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Arizona State Tries Adaptive Software for Basic Math Courses

Arizona State University will be expanding a pilot program to train college students in basic math skills using an online program that provides adaptive forms of instruction. The Tempe-based university has been trying out adaptive software in sections of a college algebra course for the past two semesters. Now Arizona State has gone public with plans to broaden that use to developmental and college-level math courses with software from Knewton.

Participating students will begin with a preliminary assessment, which will be used to develop an "Adaptive Remediation" module that offers both virtual and in-person tutoring. Knewton's technology personalizes study material each day, based on what a student has demonstrated he or she already knows and on what types of activities appear to work most effectively in helping that student learn.

Knewton's learning platform will integrate with the university's college algebra and college mathematics courses. Both courses will be offered online and in dedicated computer labs and will be made available to about 6,800 students during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Once students demonstrate college readiness in mathematics, they'll advance into instructor-led math courses. The software will continue to assess the students as they move through the entry-level courses too.

"Historically, student performance in entry-level math has been a strong predictor of academic success," said Phil Regier, executive vice provost and dean of ASU Online. "The reality is that every student learns differently. Especially for many developmental and returning students, rigorous but personalized instruction may be the boost they need to succeed academically and move beyond what can be a major barrier to graduation."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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