Innovations across the NIC: MSC’s Redesign of Math Placement into Quantway
Making Statway and Quantway available to more students has been challenging for many NIC institutions. Some NIC institutions have struggled to identify the student population that would be best served by Pathways courses and fill Pathways courses with sufficient numbers of students.
For these reasons, we want to share the story of the Morrisville State College (MSC) team, headed by faculty members Jennifer Eddy and Brenda Oursler White. Over the past year, this team redesigned their placement structures in order to better identify and place appropriate students into Quantway.
This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we will share innovations NIC members have introduced in their classrooms or institutions to improve student success and increase enrollment in Statway and Quantway.
At MSC, students are placed in the appropriate math pathway based on prior performance in mathematics, including final exam grades and SAT or ACT scores, and performance on MSC’s math placement test. However, MSC’s placement test was designed to place students into traditional algebra courses, not Quantway. Additionally, despite meetings with the MSC team, advisors did not feel sufficiently informed about Quantway, and not advising students to take Quantway. The combination of these two factors contributed to low Quantway student enrollment in the weeks leading up to the start of the fall semester.
MSC’s Innovation in Placement
The MSC team made the following changes to advising and placement to address low Quantway student enrollment:
- The MSC team identified which students were appropriate for Quantway: They worked with computer services personnel to generate a report from the district-level database that would identify potential Quantway students based on two main criteria: 1) if they had the appropriate non-STEM major, that required only Elementary Algebra or another SUNY Gen Ed Requirement, and 2) if they had appropriate test scores. The MSC team was looking for students with strong arithmetic test scores given Quantway’s emphasis on quantitative reasoning instead of algebra. The MSC team then compared the recommended placements between students’ historical math performance and MSC’s math placement test to decide on the most appropriate math placement.
- The MSC team engaged with deans to place the appropriate students in Quantway: They sent the list of students recommended for placement in Quantway to the school deans for approval, who directly informed the students about their Quantway placement. The MSC team had previously met with many of these deans about Quantway, emphasizing how Quantway improved course completion rates and saved students’ time and money by reducing course failures. The Associate Dean for the School of Nursing was very supportive of Quantway because she believed that the contextualized courses were relevant to the interests and career goals of nursing students.
- The MSC team engaged with advisors to place appropriate students into Quantway: They reviewed their lists of incoming students from their traditional developmental courses and consulted students’ advisors to identify appropriate students for Quantway. By consulting advisors about placement, the MSC team kept advisors informed and increased advisor awareness about Quantway.
MSC filled their Quantway section with 13 students by identifying which students would be best suited for Quantway based on math course-taking history, and making placement into Quantway mandatory for certain majors and placement scores. This is MSC’s first year in the NIC, so we look forward to hearing more about MSC’s journey and learnings implementing Quantway. In the upcoming year, the MSC team plans to scale up Quantway and train the rest of the math department to identify appropriate students for Quantway.
The Morrisville case study provides an example for NIC institutions looking to offer Quantway or Statway to more students. Increasing numbers of NIC institutions are making Quantway placement mandatory for the appropriate students, and maintaining remarkable Quantway success rates that is nearly double traditional developmental success rates, even as class sizes increase.