JACKSON, Tennessee—February 23, 2010—Professor Teri Maddox had a quandary: With nearly 25 percent of incoming freshman at Jackson State Community College—about 500 students—needing to take a developmental writing course, how could the college provide personalized instruction, while ensuring a consistent learning experience and grading across so many course sections?
It’s a common predicament on campuses across the US. As colleges and universities manage increased enrollments due to the economy, they’re also grappling with the growing demand for remediation skills courses such as writing and math. The problem is particularly acute at the nation’s community colleges, long a pillar of communities across the US.
At Jackson State Community College, where most of the 4,000 students are predominantly from rural, small-town high schools, Professor Maddox met the challenge by using an innovative online homework and tutorial system called MyWritingLab, from Pearson. MyWritingLab personalizes learning for students, with tutorials that provide immediate feedback and targeted help where each student needs it the most. Students learn at their own pace, in their own style; instructors are able to communicate privately and effectively with their students online to keep them engaged and accountable for their work.
“Individualized instruction revolutionizes the classroom,” says Professor Maddox. “Before we used MyWritingLab, I could cover perhaps 10 topics in a term—so teaching was a triage activity. If seven or eight students missed subject/verb agreement on an assessment exam, I’d have to cover it in class, wasting the time of the students who already understood the concept. Now students take a diagnostic test and each student follows an individualized learning plan, covering exactly what he or she needs to master.”
Jackson State students have achieved remarkable results with MyWritingLab, improving their writing scores by 20 percentage points, according to Anna Harrington, Writing Lab Coordinator at Jackson State CC.
“The improvement is consistent from section to section and term to term—so we know that MyWritingLab is effective and reliable,” says Ms. Harrington. “Assessments are not subjective so results do not vary among full-time and adjunct faculty. With MyWritingLab, assessments are true and consistent.”
At Jackson State, students in the both the Basic Writing and Developmental Writing courses are taught in a computer lab, meeting 2 ½ hours a week. Classes are divided in thirds: lecture/grammar, in-class writing and MyWritingLab. Students must achieve 80 percent mastery on the MyWritingLab post-test diagnostic to pass the course. Students use MyWritingLab to prepare for the grammar post-test and to study for a final writing exam, which is an essay to be written in class. MyWritingLab allows students to drill, test and re-test until they’ve mastered important grammar concepts, allowing instructors to focus class time on more sophisticated topics that only a live teacher can best cover.
“This resource is so deep,” says Professor Maddox. “I can envision using the resource in other courses and for broader applications. I expect that we’ll continue to grow into and with MyWritingLab.”
Available in a range of subjects from math and science to English, foreign languages, economics and IT training, Pearson’s MyLabs and Mastering programs have transformed learning for millions of students around the world. Demand for MyLabs and Mastering continues to grow, with more than 6 million student registrations in 2009—a 40 percent increase over 2008.
For more information, visit www.pearsonhighered.com/english.
Pearson has global-reach and market leading businesses in education, business information, and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO).
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