Contact Us Archive

Events Coverage



Articles & Interviews

Director's Corner


New Faculty Biographies


Click here to view

Improving Developmental Mathematics with Coaches and Study-Skills Training

Leonid Khazanov, Michael George, and Chris McCarthy, Mathematics

Printer-Friendly Version

Presented by Leonid Khazanov, Mathematics; Michael George, Mathematics; and Chris McCarthy, Mathematics on May 10, 2011

Low retention and passing rates in remedial mathematics courses is an urgent problem facing community colleges.  Professors Leonid Khazanov, Michael George, and Chris McCarthy presented on their project, funded by a CUNY Foundation Grant. The project’s goal is to improve retention and passing rates in elementary algebra. Professors Khazanov, George, and McCarthy’s treatment was two-fold: (1) incorporating the teaching of study skills strategies into the course (2) assigning peer coaches to high-risk students to help them pass the course. 

Participating students were taking MAT 051, Elementary Algebra, in the Fall 2010 semester.  Five instructors were randomly selected to participate.  One section taught by each instructor was randomly assigned to be an experimental section and the other section was assigned to be a control.  Based on a set of survey and pretest measures, students enrolled in the experimental sections were identified as being “at risk” of course failure.  High risk students were offered coaches.

The results? The attrition rate was significantly lower in the treatment groups, and the overall passing rate for coached students was significantly higher than for un-coached students. Possible reasons for the lower attrition rate include encouragement from coaches to persist, effective study skills and time management skills taught in class and reinforced by coaches, and psychological support offered by coaches trained to address crisis situations. The above factors also contributed to a higher passing rate among coached students. In addition, the passing rate was boosted by targeted tutoring offered by coaches.
We believe that an important factor contributing to students’ success was that coaches were peers (rather than older adults) who were close in age and cognitive development to their protégés and therefore could  relate better to their problems and offer acceptable solutions. Being themselves successful students, the coaches also served as role models for their protégés.