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APSU gets grant to design math program to help new students

Austin Peay State University has been chosen by the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) and Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to receive a grant of $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to help fund a redesign of the developmental studies program (DSP) in mathematics.
Austin Peay State University has been chosen by the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) and Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to receive a grant of $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to help fund a redesign of the developmental studies program (DSP) in mathematics.

TBR received a grant of $750,000 to support a statewide redesign initiative, which requires colleges and universities to address deficiencies of entering students in math and English in a different way than they had been doing since 1984, according to Dr. Harriett McQueen, dean of enrollment management and academic support and a member of the TBR Task Force for the Redesign of Development Studies.

APSU submitted one of 28 grant applications. All applications were evaluated by NCAT, and six were chosen for funding. APSU is the only university to receive this award.

APSU's redesign initiative places students in the core mathematics course required for their majors and provides academic support that focuses on concepts covered in class as well as individual math deficiencies that would impair chances for success in the courses. In collaboration with mathematics faculty, the grant proposal was written Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, and Martin Golson, instructional specialist, Academic Support Center.

Slated to begin this fall, the APSU redesign initiative is based on the Structural Learning Assistance (SLA) model developed by Ferris State University in Michigan. APSU officials chose this model because of Ferris State's success in retaining students who enter with deficiencies in math.

The SLA model replaces the two developmental math courses with SLA workshops facilitated by students who have excelled in math and have been recommended by math faculty.

In redesigned courses, students will receive individualized computer-based instruction so they can learn to use required math skills as needed. The SLA leader will review difficult concepts covered during class. The lecture portion of the core course, combined with the workshop, is called an enhanced section or e-section. Only students previously required to enroll in developmental math will enroll in an e-section. The computer-based training in the workshops will be individualized, based on results of a test administered during the first week of classes. The individualized instruction on prerequisite course competencies uses MyMathLab as the instructional platform. MyMathLab is available from any computer with Internet access.

By new TBR policy, APSU was required to charge community college rates for DSP courses. Since the e-sections provide core mathematics credit, students will pay university rates. Estimates indicate APSU will save $56,700 per year by offering enhanced courses, plus the University will collect an additional $76,300 in tuition. These savings will be used to expand the mathematics department and enhance other areas.

The University will spend more than $233,000 to implement the redesigned course. Most of this has been funded by APSU already, so the FIPSE grant will be used to cover personnel expenses associated with implementing the redesigned courses.

McQueen says the redesign of APSU's developmental studies is expected to better serve students and improve student success and retention while also resulting in cost savings.

For more information, contact McQueen by telephone at (931) 221-6541 or by e-mail at mcqueenh@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke