterday, NAU has a rapidly growing enrollment and has a large percentage of students (more than 40% of incoming freshman) that are first-generation. These students do not have a long-history of academic success, and they typically do not have a family support system in place to help them understand what to expect in college and how to succeed. First-generation students tend to come from lower-income families and have a greater tendency to work 20+ hours per week on top of their college studies. We even documented last year how first-generation students tend to spend more on textbooks. Simply put, for schools attracting high percentages of first-generation students, there is an even greater need to provide support and advising structures in place to help them acclimate to college life and studying requirements. And even guidance on how to manage their degree and career plans.

This is the context to understand the challenges NAU faces as they have changed their approach to advising and student support.

(Video source: https://youtu.be/0uuogTI_IRY)

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  1. Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. []
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Northern Arizona University: A suite of initiatives to help first and second-year students

As part of our e-Literate TV series of case studies, we had a chance this fall to interview faculty and staff at Northern Arizona University about, well, a lot of stuff.[1] Rather than highlighting a specific program or course redesign, NAU has invested in and implemented a suite of initiatives focused on improving student learning and success by rethinking the experience of (mostly) first-year students.

The core challenge NAU faces is to make these student-facing changes while facing growing enrollment, particularly for full-time undergraduate students.

enrollment-growth-level
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  1. Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. []
Posted in Higher Education, Notable Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments