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Equitable Courseware

Lumen Learning Partners with Digital Promise to Measure Effectiveness in Statistics Course Pilot

New equity-centered courseware from open education company Lumen Learning is now in the pilot stage at several colleges and universities. The initiative, announced early last year, set out to design course materials for Introduction to Statistics that would eliminate race and income as predictors of student success; Lumen has partnered with ed tech research organization Digital Promise to track its progress.

Lumen received a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant (part of the foundation's Postsecondary Success strategy) in April 2022 to revamp "gateway" courses and help improve student outcomes, especially for Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, and low income students. Introduction to Statistics was chosen for its typical high failure and dropout rates by minority and underserved students. Lumen's digital course design will be evaluated by Digital Promise on teaching practices, student experiences, and student outcomes. Analysis methods will employ "classroom observations, instructor questionnaires, student interviews and surveys, a statistics concepts assessment, and course grade data," according to a release.

While Digital Promise began its statistics course data collection earlier in the academic year, evaluation of Lumen's own offering has begun spring semester 2023, starting with SUNY Empire State College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, SUNY Old Westbury, and SUNY Onondaga Community College, and will continue with more institutions in the fall of 2023. Lumen has said it will also conduct its own internal research.

Lumen has established on-campus user student testing centers to work with its target student demographic at SUNY's Rockland Community College and Santa Ana College in California. Other Lumen partnerships include Howard University's Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Assessment (CETLA) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). Lumen also partnered with AI-driven online education community company InScribe to integrate a digital community platform into its courseware to help students connect with peers and faculty for learning support.

Digital Promise will launch a large-scale, randomized, controlled trial in the fall 2024 semester to evaluate the impact of those teaching practices that maximize the courseware's effectiveness. David Wiley, Lumen's co-founder and chief teaching and learning officer, praised Digital Promise's "unparalleled expertise in delivering insightful research results."

"Collaborating with Digital Promise will allow us to assess student experience and outcomes in our Introduction to Statistics courseware with incredible rigor," he said.

Specifically, Digital Promise's statistics course evaluation will look at strategies teachers can and do use outside of the courseware itself to help students succeed within it. Sophia Georgiakaki, mathematics professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College and lead of the college's introductory statistics course redesign, said her faculty is totally on board with the project.

"Mathematics has been a challenge for our students, and our faculty is very interested in new technology and pedagogy that will help us increase success in our courses," she said. "Our mathematics department in its entirety is committed to investigating ways that we can make a difference in students' experience with mathematics at the college level."

To read an in-depth interview on their thinking and approach to teaching and courseware strategies to improve equity and student success, see "7 Questions with Lumen Learning Founders Kim Thanos and David Wiley."

Listen to the Campus Technology Insider podcast interview with Thanos and Dr. Morris Thomas, assistant provost for digital and online learning and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Assessment at Howard University: "Reimagining Courseware from an Equity-First Perspective."

For more information about Lumen Learning's digital courses and online faculty professional development community, visit its Courseware page.

To learn more about what Digital Promise does, visit its Our Work page.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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