Math is one of the toughest courses students encounter in college. It can become a barrier to degree completion as they struggle with math anxiety, time management and access to quality resources. Fisher College in Boston is helping students overcome this obstacle through an intensive developmental math boot camp that improves confidence and outcomes, while saving students money.

Since running the first pilot study in January 2016, nearly all of the students who have gone through the boot camp have passed the program, allowing them to move into a credit bearing class. The customized program uses Cengage’s WebAssign digital courseware, along with support and supervision from tutors, to better serve the 65 percent of incoming Fisher College students who place into a developmental math course.

“Success in developmental courses is key to building the confidence and momentum necessary to thrive in higher education learning environments,” explained Willem Wallinga, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Academic Administrator at Fisher College. “We launched the initiative after identifying a subset of students who were struggling to pass developmental math. In some cases, students had taken the class multiple times without passing, which can significantly delay degree completion.”

To address this issue, Wallinga used WebAssign to create customized digital modules based on course learning objectives to prepare students for college level math. Supervision, technical support and teaching expertise were provided by professional tutors. Ninety-five percent of students who have enrolled have successfully completed the program.

In addition to developmental courses, WebAssign is currently used in every math class at Fisher College. Students purchase their digital materials as part of their course registration and receive access on day one of classes, which improves outcomes and significantly reduces costs for students. The Fisher College team is currently scaling and expanding the boot camp to address the needs of developmental math students prior to the start of the school year, which enables them to enroll into a credit bearing course at the beginning of their academic experience.

The school was recently presented with the 2016 Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Digital Learning Innovation Award in the Faculty-Led Team category. The Award recognizes faculty-led teams and institutions for advancing undergraduate student success through the adoption of digital courseware.