An Elective Mathematics Readiness Initiative for STEM Students

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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This paper reports on the longitudinal results of an online elective mathematics readiness initiative for undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at Boise State University. This initiative was put in place in summer of 2010, and over five years has involved 766 total users. It utilized an online commercial system for mathematics learning, focusing mainly on the content associated with preparation for Calculus and preparation for Pre-Calculus. Funding to enable the initiative was derived from the National Science Foundation under a Science, Talent Expansion Program grant. The licenses were issued to students who elected to participate and who then had 77 days of learning available to them. Incentives for participation were provided, including bookstore awards ($100 to $200) if a certain threshold for learning was achieved by the student. These thresholds included from 15 to 20 hours of learning, to 95% completion of course content. This paper reports on the methodology for recruiting students to the initiative, on the longitudinal results of students in subsequent mathematics as a function of effort put into their online mathematic review, on adjustments made to the initiative over time as we learned more about student behavior and motivation, and on student retention of this subset of students in STEM majors.