Overcoming fear is certainly not an official subject major at the City University of New York, Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY BMCC), but for a handful of developmental math students there, it sure felt like it. For many students, who suffer from what’s often called “math anxiety,” the fear of failing yet another math class was real. Skipping class due to math anxiety is not uncommon for college students who have histories with mathematics struggles. However, the developmental math course is an important requirement on the path to graduation and enrollment at four-year schools… and thus, passing the course is of great importance.
Cengage Learning’s Enhanced WebAssign (EWA), a cloud-based learning and feedback tool designed to promote critical thinking, automate the grading process, and provide students and instructors with real-time performance evaluations and results, has helped many of CUNY BMCC’s students navigate the rough waters mathematics can often produce.
Not only does EWA’s automated grading tool give instructors such as CUNY BMCC’s Professor Dale Dawes the time necessary to provide individualized attention to struggling students, but it also frees them to show they care deeply about students who often feel neglected.
Besides EWA’s real time analytics, which help professors identify struggling students, the tool also stimulates robust communication with struggling math students who are less likely to ask for help so as to avoid public embarrassment. The Ask My Teacher function is a conduit struggling students can use to proactively contact professors privately and get help much sooner than they might have otherwise.
Students say one of the most effective features of EWA is the real-time feedback they receive on homework assignments. Rather than handing in assignments (like before) and awaiting results, students use EWA to input the answers to math problems and know immediately whether they’re correct.
Rather than punishing students for incorrect responses, EWA allows an unlimited number of attempts at correctly answering problems. Professors now know which types of problems students are skipping, answering incorrectly, or answering correctly with ease. Not only does it allow students to work at their own pace and seek individualized attention, but it’s resulting in better test grades.
Dawes’ students credit their professor and EWA with showing them exactly what they must do to solve the types of math problems they had never been able to solve in the past. The success and confidence that resulted after implementing EWA prompted Dawes to teach other professors on campus how to use EWA to zero in on common student pain points.
The result is a newfound love for a subject students once feared. Even more importantly, the confidence to overcome a lifetime of subject-specific fear is something that’ll likely stick with these students for a long time.